Virginia State Officials Confident of Chances for Broadband Grants

Broadband Data, States July 28th, 2009

, Reporter-Researcher, BroadbandBreakfast.com

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., July 28, 2009 — Virginia Deputy Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson said here Monday that the second version of Virginia’s innovative, multi-platform broadband map would be publicly released on Friday.

The timing means that Virginians who apply for federal broadband funds will have a data-driven competitive edge against other applicants.

“We’re going to make sure we [Virginians]—no offense to anyone—win,” Jackson said at the Virginia Summit on Broadband Access, held Monday at Piedmont Virginia Community College. The new map had been scheduled to be released Monday, but was held for “some fine-tuning.”

The map is scheduled to be launched on Friday, on wired.virginia.gov. Visitors will have access to broadband coverage data, census block information, population, and more. “We want to make sure you’re competitive,” she said.

She highlighted the need for user feedback on the project: “We can’t do that unless you tell us what we need to do.” It will also be available on multiple platforms, including GoogleEarth. Jackson promised that users will be able to zoom in on the map to the address level.

Virginia had already created a broadband map for the state, the result of an initiative that began years ago by the state’s broadband council. Virginia has said that both incarnations have come at no cost to taxpayers: the maps were created with the cooperation of thirty broadband carriers in the state.

Jackson applauded the ingenuity of the state’s strategy. “We used existing resources from the Center for Innovative Technology, the Virginia Information Technology Agency, the Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance, and these providers, then added them up to make sure we had something,” she said.

Virginia could be a unique case, she said: “[We are] very fortunate we have the providers we have,” she said, noting their voluntary willingness to provide consumer information other companies generally protect. “Lots of states cannot pull off what we did.”

She also spoke to the possibility that Virginian entities might buildf broadband grant application for a sustainability program. The proposed bundle would focus mostly on telemedicine, telecommunications, and smartgrid technologies. Ultimately, she said, it is the broadband council’s goal to “keep broadband going” in Virginia long after the $7.2 billion stimulus is gone.

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