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Virginia will soon get even more money for expanding broadband access

Skylar Core, right, a worker with the Mason County (Wash.) Public Utility District, installs a hanger onto fiber optic cable as it comes off of a spool, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, while working with a team to install broadband internet service to homes in a rural area surrounding Lake Christine near Belfair, Wash. High-speed broadband internet service is one of the key areas of President Joe Biden's $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package being considered by lawmakers in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Ted S. Warren
A worker installs a hanger onto fiber optic cable as it comes off of a spool, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021.

Virginia is about to receive another infusion of money to help expand access to the internet.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill isn’t just about roads and bridges; it also includes funding for internet access. And Virginia will be receiving more than $6 million in funding for planning of broadband deployment at some point in the future.

Delegate Suhas Subramanyam of Loudoun County says this money will help direct future money.

"You're not going to get a lot of people access to the internet," Subramanyam says. "But, you can help plan to deploy that larger pot of money more efficiently by putting a good action plan in place. So, basically this is funding to help plan for the deployment of all those hundreds of millions of dollars in internet access, broadband access, broadband affordability funding that the Commonwealth is going to receive."

James Bohland at Virginia Tech says planning is important because this money should be going to help people without internet access and not towards wealthy corporate interests.

"If you're just going to lay more fiber, it really depends on who's going to control that fiber," explains Bohland. "Will it be the kind of legacy providers? Or, are they going to allow communities to have greater control over it? And that's the critical thing."

Governor Glenn Youngkin says the funding will help every Virginia home, business and community anchor institution get connected to broadband by 2024.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.