The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board approved unanimously the COG Broadband Access Task Force (BATF) report which promotes the development of faster and readily available internet access to strengthen the region’s economy.
The report summarized the state of broadband access and outlined local, regional, and national recommendations for expansion. It also provided ways that COG and local governments can work together to improve connectivity and regional access and set up policies to encourage competition.
“The region needs to keep a competitive edge by working with the private sector to deploy broadband internet,” said Lori Waters, Supervisor from Loudon County and chair of the taskforce. “Faster speeds at affordable prices will come with competition and partnering with the private sector to remove governmental barriers. Using these opportunities will eventually enhance the quality of life of residents,” she added.
The BATF recommended that COG and local governments work together to establish a regional agenda for improving access to broadband by setting goals for availability and adoption by residents and businesses. It also recommended local governments to institute a Regional Broadband Advisory Board, and explore the feasibility of leveraging existing infrastructure for public use.
The group also recommended local governments provide a speed of 1 gigabit -- equal to one billion bits of information transferred in a second -- to every household by the year 2015, stating that technological advances make this goal feasible. “As more sophisticated computer applications are made available, gigabit speed is a necessity; residents and businesses would be hindered without the ability to use these applications,” said Lori Waters.
The BATF was established in 2006 with the purpose of focusing exclusively on broadband internet access. The task force also completed survey of member jurisdictions regarding existing projects and attitudes about municipal broadband .It based its recommendations on studies by the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Pew Internet and American Life Project, and the COG Digital Divide Task Force (DDTF), a group established in 2000 to examine access to technology in the metropolitan region.
For more information and the complete Report of the Broadband Access Task Force.