Gov. Kaine Forms Broadband Advisory Council

GOVERNOR KAINE RELEASES BROADBAND AVAILABILITY MAP

~ Announces formation of Broadband Advisory Council~

RICHMOND —Governor Timothy M. Kaine today unveiled the Commonwealth’s first broadband availability map, available online through the Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance. The map is an important resource that will give policy makers, local government leaders, and service providers a more detailed picture of broadband coverage in Virginia as they work to provide “last-mile” broadband in their communities. This snapshot of availability will help deploy resources to areas with the greatest need, particularly rural areas. Governor Kaine also announced that he will convene the Governor’s Broadband Advisory Council in time to advise him on the most effective usage of potential funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Council was created by legislation in the 2009 General Assembly Session and amended by Governor Kaine to include an emergency clause, allowing the Council to begin its work immediately.

“Affordable high-speed telecommunication services for all citizens are essential to Virginia ’s success in the 21st century economy,” Governor Kaine said. “The data presented on this map provides a baseline of broadband availability in the Commonwealth, and will guide our efforts to areas with the greatest need.”

The new state coverage map, the only one in the nation developed at no cost to the state, fulfills one of the chief recommendations of the Broadband Roundtable, convened by Governor Kaine in 2007 to develop a “last-mile” telecommunications blueprint. The map is the product of a collaborative effort between the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA), the Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance, and the voluntary participation of more than 25 broadband providers throughout the Commonwealth.

“Last-mile” broadband is the final distance of infrastructure that is needed to give broadband access to businesses and homes. Rural communities often are underserved by broadband because of low population density and high costs to service providers to construct infrastructure. Connecting Virginia ’s rural communities to high-speed internet service will allow its citizens and businesses to compete globally in the 21st century economy.

The Governor’s Broadband Advisory Council was created through legislation sponsored by Senator Philip Puckett and Delegate Joe May, and amended by Governor Kaine to include an emergency clause. The group will advise the Governor on policy and funding priorities related to broadband access in the Commonwealth, including opportunities for funding from the ARRA. In late summer, the ARRA will begin $7.2 billion of competitive grant programs related to broadband initiatives including deployment services to areas that are underserved or not served, broadband mapping and creation of sustainable broadband demand. Commonwealth officials are actively monitoring the funding opportunities and working to position Virginia projects for broadband funding opportunities. Membership on the Council is currently being finalized. 

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