CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- By the end of the year, the West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council plans to distribute $1.4 million in grants for projects that make high-speed Internet available to rural communities.
The council also will award money for projects that encourage West Virginians to sign up for broadband service. About 60 percent of West Virginia households subscribe to high-speed broadband where it's available -- one of the lowest Internet adoption rates in the nation.
The governor-appointed Broadband Deployment Council gave out $2 million last year to companies that provide wireless Internet to rural areas.
Telecommunication companies and nonprofit groups have until Sept. 13 to apply for this year's grants.
"The first round of grants are already bringing wireless broadband to West Virginia citizens and businesses," said Dan O'Hanlon, chairman of the Broadband Deployment Council. "In the second round, we expect to receive applications for infrastructure grants for unserved areas and demand promotion grant from throughout the state."
The council has asked companies and nonprofits seeking grants to work through West Virginia's 11 regional planning and development agencies.
"We hope requests for funds exceed our remaining grant funds to demonstrate to the Legislature the need for renewed funding," O'Hanlon said.
The council will have no money left over after it distributes the $1.4 million later this year.