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Wittman urges support for rural broadband expansion throughout VA-01 counties

WASHINGTON – Last week, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01), authored five letters to the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s Office of Broadband in support of the following counties FY 2021 Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) grant applications to expand reliable high-speed broadband service to rural Virginia:

Gloucester County

Mathews County

Middlesex County

Hanover County

King and Queen County

New Kent County

King George County

Northumberland County

Richmond County

Westmoreland County

“Over the past few months, COVID-19 has altered our lives in a multitude of ways. We all depend on reliable broadband connectivity to perform everyday tasks. Nowhere has the digital divide been more obvious than in rural Virginia,” Congressman Wittman wrote. “Broadband is key to the economic stability, telehealth access, and educational well-being of all in Virginia’s First Congressional District. Economic incentives are needed to expand broadband access and public-private partnerships, like the ones VATI enables are critical for broadband access.”

Congressman Wittman’s letters of support comes at a time when every Virginian is turning to the internet to perform almost every task, such as telework, virtual-learning, job applications, and accessing telehealth services. The local VA-01 applicants supported by Congressman Wittman have collaborated with various internet service providers to establish effective public-private partnerships to provide broadband access to thousands of currently unserved homes, schools, and businesses in the region. This announcement follows a July 2020 VATI support letter of four other VA-01 counties. 

Congressman Wittman serves a co-chair of the bipartisan House Rural Broadband Caucus; this year introduced the Serving Rural America Act; helped draft the Broadband DATA Act, which requires providers report service availability based on more granular geolocation rather than traditional census blocks to improve the National Broadband Map; Co-sponsored the MAPS Act, which makes it unlawful for ISPs to willfully, knowingly, or recklessly submit inaccurate coverage information to the FCC; and this year has hosted two fireside chats with FCC Chairman Ajitt Pai and FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr to hear from area stakeholders, local officials, and constituents on issues of broadband connectivity.

The Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) extends broadband service to currently unserved areas. VATI prepares communities to build, utilize, and capitalize on telecommunications infrastructure with the goal of creating strong, competitive communities. 

Click here to read Congressman Wittman’s letter in support of Gloucester, Mathews, and Middlesex Counties.

Click here to read Congressman Wittman’s letter in support of Hanover County. 

Click here to read Congressman Wittman’s letter in support of King and Queen County.

Click here to read Congressman Wittman’s letter in support of New Kent County.

Click here to read Congressman Wittman’s letter in support of King George, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland Counties. 

Click here to read Congressman Wittman’s July 2020 letter in support of Mathews County, Caroline County, Lancaster County, and Middlesex County.

Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he serves as the ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.