Archive for June, 2021

Broadband And Internet Access in Virginia

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

Evan Feinman, chief broadband advisor to Governor Ralph Northam, spoke at our June meeting. The following topics were covered.

· WHAT are the plans to expand high-speed Internet to every Virginian?

· WHAT are the greatest challenges?

· WHERE are the least served areas?

· HOW can broadband access to the Internet be accomplished?

· WHO will make this happen?

· WHEN will this be done

The meeting began with Jeff Gould our president.  Then SSV Board Member Norman Dill introduced our speaker. A video of the meeting can be accessed here:

If you would prefer an audio podcast, click below.


Jeff Gould, SSV President – Norman Dill, SSV Board Member – Evan Feinman, at bottom

Evan Feinman is both the executive director of the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and Governor Northam’s chief broadband advisor. He was previously deputy secretary of Natural Resources, deputy policy director for the Governor McAuliffe’s transition team, and the McAuliffe campaign’s policy director. Evan has worked on multiple campaigns at the state and federal level, and at the Commonwealth Institute, a budget and fiscal policy think tank in Richmond.

He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, spent two years on a fellowship focused on energy and transportation policy, and then received his law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law. A Lynchburg native, Evan currently resides in Richmond with his wife, Annalisa Feinman, an attorney with the Richmond Public Defender’s office.

Program Summary

Evan Feinman presented an excellent talk on Broadband and Internet Access in Virginia. In 2018 Governor Northam set an ambitious, but achievable, 10-year goal to reach universal coverage of broadband to all Virginians. There were three main reasons for this top priority of the governor. The first is economic. Businesses are not interested in relocating to areas with no access to broadband costing Virginia an estimated potential loss of $16 billion/year in growth, mostly in rural underserved areas. The second is social and political demand. Currently there are 660,000 with no access, and for this group that is their top priority for government. Third reason is the moral and social responsibility of government to its citizens in a vulnerable section of the population: children for schooling needs; elderly for the goal of staying in place as they age; and the large number of veterans in rural areas.

To accomplish these objectives, a plan developed by the Broadband Committee has been to make policy changes so that changes can be made to promote broadband development, e.g., letting electrical companies have larger cables that allow them to lease extra space to Internet providers for access to underserved areas; to work with local governments for planning support at no cost; and by creation of the Commonwealth Connect Coalition, a group of 125 organizations that is fully committed to the concept and funding for universal broadband coverage. The grant programs have provided internet access to over 140,000 homes at a cost effective support between partnerships of government and private corporations.