WASHINGTON – Today, Virginia announced that almost $3 million in grants would be awarded to Virginia’s First District through the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VaTI). The First District counties include: Stafford County and King and Queen County.
“I am thrilled to see this important investment coming to the First District,” said Wittman. “Demand for high speed broadband has never been greater; closing the digital divide is the key to lifting up countless communities and populations in unserved areas. If we are going to get broadband systems built out as quickly as possible, it means we must leverage private dollars as well as public dollars – at the local, state, and federal level. We have worked hard with our localities to make sure our area received the investments needed to make broadband expansion to unserved areas a reality – and this is a great first step.”
In an effort to ensure localities knew about the VaTI program and how to apply, Congressman Wittman brought in representatives from the Governor’s Chief Broadband Advisor’s office to New Kent, Stafford, and Ashland to provide briefings on VaTI and other state and federal agency broadband funding programs. The briefings served as an opportunity for representatives from the Governor’s Chief Broadband Advisor’s office to discuss their broadband digital toolkit, which serves as an all-encompassing resource to better inform communities about the learning resources available for applying for broadband expansion funding and best steps to take to better position themselves for state and federal funding. Congressman Wittman also wrote letters of support for localities.
As a co-chair of the House Rural Broadband Caucus, Rep. Wittman continues to be a leader on promoting access to broadband in rural areas. He has sent letters to both President Trump and Democratic leadership advocating for rural broadband expansion in future infrastructure projects. He, along with several colleagues, introduced the Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2019, which requires broadband providers to report service availability based on geometric location rather than traditional census blocks, to create an improved National Broadband Map that is significantly more accurate, so that federal broadband funds can be better directed to areas that need it the most.
The VATI program is a state-funded program administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The goal of VATI is to create strong, competitive communities throughout the Commonwealth by preparing those communities to build, utilize and capitalize on telecommunications infrastructure. DHCD allocated more than $18.3 million to eligible applicants to provide “last-mile” services to unserved areas of Virginia and received 39 applications from 34 localities requesting $43.6 million in funding.