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Rockingham County’s new partnership will increase broadband connectivity

The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors voted last week to become part of a larger...
The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors voted last week to become part of a larger partnership that would provide broadband connection to all underserved areas in the county.(WHSV)
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 6:03 PM EDT
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors voted last week to become part of a larger partnership that would provide broadband connection to all underserved areas in the county.

The county is joining a regional initiative headed up by All Points Broadband, a rural broadband company in partnership with Dominion Energy, Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and seven other counties.

There are an estimated 7,600 locations in Rockingham County that are not served by wired gigabit-capable broadband that would all be connected as part of the project. The regional initiative is applying for grant money from the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative to help pay for the project.

The Rockingham County project would cost $55 million, $29.5 million of which would be paid for by All Points, $17 million would be covered by the VATI grant, leaving the county responsible for $8.9 million in funding.

The county says if the grant is approved and the project begins funding could come from a variety of locations.

“There will be some ARPA [American Rescue Plan Act] funds used, some federal funds, there may be a request for schools to use some of their federal funds because this is definitely a project that will benefit education,” said County Administrator Stephen King.

The county hopes All Points resources will help them overcome the unique geographic challenges they’ve faced in trying to expand connectivity.

“The reason that nothing has been done is because of the complexity of trying to provide the service,” said King. “Where do you provide the service in what parts of a county this size and this mountainous? If it were a matter of putting up a couple towers and the service is there that’s one thing but in our case it’s not quite that easy.”

The grant application will go to the state on September 14th, and if approved, Stephen King says there will be big benefits for county residents.

“It’s gonna help students participate, do online research, prepare papers, write papers, it’s gonna help employees be able to work from home, we found out during the pandemic how important that is,” he said.

The project would include 680 miles of fiber infrastructure and would take about two years to connect all areas.

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