The Gilmer Braxton Research Institute has partnered with Micrologic, a small telecommunications firm out of Buckhannon, to submit a $2.7 million grant to provide universal access to broadband for a seven county region in central West Virginia.
“If funded, this innovative solution to serving ‘last mile rural remote’ residents and businesses will have a profound impact on the region's quality of life and ability to compete for jobs,” Delegate Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, observed.
The application to the Broadband Improvement Program/Broadband Technology Opportunity Program proposes to bring a wireless broadband system to Braxton, Gilmer, Lewis, Upshur, Randolph, Tucker, and Barbour counties. The grant program is part of the federal ARRA stimulus legislation that is being administered by U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“If awarded this grant we will be able to extend our current network for over 600 square miles in the seven county region,” said Emiel Butcher, President of Micrologic. “This would give over 5,000 homes the ability to get affordable, reliable broadband they currently don’t have.
“Helping to promote telemedicine, education, and communication to the un-served areas, we are looking forward to expanding the opportunities for the people of West Virginia. This service will support voice over IP phone service, and digital video downloads as well as all the standard internet services.”
The Institute was formed in 2006 to harness resources from the public and private sector to provide universal access to broadband for the citizens of Braxton and Gilmer Counties. Its formation resulted from the passage of state legislation creating the Gilmer Braxton Technology Research Zone.
Through funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the State of West Virginia, the Institute has already deployed a pilot wireless broadband system in the Flatwoods area of Braxton County. The grant funding that is being sought will expand that system throughout the seven-county area.
Delegate Boggs, who is House Majority Leader, sponsored the legislation creating the Gilmer-Braxton Technology Research Zone.
“The Zone was created to forge a link between counties and higher education to provide tax incentives and advantages in locating the infrastructure needed to deploy wireless broadband,” Boggs said. “In partnering with Glenville State College and Micrologic, both Braxton and Gilmer Counties are working diligently to chart our future economic and educational success. “Of the projects submitted for funding consideration, the Gilmer-Braxton Technology Research Zone proposal meets and exceeds the goals and objectives outlined by Congress, numerous legislative studies and Governor Manchin: To reach the ‘last mile’ customers in some of the most rural counties in our state, thereby providing those citizens, small business community and counties the tool they need for economic development and growth.”