Broadband illustration

Comment articles reflect the opinion of the writer(s), not the Rapp News. Comment below or by writing a letter to the editor: editor@rappnews.com.

The Board of Supervisors should approve the All Points contract to deliver fiber to the homes that want it. Here’s why: 

Quality of Life: It seems that everyone supports the idea of broadband access across the county.  The benefits to workers, students and families are obvious.

Impact on Housing: Broadband does not drive new construction. Zoning and construction permit approvals control that. However, getting high-speed fiber Internet can add an average of 3.1% to your home’s value. This is according to a new study of 500,000 home sales by the University of Colorado and Carnegie Mellon University. Not a bad return for a $199 investment.

Limited Opportunity: Currently, the federal and Virginia state governments seek to subsidize rural access to broadband in Virginia under VATI. However this is a one-shot opportunity.  Politics change, and funding goes elsewhere. Eisenhower acted to build the U.S. Interstate System, making a huge difference in the Nation. Today’s “super-highways” are on Fiber.

County Economics: The County has $1.4 million needed to start. All other funds have come from other programs and contributions. It would be foolish to not leverage state funding in short term, long term, strategic and economic benefits. The other option is to snooze, to blow it off, and to wave it all goodbye. The upside is huge, the costs relatively small, and the consequences are known — high speed access for those who sign up to receive it. Disruptions will be no more than we have been experiencing for fiber installation along Routes 29 and 211 or Routes 522 and 630, or with regular phone and power line work.

Family Economics: There is no broadband access at our home. Comcast wants over $6,000 to run cable to our house.  Our neighbor (up the road a bit) has a Comcast quote for $40,000 to run a service line. It is not the easiest, least expensive and least risky solution to help folks hook up to existing services. The county does not have the money or program to do that. For me, choosing $199 for connection to a high bandwidth fiber solution looks very attractive.

View-shed: Both fiber and satellite offer no impact on the view-shed of our beautiful county.  Fiber will be underground, or along existing polls. Satellite brings ever-smaller dishes on roofs or posts. Most other options use towers that negatively impact the view-shed.

Business/Competition: Some have wondered why Piedmont Broadband is not in the mix for County-wide fiber. Piedmont, and every other interested company had the opportunity to propose to the county. All Points Broadband proposed and was selected. It takes a big company with capital access and deep resources to deploy across eight counties. Big is not necessarily bad.

 



 

For Rappahannock families and the county, competition is our friend. It keeps service up and prices down. Those who like Piedmont, CenturyLink, Starlink, or All Points can choose them, where they have access. They will moderate and check each other and Rappahannock families will benefit.

Technical Items: A fiber optics infrastructure to the home is once-and-done. Metal wires and cables have electro-magnetic limits. Not so with Fiber. It sends data in flashes of light. Current speeds on fiber can range to over 1Gbps. It is a solution that consistently gets faster each year.  10Gbps is currently deployed, and they are working on 1Tbps speeds now.

What about Starlink? Sure. But it is not $40 a month. It now advertises $99 monthly, after a $578.10 equipment and delivery cost with installation separate. It is not available now. Due to demand, service to our area is pushed to 2023. Other LOS (Low orbit satellite) companies, like Iridium, have gone bankrupt. Independently tested median download speeds from Starlink (In the US during Q1 2021) “ranged from 40.36Mbps in Columbia County, Oregon to 93.09Mbps in Shasta County, California," according to PCMagazine.Starlink latency was measured by Ookla testing between 31ms to 88mswith an average of 34ms.  Most would prefer the faster downloads and 17ms average latency that fiber delivers. 

I respect those who are concerned about the impacts of deployed technology.  Such concerns may well have been entertained as the first electric and phone lines were run in the County.  Those technologies changed things for the better for families. They did not change the character of the County we love. I have had the privilege to work in Telecom/IT industry as a consultant and business leader for many years. I would suggest that fiber to the home, on these terms, is better than a no-brainer — it is a smart-brainer. 

The writer lives in Huntly


 

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