Universal broadband plan is presented

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A group examining the need for better broadband coverage in rural Virginia unveiled its plan on Wednesday.

The Virginia Rural Broadband Coalition (VRBC) presented to Gov. Ralph Northam a four-year plan to achieve the goal of universal connectivity for all Virginians.

The proposal will rely on partnerships, innovations and investments by local, state, and federal governments along with support and engagement from providers and communities.

The VRBC represents a number of key stakeholder groups with a role in developing policies to encourage broadband expansion across rural Virginia, including: rural-area leaders, business owners, government officials, electric cooperatives and private citizens.

"Today, all Virginians want a better quality of life for the next generation,” Rob Jones, executive director of VRBC, said in a statement.  “Someone’s potential for success in life should not be dictated by your zip code.  We need to bring universal connectivity to all Virginians to stay competitive globally and to provide the quality of life our residents deserve.  The previous four governors have invested significant time, energy and resources to expand broadband.  The foundation that they built provides Governor Northam the opportunity to expand upon their efforts and set a bold mission of universal connectivity for all Virginians. “

The coalition said its “Commonwealth Commitment” can serve as a roadmap for many localities hoping to expand broadband access throughout Virginia.

The steps in the plan include:

1.      Defining “universal connection;”
2.      Securing resources to achieve universal coverage;
3.      Determining the need and tracking the progress of connecting rural Virginians;
4.      Evaluating best practices from other efforts to deliver broadband to rural areas; and
5.      Connecting the commonwealth by 2022.

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