Virginia making sure Internet service reaches everyone
Governor’s initiative addresses broadband Internet’s infrastructure, reach
State governments across the United States are doing a lot to ensure their residents are able to access the latest technology. The most recent moves toward that goal in Virginia address both the infrastructure that will bring broadband Internet service to the entire state and create a database of broadband’s reach.
The first part of that equation came in the form of legislation that will allow broadband providers to install conduits that can house fiber optic cables on state highways. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed H.B. 912 last week as an aid to broadband providers to bring their service to the state’s rural communities. The new law will open up contracting opportunities in smaller cities and rural communities throughout Virginia that are not served by telecommunications providers on an equal basis to more populous regions of the state.
At the bill signing ceremony, McAuliffe also announced the launch of RUOnlineVA. The initiative consists of a survey designed to create a map of Internet service throughout the state. Responses will be mapped and distributed to regulators and lawmakers in an effort to give them as much data as possible as they devise statewide broadband policy and make funding decisions.
The effort mirrors those in other states and will inform the creation of the national broadband map, which offers a similar service nationwide. It will allow communities to compare what is available elsewhere to their own service and allow policy makers to determine where gaps in service exist and where they need to focus their efforts and their budgeting decisions.
H.B. 912 goes into effect July 1. It gives the Virginia Department of Transportation the right “to permit a broadband service provider to install underground conduit capable of housing fiber optic or coaxial cable or other ancillary wiring and equipment within the public right of way, subject to standard permitting and bonding regulations promulgated by the department.”
State leaders are optimistic about the effect it will have on rural access to Internet service, which lags significantly what is available in the state’s large cities and suburban communities.
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