Roanoke Valley business, civic leaders urge creation of regional authority to push broadband access [The Roanoke Times, Va.]
(Roanoke Times (Roanoke, VA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 06--A group of Roanoke Valley business and government leaders unveiled recommendations that would make broadband Internet access more affordable and accessible and could make the region more competitive in the 21st-century economy.
The Roanoke Valley Fiber/Broadband Task Force urged the formation of a public-private broadband authority to implement the recommendations resulting from an eight-month study.
"This is the first step that will allow schools, businesses and residences to thrive in a high-tech world," said Salem Mayor Randy Foley, one of several elected officials to attend the news conference.
Some of the task force recommendations include: --Outreach to large companies, institutions and broadband users to encourage support.
--Develop a master plan for a high-speed network that would reach schools, industrial parks, large employers and economic centers.
--Develop cooperative agreements for exchanging data across municipal boundaries.
--Implement "dig once" requirements, which would encourage the laying of optical fiber cables during construction projects.
--Reach agreements with Virginia Tech and Carilion Clinic to develop high-speed Internet in their communities.
--Work more closely with the New River Valley and other communities already supporting broadband and fiber projects.
--Inform the public about broadband and technology activities.
Judging by the number of local companies and governments that helped pay for the $50,000 study, the task force appears well on its way to bringing those parties together to create the regional network.
Local municipalities would have to adopt resolutions to create a broadband authority, much the same way regional utilities authorities are created. The task force said that at least six authorities exist in Virginia, including the New River Valley and Rockbridge County.
"We want Roanoke to be the mecca for technology folks," said Wayne Strickland, executive director of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, which spearheaded the creation the task force last May.
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