The Times West Virginian


July 18, 2013

Boosting state’s rate of computer ownership must remain priority

Americans depend on the Internet to engage in a wide range of activities.

You might use it for research, studying your favorite subjects as you learn more about whatever piques your interest.

Or maybe you use it to keep in touch with family, putting to work social media platforms to stay connected across the miles.

You might even use it to log into the digital version of this very newspaper, preferring to read your news in our e-edition as opposed to the printed copy.

But in order to do all those things, you need a computer, which provides the crucial bridge from your home to the World Wide Web.

And sadly, a new federal study reveals that more than a third of West Virginians don’t have that capability. That’s because slightly more than 35 percent of West Virginia households don’t own a computer.

As West Virginia pushes to expand high-speed Internet in the state, it’s becoming clear that those efforts might be more complicated than simply making broadband service available by stringing copper wire or fiber on poles to people’s homes.

As reported by The Associated Press, the study — called “Exploring the Digital Nation” — shows that 59 percent of West Virginia households subscribe to high-speed Internet. That’s the eighth-lowest Internet adoption rate among the 50 states.

West Virginia’s rank on the survey came in next to last, higher only than Mississippi, where 35.5 percent of homes don’t have computers. Compare that to the national average — 70 percent of homes are hooked up to the Internet — or the highest ranking state of them all — Washington, where a staggering 85 percent of homes have computers.

“The report is clearly, in my opinion, a report on age groups and their habits as much as it is on the subject of adoption rates,” said Lee Fisher, who serves on the West Virginia Broadband Deployment Council. “So in those states where an aging population, like in West Virginia, is an issue, I don’t believe you will ever have the adoption rates that people seem to shoot for until the demographic changes.”

There’s no denying West Virginia has an older population. But that doesn’t mean the state is doomed to have a low rate of computer ownership, especially since work is being done to make the state’s numbers come up.

Among the efforts:

• Some say the state should work with nonprofit groups, such as Mission West Virginia, that provide refurbished computers to homes that don’t have them.

• Frontier Communications, West Virginia’s largest broadband provider, has spent tens of millions of dollars in recent years to make high-speed Internet available across the state.

• West Virginia received a $126.3 million grant to extend high-speed fiber to public facilities, though homes and business haven’t been included in the project.

As Lawrence Strickling, U.S. assistant secretary of communications, said, “The data show that Americans depend on the Internet use to engage in a wide range of activities. It underscores the need for us to continue our efforts to ensure all Americans have access to broadband.”

Considering the digital age we live in, it’s likely the percentage of homes in West Virginia that own a computer will climb as more and more people rely on the convenience it provides.

But until then, it’s good to know there are plans in place to help more people get there.

Text Only
  • If something seems too good to be true, then assume that it is

    Scam. noun. A confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.
    This is a word that Marion Countians have heard a lot about in the past few years. And the problem appears to be one that is getting worse every day.

    July 31, 2014

  • State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core

    It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
    So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
    Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.

    July 30, 2014

  • Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway

    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.

    July 29, 2014

  • United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project

    The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
    That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.

    July 27, 2014

  • COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard

    I love to talk to readers.
    I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.

    July 27, 2014

  • Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial

    NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
    And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.

    July 25, 2014

  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads