Lowering Cost Of the Internet

File this one in the believe it when you see it drawer: More money is being doled out from the pot of federal funding the state received to improve Internet accessibility and service in West Virginia. This time, lower prices for consumers are being promised.

West Virginia’s use of a $126.3 million grant to upgrade Internet infrastructure has been riddled with mistakes and misdeeds. They include buying millions of dollars’ worth of unnecessarily complex network routers and failure to follow state bidding rules on transmission towers.

The Office of Technology revealed last week it plans to award about $4 million from the grant to a Bridgeport, W.Va., company. The firm, Citynet, will use the money as part of a $13.5 million project.

In essence, the project is intended to link West Virginia with Internet “backbone” networks in Pittsburgh and Columbus.

That should mean faster Internet speeds for many users. And, said Citynet CEO Jim Martin, “it will allow Internet costs to go down and make it affordable for everyone from residential customers all the way up to large institutions.”

At the heart of the plan are nine “GigaPoP” facilities to be distributed throughout the state. One is slated for Wheeling.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Martin seems to have a good idea and theoretically – a big, loaded word – it should help keep the price of Internet access down. Again, however, we’ll believe it when we see it.

Let’s hope it works as Martin envisions. If not, it will be no great surprise as part of a federal grant program riddled with outrageous mismanagement.