Figures for 2007 showed that 68% of Virginia households had internet service, although almost 15% still got dial-up from their ISP. However, the 2009 Speed Matters survey ranked the state seventh with an average download speed of 7.9 mbps, up from 6.3 mbps the previous year.
In 2006, Virginia's Economic Development Strategic Plan was launched and included a goal of having broadband service connectivity for every business by 2010. 2006 also saw the establishment of the Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance, which aimed to establish affordable broadband internet services to support teleworking. Help is also available from the Virginia Resources Authority, created in 1984 to secure funding for infrastructure projects.
A Broadband Roundtable was established in 2007 to improve high speed internet access for business. It was led by ex-Governor Mark Warner, who had helped create fiber optic cable networks throughout the state. A map of broadband availability was released in June 2009, produced from input by various state bodies and 25 internet providers.
Some 225 projects were submitted for federal funding and $1 million was awarded to the Eastern Shore Broadband Buildout project to create infrastructure as well as 20 jobs. With eight US presidents having been born in the state you would think they could wrangle up a bit more cash than that.
Various private companies have also been busy improving service. In 2006, Alltel Wireless enlarged its Axcess broadband service. This uses EVDO (evolution data optimized) technology to provide wireless internet access at speeds comparable to DSL. AT&T also announced plans to extend its 3G service in 2009 while internet provider DigitalBridge Communications received a $250,000 grant to extend its wireless coverage. The state map shows wifi hotspots centered around the north and southeast of the state and along the east side of the Appalachian Mountains, with big gaps elsewhere.
The geography and climate of Virginia are influenced by the Blue Mountains and Chesapeake Bay. It has a mainly sub-tropical climate, with seasonal extremes and regular thunderstorms. Agriculture is the largest industry, although less than previously, with business, government and the military also being important. Virginia was named the best state for business for the third consecutive year in 2008 and has the highest concentration of technology workers in any state - so no wonder they rank so high in the speed tables. Its data centers carry over half the nation's internet traffic. Virginia Beach is the largest city, followed by Norfolk, Chesapeake and Richmond, the state capital.
Cities in Virginia likely to have, or soon to receive, fiber optic cable internet services include Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Richmond, Arlington, Newport News, Hampton, Alexandria, Portsmouth and Roanoke. Locations in VA with highest population counts will be targeted first by providers, though relatively high speeds can be achieved with dial-up or DSL through companies such as Netzero and Charter Communications Cable.