Goochland County has promoted and continues to focus on efforts to improve broadband availability for its citizens. To that end, the Goochland County Board of Supervisors during their April 17, 2012 meeting established the Goochland High Speed Internet Committee (GHSIC) for the purpose of identifying opportunities to facilitate County-wide availability of high speed Internet service.
In addition its creation aligns with and supports 2 of the Board’s strategic priorities (Excellent Quality of Life and Strong and Diverse Economy).
The GHSIC consists of 14 people including 9 citizens, 1 representative each from the Board of Supervisors and the School Board, and 1 Schools staff member, and 2 County staff members. It first plans to gather and review data related to broadband in the County and similar efforts by other localities before transitioning into the community assessment and reporting stages. The community assessment stage is anticipated to include a review of existing provider options, coverage area short falls, and potential areas for improvement. The reporting of final stage is when the GHSIC will prepare its report and recommendations for the Board of Supervisors.
In order to accomplish the mission and scope adopted by the Board of Supervisors an aggressive meeting schedule has been set with meetings every other week at 6:30 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors Conference Room in the Administration building. In addition the GHSIC is holding town hall meetings at 7 p.m. on August 15th at Byrd Elementary School and August 22nd at Company 3 (Centerville) Fire Station. Citizens are welcome to attend the GHSIC meetings or to view them through the County’s video streaming efforts.
Additional information about the GHSIC including its mission and vision, scope, meeting minutes and audio recordings can found in the first set of links on the right. The second set of links contains additional information and resources related to the County’s broadband efforts.
The County continues to monitor new developments and opportunities to increase broadband, while also encouraging and promoting the expansion of private providers into unserved and underserved areas. Summarized below is a synopsis of efforts and activities the County has undertaken since 2008 related to broadband.
Broadband Efforts And Activities Undertaken Since 2008
In the winter of 2008 the County conducted a broadband study.
o It consisted of focus groups, a citizen survey randomly mailed to 3,000 residents, review of existing providers, and infrastructure and asset review.
o The study provided additional evidence regarding availability of broadband, dissatisfaction with connection speeds, and other citizen opinions; 914 of the surveys were returned which corresponds to a 30% response rate.
In the fall of 2008, the County issued a request for information (RFI) to broadband providers asking them to propose solutions to the County’s broadband problem.
o Two vendors responded but only 1 furnished the information requested and no options were pursued.
In late 2008 and early 2009, the County submitted a response to a questionnaire, issued by the Director of the Commonwealth’s Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance and Deputy Secretary for Technology, about potential broadband projects that could benefit from the pending economic stimulus.
In the early summer of 2009, the County reviewed the economic stimulus requirements/guidelines for applying for and funding a broadband project through both the Department of Agriculture – Rural Utility Service (RUS) and the Department of Commerce – National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA), but determined that we did not have the required information (detailed deployment plans, information certified by a professional engineer, etc.).
In the early summer of 2009, the County at the request of Virginia Broadband (VABB), provided support documents and information for the application they submitted for the 1st round of stimulus funding.
o VABB submitted an application to expand broadband into Goochland and 16 other localities, but their application for wireless broadband network extensions was not successful.
In the spring of 2010, the County pursued Google’s Fiber for Communities initiative that was unveiled on February 10, 2010.This initiative is a desire to build an experimental, ultra-high speed fiber network which would provide internet speeds 100 times faster than most Americans have access to today.
o Goochland was one of the 1,100 communities (governments) that responded, in addition numerous nominations from our citizens made up a portion of the 194,000 nominations from individuals.
o Google announced on Wednesday, March 30, 2011 their choice of Kansas City, Kansas as the location to build their ultra high-speed experimental fiber network.
In the spring of 2011, County staff and citizens identified as a potential opportunity the 2011 Community Connect Broadband grant program through the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office.
o The grant program was evaluated by County staff, who determined that it was not feasible to pursue because of a number of factors.
o Private providers were informed about this opportunity by County staff in case they were either interested or in a position to apply for funding to extend service in Goochland.
In the summer of 2011, Comcast announced a new comprehensive and ambitious broadband adoption initiative called Internet Essentials to address the broadband and digital divide for low-income families.
o The Internet Essentials initiative aims to provide low cost internet service to families that meet certain criteria and are located where Comcast offers Internet service.
§ Information and instructions on applying for this initiative can be found at http://www.internetessentials.com/index.html
§ Applications for this initiative can be requested by calling 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376).
In the fall of 2011, the County began partnering with Accelerate Virginia, an internet speed testing campaign, to identify areas through participation of residents and businesses that are in need of better access to high-speed internet services and expand on provider data collected by the state.
o Citizens and businesses can participate in the speed testing campaign by going to http://acceleratevirginia.org/speedtest.
o A goal to collect at least 300-500 speed tests per county has been set by the campaign. The more data collected will provide Accelerate Virginia and county officials with a more accurate understanding of broadband availability, as well as identify areas of potential need for improved services.