In his 2007 State address, West Virginia's governor set a goal of statewide broadband service access by 2010. In a largely mountainous state, this is a difficult objective and less than one third of households had broadband from their ISP in 2007. In fact, almost 42% of households had no internet service available from any source. An average download speed of 4.6 mbps in 2009 was an improvement from 3.7 mbps the previous year but left the state in 32nd position.
In 2007, Connect West Virginia was created as a subsidiary of Connected Nation. It collaborated with over 25 internet providers to produce a map of broadband internet services availability, which showed good coverage along major interstates but large gaps in rural areas. Verizon was also part of the set-up and agreed to expand its provision of high speed internet service to over 100 rural communities and equip 260 remote facilities with DSL. It also installed more than twenty miles of fiber optic cable at a cost of almost $1.5 million during 2007 ($75,000 a mile? Surely not?). The aim was for the company to serve 500 communities across the state by the end of 2008.
In September 2009, internet provider Frontier Communications announced plans to invest almost $4 million in its network although there were concerns over Verizon selling some of its West Virginia operations to the company. Frontier has provided 10,000 free computers since 2006 and has applied for $69 million in stimulus funds to expand its fiber network. The Gilmer Braxton Research Institute also submitted a $2.7 million grant application in partnership with Micrologic. This is to provide wireless internet access covering more than 600 square miles to over 5,000 homes in seven counties. This will be a useful addition since wifi hotspots are very few and well scattered across the state.
Situated entirely within the Appalachian Mountains, West Virginia is well known for outdoor recreation, including skiing, whitewater rafting, fishing and hiking. The climate varies with altitude, ranging from warm or hot summers through to mild or cold winters.
The economy has historically been based on logging and coal mining, with little agriculture due to the terrain. West Virginia has the lowest median household income in the country and the lowest percentage of the adult population with a bachelor's degree. Charleston is the state capital and largest city, followed by Huntington, Parkersburg and Wheeling.
Cities in West Virginia likely to have, or soon to receive, fiber optic cable internet services include Charleston, Huntington, Parkersburg, Morgantown and Wheeling. Locations in WV with highest population counts will be targeted first by providers, though relatively high speeds can be achieved with dial-up or DSL through companies such as Netzero and Charter Communications Cable.