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Accurate broadband maps are essential

Internet service providers are challenged by West Virginia — that is no surprise. What might come as a surprise, then, is the Federal Communications Commission maps that reply on self-reported data from those same providers that falsely claim much larger areas of the state have internet service than is the case.

State Economic Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael, who most will remember had at one time been employed by both Frontier Communications and Citynet, is certainly familiar with the situation, and now finds himself in charge of an effort to produce accurate maps.

To reiterate: The state is being asked to produce accurate maps, which the federal government knows full well its own agency did not produce, so that the state can properly invest hundreds of millions of dollars in federal American Rescue Plan funding for broadband expansion.

Laughability of government and bureaucracy aside, the effort spearheaded by the state Department of Economic Development is vital to bringing an essential utility to all Mountain State residents. Among the gifts given to Carmichael in this effort has been the decision to have the federal grants allow the exclusion of nonterrestrial (satellite) internet providers in determining service availability, according to a report by another media outlet.

In speaking to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Carmichael gave the federal map makers credit on one point, when it came to the accuracy of those self-reported maps. If those maps show no service in an area “you can bet your life there’s no service there,” he said.

There is a lot more at stake as the department works to get these maps right. It is no exaggeration to say the future of education and employment in West Virginia is riding on it.

Good luck, then, to Carmichael and his department as they work to clean up yet another federal government mess that has left the Mountain State struggling for too long.

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