Localities hesitant for the fiber optic cable project

ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS) – Progress for the multi-locality broadband initiative slows as local officials determine they need more information.

Clay Goodman, the Roanoke County Administrator, says the Board of Supervisors was presented with the costs and design for the first time at the meeting on June 25. He says they want to double check to make sure the private sector is not able to provide the service. The board would also like to further evaluate the benefits versus the cost.

“The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors has not made a determination that it’s going to pull out or participate. They’re collecting the information and we will make a decision at a future meeting,” Goodman says.

The cities of Salem and Roanoke partnered with Botetourt and Roanoke Counties to create The Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority in early 2013 to create an open access fiber optic cable network. Plans for the network were discussed three years ago, but officials have yet to make concrete plans for the network.

The project will cost roughly $8.2 million.

Roanoke City has already set aside $2 million for the project. Town officials believe this project is vital for attracting businesses to the Star City.

“This broadband service is as important to Roanoke’s economic future as the interstate highway,” says Roanoke Mayor David Bowers.

Mayor Bowers is frustrated after learning some jurisdictions are uncertain about the multi-locality broadband initiative. He believes it’s up to local officials to bring this service to the community and is currently talking to the city manager to see if the city can move forward independently.

“Since the private industry hasn’t done it and we can’t find other money from the state or federal government to do it then it’s up to us, and we’ve made this decision three years ago,” Mayor Bowers says.

The open-access fiber optic cable network would give community members faster Internet service, whether they use it for researching information or just browsing on social media.

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