- Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 September 2009 15:23
- Published on Wednesday, 30 September 2009 15:23
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The Westmoreland Supervisors have voted to join their neighbors from Richmond, Northumberland and Lancaster counties in the formation of a Northern Neck Broadband Authority intended to hasten creation of a fiber-optic grid capable of making high-speed Internet services available throughout Virginia’s Northern Neck.
The action follows multiple years of effort from the region’s Economic Development Partnership. Needs assessments were previously conducted and the newly created authority is poised to receive as much as $17 million in federal stimulus funding to support the ambitious project.
Northern Neck Planning District Director Jerry Davis has met with every member jurisdiction’s Board of Supervisors in recent weeks to secure the action needed to proceed.
A broadband implementation plan has been completed with assistance from a prior grant award and the authority will be ready to move as quickly as the next wave of stimulus money becomes available.
The resolution adopted by the Westmoreland Supervisors and other Northern Neck Broadband Authority provides essential details.
“[Prior] assessment and planning efforts,” it states, “have shown that access to affordable high speed data and Internet service (‘broadband’) is unavailable to businesses and citizens in the vast majority of the Northern Neck region.
“The private sector alone will not fulfill this community need in the near future.
“Access to affordable broadband is important for fostering economic development, improving educational opportunities, ensuring public safety and enhancing the overall quality of life of the citizens of the region.
“In order to facilitate the provision of affordable broadband service to businesses, governmental agencies and the general public, it is in the best interests of the general welfare of the citizens of each county to form a regional broadband authority,” the resolution states.
The Northern Neck Broadband Authority is being created as a result of the Virginia Wireless Service Authorities Act’s Chapter 54.1 of Title 15.2 “as a body politic and corporate, and as an instrumentality exercising public and essential governmental functions to provide for the public health and welfare as authorized under the act,” the resolution additionally relates.
County Administrator Norman Risavi will represent Westmoreland County on the Northern Neck Broadband Authority.
“The authority is not going to be a service provider,” explained Risavi, who then advised that customer access fees will be used to offset debt associated with creation of the new system’s infrastructure.
According to Davis, the project’s open access system will optimize the availability of the high-speed web service at lower cost due to market competition. According to current plans, the service will be come available on Virginia’s Northern Neck after a two-year construction period.