ORANGE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Several rural counties in central Virginia are taking steps to increase broadband access and boost internet speed in their communities. Madison, Orange, and Louisa counties have all applied for a state grant to move the project forward.

This is the first time Orange County has applied for Virginia Telecommunications Initiative Grant. They've submitted two applications for projects impacting two of the most under-served regions of the area.

The county's broadband authority split the county into about 11 service areas and identified two that had the fewest internet connections and slowest speed. One is in the most western part of the county, north of Route 33.

The other is in the Burr Hill to mine run area. Together those projects would impact about 1,500 homes and cost $3.7 million.

“We're 60 miles from the nation’s capital and we are grossly underserved by the internet, it just shouldn't like that. We should be providing this service for our communities,” said Jim Crozier, Orange County supervisor.

“Jim and I all the time get calls from our constituents saying ‘my son or daughter is in the school system and has homework to do and I don't have broadband service so I have to drive to a library or drive to some location just to let my child do their homework’,” said James White, with Orange County Broadband Authority.

The Virginia Telecommunications Grant can supply up to 80% of the project's total cost. County administrators are hoping to get close to that number, and pair that with private sector partners to fund the projects.

The grants are awarded annually to jurisdictions across the commonwealth. Applications are due next month and award announcements will be made in January 2020.