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Roanoke, Roanoke County and Botetourt County are the other members of a group that promotes open-access broadband Internet.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The Salem City Council voted unanimously Monday night to make the city a member of the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority, joining with Roanoke and Roanoke and Botetourt counties in ratifying the creation of the organization to promote top quality open access broadband Internet service in the area.
The four governments had been set to pass resolutions creating the authority last month until their lawyers recognized the law that allowed the measures could be read as requiring all four to hold their public hearings before any of them could vote.
Roanoke and Roanoke County have already approved their resolutions, and Botetourt is expected to follow shortly.
The authority’s first order of business will be to hire an executive director, Salem City Manger Kevin Boggess said.
He emphasized that the authority’s purpose is not to create a company to provide broadband services. Rather, it’s role will be to evaluate broadband services and infrastructure in the region with an eye for making sure the area is prepared to receive and support the latest technology, Boggess said.
The executive director will facilitate cooperation between the member governments and consistent policies among them.
Boggess and Mayor Randy Foley emphasized the authority is intended to enhance competition in the marketplace, not stifle it.
In other action, the council also passed a vote on a second reading of a cable television franchise agreement with Comcast. The city and Comcast had been at odds and had no agreement in place for two years, but Comcast ultimately upgraded its system in the city and agreed to keep a local customer service office in the area, as the council had requested.
The measure passed on a 4-1 vote, with Lisa Garst again casting the lone dissenting vote, as she did on the council’s first vote on the agreement. Garst maintained her position that she couldn’t support the agreement because, as the process is regulated by state law, it’s flawed because it guts local governments of any real power in it.
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