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Virginia Launches $12M Rural Broadband Initiative

June 21, 2004

One of the more interesting uses of funds from the national tobacco settlement with the states, Virginia officials announced a $12 million economic development and broadband technology infrastructure initiative to serve more than 25 towns, cities and counties of rural Virginia.

The Regional Backbone/Roots of Progress Initiative (RBI) will create 700 miles of new fiber optic cable that will connect five cities, 20 counties, 56 industrial parks and provide high-speed Internet access to nearly 700,000 citizens and more than 19,000 businesses throughout Virginia at a 20 percent reduction in high-speed Internet access costs. Construction is scheduled to begin in October and expected to be completed by January 2006.

The RBI will allow an open-access advanced broadband network to provide wholesale dark fiber and managed high-speed bandwidth services to rural Virginia where services do not currently exist. The RBI will also bring increased competition for Competitive Local Exchange Carriers and Internet Service Providers as well as other competitive carriers, which should result in lower costs for high-speed Internet connections for citizens.

The initiative stems from a collaboration between the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission (VTICRC), the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, and the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, a Richmond-based nonprofit organization formed to manage the project's funds of $6 million from VTICRC and another $6 million from EDA.

A June 18 announcement of the initiative is available through Gov. Mark Warner's press office at: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/