No Internet in Rockbridge? The County Says 'No Problem - Just Fill Out Our Online Survey!'
Written by: Sam Orlando
LEXINGTON, VIRGINIA – In a head-scratching twist of bureaucratic irony, Rockbridge County is asking residents who lack internet access to hop online and fill out a survey to prove just that. This modern-day conundrum is the county's latest effort to identify areas with insufficient broadband service as part of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program.
The initiative, launched on November 1st by the Virginia Office of Broadband, seems to misunderstand its audience's capabilities. It's like asking someone without a car to drive to the DMV to report they don't have a car, but with fewer parking issues.
Residents are encouraged to find their homes on a state-published digital map and click to indicate whether they are digitally connected or disconnected. If you're in an area marked as having service but still live in the land of eternal loading screens, you're supposed to conduct a speed test. But here's the catch: this test isn't a one-off; it's required on three separate days to be considered valid for the grant application process.
There's a system to classify the internet haves and have-nots: "served" areas need to have the speed of an online cheetah, "underserved" should be at least jogging in the digital realm, and "unserved" are essentially stuck in the mud.
The county stresses the importance of updating the state's map for accuracy and urges residents to share this information widely. The hope is that by banding together, communities can correct the map and, in turn, receive the necessary funding to bring their internet up to speed.
To aid those caught in this digital catch-22, the Rockbridge County Office of Economic Development is on standby, ready to assist residents who might be befuddled about how to report their internet black hole without an internet connection. Given the County's message was aimed at people without internet connectivity, one legitimately ponders what the County may expect from these folks. If you don't have internet in Rockbridge County and are confused about the request, you can contact the county at the number on their press release, which we have included at the end of this story.
The deadline to complete this digital scavenger hunt is November 24, 2023. If you have the means to read this message online, you're likely in the clear. But for those who are receiving this information through word of mouth, written note, or perhaps a particularly well-trained homing pigeon, there's not a moment to waste.
In an era where almost everything has moved online, from shopping to socializing, the county's approach serves as a reminder of the complexities of bridging the digital divide.
Stay tuned for updates as this story develops, and Rockbridge County navigates its broadband balancing act.
Rockbridge County Press Release: