Virginia Broadband Survey Results Released
Expansion of broadband access has been a topic Highland and Bath county leaders have had on their radar recently, with both counties looking to cooperate in research and initiatives. In a December press release, The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) announced the results from the report from a statewide broadband demand survey, Virginia’s 2016 RUOnlineVA initiative. Based off of the responses received from citizens throughout the Commonwealth, the survey found many respondents still lack fixed Internet access.
RUOnlineVA, which was officially announced by Governor McAuliffe on May 24, 2016 and closed in August, was a statewide survey designed to provide Virginians an opportunity to log their need for Internet service. The goal of the initiative was to identify where broadband is needed most in the Commonwealth.
The RUOnlineVA initiative received strong support from multiple agencies, associations and local governments and collected more than 15,000 responses from residents and businesses from 129 Virginia localities. The report provides details and analysis of the data collected as well as recommendations for the Commonwealth. The resulting recommendations were developed based on the findings of the survey as well as CIT’s expertise and work with providers to determine the barriers to access. The recommendations highlight policies and programs that are considered integral to expanding broadband throughout Virginia.
Among other findings, the data indicates 23% of the respondents, which could represent as many as 782,745 homes, have no options for fixed Internet access. Also, almost half of the respondents are relying on technologies that are too expensive and/or too slow to support critical applications.
In addition to highlighting areas in need, the RUOnlineVA campaign has helped to bridge the gap between the Internet service providers and the citizens. CIT collaborated with some of the incumbent providers to address inquiries about the lack of service reported within coverage areas which resulted in a number of providers identifying and solving some of the issues.
Sandie Terry, Vice President of Broadband at CIT said, “This survey provided us crowd-sourced broadband demand that gives us a view of unserved areas beyond the provider reported coverage. We are grateful for the providers that worked with us to investigate clusters of unmet demand. Those efforts identified policy and process changes that can eliminate barriers to expansion.”
Links to the full report findings, and an interactive broadband availability map can be found with this story on our website, alleghenymountainradio.org.