Nationwide, cable internet service providers (ISPs) have long invested billions of their own dollars to continually expand their networks to the country's most rural areas to reach communities that lack broadband connectivity. But in remote regions where miles of land between homes and businesses can make it cost prohibitive to rely on private capital alone, ISPs have forged a myriad of public-private partnerships that utilize federal, state, and local funding for broadband buildouts.
The state of Virginia is one leading example that portrays these kinds of collaborative efforts and significant investments, in this case made by three of America's most experienced ISPs—Charter, Comcast, and Cox. Together, the three providers have brought high-speed broadband to unserved communities, and forever transformed towns that previously lacked broadband service.
Thanks to the leveraging of various funding avenues, including state and federal awards, broadband adoption programs, and strong partnerships between the three providers with school districts, local governments, town councils, and community organizations throughout their footprints, the digital divide in rural Virginia continues to shrink while its residents thrive.
On the Eastern Shore, the small business owner of a woodworking and antique restoration shop, Timothy Smith, now has the opportunity to grow his business sales, thanks to Charter's part in bringing high-speed broadband to the region.
"We're now offering our custom woodworking products online. This relies on sending, receiving, and uploading high-resolution images and videos to the internet onto multiple online platforms. Folks are now purchasing our products and engaging our services from all over the country."
—Timothy Smith, owner of Timothy Smith & Sons
Then in the greater Roanoke region, the Roanoke City Public Schools found an invaluable partner in Cox when the ISP helped to connect student households to the internet so that they could continue their schooling when classroom instruction went virtual during the earlier phases of the pandemic.
"The partnership with Cox empowered families to ensure they were able to access the resources needed during the pandemic for their children to be able to participate in virtual learning."
—Kelly Sandridge, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing, Roanoke City Public Schools
And in Patrick County, local public officials expressed gratitude towards Comcast for bringing their towns up to speed so that their schools and small businesses could flourish.
"When Comcast comes and services that many people, it will have a fantastic effect on the county ... The pandemic has shown us what can happen when you are not connected to the digital economy … you need the internet and connected devices. Broadband is it."
—Clyde DeLoach, Vice Chair of the Patrick County Board of Supervisors
Virginia is a broadband success story, and exemplifies how investments in networks and the coming together of successful public-private partnerships help bring unserved Americans the broadband service that will change their lives. To read more about Charter's, Comcast's, and Cox's work across the state, visit NCTA's Virginia Case Study page.