- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

LANSING, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia residents told federal officials that the state’s lack of high-speed internet access is hurting their quality of life and damaging the state’s ability to attract tourists.

Business owners, residents and county officials aired their frustrations at a discussion Tuesday with Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito at Lansing’s Adventures on the Gorge resort, The Register-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/2amuhGO ).

The FCC ranks West Virginia 48th nationally for access to broadband internet service.

Heidi Prior with ACE Adventure Resort in Fayette County said many of the 8,000 visitors she sees each year find it frustrating they can’t get Wi-Fi, especially when they’ve previously been connected in places as far-flung as Alaska.

“It destroys our image as a progressive, fun place to go,” she said.



Software developer Chris Whisenhunt purchased a home in Lansing without realizing he would not have high-speed internet access. Now he takes weekly trips in to Fayetteville so he can use his phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot to accomplish tasks online, he said.

Others in attendance stressed the need for more service providers to make pricing more competitive and called for accountability to ensure that providers use federal funding to increase access in rural communities.

The FCC is working on streamlining the permitting process to decrease the cost of adding service lines or cell towers, which would allow smaller carriers to compete, Pai said.

Pai told the residents he sympathized with the residents and would use their stories to help him submit better proposals for the FCC to consider.

“To me, it is a matter of fundamental fairness. If we truly believe that every American deserves an equal opportunity, in the 21st century that increasingly means that every American should have high-speed internet,” he said. “That is my goal.”

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Information from: The Register-Herald, https://www.register-herald.com

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