The Eastern Shore of Virginia Broadband Authority, Spectrum, and Neubeam are steadily improving our access to highspeed broadband, defined by the FCC as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds. Some of the hookup costs can be pricey, but most broadband monthly service costs are affordable.
But the plans of these public and private internet providers seem to be leaving a lot of us out. For example, we live 1 mile from the Wachapreague town limits and ½ mile from a VDOT road. Yesterday, we were getting 2 Mbps download and 0 Mbps upload speeds from our DSL telephone provider. We are on all of the available internet providers’ waiting lists.
Even Accomack Supervisor Ron Wolff has written that he can’t get the internet service he needs.
High Earth orbit satellite service like HughesNet is one of our options, but reviews critique their service inconsistency, high cost, long contracts, and data caps limiting how much internet can be used before the costs go up.
Other Virginia counties have set goals for when and how 100% of their residents will get served: Nelson County by 2024, Amherst County by 2024 or 2025, Louisa County by 2025. In Floyd County, 97% of its residents will be served by the end of 2021.
They can achieve these goals in a number of ways, not only with fiber, but also with wireless towers, low Earth orbit satellites, or using the electric cooperatives’ infrastructure. Floyd County is using its telephone co-op.
We recommend that both counties prepare a plan for serving 100% of their residents with high-speed affordable broadband. Perhaps, the planning process could be overseen by a “blue-ribbon” committee of respected community leaders and experts, a technique our counties have used in the past.
Being a “100% connected community” will help our education and health institutions address their critical needs, especially in these pandemic times. And it will improve our economy through enhanced e-commerce, and help our economic development leaders succeed in marketing the Shore for tourism and new business.
Jane and Paul Berge, Wachapreague