Broadband in Alexandria
Digital connectivity, particularly access to high-speed or broadband internet, is essential to success in the 21st century. By being connected to the internet, residents have access to a wide range of resources, services, and products. Individually, the internet is used to complete schoolwork, research and apply for jobs, pay bills, access healthcare information, make appointments, communicate with friends and family, work remotely, and much more. Not only does access to the internet improve the lives of individuals, it also can improve economic conditions of communities.
The emergence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) created unprecedented challenges for City of Alexandria residents, widening the gap of economic inequities. The digital divide, as represented by households without devices, internet access, or knowledge of how to use technology, has disproportionately impacted many of our communities. At the beginning of the pandemic, Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) identified 10-15% of its student lacking internet access and had to quickly seek devices and access to allow for virtual learning, highlighting the necessity of internet access for education at all levels.
As a result, the City identified funding through the American Rescue Plan Act and is now undertaking the development of a Digital Equity Plan to understand the digital needs throughout the City and then prioritize how to invest in bridging this digital divide. The plan will also help the City launch digital literacy innovation programs and test new ways to provide technology and support in high-need communities.
Findings from the plan serve as a framework for the City and its partners, including Computer Core, to address needs around Internet Access, Digital Literacy, Reliability and Speed, and Affordability. The plan can be viewed here.
- May 2023: PRR completed the plan and, with City Staff, presented findings to the City’s IT Commission.
- February 2023: PRR conducted a series of five focus groups at local public facilities such as library or recreation center conference rooms:
- 2/7/23 – English language group 1 (9 participants)
- 2/8/23 – English language group 2 [60+ group] (10 participants)
- 2/9/23 – Spanish language group (11 participants)
- 2/13/23 – Amharic language group (10 participants)
- 2/15/23 – Arabic language group (9 participants)
- November 2022: PRR began administration of the survey, specifically aiming to hear from households that are low-income, non-english speaking, and seniors. The survey is being conducted in multiple languages and being distributed widely through community-based organizations. The survey can also be found online.
- September 2022: The City selected PRR as a contractor to develop a Digital Equity Plan. The plan aims to identify the need for digital literacy opportunities, device access, and internet access and then provide recommendations based on these needs. The scope of work includes the development and administration of a survey and focus group sessions. These efforts will be conducted in partnership with community-based organizations.
Broadband Updates & History
The Alexandria City Council and City staff have worked consistently to encourage consumer broadband choice. Following are key milestones in these efforts in recent years:
- 5/16/2022 – Ting Internet, a division of Tucows, announces that it will be bringing next-generation fiber internet to the residents and businesses of Alexandria, providing the city with its first city-wide fiber service. Construction on the fiber network will begin in summer 2022 and is expected to connect more than 90,000 addresses across Alexandria. To improve digital accessibility in the area, Ting is also introducing a robust digital equity and inclusion program that was developed in partnership with the City of Alexandria. As part of this program, Ting will provide fiber internet access to select affordable housing units, at no cost to residents. To learn more about Ting or to stay up to date with Ting fiber announcements in the community, please visit tinginternet.com/alexandria.
- 3/12/2022: Ordinance Second Reading, Public Hearing and Award
To grant a broadband franchise to Lumos Telephone, Inc and Ting, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Tucows Inc. The proposals from Lumos and Ting met all terms and conditions of the solicitation and both companies agreed to continue with a franchise agreement.
- 2/22/2022: Ordinance First Reading, Recommendation for Award
- 1/11/2022: Submittals received from Lumos, NATC, Shentel, and Ting
- 12/30/2021: Proposals Due
- 11/13/2021: City of Alexandria solicits Broadband Franchise Proposals
- 11/13/2021: Ordinance Second Reading, Public Hearing and Adoption
- 11/9/2021: Ordinance First Reading
- 08/23/2021: The City breaks ground on construction of the Municipal Fiber Network
- 04/20/2021: The City awards the contract for the construction of the Municipal Fiber Network
- 12/04/2020: City of Alexandria Issues Invitation to Bid for Construction of Municipal Fiber Network (News Release)
- 09/27/2016: Alexandria City Council Directs Next Steps to Expand Consumer Broadband Choice (News Release | Docket Items)
- 07/27/2015: City of Alexandria Solicits Ideas for Municipal and Community Broadband Improvements
- 04/28/2015: City Staff Presents on Review of Broadband Alternatives (Presentation)
- 10/22/2013: Councilman Justin Wilson Submits Memorandum on Broadband Strategy (Memorandum)
- 03/09/2010: Alexandria City Council Authorizes Application for Google Fiber Network (News Release | Docket Memo)
- 03/09/2010: City of Alexandria Receives Notice from Verizon of End to New FiOS Deployments
- 12/09/2008: Alexandria City Council Authorizes Termination of Franchise Agreement with EarthLink, Inc. (Docket Memo)
- 06/27/2006: Alexandria City Council Receives Proposals for Citywide Wireless Network (Docket Memo)