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Wittman urges support of rural broadband expansion funds in four VA-01 counties

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Washington, July 30, 2020 | comments

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01), penned a letter to the Virginia Department of Housing Community Development’s Office of Broadband in support of the Mathews, Middlesex, Caroline, and Lancaster Counties’ FY 2021 Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) grant application to expand the availability of high-speed broadband service in those localities.

“Rural Virginians know the value of high-speed broadband access,” Congressman Wittman writes. “Broadband is vital to the economic progress, educational well-being, and a significant enhancement to telehealth expansion. In the First Congressional District of Virginia, as in other largely rural areas, economic incentives are needed to expand broadband access. The VATI program has done an exceptional job of meeting that need.”

Congressman Wittman’s letter of support comes at a time when more and more Virginians are turning to the internet to perform basic functions to work, learn, recreate, and receive telehealth services. The four counties listed in the letter have collaborated with Atlantic Broadband to design a regional project to use the VATI grant funds, providing broadband access to roughly 1500 currently-unserved households in the region. 

Click here or scroll below to read Congressman Wittman’s letter in its entirety: 

Tamarah Holmes, Ph.D.

Director, Office of Broadband

Department of Housing and Community Development

Richmond, VA  

Dear Director Holmes:

I am writing in support of the Mathews, Middlesex, Caroline, and Lancaster Counties FY 2021 Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) grant application to expand high-speed broadband availability in the multiple counties in the First Congressional District through a partnership with Atlantic Broadband. Approval of this application would help meet a critical and mounting need to expand high-speed broadband service in the following counties

Rural Virginians know the value of high-speed broadband access.  Broadband is vital to their economic progress, educational well-being, and a significant enhancement to telehealth expansion.  In the First Congressional District of Virginia, as in other largely rural areas, economic incentives are needed to expand broadband access.  The VATI program, has done an exceptional job of meeting that need.  Support from VATI encourages private telecommunication providers to enlarge their physical plant and gives local government entities the ability to design the expansion plan that makes most sense for their community.   This eases the financial burden associated with construction, extends service, and creates a win-win scenario for the participants and for the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

The four counties have collaborated with Atlantic Broadband to design a regional project that will make excellent use of the VATI grant program, providing broadband access to 1,500 currently unserved households. This application is efficiently designed, represents a first-rate use of state resources with a high-rate of non-state leverage, and will be synchronized by a regional entity experienced in managing these kinds of projects. I have also been advised that this application is the first of several phased projects, and that the counties are already planning for more growth and expansion.  I’m sure you will be hearing more about this in future VATI rounds.  This kind of forward-looking approach is what I hope all Virginia jurisdictions are aspiring to.  

I am happy to offer my enthusiastic support for this well-planned regional effort.  

Sincerely,

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