CHARLESTON, W.VA. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, today announced $1,210,800,969.85 in federal funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
This funding was allocated based on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband coverage maps that Senator Manchin has been challenging since 2016 when he brought then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to West Virginia to see first-hand why his agency’s maps were wrong. At the time, the FCC maps indicated that 99.9% of Americans had wireless coverage.
A timeline of Senator Manchin’s efforts to address broadband coverage issues can be found here.
“This is a historic announcement for the Mountain State and will benefit every West Virginian. As the only Member of Congress to formally challenge the FCC coverage maps and prove them wrong, I know firsthand how much work went into this announcement, and I want to thank the thousands of West Virginians that submitted their own speed tests. Today, not only are we announcing more than $1.2 billion to finally ensure every home in West Virginia is connected to reliable broadband. The maps now show what we knew all along – that West Virginia is one of the least-served states in the country,” said Senator Manchin. “As a direct result of my efforts to correct the FCC maps and ensure the funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is distributed according to these maps, West Virginia will finally receive our fair share of resources to build out the reliable service we need. I will continue doing everything possible to ensure West Virginia has the means to compete in a 21st-century economy.”
“Affordable, high-speed internet is essential for West Virginians to fully participate in the 21st century economy,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “This historic $1.2 billion investment in West Virginia, made possible by the leadership of Senator Manchin and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help create good paying jobs, boost the economy, and ensure that everyone in the state has the opportunity to succeed.”
In May, Senator Manchin announced that more than 86,000 new unserved locations in West Virginia would now be reflected on the latest update to the FCC’s broadband coverage map. For years, Senator Manchin has fought to update the maps, submitting more than 2,400 speedtests to the FCC on behalf of West Virginians to prove that its maps were inaccurate. As a result of these efforts, Senator Manchin secured provisions in the Broadband DATA Act in 2020 that authorized the FCC to update its coverage map and allowed West Virginians to see if the FCC’s map accurately depicted whether they had broadband coverage at their address, who provided such coverage, and the type of technology being used. If the FCC map was inaccurate, West Virginians were able to provide direct input to the FCC by submitting a challenge to the map. Thanks to these efforts, the new maps show that West Virginia has the least connectivity of any state in the country after Alaska, confirming what Senator Manchin and West Virginians across the state have been saying for years.
In the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Senator Manchin created the $42.45 billion BEAD program within the NTIA. Senator Manchin authored the provision that allocates funding to each state based on its proportion of unserved areas in the updated FCC broadband coverage map, as well as additional funding for high-cost areas like West Virginia that are more difficult to serve.
In December, Senator Manchin’s office held a webinar with the State Broadband Office urging folks to submit challenges to the map, which will provide the basis for the billions of dollars in broadband funding that Senator Manchin included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.