On May 18-19, VACo in partnership with the Virginia Municipal League (VML) and the Broadband Association of Virginia (VCTA) will host the 2022 Broadband Together Conference at the Hilton Short Pump in Richmond. The event will be focused on efforts to expand broadband access and affordability in Virginia, updates for the FY 2023 Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI), and other related issues. The conference will be followed immediately by a meeting of the Broadband Advisory Council. More information on the event and a link to the registration can be found here.
As previously reported, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development has released the draft 2023 Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) program guidelines and criteria for public comment. VACo submitted a letter to DHCD with comments in support of some of the proposed changes to the program. Final Guidelines are expected to be announced by DHCD on May 20th and VACo will provide that information once it is public. More information on the VATI program can be found here.
On April 28 the Broadband Advisory Council met in Richmond and re-elected Senator Jennifer Boysko as Chair and elected Delegate Kathy Byron as Vice-Chair. As part of their meeting, the Council reviewed the proposed VATI guidelines and received a presentation from Brandon Herndon, Director of the Center for Geospatial Information Technology at Virginia Tech. Mr. Herndon unveiled the Commonwealth Connection mapping tool, which provides more timely and accurate information on where high-speed internet service is available in Virginia, will allow state officials as well as consumers to determine where reliable broadband access exists — and where it is lacking. Additionally, the new tool will give local governments key data needed to request funds, deploy broadband infrastructure, and reach the more than 50,000 underserved homes, businesses, and community anchor institutions that are without a funded solution for connectivity. Virginia Tech was directed and provided funding for this initiative in budget language enacted in the 2021 session of the General Assembly. The enacted language closely follows a legislative effort supported by VACo to develop this technology.
VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett