Va. allocates $20M for broadband infrastructure projects
MBC in South Boston receives $800K federal grant
Seventeen localities statewide are receiving $20.1 million in grants to improve broadband internet infrastructure, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday. The funding will support 11 projects that will connect 13,400 customers, the governor’s office said in a news release.
The localities — primarily in rural areas — are receiving funding through the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI), which has provided $73.1 million to Virginia local governments and broadband partners since 2018 to strengthen access to broadband internet statewide. In January, five projects received $29.6 million in funding in the first round of grants. In total, more than $49.8 million has been awarded this year to 28 localities, connecting more than 25,000 households, businesses and other institutions. Last fall, the General Assembly allocated nearly $50 million to VATI funding, a commitment maintained in the next fiscal year’s state budget.
The following projects will receive funding in round two:
- Mount Rogers Planning District Commission and Point Broadband, $7,870,000. This broadband network will be extended in Smyth, Washington and Wythe counties and the town of Damascus, creating access for 5,301 units, including 110 businesses.
- Mathews County and Atlantic Broadband, $4,201,234. This project will provide access to 1,249 customers, including 142 businesses, in Caroline, Lancaster, Mathews and Middlesex counties.
- Albemarle County and CenturyLink, $2,276,110. The partners will construct about 100 miles of fiber-optic cable, providing broadband access to 1,675 locations, including 455 businesses in the county.
- King and Queen County and RiverStreet, $1,482,678. The project will connect 524 locations, including 12 businesses.
- Augusta County and MGW/Lingo, $1,270,413. The county will construct a fiber that will provide broadband access to 1,099 locations, including 15 businesses in Augusta and Highland counties.
- Franklin County and Briscnet, $1,107,700. A fixed wireless network will provide access to 1,996 locations in the county.
- Localities receiving less than $1 million: Montgomery County and Gigabeam; Goochland County and Port 80 Internet Services LLC; Gloucester County and Open Broadband; city of Chesapeake and Cox Cable; Halifax County and Empower Broadband
According to the governor’s office, VATI received 45 applications from local governments partnering with 26 internet service providers, requesting $105 million in funding.
Also announced Thursday was the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s $800,000 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant awarded to the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. (MBC) in South Boston to increase broadband capacity in 14 counties in Southern and Central Virginia. It will be matched with $200,000 in local investment, according to the agency.
The funding will go toward expanding an existing fiber-optic network and also provide connections to more than 4,500 acres in industrial and technology parks, health care facilities, medical research centers and existing businesses.
“The Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative has been the commonwealth’s core pillar for broadband expansion since its creation during my time as Governor,” Sen. Mark Warner said in a statement. “With the COVID-19 crisis underscoring the importance of broadband for telework, telehealth and remote learning, the cooperative’s work is more important than ever to bridge the digital divide. I’m pleased to announce this critical federal funding that will assist with expanding infrastructure to get more families connected to broadband.”