Preston wants residents to take survey about broadband service

To take the survey, go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/9ZHG5Q2 or stop at the PCEDA Office 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday above Clear Mountain Bank in Kingwood or call 304-329-2299 by May 7.

KINGWOOD — The Preston County Economic Development Authority (PCEDA) needs help with its application to expand broadband in Preston County.

“We are going to submit a broadband grant to USDA for a partnership between us and Digital Connections for Digital Connections to run fiber in northern Preston County,” said Robbie Baylor, executive director of the PCEDA.

As part of the application, PCEDA is asking Preston County residents to complete a 10-question survey about their access to broadband. It should take less than three minutes to complete, Baylor said.

And she has a good idea what the results will be.

“With the exception of Kingwood, speed isn’t that great in Preston County,” she said.

Public input is required as part of the grant. By the middle of last week, 174 people had completed the survey.

If the application for the $3 million grant is approved, PCEDA estimates broadband service would be upgraded for nearly 11,000 people in the county, in 2,556 households. The grant requires a match of $450,000.

The grant application itself is a three-inch thick document. PCEDA applied last year as well and came close to being funded, Baylor said. The application is due by May 14.

Digital Connections is a locally owned company. It owns PRODIGI, a fiber to the home product.

Tim Wotring said the company, “was established in 1994 as a CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier).” It provided voice and data services throughout West Virginia and into Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In 2012, the company began to focus on building fiber in Preston County and we came up with a new name to market its fiber services: PRODIGI.

“Since 2012, PRODIGI has built over 100 miles of fiber throughout the Bruceton area and into Kingwood,” Wotring said in an email.

It has nearly 700 customers active on the network and is building fiber in the Bruceton area and will soon be building fiber in Terra Alta and Alpine Lake Resort.

“If awarded the grant, we would build over 80 miles of fiber network into rural areas of Preston County,” Wotring said.

The grants aren’t new, but they are being better funded by Congress, Baylor said. “I think they’re beginning to see there are areas that truly are not being served.”

Follow The Dominion Post on Twitter @DominionPostWV. Email Kathy Plum: kplum@dominionpost.com.

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