Proposed grant could extend broadband to areas of Preston County

PRESTON COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV)-- The Preston County Economic Development Authority (PCEDA) is asking for a $3 million grant, through the USDA, that'll extend broadband to the northern part of the county.

"We have areas that people are having to use satellite because you can't get service. We have old copper lines, so this project is to bring the newer technology fiber to the home," said Robbie Baylor, Executive Director of the PCEDA.

Technology, such as fiber optic cables is what professionals say is true and reliable internet.

A lack of reliability is why one resident, who works from home, had to rent an office space to do her job.

"I could watch the internet drop, come back up and drop, come back up and drop. This happened probably at least 20 times during a seven and a half hour work day," said resident, Victoria Hammond.

Tim Wotring, owner of Digital Connections, is partnering with the PCEDA to get the grant.

He says, with only one provider in the area, internet capabilities are limited. New fiber optic cable will help with all aspects of life.

"It's a game changer for our county. Not just with the economy, but with education, health care and real estate," said Wotring.

Wotring said, the grant would pay for about 80 miles of fiber providing service to approximately 1,300 homes.

He says data is transmitted through fiber optic cables at the speed of light, which would help people like Hammond get back to working from home.

"I would think and hope that I would not have that challenge any longer," said Hammond.

The grant will help about 10 areas of the county including Hazelton, Cuzzart and Lenox.

In the past, there wasn't a lot of money available to expand. Baylor says some people don't even have internet at all.

"We have a lot of people who don't have any broadband or have very limited broadband in the county," said Baylor.

Officials say the fiber optic cable costs about $35,000 per mile to construct. They're hoping to hear if they will get the funding by July or August.

The PCEDA encourages people to take their broadband survey, attached to this page, so they can hear where problem areas are.