Rural Residents Closer to Broadband Service

Peace measure to increase access broadband and wireless service passed House A strong signal is coming from the Virginia General Assembly to rural Virginia residents who do not have access to high-speed and wireless internet service. Del. Christopher K. Peaces (R-Hanover) introduced a broadband wireless service measure which passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 99-0 earlier this month. The measure has been communicated to the Senate, where it was referred to the committee on Commerce and Labor.

House Bill (HB) 1329 will require state agencies to lease or convey their communication towers to broadband service providers to provide service to areas that do not receive adequate service. Sen. Richard H. Stuart (R-Westmoreland) has a companion measure, Senate Bill (SB) 206, which passed unanimously. Stuart's measure is currently in the House committee on General Laws.

Verizon Wireless supports the Peace measure because it seeks to create a reasonable and good sense approach to the problems of the lack of broadband service in rural areas. Many residents in our rural communities have long wanted access to the latest technology. Delegate Peace seeks to address that need by making state owned property available to companies through opportunities to lease space in an expeditious and economical manner. By not having to build out the infrastructure, internet service providers may be able to "piggy-back" in un-served areas to provide new services.

According to Ray Lamura, President of the Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association (VCTA), "We appreciate the opportunity to work with Del. Peace and his staff on this important legislation. Del. Peace's proposal appropriately targets un-served areas and areas presently not served by private providers. The use of government facilities to enhance broadband availability to Virginians with no options is an appropriate public policy."

Peace stated, "Increasing wireless and broadband internet service to un-served areas in the 97th District is a great priority of mine and important to my constituents. Not only will residents benefit, but so will small or at home businesses. Economic development directors will now have another tool to draw businesses to our localities."

Delegate Peace hopes that the Senate will see House Bill 1329 sees this legislation in a favorable light.