Governor Ralph Northam proposed a historic investment in the state’s continued efforts to get Virginians connected to broadband Friday.
Virginia is set to receive more than four billion dollars in federal pandemic relief aid. And if the governor has his way, a significant chunk of that money will go towards expanding broadband access.
“We are gonna put in $700 million across the Commonwealth of Virginia of ARPA funds to get that last mile to everybody in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Northam said, followed by applause from the crowd at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon.
The most impressive piece of that plan is the timeline. During Friday’s announcement, Northam said those efforts will be complete by 2024. Most of those connections would begin to take shape within the next 18 months.
The governor and state lawmakers were previously working under a framework that would have achieved that goal in 2028.
Virginia Senator Mark Warner was also on hand for the announcement. He said the move would attract jobs and help rural parts of the state, where most of those last mile connections will take place.
“If we get this plan of the governor’s implemented, we will be the first state in the country to have this comprehensive of an approach,” Warner explained.
The General Assembly will consider Northam’s proposal when it reconvenes for a special session next month.