CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Less than one of three West Virginians who took an online survey last year had an Internet speed that met the state's minimum standard for broadband service.
The survey also showed customers in West Virginia's rural communities have significantly slower Internet speeds on average than those who live in urban areas.
"The report clearly shows that West Virginia has significant broadband challenges," said Jim Martin, a Citynet executive who serves on the state Broadband Deployment Council, which reviewed the survey results Wednesday. "There's a significant digital divide between our rural citizens and those who live in larger markets."
Frontier Communications, West Virginia's largest Internet provider, had the slowest broadband speeds, according to an online survey.
Frontier also was the only Internet provider whose average speed didn't meet West Virginia's minimum broadband standard, according to the survey of more than 5,000 people who took part in an online "speed test" on the Broadband Deployment Council's website last year.
"I would argue [Frontier] is falsely advertising if they claim their product and classify it as broadband," said Martin, whose Bridgeport-based company competes against Frontier for business customers.
Frontier executive Dana Waldo said Wednesday 84 percent of the company's 200,000 customers in West Virginia have broadband service that meets or exceeds the state minimum standard -- a download speed of 4 megabits per second.
Waldo, who also serves on the Broadband Deployment Council, criticized the survey, saying customers with slow Internet speeds were more likely to take the online test because they're dissatisfied with their broadband service.
Twenty-eight percent of people's "speed tests" were equal to or faster than the state standard.
"These are self-reported," Waldo said. "You can't make a blanket statement out of one statistical number. You have to look beyond the raw numbers."