Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Content tagged with "botetourt county"
Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority: Progress Made, All Indicators Favorable
As they look back over their accomplishments, the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority (RVBA) has more than the holidays to celebrate at the close of 2018. In addition to stimulating competition in the region, the RVBA network is attracting more investment and helping local nonprofits operate more efficiently.
For Feeding America Southwest Virginia in Salem, connectivity from RVBA is critical. “Without that Internet connection reliability, it would be very difficult for us to achieve our mission,” says IT Director Eric Geist. The food bank is one of the enterprise customers that the RVBA serves in the region, providing affordable access to organizations and institutions such as nonprofits, businesses, and institutions.
By providing affordable connectivity and services focused on the needs of businesses, the RVBA network has helped drive competition in the region. According to CEO Frank Smith’s research, prices have dropped 25 - 30 percent. The change squares with the RVBA mission to enhance and promote economic development by improving connectivity services and prices in Salem, Roanoke, and the counties of Roanoke and Botetourt. They've seen results in the past three years with greater expectations ahead.
Before the network, the valley was caught in a connectivity “donut hole.” The populations in Salem and Roanoke had access to some cable Internet access and were large enough to prevent the region from obtaining grants to entice providers to upgrade. In 2013, local governments decided to work together to improve connectivity and funded a feasibility study, which recommended an open access network.
Full Speed (and Price List) Ahead for the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority
After a rocky start and a long period of transition, the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority in Virginia is preparing for the years ahead. Hoping to snag schools, hospitals, government offices, and Internet carriers with their prices, the Broadband Authority just released its proposed rate structure.
They expect to complete construction of five major sections of the fiber network by early March. Starting in mid-April, customers will have service. The proposed rates are as follows:
- Dark Fiber: $40-$100 per strand mile depending on whether the institution is a nonprofit
- Transport Service (requires a 2 year term): speeds between 10 Megabits-per-second (Mbps) - 200 Gigabits-per-second (Gbps) for $350 - $4,510
- Dedicated Internet Service (requires a 2 year term): 10Mbps - 1Gbps for $550 - $5,687
The full preliminary proposed rate structure [PDF] is available from the Broadband Authority’s website.
The Authority will hold a public hearing on Friday, March 18 at 8:30 a.m. on the rate structure. After the public hearing, the board may request to adopt the preliminary proposed rates. Local news has the rest:
Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority Moving Forward
After multiple delays, the much anticipated Roanoke-Salem fiber network in Virginia has its feet on the ground. The network has secured an executive director who will provide greater project oversight and find Internet service providers (ISPs) to operate on the open access network.
Now that the project is under way, it is moving at a rapid pace. The Broadband Authority already secured a contract for $2.9 million to lay the conduit for the fiber optic cable, and crews are already at work. By year’s end, the project should finally be complete.
Two years ago, a completion date seemed far-fetched. The cities of Roanoke and Salem and the counties of Roanoke and Botetourt met to discuss the growing problem of poor Internet access in the region. The area had the reputation for being in a "doughnut hole" - too large to qualify for federal grants but too sparsely populated to attract investment from large telecom providers. The city of Roanoke, for instance, ranked 409th out of 429 US metropolitan areas for basic Internet access.
Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority Takes Shape
The Star reports that the Roanoke City Council unanimously voted to work with surrounding communities to form a broadband coalition. We reported Roanoke County, Botetourt County, Salem and the town of Roanoke were in the process forming the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority. Local community leaders took the first step in Roanoke, where the community has already set $1 million aside for the venture.
The Authority is starting out with support from the local media. A Roanoke Times editorial addressed the situation in the Valley and stressed the importance to act quickly:
There is no time to waste in building a broadband Internet structure that will keep the Roanoke Valley competitive. Without it, the region will wither and watch futilely while others whiz by. They already are.
The board will need to make many decisions with little time to tarry since the region’s capabilities are lagging. Businesses already are encountering hiccups when overloading the existing network. And other regions beckon with faster speeds. The Roanoke Valley is too large and well off economically to have qualified for federal funds and tobacco-relief funds that have brought broadband to rural and struggling areas in Southside and far Southwest Virginia. But it isn’t large enough to attract providers that would build bigger, better networks in order to compete for customers.
The region has no choice but to build its own network. An authority charged specifically with that task should best be able to hire the experts and vet the options so that Roanoke Valley accelerates to warp speed.
Roanoke Valley map from Foundation For Roanoke Valley