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Northam proposes more funds for broadband expansion program

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Gov. Ralph Northam will seek increased funding for a program aimed at expanding broadband to underserved areas of the commonwealth.

The governor’s proposed budget will include $50 million for the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative in fiscal year 2020.

Previously, only $4 million had been allocated annually to the program.

“Broadband internet is inarguably a necessity for participation in a 21st century economy, and many Virginians have been left without quality access for far too long,” the governor said in a statement.

The goal of broadband initiative is to create incentives for internet service providers to expand service to unserved Virginians.

Under the program, state money would be matched by local, federal and private funds.

Northam expects these commitments as the first installments in a multi-year program totaling $250 million.

He wants to provide connection speeds greater than 10 megabits (10,000,000 bits) per second. Standard dial-up speeds are 56 kilobits (56,000 bits).

Northam will address the Joint Money Committees on Tuesday to provide full details of his budget plan.

Virginia Business looked at the commonwealth’s broadband issues in its October cover story.

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