FB Wire

Crews began work on the Facebook New River Project, an initiative to bring fiber-optic cables, pictured above, from Ashburn, Va., to Ohio. The initiative will bring extensive broadband development.

PRINCETON — Crews can now be seen along Rt. 460 east of Princeton burying orange and blue lines that may eventually help bring high-speed broadband to more remote areas.

It’s the Facebook New River Project, part of a larger initiative for extensive broadband development.

This project, which started last fall, will run fiber-optic cable from Ashburn, Va. to Ohio and should be completed in late 2021.

Part of the purpose is to establish new data centers for Facebook, and a long-term goal is to enable broadband providers expand networks into communities along the route.

“We hope that Facebook’s infrastructure will be a source of bandwidth for unserved areas at some point, but we don’t have anything in place formally at the moment,” said Jason Roberts, executive director of Region One Planning and Development Council headquartered in Princeton.

In November 2019, a ceremonial groundbreaking event was held at Tamarack in Beckley to celebrate the start of the project.

According to Gov. Jim Justice’s office, the high capacity fiber optic cable network development is part of an ongoing network infrastructure expanding from Virginia to Ohio. Facebook representatives have dubbed the project the “New River Project”, which was first announced in March 2019.

“I truly believe that we need to take every opportunity that we can to continue connecting West Virginia to the outside world. And increasing access to broadband, through a project of this magnitude, is the perfect way to do that,” Justice said at the event. “Access to high-speed internet opportunities will allow us to bring in new people and businesses, which will lead to more great jobs for countless hardworking West Virginians.”

Facebook’s investment is expected to result in better internet speeds and will improve internet connections across West Virginia and expanding connectivity by establishing an approximate 275-mile route through the state.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) was among those in attendance.

“Making sure West Virginia has reliable, high-speed internet has been a priority of mine since I was first elected to Congress,” Capito said. “I’m glad Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg followed through on his commitment he made to me during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing where I asked him to partner with West Virginia on rural fiber deployment. Builds like this are extremely important for our rural areas, because they provide these communities with the capacity to offer truly high-speed internet service.”

Capito continued, “I’m excited for what a fully connected West Virginia can offer the rest of the country, as well as what it can do for the future of our state. Today’s groundbreaking brings us another step closer to achieving that goal.”

“The groundbreaking of Facebook’s project to install fiber in West Virginia is one way for West Virginians to connect our communities,” U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said in a press release. “I look forward to seeing more jobs and investments from companies into our great state and will continue to work to bring them to West Virginia.”

However, Manchin said he was disappointed none of Facebook’s date centers related to the line have not been planned to be located in West Virginia.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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