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Correspondent of the Day, May 16, 2021: Use surplus to fund Internet connectivity

Correspondent of the Day, May 16, 2021: Use surplus to fund Internet connectivity

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Use surplus to fund Internet connectivity

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I am excited by the bounty of funds to be collected by Virginia state government, because it offers an unique opportunity to address my biggest desire for the commonwealth — internet connectivity. Now is a generational opportunity to wire Virginia homes and businesses for the future of commerce, health, education and, in fact, way of life.

First, we need to lay internet backbones to all reaches of the commonwealth’s interstates and U.S. primary highways, connected to the internet exchanges in Northern Virginia and with the transoceanic cable terminuses in eastern Henrico County. And 500 terabit cable bundles should be laid in a public-private partnership with Virginia’s telecommunications firms providing discount, reliable, redundant connections to new and existing business consumers located throughout the state.

Second, we need to endeavor to bring fiber optic broadband to every home and business address in the commonwealth. Fixed fiber to the premises is the future-proof, high-performing solution Virginians need. This again should be accomplished through public-private partnerships with telecommunications or electric utility firms to provide reasonable connection costs for consumers and open access for competing bandwidth providers on the new network. We should aim for 10-gigabit (GB) connectivity for all premises, at a price that is reasonably affordable. (10 GB is enough data for 500 hours of browsing or 64 hours of streaming music.)

Finally, we should partner with Starlink and subsidize the price of internet receiving dishes to reach those places where we just can’t build fiber. Though low-Earth orbit satellite Internet like Starlink offers is new technology, it already has been technologically proven to offer an unique service for inaccessible locations. We can pay the $500 cost of the dish upfront for consumers — if they agree to contract for the Starlink service for at least a year.

These recommendations will help bring jobs and businesses to all parts of the commonwealth; link individuals to health, education and economic opportunities; and help make Virginia — the internet capital — a leader for the future.

John Owens.



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