Broadband expert says will and a WISP are needed

By Charles Vivier
The Patrick County Broadband Committee is working to upgrade broadband speeds throughout the county, which is needed to help students, attract businesses and promote economic development, as well as grow other sectors that include tourism and medical. (Contributed photo)

“The Patrick County community must have a Will and a WISP,” members of the Broadband Committee were told by Dr. Andrew M. Cohill at a special called meeting on Feb. 20.

He spoke to the group, which is seeking guidance and input from a number of sources, including Cohill, who is president and CEO of Design Nine, a world renowned consulting firm headquartered in Blacksburg.

“The citizens must have the will to financially provide a broadband network that provides open access to wireless internet service providers (WISPs),” he said.

In his presentation, Cohill promoted Open Access of broadband through distributive ownership whereby local government, homeowners associations, customers, etc. own some portion of the infrastructure used by the internet service provider (ISP) delivering broadband service.

The Open Access provider (county government) remains neutral and independent and offers standard and transparent pricing to ISPs on its network. It never competes with the ISPs.  A broadband network would consist of towers to transmit wireless signals to locations.

Cohill is a broadband architect with an extensive background in open access broadband network design and broadband planning. He has been helping communities develop effective broadband strategies since 1993, when he began directing the start of the Blacksburg Electronic Village. He founded Design Nine in 1987 to provide technology advice and services to communities, government, and businesses. Design Nine provides visionary broadband architecture and engineering services to their clients.

He also provided copies of the April 2010 “Town of Stuart Broadband Recommendations” (strategies for the Town of Stuart and Patrick County) for reference, but emphasized that Design Nine would start with a “clean sheet of paper” if it were to be selected from bidding architects.

The committee and the county are partnering with the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) on a county-wide broadband survey which collects information about Internet use, current service and needs.

It takes only minutes to complete the survey that is available at or

Paper copies were sent home with Patrick County students and distributed in other areas, including the Patrick County Veterans Memorial Building (Administration Building), 106 Rucker Street, Stuart, and at the Stuart site of Patrick Henry Community College, 212 Wood Brothers Drive, Stuart.

In the Meadows of Dan/Vesta area, hard copies also are available for those without internet at Meadows of Dan Food Market, Poor Farmers Market, and Jane’s Café.

(Vivier is a member of the Patrick County Broadband Committee)