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Investigation Begins Into West Virginia's Broadband Incompetence
Overpriced Routers, Overpaid Consultants, Verizon's Fingerprints
by Karl Bode, dslreports.com
West Virginia is one of the worst connected states in the nation, something that was supposed to be helped by a $126.3-million federal stimulus grant intended to improve state broadband. Instead, as a series of excellent reports in the Charleston Gazette have illustrated this year, state leaders doled out most of that money to Verizon, who convinced the (either corrupt or totally incompetent) state officials to spend it on ridiculously overpriced, overpowered and unused routers, and ridiculously overpaid consultants who haven't actually accomplished anything.
Now the Gazette notes that The West Virginia Legislative Auditor is at least investigating the ridiculous spending on routers ($22,000 each), trying to figure out who recommended them (Verizon) and why state leaders signed off on it:
West Virginia State Police, for instance, can't use 70 routers assigned to detachments because the devices aren't compatible with the agency's voicemail system. Also, more than 160 libraries have declined to hook up the routers to a new high-speed fiber-optic network because the state Library Commission can't afford to pay for faster Internet service. An additional 175 routers remain boxed up in storage - more than two years after they were purchased.
It's particularly unfortunate given the fact that the funds really could have helped a state that drastically needs broadband infrastructure improvement. It's also rather disgusting that Verizon's playing a starring role in all of this, given that a large portion of the state's broadband woes can be attributed to the telco, who for the last decade neglected state infrastructure before ultimately unloading it to Frontier Communications. Now they're providing the kind of "help" the under-connected state residents could probably do without.