In 2010, West Virginia received a $126.3 million federal grant to expand broadband across the state.
The state is spending $33 million on the towers, and about $43 million to bring high-speed fiber connections to more than 600 "community anchor institutions" -- schools, libraries, health clinics, county courthouses, jails and other government facilities.
Another $8 million from the stimulus grant will pay for equipment and fiber cable that links the Green Bank observatory to West Virginia University.
With the stimulus funds, the state also spent $24 million to purchase high-capacity routers for the public facilities with fiber connections. The state expects to have funds left over after completing the broadband expansion project.
In February, the legislative auditor released a scathing report, finding that the state wasted at least $7.9 million -- and up to $15 million -- in stimulus funds by purchasing oversize routers.
The state installed most of the routers in rural schools and small libraries with only a handful of computer terminals, even though the devices are designed to serve buildings with more than 500 Internet connections.
In March, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin set up a task force and ordered a statewide review of more than 1,000 sites that received routers. Cisco announced that it would provide refunds or exchanges for routers the task force determines the state doesn't need.
Earlier this year, the legislative auditor also asked for records that detail payments to a Colorado consultant the state hired to help manage the $126.3 million broadband project.
In December, the Gazette reported that Verizon consultant Perry Rios was paid $730,000 to supervise the project from his home in Colorado.
The legislative auditor also is poring through reports and memos a consulting firm submitted to the Tomblin administration last year. ICF International found that Tomblin aides and officials in the Manchin administration allowed Frontier Communications to build a 500-mile fragmented fiber network that solely benefits Frontier. ICF concluded the $43 million fiber project has "no practical use for the public or competition."
Frontier has denounced the report, calling it "worthless."
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.