More than 1,200 homes and businesses in four Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, counties will have access to broadband through a $7.2 million Atlantic Broadband project that will be partly funded by a state broadband grant from the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI).
The counties — Caroline, Mathews, Lancaster and Middlesex – will be linked by a 130-mile network. The project, which is expected to take 18 months to complete, will get a grant of $4.2 million from VATI and $3 million evenly split by Atlantic Broadband and the four counties.
VATI is a state-funded program administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development to help local communities expand their telecommunications infrastructure, according to the press release about the Virginia broadband funding.
The formalization of the VATI contract with the Commonwealth, Atlantic Broadband and the counties is underway. During this period, the cable company will conduct field walkouts to facilitate final design for each county. This process, which will occur during the next 30 to 90 days, will include surveys of addresses, footage measurements and easement activities. Construction will begin once these activities are completed and the contract with VATI is executed.
Precise timelines will be announced once preliminary work is completed in each county. “We know that there is great interest in knowing when the various phases will occur, so we will keep our county partners and our community members informed as we make progress over the next 18months,” William T. Newborg, the Director of Grants and Funding for Atlantic Broadband, said in the press release.
Lancaster and Middlesex counties established broadband authorities. Mathews and Caroline already have broadband advisory committees. Each will report to their respective board of supervisors on the project’s progress.
Atlantic Broadband is the eight largest cable company in the country. It currently serves 450,000 business and residential customers across an eleven state footprint.
A report from The Pew Charitable Trusts early last year looked at state broadband funding. It noted that in Virginia last mile projects are funded through VATI and the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC). VATI was created in 2016 and appropriated $19 million last year.