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December 14, 2021

$64 million set to provide rural broadband in county

Obviously, it’s a great day for Fauquier County. We know we’re getting service to 10,000 homes and businesses that haven’t had it.
— Supervisor Rick Gerhardt (Cedar Run District
Broadband Plane
• What: 705-mile fiber optic network connecting underserved areas of Fauquier, which include 10,000 homes and businesses.

• Partners: All Points Broadband, Dominion Energy, Fauquier County, NOVEC and Rappahannock Electrical Cooperative.

• Total cost: $64 million.

• Funding: $38.8 million from All Points, $14.7 from state, $10.5 million from county.

• Timeline: Network construction finished in early 2024, assuming state grant approval.

• Service provider: Leesburg-based All Points Broadband.

• Installation cost: $199.

• Monthly charge: $59.99 for 50-Mbps to $119.99 for 1-Gbps.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Contributing Journalist
Gigabit fiber optic broadband service to Bristersburg, Markham and other remote parts of Fauquier seemed an impossible dream when county officials began seriously addressing the issue in 2016.

But, county and state government officials, along with four companies — including Dominion Energy, Virginia’s largest utility — on Monday pledged broadband connections to 10,000 homes and businesses in rural Fauquier by 2024.

Fauquier received $14.7 million in state funding toward the $64-million project.

County government has committed $10.5 million.

Funding the balance, Dominion, NOVEC and the Rappahannock Electrical Cooperative will run “middle mile” fiber optic cable on their poles and Leesburg-based All Points Broadband will run cable to individual properties and provide internet service subscriptions.

“Obviously, it’s a great day for Fauquier County,” Supervisor Rick Gerhardt (Cedar Run District) said after Gov. Ralph Northam’s announcement at Blue Ridge Community College in Augusta County. “We know we’re getting service to 10,000 homes and businesses that haven’t had it.”

Mr. Gerhardt has championed rural connectivity since his election six years ago. He serves as chairman of the Fauquier County Broadband Authority, composed of the five supervisors and their staff.

Although the supervisors committed up to $20 million for rural broadband, that wouldn’t come close to the cost of running fiber.

“So, we worked with wireless and did the best we could,” Mr. Gerhardt said. “But, nothing beats fiber — nothing.”

The county’s share of the project will come from its $13.8 million in 2021 American Rescue Plan Act funding.

Fauquier joined seven other counties — Clarke, Frederick, Warren, Rappahannock, Page, Rockingham and Augusta — in the application for $95.3 million in Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) funding.

That “leveraged” another $190.7 million in funds from the eight counties — working with the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission — and the businesses involved. The project will provide connectivity to 37,357 “unserved” locations in the counties.

Gov. Northam in his remarks noted it ranks as the largest of 35 projects across Virginia — getting more than $722 million in state funding — that he announced Monday.

“This is a milestone, something we all collectively are proud to be part of,” he told a room full of local government and business officials, including a delegation from Fauquier.

Mr. Gerhardt, board of supervisors Chairman Chris Granger (Center), Deputy County Administrator Erin Kozanecki, County Attorney Tracy Gallehr, Economic Development Director Doug Parsons, LFCC-Fauquier Provost Chris Counts and Fauquier Chamber Executive Director Alec Burnett made the 100-mile drive to Weyers Cave for Monday’s announcement.

“This is personal to me,” said Gov. Northam, a native of Accomack County on the Eastern Shore. “I’m from rural Virginia and it was not until recently that we had broadband in our house.

“I hear too many people say, ‘I’m from rural Virginia.’ A lot of people leave and don’t have much to come back for, and part of it is lack of broadband . . . . We need to hear more, ‘I live in rural Virginia, where I have a good job and raise my family’.”

All Points Broadband President Jimmy Carr said Virginia’s Utility Leverage Program, American Rescue Act funds and the state’s financial contributions have made fiber to rural properties possible.

Mr. Carr, whose company serves almost 70,000 customers, praised the outgoing governor’s commitment to rural connectivity.

“Gov. Northam cared about broadband before broadband was cool,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, he has made Virginia a national leader in broadband.”

The county will provide details about network construction timing early next year, said Ms. Kozanecki, noting that the electrical utilities already have begun installing “middle mile” fiber to connect their assets.

“Residents and businesses who want to learn more about the project, sign up for updates or pre-register their locations for service once available should visit and complete a survey,” Ms. Kozanecki said.

Contact Editor “Lou” Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-1845.

NRVRC-APB VATI Grant Annouc... by Fauquier Now

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