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Three more Virginia communities declared opposition to the proposed state legislation that would limit municipal networks. Nelson County, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach all have spoken out against the bill, HB 2108. We expect more communities to speak out over the next few weeks.
Last week, we reported that Franklin County and the City Council of Roanoke passed resolutions condemning Byron's bill. Roanoke is concerned that the bill will undo all the time, effort, and investment put into the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority's open access network; Franklin County is considering ways to improve local connectivity with private partners.
Most of the resolutions and statements so far have passed with unanimous support. The Norfolk County’s Board of Supervisors are set to vote on a resolution this Tuesday, January 24th.
Statements Support Internet Access, Condemn HB 2108
The resolution from Virginia Beach specifically pointed out that the bill undermines the goals of Virginia’s Broadband Advisory Council. Del. Kathy Byron is the author of the bill and the chair of that council.
“WHEREAS, the City Council of Virginia Beach supports the mission of the Broadband [Advisory] Council (“BAC”) as organized under Va. Code 2.2-2699.3 and its purpose of expediting deployment and reducing the cost of broadband access in the Commonwealth; however, passage of HB2108 and the Act would produce results that directly conflict with this purpose;”
Read all of the statements opposing HB 2018 here:
Last week, Virginia State Delegate Kathy Byron introduced a bill that, if passed, will cripple attempts for municipalities to improve local connectivity. HB 2108, the “Virginia Broadband Deployment Act, imposes specific requirements on municipal networks that would greatly limit whether communities could offer Internet access or work with private sector partners.
The City of Roanoke and Franklin County wasted no time in unanimously passing resolutions to oppose the Virginia bill.
Franklin County Formally Opposes HB 2108
The Franklin County Board of Supervisors swiftly drafted their resolution in order to take it to the press conference in Richmond the next day. Reprinted below is the text of the Franklin County Resolution:
WHEREAS, broadband access and reliability are essential to citizens, businesses, and non-profits in Franklin County; and
WHEREAS, citizens, businesses, and non-profits desire faster and more reliable broadband speeds; and
WHEREAS, areas of Franklin County lack broadband access; and
WHEREAS, we seek to maximize County policy and funding options to improve broadband access and reliability; and
WHEREAS, Franklin County seeks to protect the proprietary information of local businesses;
NOW BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, we the Franklin County Board of Supervisors do hereby formally oppose House Bill 2108, the Virginia Broadband Deployment Act.
City of Roanoke: "We Say No Way"
The City of Roanoke Council unanimously passed a similar resolution condemning the bill. Several council members specifically discussed the impact of such legislation on the new Roanoke Valley Network and on their community’s Internet access.
Franklin County formed a partnership with a local wireless Internet service provider (WISP) to expand the County's local government wide-area network and provide broadband options for the citizens. The project leveraged County structures such as towers and water tanks for WISP transmitters and receivers. We were in the process of upgrading the public safety radio system at the same time, so the two efforts worked together to identify possible new tower locations that would improve radio coverage and meet broadband demand. The partnership provided the WISP with a fast-path to business growth through additional funding and access to existing infrastructure. The County provided space on towers, tanks and poles in exchange for Internet service at County offices. This arrangement lowered deployment costs for the WISP, expediting business growth. The partnership expanded the WISP customer base in Franklin County from 98 customers in early 2005 to approximately 1000 in early 2008. In addition, 15 fire and rescue stations were added to the County’s wide-area-network (WAN) in addition to five other County offices. There are many advantages to moving remote offices onto the WAN, including reduced costs and improved communications and data sharing across County Administration. The wireless mesh network supports data and voice and the WISP is currently segmenting the County's voice traffic on their network to ensure quality of service (QoS).A case study from Motorola [pdf] notes that Franklin County has received awards for its approach:
At the 10th annual Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium in 2008, Governor Timothy M.