County picks Va. firm as partner in expanding broadband to residents

by Kate Shunney

Morgan County Commissioners voted last Wednesday, January 4 to partner with GoGig, Inc. of Blacksburg, Va. in an effort to bring broadband internet service to county residents without it.

GoGig was one of three broadband companies to respond to a request for proposals (RFP) from the Morgan County Commission. Those RFPs were opened in early December 2022, and were ranked by a committee of county appointees.

In that RFP, the county sought a company who would bring broadband internet service to residences in Morgan County who do not have internet service that meets federal guidelines for speed.

Plans to bring those internet services to Morgan County will be submitted to the West Virginia GigReady Incentive Program to get partial state funding for the service expansion.

Three companies – GoGig, Inc., Upward Broadband and Frontier Communications – submitted proposals.

According to a summary of those RFPs provided by county officials, the three companies varied widely in the number of households they would serve, the cost of service to customers and the total project cost.

Upward Broadband’s proposal was disqualified because it didn’t meet the county’s requirements. The Pa. company had estimated they could serve 545 households here at a total project cost of $1.6 million.

Frontier Communication proposed bringing broadband internet to 1,071 addresses in Morgan County with a total project cost of $3.7 million. Under their proposal, Frontier would contribute $1.4 million of that cost, Morgan County would pay $500,000 and the company would apply for a $2 million state grant for the rest.

GoGig, Inc. proposes bringing internet to 1,900 addresses in the county at a total project cost of $3 million. That includes a $500,000 contribution from the county, $250,000 from GoGig and a $2.25 million grant from West Virginia.

Both Frontier and GoGig said they would get the service to residents at targeted addresses within 24 months.

Commissioner Joel Tuttle said the thing that jumped out about GoGig was that their proposal outscored Frontier’s on every point of evaluation.

Commissioners voted 3-0 to select GoGig as their project partner, and to proceed with contract negotiations. The company and the county will work together to prepare an application for West  Virginia’s GigReady and Line Extension Advancement and Development Program.