Virginia Taps $700M In Federal Funds To Extend High-Speed Broadband Access To All Residents

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Between data caps, outrageous costs for speed, and billing issues abound, it is a wonder that Internet access has not become a basic right and utility. However, it seems that the state of Virginia and Governor Ralph Northam are stepping things up to accelerate a $700 million 10-year plan to connect unserved Virginians.

Yesterday, Governor Northam announced that Virginia has plans to invest “$700 million in American Rescue Plan funding to expedite the deployment of last-mile broadband infrastructure to unserved areas and close the digital divide within the next three years.” This means that before 2024, most of the 233,500 locations within Virginia that do not have a service provider will finally have broadband access.

Since the pandemic started, the digital divide of unconnected people has become abhorrently apparent, and “With telehealth and telework becoming permanent staples across the nation, access to broadband is more critical than ever,” says U.S Senator Mark Warner. As such, Governor Northam explained that “It’s time to close the digital divide in our Commonwealth and treat internet service like the 21st century necessity that it is—not just a luxury for some, but an essential utility for all.”

To accomplish this, the Virginian government has worked with “localities, electric utilities, and internet service providers to connect unserved areas to high-speed internet,” as part of an ongoing pilot program that has since been made permanent. These efforts put Virginia on track to be one of the first states to have universal broadband.

Though it is not quite making internet service a utility, this is certainly a step in the right direction. But, with the large investment, the Virginian government is likely to keep a close eye on its network over time to protect the end-users. Either way, this is still a cool project, but let us know what you think of it in the comments below.