Here are just some of the stories I received from Central Virginians through our 2019 Rural Broadband Survey. I've heard similar experiences echoed in emails, at town halls throughout the district, and during community events. This issue is widespread, and it has tangible impacts on access to educational and economic opportunity. That's why I'm fighting hard to expand reliable, high-speed internet access for rural communities in Central Virginia and across the United States.
Amy Snyder, Louisa "My son (now 8th grade) has denied having homework knowing that we don't have internet access AND the library was closed, Sunday's in particular. He didn't want to inconvenience me, a single parent of 3 children, knowing that we will have to go out of town most likely to the Charlottesville library to complete his assignments."
Robyn Whittington, Amelia "I work on my family's grain and beef cattle farm in Amelia County. Most of my time is spent in the office - record keeping, processing payroll, day-to-day financials, etc. In our area, there is only one internet provider (TDS). The company is based out of Wisconsin and our area is a hold-over from a buyout of a small, local company many years ago. The company is very open with the fact that they don't intend to improve infrastructure (translation - bury fiber optic cable) here because the market is so small. The internet service is great when it works but isn't always reliable. When the internet is down, I can't do simple things like process payments, send liability payments, check the radar for our guys out in the fields, or even print (wireless printer)."
Thomas Watkins, Nottoway "As a small business owner in the brick and mortar retail sector, the lack of inexpensive internet dramatically decreases our ability to compete with large internet retailers. The high cost of high-speed internet creates a barrier to entry for our business as we try to create our own retail internet business. We simply would like to be on the same playing field as the large internet retailers."
Chrystal Doyle, Henrico "Many rural patients share that they can't easily get online and "don't have access" to information online unless they drive a long distance to their county library. Additionally, telehealth and telemedicine is increasingly being improved and adapted to help provide timely, convenient, cost-effective care, especially in rural areas where health resources are scarce. Lack of access to the internet impedes this cost-effective delivery of care and limits patient access to health services. People across the Commonwealth should have equitable access to information and health resources and broadband can help create parity."
Jasmine Smith, Spotsylvania "I have taken online classes since I was a freshman in college and the lack of access to broadband internet bars me from accessing my assignments or anything of the sort. I now have high speed internet, but I struggled for most of my college career in getting access to the internet on most occasions. If I didn't have access, I'd have to drive to my college, which is 40 miles away, to get reliable internet."
William McGuire, Goochland "I am a teacher and much of the work that I do is online. From creating "flipped" lesson plans, making student assignments, grading and entering grades, and communicating with parents and students, all require good internet speeds. Many times, I have to stay at school into the night, away from my family, to get my work complete. My wife is a teacher as well and faces similar struggles."
Vicki Carr, Amelia
"The main thing, and most important reason, is my children cannot get their homework done. Trying to connect to the Chromebook, that the school requires him to do his work on, is some days near impossible to do because of our internet connection. I have two boys, one is in Amelia Co. High School, the other goes to JTCC, and most days they both cannot do work at the same time because, if they try to, the internet connection is incredibly slow. What should take them 30 minutes to do may take them two hours, and I am not exaggerating."
Roy Jacobson, Orange "When we moved into our house in Gordonsville 16 years ago, various internet provider assured us that we would have high speed connection very soon. Since then we have followed up on several high-speed connection offers only to be told upon subsequent investigation that we will not have access 'any time soon.' We have a farm business, and this significantly affects our outreach and sales."
Clarence Arnold, Chesterfield
"I have relatives who own farms, and find it difficult enough to compete in the agri-business markets without being further handicapped by a lack of access to information and advice that would be available to them through the use of high-speed broadband internet connection."
Reginia Sibley, Louisa "I have been trying to take this survey for hours! Enough said!!! The lack of consistent, reliable internet service hinders everything we do; from receiving reliable emergency notifications and important news or weather warnings that could impact our lives in life or death situations; for research and education for staying "in the know" and bettering our knowledge of what is directly impacting our lives every single day; to the basics of receiving and paying our bills in a timely manner."
Amy Umberger, Orange "I am a Title I teacher and the documentation of student progress, test data, lesson plans, etc. is done through Google Drive. I have to have internet access to work on quarterly reports, data sheets, progress reports, etc. I pay for broadband through Verizon (I have a Jet Pack) but at least 50% of the time, my connection is so weak in the evenings that I either stay very late at school or work late at the public library after I finish my twice-a-week tutoring session. A couple of summers ago, I took an online class and was so desperate to get a project to upload one night that I took my laptop and drove to the McDonald's at the corner of rt 3 and rt 20 in the middle of a thunderstorm. I felt ridiculous sitting in the parking lot with my laptop in the middle of a down pour but I was able to park close enough to the building to access their WiFi."
William Frederick, Culpeper "I cannot work from my house due to our lack of reliable internet so at times I have to leave my house at 7:00 or 8:00 in the evening and go back my office to complete insurance endorsements that have to be done after the close of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. I also have 2 kids still in school and they have a hard time completing homework and online courses."
Stephani Yogi, Amelia "I work from home after hours and weekends. Poor internet speed has made it almost impossible to perform most basic tasks at my home. In turn I frequently have to drive the 43 miles to my office to do it. This keeps me from performing maintenance and chores on my home farm."
Richard Pardue, Hanover "Anything I have to do on line, I pack up my lap top, drive 9 miles down to Montpelier as I did tonight and work in the parking lot of the Post Office or sometimes go to the library."
Robin Bolt, Culpeper
"I am in charge of technology for a school district. I currently only have the ability to use HughesNet which is not dependable. If something happens at work I have to physically go into work. The majority of the students in my school district do not have access to reliable internet which puts them at a disadvantage."
Julie Lagourney, Amelia "We live in Amelia Co. Have never had over 5 MB speed. We cannot get online jobs. When our Grandson was still in school he would to McDonald's to do homework where the speed was faster."
Julie Brooks, Culpeper
"I would like to pursue a Master’s Degree but I do not have affordable and reliable internet where I live to complete online studies."
Cassie Mills, Amelia "Not having access to internet period, has affected my children's school work and my process of trying to work on my Master’s Degree. I have to drive to town to pay our household bills, due to cell service being spotty in our area (internet on our cellphones are usable for short times)."
Penelope Speed, Hanover "My children cannot access the latest in educational technology - from SAT prep to teacher assignments from their school's web-site. Bank statements, bills, etc. All now charge an additional fee to mail. Health records and medications must be ordered on-line."
Bradley Smart, Louisa "As a high school teacher it is very difficult for me to effectively do my job without high-speed broadband internet at an affordable cost. I rely on the internet to post grades, assignments, and communicate with my students, parents and coworkers."
Richard Lassiter, Orange "Our business suffers because the best internet I can get is satellite. We are putting our house up for sale, so we can move to an area with broadband."