Stronger Broadband Internet Connection needed to keep region com - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Stronger Broadband Connection needed to keep Roanoke Valley Region competitive

Local leaders are working together to establish a stronger and faster Internet connection for our community.

Whether you're trying to video-conference for work, do research, or just do some social networking, people across our community say they have a stake in the push for a better broadband connection.

"It's something that brings the whole community together," Dr. Michael Frielander, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute Executive Director says. "The business community, academic entrepreneurs and everyone, seems to realize this is something that's extremely important to move Roanoke and the valleys ahead in technology and research."

Not only is Dr. Michael Frielander on the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, but he's the executive director for VTCRI. He says upgrading our area's broadband with fiber-optic lines is necessary to staying competitive among other areas both with research and business.

"Attracting to the city the kind of entrepreneurs, the kinds of scientist, inventors, investors, that we would like to see more of around here, depends very much on having outstanding communication facilities," Dr. Frielander says.

He says a by laying down this fiber-optic Internet network, it will drive the connection cost down for the institute dramatically. Plus, it will  keep those making discoveries at the institute from taking their ideas elsewhere.

"If you go down the check list and see what's likely to keep them here, as oppose to them being recruited away, broadband communications are at the top of the list," Dr. Frielander says.

"What we are talking about is building a bigger pipe that helps us create a competitive edge and also helps us prepare for the future," Beth Doughty, Executive Director for the Roanoke Regional Partnership, says.

The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council is keeping the broadband conversation going. They are bringing leaders in both private and public sectors together to figure out the next step.

"We want to have a more robust and enhanced service, and because of economics we have to make sure we promote that amount to the private providers to make sure we promote that equally so we can move forward," Roanoke County Administrator, Clay Goodman says.

Moving forward means our region can stay ahead of the curve and not behind.

The Broadband Task force, created by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, is also hoping to use recommendations done by a study to increase broadband.

One the major recommendations from the study 'Moving Forward at the Speed of Light: Fiber Infrastructure for the 21st Century,' says to establish a regional broadband authority. The nine-month study found the region is lagging behind other communities when it comes to broadband access.

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