"Byron’s Bad Broadband Bill" has been criticized from City Council meeting rooms, at Boards of Supervisors meetings, and from Mayors’ offices across the state. Last Wednesday, January 18th, opponents of the bill took their grievances to Richmond for a press conference hosted by the Friends of Municipal Broadband. In addition to several Delegates and Senators opposed to HB 2108, local officials and a representative from an Internet Service Provider appeared to describe why they believe the bill is bad for Virginia.
The News & Advance covered the press conference in which Del. Sam Rasoul described missed opportunities:
Some businesses pass on Roanoke Valley locations because company officials discover they can’t get internet service, Rasoul said. Then, there are other Roanoke businesses like the software company Meridium that want access to multiple service providers.
“Internet and access to high-speed internet is a basic human right now because it’s just that link to education, it’s that link to information, it’s that link to peoples’ livelihoods and that’s why we’re so passionate about it,” Rasoul said.
Nicholas Pascaretti, Executive Director of Eastern Shore Of Virginia Broadband Authority, described how municipal networks attract providers to rural areas where national companies won’t invest:
Scott Robertson, Executive Director and Secretary of the Rockbridge Area Network Authority (RANA), described incredible savings and access to unprecedented capacity in local schools in Rockbridge County:
Ray Ferris, Roanoke City Councilman and local attorney, describes HB 2108 as a shining example of “corporate cronyism at its best.”:
Louisa County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Stephanie Koren who is also a member of the County Broadband Authority, read a statement from the community describing the horrible local connectivity situation. She also presented the county’s resolution opposing HB 2108:
Bryan David, Orange County Administrator, stressed public safety, education, and economic development as drivers of publicly owned networks. He points out that Byron’s Bad Broadband Bill, HB 2108, stops communities from helping themselves when the private sector chooses not to:
Ting Internet’s Monica Webb provided perspective from a private sector partner who wants to offer FTTH that pursues public partners. She describes how fiber the only technology that will provide the power for tomorrow’s data demands and asks Virginia’s State Legislators, “Do you want to hobble economic growth? Make local communities less attractive?”
Senator Frank Wagner, who is also running for Governor, also appeared and described his displeasure with HB 2108. He described broadband as an essential utility and recognized that the state’s rural economy must have access to transportation and broadband.
As the News & Advance reported, Wagner, a Republican, expects the bill to receive “somewhat of a frosty treatment” if it gets through the House Commerce and Labor Committee. As Chair of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, HB 2108 would also need pass favorably through his committee.