Friday, August 20, 2004

More on municipal telecommunications networks

In this recent article from TelephonyONLINE, there is more discussion about the merits of telecommunications networks owned by local governments.

Not long ago, there was this article ("Warner endorses ARC funding for Jonesville fiber-optic project," 8/4/04) in the Kingsport paper about my sister's efforts to get the fiber-optic cable into Jonesville, how she has gotten Governor Warner to recommend approval for a grant for the project which she called "400 yards to Jonesville."

The article says, among other things:

"When Glen "Skip" Skinner was looking for ways to expand off a backbone fiber-optic system that Lenowisco and other partners are developing in Southwest Virginia, he went to Joan Porter, whose consulting business is located in a business incubator in which Lenowisco is involved.

Part of Porter's business is to write grants for nonprofit groups, so together she and Skinner completed a grant application to the Appalachian Regional Commission for $30,000 to help fund the $70,000 project. Both believe that Porter's creativity in naming the project "400 yards to Jonesville" helped draw attention to the project and get it recommended for funding.

Porter said she chose the name because ARC wants to fund projects they call "the last mile."

"We shortened ours to the last 400 yards, because that's all that was needed to bring this cable to the downtown area," she said.

On Friday, Gov. Mark R. Warner recommended funding for that and 14 other projects that will support entrepreneurial business efforts in Virginia's Appalachian communities and increase access to technology in the region.

"Entrepreneurship and technology are important engines for Appalachian Virginia's economy," said Warner. "These grants will improve access to technology in the region and support small business efforts that will help us create jobs in Virginia's Appalachian communities."

Skinner said Lenowisco has obtained $10,000 in matching funding from the Center for Innovative Technology, and because of the existing network in place, the project will have a $70,000 value.

"We are extremely pleased that Lee County is going to get benefits of ARC and CIT funding for this project," said Skinner upon learning of the governor's recommendation.

Skinner said he hopes work can start by spring, or even earlier, and that the goal is to take the fiber-optic line on to Rose Hill.

"With projects such as this, we have to take it one step at a time," he said.

Porter, who lives in Rose Hill, said businesses such as hers can be far more competitive when they have access to fiber-optic and high-speed Internet. She became interested in helping with the project because she wanted to locate her office closer to home than the incubator in Duffield. Porter said she will be relocating her business to Jonesville as soon as the line is operational.

"Downtown Jonesville needs some new alternatives. In small, rural areas like Jonesville, technology is one of the ways we can transform for new opportunities. I am tickled to hear that there is going to be new economic opportunities in Lee County and in particular, the county seat," she said.

Although the governor's recommendation does not guarantee the project is funded, Porter said his recommendations are traditionally funded, and she is optimistic ARC will come through with the money."

Here is the complete list of Governor Warner's recommendations to the Appalachian Regional Commission.

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