Governor Ralph Northam visits Bedford to make Broadband announcement

Governor Ralph Northam talks about broadband improvements at the Bedford Welcome Center.

BEDFORD, Va (WSET) - Governor Ralph Northam is trying to help areas across the state have access to high-speed internet through broadband.

“Broadband internet is inarguably a necessity for participation in a 21st century economy, and many Virginians have been left without quality access for far too long,” said Governor Northam. “By ending this disconnect, we can better attract and support business and entrepreneurship, educate all Virginia students, expand access to cost-saving telehealth services, and more."

Governor Northam announced today that $50 million in his proposed budget is for broadband infrastructure.

Today he was in Bedford to make the announcement. It’s a problem that hits close to home for the county. County administrator Carl Boggess says about half of the county right now does not have access to broadband. He says the county plans to sign a contract with Blue Ridge Towers next year to improve service in the county and says this additional money will certainly help them accomplish their goals.

"The commitment is to cover all of Bedford county and do exactly what the governor said," Boggess said. "Hopefully we are little in front of the curve."

Boggess says they hope to have their broadband project complete by 2020.

Governor Northam also talked about where the money will come from.

"We also have the internet sales tax that will require some legislation, but we anticipate this is a non-partisan issue that would occur this year and that would be additional revenue that would come in," Northam said.

Northam says the state funding will also be matched by local, federal and private funds.

He plans to share his full proposed budget next Tuesday.

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