Western Loudoun trade-off: views like this for quality broadband.
From an article in today’s Loudoun Times-Mirror: 70% of the world’s Internet traffic reputedly passes through eastern Loudoun County, which has emerged as a world-class hub of fiber-optic trunk lines and data centers. Yet less than 20 miles away, 30,000 inhabitants of western Loudoun have lousy Internet access.
“We just can’t get high-speed Internet,” said Loudoun resident Erin Weaver. “We have Wildblue for our Internet. Due to the fact that our Internet comes from a satellite, when it rains heavily or snows heavily we can easily lose our service.”
Loudoun may be the wealthiest county in Virginia, and one of the wealthiest in the country, but the laws of economics still prevail. The county has enacted severe density restrictions in western Loudoun to protect it against the suburban blob emanating from neighboring Fairfax County. But low-density settlement patterns are unprofitable for telecommunications companies to wire. The revenue stream is too thin to cover the cost of running cable.
I can understand the frustration of western Loudoun residents. But, you makes your choices, and you lives with ’em. Enjoy your bucolic countryside. But don’t ask anyone to subsidize your Internet connections.
Cox Communications will spend $81 million to upgrade residential broadband service in Fairfax County to “gigabit” Internet service, providing speeds up to 20 times faster than most existing services. It will be the first Internet service of that speed available in the Washington, D.C. area, and one of only a few anywhere in the United States.
“Fairfax County has long been recognized for its high-tech infrastructure as well as its IT companies, highly skilled workforce and tech-savvy local government, so it makes perfect sense that this would be the first place in the Washington area to get this kind of residential Internet service,” said Gerald L. Gordon, CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority in a press release. “Our mission is to attract and retain companies to build the commercial tax base, and this is the kind of advancement that makes the county more attractive to companies that want to grow in the area.”
Bacon’s bottom line. Waaah. I’m jealous. My current Internet service sucks. I want 1 gigabit Internet service, too! I want it now!!
That’s the way the cookie crumbles. Broadband providers like Cox, Verizon, ATT, Comcast and others have finite capital resources to invest in upgrading their broadband networks. They will invest first in locations where they believe they can generate the greatest financial return. In other words, they will invest in places like Fairfax County — where there is the greatest density of tech-savvy residents willing and able to pay a premium for the service — before they come to lower-density suburbs like Henrico County, and they will invest in Henrico County before they extend the service to extremely low density places like Powhatan County.
Frankly, that’s the only economic logic that makes sense. So, I’ll have to be patient. The big broadband providers will get to the digital hinterlands eventually.