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Andria McClellan releases plan to expand access to high speed Internet

Andria McClellan
Andria McClellan

Norfolk City Councilmember Andria McClellan released on Thursday her plan to expand access to high-speed internet across Virginia.

Access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet service is critical to every Virginian for work, for school, for accessing health care, for agriculture, and, recently, for pre-registering for a COVID vaccine. This pandemic has shown that the digital divide is very real and growing, and we need comprehensive policy solutions to tackle it.

“It is time Virginia made universal access to affordable, high speed internet and digital training a priority, not just to address the current inequities marginalized communities face due to limited internet access and lack of digital literacy, but to set our commonwealth up for a bigger, bolder, more innovative future in which we can attract more business, increase quality of life and provide a link to the future for our children,” said McClellan, a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for lieutenant governor.

McClellan has worked for years to expand access to high-speed, affordable internet. She is leading regional efforts to create a five-city, 110-mile broadband fiber ring in Hampton Roads which will provide access to the fastest internet speeds on the East Coast, increase internet provider competition, and lower prices for millions of people and companies in Hampton Roads. She also serves as vice chair of the Southside Network Authority which oversees the implementation of this inter-city fiber ring.

McClellan’s plan

  • Support the expansion of a statewide broadband team to include administration representatives from Commerce, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Housing, Emergency Management, Education, Health, Agriculture, Diversity and Transportation.
  • Provide access to state databases to ease and expedite the verification process of the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a device.
  • Expand Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI)  grants to ensure all unserved rural communities are connected to broadband, utilizing updated mapping data to confirm broadband connectivity through a statewide speed test initiative, and funding new technologies (e.g. Low Earth-Orbit (LEO) satellites) and expanded partnerships.
  • Connect all Virginia students and eliminate the “homework gap” and the growing digital divide, ensuring all students have access to affordable, high-speed internet; appropriate devices and digital-literacy skills.
  • Invest in digital training at all levels, from K-12 to higher ed to senior centers, through partnerships with community organizations and public-private partnerships.
  • Support the creation of additional data centers in economically distressed locations such as the Central Appalachian Mountains.
  • Expand digital training opportunities with the Virginia Department of Small Business to ensure small businesses have the ability to create an online presence and the necessary skills and connectivity to sell their goods and services online.
  • Codify Virginia’s telehealth regulations to allow for telehealth visits post-COVID and outside of a state of emergency.

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