Broadband Public Hearing Scheduled for Oct. 28

HUNTINGTON – An expert panel will conduct a public hearing later this month to receive testimony from business owners, educational leaders, residents and internet providers about high-speed broadband in Huntington and surrounding areas and the challenges and opportunities that exist.

The public hearing will take place at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, in Huntington City Council chambers at City Hall, 800 5th Ave.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams called for a public hearing last month amid efforts by Thundercloud, Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on the provision and improvement of broadband internet access in the region, to obtain a POWER grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The ARC announced Oct. 14 that it was awarding a $2.353 million grant to Thundercloud.

The grant will allow the organization to begin deployment of an underground broadband fiber backbone connecting the Village of Barboursville to the heart of downtown Huntington and deploy a robust last-mile, underground fiber ring linking businesses and anchor institutions to gigabit-speed infrastructure. Additional broadband deployment will occur in Wayne County.

Mayor Williams also called the hearing because many concerns have been expressed in the community regarding the speed, quality, and reliability of broadband services which are being provided by private-sector companies in the Huntington area.

“Improving high-speed broadband infrastructure has been one of my primary goals from the day I took office as mayor in 2013,” Williams said. “My mayoral transition team at the time identified the deployment of high-speed broadband as the one project that would have the greatest impact on economic growth in Huntington.

“We made progress in 2017 when our community redevelopment plan, which included Huntington becoming a ‘Gigabit City,’ won the $3 million grand prize in the America’s Best Communities competition. We are now on the cusp of our bold vision becoming a reality thanks to the hard work of Sen. Robert Plymale, who serves as chairman of Thundercloud.”

The expert panel during the public hearing will be led by retired Cabell Circuit Judge Dan O’Hanlon. Panel members will include:

  • Cabell County Delegate Daniel Linville, who is chairman of the House Committee on Infrastructure and Technology
  • Chris Chiles, executive director of the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission and Region 2 Planning and Development Council
  • David Lieving, executive director of the Huntington Area Development Council
  • Terrell Ellis, executive director of Advantage Valley
  • Tony Simental, chairman of the Huntington Mayor’s Gigabit City Task Force
  • Stephanie Tyree, executive director of the West Virginia Community Development Hub

The expert panel will receive testimony from a select group of business owners, educational leaders, residents and internet providers during the hearing.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hearing will not be open to the general public. However, anyone who would like to provide input about internet service in the Huntington area and how it can be improved can email broadband@huntingtonwv.gov. Comments provided via email will be submitted to the expert panel.

The hearing will be streamed live on the City of Huntington’s Facebook page, on the City of Huntington’s website, www.cityofhuntington.com, and on channel 24 for Comcast Cable subscribers.