Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
Public hearings near on an authority to steer the region toward better fiber-optic infrastructure.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Roanoke Valley residents should not conclude that recent improvements in Internet connection speed by one provider bring the region’s broadband infrastructure up to speed. Not compared to other communities, in Virginia and elsewhere, competing to attract high-tech start-ups that can generate new waves of economic activity.
Fiber-optic cable can transfer data at 1 gigabit per second, available now in Bristol — which is 10 or more times faster service than most people and businesses can get in the valley.
And even an upgrade to fiber-optic cable will not be sufficient if the service is not accessible and affordable throughout the valley.
Public hearings are coming up next month in the city and county of Roanoke, Salem and Botetourt County on a plan for local governments to band together to form a Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority. It could work with the private sector to create a regional open-access, fiber-optic Internet network that would allow large and small service providers to compete on a level playing field.
That would unleash the power of the marketplace to drive innovation and keep prices low for an expanded customer base.
Such a public-private collaboration could push the current glacial pace of providing ultra-high-speed access to all parts of the valley, and ensure the infrastructure build-out will meet community needs and economic development goals, as well as provide the redundancy companies require for reliability to protect their stores of data.
Local governing bodies will want to know they’d have the public’s support if they agreed to set up such an authority.
Cheerleaders and naysayers alike should make note of upcoming public hearings, and make their thoughts known.
Hearings will be held Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. in the city of Roanoke, Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Salem, and Aug. 27 at 3 p.m. in Botetourt County, and 7 p.m. in Roanoke County.
Open access to high-speed Internet has become a critical part of municipal infrastructures — to attract and keep high-tech companies with expanding data needs, yes. But also to keep up with high-tech advances in medicine, public safety and education.
Already, the Roanoke Valley has fallen behind some localities in western and Southwest Virginia on the information superhighway.
Last year, in announcing the arrival of 1-gigabit broadband in Bristol, straddling Virginia and Tennessee, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services noted the city now had “one of the fastest, totally built out networks in the United States.”
How fast is 1 Gbps? A news release gave as an example an elementary school in the Appalachian foothills that, using Smart Board technology, offered 20 8-year-olds a virtual field trip to Egypt to learn about the pyramids — “assisted by their own on-site tour guide.”
Weather JournalComplexities of ice accretion