September 15, 2021 · OPINION
“Disappointing” lawsuit threatens rural broadband
Filed in federal court, a Culpeper County couple’s lawsuit challenges the plan to run fiber optic broadband throughout rural Virginia, including a 705-mile network in Fauquier.
By Stephen Martin
The recent article, “Legal challenge slows Va. rural broadband plan,” is disappointing.
I have been following the news of broadband fiber to the home with growing excitement. This may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see this accomplished statewide. For years, the traditional internet service providers have balked at wiring all Virginia homes due to the cost. For once it seems like an affordable solution exists. Making broadband available to every household benefits everyone.
Lawsuit plaintiff John Grano’s comment, “I need broadband, but I think I got it now. I think Elon Musk solved my problem,” is shortsighted.
Elon Musk’s Starlink will only help some Virginians. His system currently is estimated as capable of providing service for about 60 households in each 130-square-mile area cell. Most areas this size have more than 60 families. To provide broadband for everyone would require his system to be perhaps 40 times larger than it is today.
I signed up for service with Starlink last February and have watched the date of initial service offering slide to the right (only beta testers currently have Starlink systems). It may be 2022 or later before Starlink starts to become available to Virginia users. Even if Starlink were available to everyone tomorrow, it would provide speeds slower than that of fiber. Multiple options for broadband internet are necessary to ensure low cost and good service. Starlink is one of those options, but we need fiber.
Fiber to the home is the long term solution, and this lawsuit is getting in the way.
Perhaps Mr. Grano is really pursing this because of property rights; $5000 seems a small amount to go to court over. He will spend far more than that on legal costs. The power lines already run across his property, and the addition of fiber to the poles results in no additional impact to him.
Like Mr. Grano, I have Rappahannock Electric Cooperative power lines running across my property. I would be happy to have REC use them to bring broadband fiber to my community.
And I wouldn’t ask for a dime.
Enter your email address above to begin receiving
news updates from FauquierNow.com via email.
Wednesday, October 20
Virginia Department of Health reports 47 more deaths and 1,822 new infections statewide
Wednesday, October 20
State with “amazing biodiversity” has 71 plants and animals on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service list
More Fauquier news
Tuesday, October 19
Headquarters branch and Wealth Management Building on 1.6 acres offered for $7.5 million