The East-West Divide in Loudoun Broadband

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.

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4 responses to “The East-West Divide in Loudoun Broadband

  1. There is, as they say, more than one way to skin a cat. Or, to bring a utility service to a low density residential neighborhood. And no, I’m not talking about satellite but good “old-fashioned” broadband cable.

    My old employer, an electric utility, would extend its rural distribution lines anywhere into the Boonies — provided the estimated usage was there to carry the investment (they had a formula for that calculation) for five years. If you didn’t meet that test you had to pay the company the cost difference. BUT — anybody who came along later but within 5 years and wanted to tap into that line extension had to pay the company a share of the cost paid by that first customer, which the company reimbursed to that first customer. If enough customers came along the cost for everyone was reduced to a small fraction of the initial cost. This same policy was applied to proposed housing developments, where the builder would front the cost.

    I mention all this because there’s no reason policies like that couldn’t be applied to the cable franchisee in Loudoun. It’s a win-win that works well with low density homes. But, guess who grants that cable franchise? Not the VSCC. No, under federal law it’s the local County Board of Supervisors. Blame them, or their staff, if there’s no enforcement of consumer friendly cable-extension policies in western Loudoun County.

  2. Acbar what you describe makes perfect sense and especially so for the fairly well off.. there is also the cooperative route , I think…

    but our county says their hands are tied on this issue .. due to state rules.

  3. Jimmy “Ovechkin” Bacon skates to center ice, crosses the blue line … he shoots, he scores!

    You hit this one on the head Jimmy.

    Snowflakes of Western Loudoun didn’t want density. Rt 15 was the dividing line. After many of the sh*tbird present residents of Western Loudoun were done despoiling Eastern Loudoun and Northern Fairfax those scum bucket developers moved to Western Loudoun and used regulation to “wall themselves off” from people just like themselves. I’ll give them credit – they learned their history. William Tecumseh Sherman left Georgia for New York after he destroyed Georgia. Many of the high value landowners of Western Loudoun did the same from Fairfax and Eastern Loudoun.

    Now, they want other people to subsidize their broadband? They have cojones the size of pineapples. And that should happen because Eastern Loudoun actually tries to create economic opportunity while the fat, white wine drinking, polo watching upper crust of Eastern Loudoun couldn’t care less?

    The only thing on Earth that could make me a Bernie Sanders supporter is the Robert Deniro crowd of Western Loudoun. Maybe Sanders was right – socialism is the only way. Let’s start in Western Loudoun with a broad based wealth confiscation.

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