Broadband Committee announces May meeting and activities

Thanks to everyone who completed the broadband needs assessment survey.  CIT is compiling the results and we expect to have their report sometime in May.

The next broadband committee meeting will be on Tuesday, May 14 at 6 p.m. in the Veterans Memorial Building second floor conference room. Ms. Amanda Cox with Appalachian Power Company will discuss their new middle-mile fiber pilot program. APCO is authorized by new legislation to install additional capacity along with fiber they will be installing in parts of their service areas. They will install fiber optic cables on their power poles for smart metering, electrical system reliability improvements and other power company needs. Additional fiber capacity will be installed and leased to ISPs to provide broadband services. This pilot program is expected to show significant cost efficiencies and to speed the process of improving broadband services especially in rural areas. The State Corporation Commission will review results of the pilot program and anticipates final regulations will be incorporated as part of permanent and widespread broadband expansion programs throughout Virginia.  Finalizing this program is expected to take more than one year. We hope at least some areas of Patrick County will be included in the initial pilot program which could kickstart improvements here.

Supervisors Jane Fulk and Karl Weiss, Assistant County Administrator Geri Hazelwood, County Administrative Assistant Amy Walker, and Steve Terry attended the Commonwealth Connect Coalition meeting on April 17 in Roanoke. Evan Feinman, executive director of the Virginia Tobacco Commission and the Governor’s Broadband Advisor discussed the state program intended to provide high speed internet services to all areas of Virginia within 10 years. He discussed State grant programs and how localities can obtain information and assistance. The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development administers the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative grant program and information on the next application opening and deadlines should have been received by local governments last week.  A total of $19 million is available for grants under this program for next year. Officials with the US Depart of Agriculture discussed their Rural Development ReConnect broadband grant and loan program and upcoming application deadlines and requirements. And Appalachian Power and Dominion Power discussed their plans for middle-mile fiber pilot projects mentioned above. For additional information contact Geri Hazelwood or Amy Walker.

Steve Terry

Chairman,

Patrick County Broadband Committee

 

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