Blog Post

City and County Representatives in Virginia Speak Out Against Restrictive Broadband Bill

 

Several cities and county representatives in Virginia have passed resolutions and written letters in opposition to the Virginia Broadband Deployment Act (VA HB 2108), which would effectively ban public and public-private broadband networks.

 

Next Century Cities has publicly opposed the bill. We signed a letter, along with over a dozen other groups, arguing that VA HB 2108 would harm both the public and private sectors, slow economic growth, prevent the creation and retention of jobs throughout Virginia, and diminish the quality of life in Virginia. We signed this letter because the over 160 mayors and city leaders who are part of Next Century Cities believe that broadband solutions must align with community needs, and that towns and cities should have the right to consider all options – whether public, nonprofit, corporate, or some other hybrid – free from restrictive laws and interference.

 

The growing list of the Virginia cities and county representatives opposing the legislation includes:

 

Bedford County: “The opportunities and investments that Bedford County Broadband Authority offers to the County of Bedford and our region are threatened by legislation that seeks to create wholly unnecessary regulatory barriers to the growth of broadband authorities,” the Bedford County Resolution reads. “HB 2108, if enacted, will stymie the recent development opportunities and successes experienced by Bedford County and our region…and place Bedford County and its regional partners at a significant competitive disadvantage to other localities around the United States”

 

Chesapeake: “Passage of the [Virginia Broadband Deployment] Act would greatly hinder the City’s ability to improve and expand public access to broadband telecommunication services and facilitate technological connectivity…throughout the City and especially to underserved areas of the City by establishing severe restrictions and burdens on the City’s ability to improve and expand access to these services,” the Chesapeake City Council Resolution reads.

 

Franklin County:  “Franklin County seeks to protect the proprietary information of local businesses”, and therefore the County Board of Supervisors Council passed a resolution in opposition to the bill on the grounds that it does not “maximize County policy and funding options to improve broadband access and reliability.”

 

Louisa County Broadband Authority : “House Bill 2108 takes a nearly impossible task [of improving broadband service] and adds unnecessary and additional burdens on rural Authorities,” the Louisa County Broadband Authority wrote in a letter to the Virginia General Assembly. “We strongly oppose this legislative effort, whose various operation requirements guarantee that our citizens and their children will continue to be unable to gain broadband access in large parts of our County.”

 

Nelson County: “This proposed legislation is an existential threat to municipal broadband rights in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If passed, it makes it virtually impossible for localities to determine how to deliver broadband access to their community,” Nelson County Administration wrote in a letter to Virginia House Delegates. “It ties the hands of local government in all issues related to Broadband, the growing digital divide, and related economic development issues including Job Creation and Attraction, Education and Real Estate Value Management.”

 

Norfolk: “Passage of HB 2108 would take away each locality’s authority to hinder its ability to utilize and manage such infrastructure in furtherance of achieving timely and affordable access to broadband and technological infrastructure,” the Norfolk City Council resolution reads.  

 

Roanoke County: “HB 2108, if enacted, will create de facto private monopolies that lack the incentive to expand high-speed and affordable internet services to all areas of our region…and [will] hamper the ability of our region to compete with localities throughout the country,” the Roanoke County Council resolution reads.   

 

Salem: “[HB 2108] is misguided, irrational, and anti-business….This is not about delivery of Internet service to the home ( a la Bristol),” Salem Mayor Byron Foley wrote in a letter to the Virginia House Commerce and Labor Committee. “It is about providing all businesses (rural, urban, and suburban) the opportunity to compete in an economy that demands speed, value, and effectiveness via the Internet.”

 

Virginia Beach: “Passage of the [Virginia Broadband Deployment] Act would greatly hinder the progress the city has made to encourage economic development and facilitate technological connectivity throughout the City, the region, and the Commonwealth by precluding the City from sharing infrastructure it owns with any non-governmental entity to provide efficient and cost-effective connectivity,” the City Council of Virginia Beach resolution reads.

 

If you are a business owner or representative of a locality in Virginia and you are opposed to the limitations to local control this bill proposes, please consider using the Friends of Municipal Broadband’s Press Kit to speak out against it.