Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday (July 16) that the state will be spending most of a billion dollars ($700 million) of American Rescue Plan broadband funding to speed last-mile broadband infrastructure to unserved areas.
The state got a total of $4.3 billion in the plan for various projects and programs.
Warner's office said that "[b]ecause Governor Northam prioritized broadband expansion well before the pandemic, Virginia is on track to be one of the first states in the country to achieve universal broadband service."
They pointed, for example, to the $124 million the state has handed out in broadband brands over the past three years, including for the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI), a public-private initiative targeting service to completely unserved areas.
The private side of such partnerships are usually laser focused on unserved, rather than where the money could wind up overbuilding existing service.
"With telehealth and telework becoming permanent staples across the nation, access to broadband is more critical than ever," said Warner. "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," added Northam.
He had already set a 10-year timetable for universal broadband in the state, but said Friday that the American Rescue Plan funding, which Warner helped secure, meant that his 2028 timetable could be moved up to 2024, with the majority of connections achieved in the next year and a half.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.