Board Spotlight: Last-Mile West Virginia Broadband Expansion Project Will Bring Fiber to the Premises to Unserved Customers in Logan and Mingo Counties


By: Chris Chiles, Executive Director, KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission


Rural counties in West Virginia have long been affected by the growing digital divide as the state has historically been one of the least broadband-connected in the country. This lack of broadband service has had a particularly crippling effect on the economy and quality of life in Southern West Virginia where income, educational attainment, and labor participation are persistently low following years of decline in the coal industry. This situation, however, is poised to dramatically change through the last-mile construction and deployment of fiber to the premises for 13,432 unserved residences, businesses, and community institutions in Logan and Mingo Counties.

Slated for completion in early 2025, this project has come to fruition through both an investment of $19.6 million from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Infrastructure Program and the unique partnership of both private and public entities such as American Electric Power/Appalachian Power Company (AEP/APCO), the Logan and Mingo County Commissions, GigaBeam Networks, the Logan County Economic Development Authority, the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, and Region 2 Planning and Development Council.

The project’s foundation is built upon a $60 million dollar investment by AEP/APCO that uses a portion of the strands on their planned fiber optic cable expansion to construct a highspeed broadband middle-mile and FTTP network. The last-mile fiber to the premises buildout is coinciding with AEP/APCO’s middle-mile buildout efforts. The project is currently progressing on schedule with last-mile construction having started in January 2024 for Logan County and last-mile construction for Mingo County targeted to commence later this spring.