Louisa Co. announces broadband equipment update

Broadband access is getting better in Louisa County.

Louisa Co. announces broadband equipment update
Louisa County is expanding broadband access. (Source: WVIR)

LOUISA COUNTY, V.A. (WVIR) -Broadband access is getting better in Louisa County.

The Louisa County Broadband Authority announced on Tuesday that updated public safety equipment will be installed within the next two months. It's part of a leasing agreement with the company SCS Broadband.

The 2017 plan involved 10 new towers to expand internet access, but was later reduced to six towers. Four of those are now complete, and a fifth is under construction.

Plans for the sixth tower have been delayed due to two private companies building towers.


11/12/2019 Press Release from the Louisa County Broadband Authority:

LOUISA, VIRGINIA - The Broadband Authority was created by the Board of Supervisors in early 2014 to formulate a plan to increase broadband availability in our County. Our goals were not based on any specific technology or provider. During the early period we investigated many alternatives for internet service including fiber, wireless, TV whitespace, satellite, and cable. The initial plan provided by our consultant included a fiber component.

The rural nature of our County often does not meet Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) financial models to provide internet on their own in many areas. Working with a consultant, we brought forward a plan to build a series of towers connected by backhaul radio links. The County and Broadband Authority determined that we would not be serving customers directly, but would encourage WISPs to expand their current coverage into a greater portion of the County using the County infrastructure of towers. Fiber was ruled out for two reasons: cost to serve the County with Fiber to the Household (FTTH) was estimated to cost between $60 and $120 million and the Schools were investigating grant opportunities to build their own fiber at a vastly reduced price to the County.

The proposed Broadband Initiative plan was presented and approved by the Board of Supervisors in December 2015 at a funding level of $1.095 million. The design envisioned constructing ten towers. Specific tower locations were to be decided based on site availability (owned by the County or at no cost) and continued expansion by private tower companies.

An RFP was issued in April 2016 for a consultant to develop and manage this plan. Wide Open Networks worked with the Authority with revisions and fine-tuning resulting in a finalized RFP for construction of six towers, with co-locating equipment on two Public Safety towers to be built by the County in the western part of the County. This was presented to and approved by the Board of Supervisors in December 2017.

Four of these towers have now been completed; Louisa County Middle School, Jouett Elementary School, Moss-Nuckols Elementary School, and Trevilians Elementary School. A fifth tower had been started in the Holly Grove area on private property. The sixth tower has been postponed due to towers being built in the Buckner Bumpass and Yanceyville areas by private companies.

Since the County and Broadband Authority determined that they would not compete with private internet providers, another RFP process was issued. SCS Broadband was then awarded a site-wide

1 WOOLFOLK AVENUE – POST OFFICE BOX 160 - LOUISA, VIRGINIA 23093 www.LouisaCounty.com (540) 967-0401

leasing agreement to locate their internet service equipment on all of the Broadband towers. SCS currently serves homes and businesses from existing towers and poles throughout Louisa County. Adding these Broadband Authority towers increases their service areas dramatically.

SCS began service from the Moss-Nuckols tower in April 2019 and now have equipment to serve customers on all four of our broadband towers. They plan on installing their equipment on the two Public Safety towers within the next two months. Citizens can contact SCS Broadband for internet service via their website http://www.scsbroadband.com or by calling 434 263-6363.

The Louisa Schools applied for and were awarded an eRate grant for a $1.39 million project to lay fiber between all five school facilities (with a combined 90% Federal/State reimbursement). The Schools and the County both added funds to install additional strands of fiber at the same time for other connections and future use. This includes the planned lease of this fiber to Internet Service Providers to offer fiber to the household. The diagram below attempts to describe the various roles in the Broadband efforts in Louisa.

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1 WOOLFOLK AVENUE – POST OFFICE BOX 160 - LOUISA, VIRGINIA 23093 www.LouisaCounty.com (540) 967-0401

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