CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council has $4 million to distribute, but no takers so far.
The broadband council has set a Friday afternoon deadline for telecommunication companies and nonprofit groups to apply for grants designed to spread high-speed Internet to rural areas. Not a single application was turned in as of late Wednesday.
"We have no applications officially submitted," said Jan Fox, a broadband council member. "Nobody's going to go early."
Council members aren't panicking yet.
Eleven organizations have started filling out applications, according to the council's website, which tracks applications. Thirty-six groups also have registered at the website, but haven't given any indication they'll apply for state funds.
"That's good. That's encouraging," broadband council member Lee Fisher said of the 36 registrations. "I'm hoping we get 50 percent of those [applying]."
The broadband council started accepting grant applications Aug. 14. The council has solicited help from regional planning councils to encourage companies and nonprofit agencies to submit applications.
The council plans to distribute grants to companies that provide broadband coverage to rural communities, or to groups that sponsor initiatives to encourage people to sign up for high-speed Internet.
The state Legislature established the council and allocated the grant money four years ago.
Fisher said he hopes grant requests exceed the $4 million available.
"That will send a signal to the state that there's a need out there," he said.
After Friday's deadline, the council plans to post applicant names and project descriptions on the secretary of state's website. A council committee decided Wednesday that it would not post how much grant funding each applicant requests.
The council plans to reject incomplete applications.
Starting Sept. 21, the Broadband Deployment Council will accept "competing applications" -- filed by groups that want to do the same rural area -- for the next 60 days.
"If an application doesn't come in from an area, they cannot compete," Fisher said.