Broadband Internet for Louisa County
A Commonsense Plan of Action by Duane Adams
Well before the end of the last century, no one in Virginia would start a business in a community that didn’t have electricity. Frankly, very few of us would ever want to live, work, raise a family or retire without it.
In fact, electricity was deemed so vital to America’s future and prosperity that Congress created rural co-ops to ensure every family was connected. With local investments wires were strung across America until everyone was connected.
Today that critical utility is broadband Internet, which is a vital component of our society and our economy. Business leaders and homeowners look for fast, reliable Internet service like they look for good schools, quality roads and bridges, and modern conveniences.
I know this is a critical need to many in our community, which is why I’ve done the research to move forward. I won’t just talk about what we need as your Supervisor, I’m ready to act.
I’ve met with the CEO of the Central Virginia Electric Co-Op and spoken with the CEO of Bath Allegheny and Rockbridge Electric Co-Op where they are investing $20 million dollars without local government funds to bring fiber optic internet to their community. I've spoken with executives from Mid-Atlantic Broadband who serve all U.S. Air Force bases around the world, and I’ve traveled to the panhandle of Oklahoma to research broadband Internet at speeds in excess of 50Mbps in extremely rural areas. That kind of speed lets users download high-resolution photos in seconds and HD quality video in mere minutes.
Line-of-sight Internet through a series of newly constructed towers is a mediocre technology at best with very little room for future improvement. This is technology that does nothing to help expand our economic base or attract business to Louisa County. Without a doubt, what I’ve learned is there’s only one way to go: hardwired fiber optic – it’s the future-proof technology we can rely on for this generation and the next. By partnering with neighboring counties through Regional alliances we can act to reduce government regulation and red tape to incentivize action to bring this critical infrastructure to our citizens.
Sadly, the Supervisors in our county have spent tens of thousands of dollars to “study” the issue of bringing broadband access to the county and they’ve earmarked more than $1.1 million for line-of-sight technology that simply isn’t the solution we need long term. I can’t say it more clearly – we don’t have to spend another $50,000 (which is still in the budget) to study a failed technology, nor do we have to commit to millions more. Our County leadership is proposing to spend millions of tax dollars on "flip phone" technology when we are in the "smart" phone era. This is short sighted at best and wastes the hard earned tax dollars of our citizens.
What they’re doing is just plain wrong.
The Broadband Commission in Bristol, VA spent $130 million of taxpayer money without providing Internet access as they promised – and ended up selling the infrastructure for only $50 million. Across America governments have failed – in Tennessee, Louisiana, Connecticut, Vermont, Utah and dozens of other places – while real solutions exist in the private sector without risking huge sums of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
Hardwired fiber optic can be installed like electricity. We can use the same infrastructure that was created to bring 20th century technology to American homes and businesses to bring 21st century technology to Louisa County. Real leadership looks for solutions, I know the answer is not bigger government or throwing taxpayer money at an issue which our county has no knowledge or experience. There is a better way.
I know by leveraging a limited amount of resources and finding the right partners - who can use the successful rural electric co-op methods of the past – we can truly transform our county and make it attractive to the businesses of the future without losing the quality of life that makes us the envy of Virginia.