MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Members of the Monongalia County community and the commission are looking forward to seeing the options for expanding broadband. Ice Miller Whiteboard is developing the options as part of a contract with the county commission valued at about $250,000.
On WAJR’s Talk of the Town, Commissioner Sean Sikora said the presentation, set for late February, will be an important step that will likely have a large impact on the direction the project will take next.
“That will really just be the start. That will be- here’s the plan and here’s the suggestions for what we want to do going forward,” Sikora said. ” That’s when the real work begins and we start executing some of those plans.”
One of the challenges has been the wide range of terrain and ground conditions over the estimated 360-square miles of the county.
“We’ve been telling them all along when we’ve had these discussions about whether we’re going to go underground or aerial that you have have to understand what kind of territory you’re dealing with,” Sikora said. ” So, they can tell a lot of that from the maps.”
According to Sikora, one of the advantages of this approach is flexibility. Some areas of the county enjoy better connectivity the more rural areas in the western end. Existing conditions and terrain are also challenges that must be met to expand internet service throughout the county.
“We can do wireless from tower-to-tower and then run fiber down the tower to the homes,” Sikora said. ” We’re looking at all the solutions, we’re not disregarding anything.”
“We’re reaching out and we’re trying to come up with as much of a comprehensive plan as possible,” Sikora said. ” I think we’ll have a good product. We’re committed to making this happen.”
Another advantage of the plan is work-ready options. Commissioners expect to have projects or concepts in the plan that can be used in areas in the county with similar needs. The hope is the concepts could easily duplicated in other areas of the county.
“We just need some wins. We’re going to pick a couple pilots to start with,” Sikora said. ” Once we get a couple of those wins our progress will be substantially increased.”
The plan will be presented on February 19.