Working from home delivers benefits, but highlights need for better broadband in Roanoke Co.

A WIFI equipped van will give students internet access throughout Marianna. (MGN)
A WIFI equipped van will give students internet access throughout Marianna. (MGN)(WJHG)
Published: May. 27, 2020 at 5:20 PM EDT
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US Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) sees the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity for the commonwealth to adapt, overcome and set the stage for major improvements in the future.

“We will have learned some new ways of doing things that we will want to continue long after this public health crisis is done,” said Kaine.

Opportunities for growth highlighted by Kaine and Roanoke County leaders in a virtual meeting Wednesday include telecommuting or working from home, telemedicine and long-distance learning for students at all levels.

“But, it only works if you’ve got good broadband and people have devices that enable them to do it," said Kaine.

A major hurdle Roanoke County will need to overcome to make those initiatives work long-term is broadband internet connectivity.

A study conducted by the county in the fall shows 33 percent of residents are underserved or unserved when it comes to internet.

“In the new world order here, that we are going to experience coming out of this pandemic is that we have to have tools and infrastructure available that will enable us to prosper," said Beth Doughty, the executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership.

Roanoke County is seeking clarity on whether it will be able to use more than $8 million in

funding to beef up broadband.

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