Gov. Jim Justice and state leaders were joined by representatives of Facebook, the widely popular social networking company, at Tamarack in Beckley, WV, for a ceremonial groundbreaking event commemorating the start of an extensive broadband development project. This is Facebook’s first official groundbreaking for fiber infrastructure in North America.
The high capacity fiber optic cable network development is part of the an ongoing network infrastructure expanding from Virginia to Ohio. Facebook representatives have dubbed the project the “New River Project”, which was first announced in March 2019.
“I truly believe that we need to take every opportunity that we can to continue connecting West Virginia to the outside world. And increasing access to broadband, through a project of this magnitude, is the perfect way to do that,” Gov. Justice said. “Access to high-speed internet opportunities will allow us to bring in new people and businesses, which will lead to more great jobs for countless hardworking West Virginians.”
Facebook’s investment is expected to result in better internet speeds and will improve internet connections across West Virginia and expanding connectivity by establishing an approximate 275-mile route through the state. U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) was among those in attendance. “Making sure West Virginia has reliable, high-speed internet has been a priority of mine since I was first elected to Congress,” Sen. Capito said.
“I’m glad Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg followed through on his commitment he made to me during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing where I asked him to partner with West Virginia on rural fiber deployment. Builds like this are extremely important for our rural areas, because they provide these communities with the capacity to offer truly high-speed internet service,” Sen. Capito continued, “I’m excited for what a fully connected West Virginia can offer the rest of the country, as well as what it can do for the future of our state. Today’s groundbreaking brings us another step closer to achieving that goal.”
“The groundbreaking of Facebook’s project to install fiber in West Virginia is one way for West Virginians to connect our communities,” U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) commented in a press release. “I look forward to seeing more jobs and investments from companies into our great state and will continue to work to bring them to West Virginia.”
Work on the project is expected to begin within the next 10 to 16 months and is expected to take up to 2 years to complete. The project builds upon West Virginia’s proximity between major internet exchanges, identifying it as a preferred route for the development.
By Shakeria Hawkins