Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority Updates
The RVBA is working with Botetourt County to build a co-location center at Greenfield. The center will serve as a hub to allow local and non-local companies to store and transmit data in a secure and reliable environment. Over the past year, RVBA has also worked with BRiSCNET and MtnNet who are offering wireless services to parts of the Roanoke region.
Franklin County Receives Broadband Funding through Virginia’s Telecommunication Initiative
Franklin County recently received $2,383,039 of funding which enable private broadband providers Briscnet and Shentel to provide wireless and fiber services to unserved parts of Franklin County. In all 12 projects were funded across the Commonwealth. Botetourt County and the Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative received funding in 2019. Virginia’s Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) is administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and focuses on areas of the State that do not have broadband service. Governor Northam proposed budget and introduced amendments introduced in the General Assembly session seek increase funding by $16-$51 million and make broadband authorities and other public bodies eligible to receive funding.
USDA Announces Second Round of USDA ReConnect Program; $550 Million in Funding Available to Deploy Broadband in Rural Communities
The USDA announced the availability of a second round of $550 million in USDA ReConnect Pilot Program funding. The application window for this round of funding will open on January 31, 2020. USDA will make up to $200 million available in grants; up to $200 million available in low-interest loans; and up to $200 million in 50/50 grant/loan combination funds. Through the ReConnect Program, the federal government partners with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient coverage. The first round of funding saw a $48 million dollar loan go to the Wilkes Telephone Membership Corporation to construct fiber in parts of Central Virginia. (Source: NADO.ORG, 2020)
Congressional Research Service Releases Report on Rural Broadband Access
The Congressional Research Service has published a new report, Demand for Broadband in Rural Areas: Implications for Universal Access. The report profiles the rural broadband market—specifically, the characteristics of demand in rural households and small businesses, and how these affect private sector infrastructure investments. A survey of federal broadband programs and policies designed to spur broadband buildout and adoption is included, with a discussion of how demand-side issues may impede achievement of these goals. (Source: NADO.ORG, 2020)