According to an update reported to the West Virginia Public Service Commission last week, Appalachian Power and Wheeling Power have completed the design, engineering and replacement of poles in Logan and Mingo counties, leaving them in timelines for a larger broadband project.
Broadband access is being facilitated by infrastructure expansion, and currently the project is expected to be completed by December 2023. Workers at the companies began installing 361 miles of fiber optic cable in July for this effort.
“The work we are doing will make broadband access available to more than 13,000 unserved customers in Logan and Mingo counties,” said Chris Beam, president and COO of Appalachian Power. “Installing fiber optic cable gives us a robust communications platform for network upgrades that improve service reliability, and also provides the ability to lease excess fiber from the mid-mile to a service provider. Internet for high speed.”
According to the filing submitted to regulators, the companies proposed a $3.6 million increase in the broadband surcharge rate. If regulators approve the increase, the average residential customer’s monthly bills would increase by 48 cents beginning March 1, 2023. Funds raised through this will help offset the expenses of the expansion project.
Construction will proceed in phases, with internet service provider GigaBeam Networks of Bluefield, Va., being licensed to own, install and operate the last-mile infrastructure needed for broadband services. Accordingly, GigaBeam will undertake a continuous series of connections for customers throughout the construction process.