Rural Virginia

Charter is planning a 1,910-mile fiber network in rural Virginia that will be funded, in part, through the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI).

VATI is a state-funded program administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development to help local communities expand their telecommunications infrastructure. As of mid-March, the VATI program had awarded more than $73.1 million and connected 76,351 residents since the program’s inception in 2018.

Charter has chosen Gibson Technical Services (GTS) to handle construction of the VATI-funded project. The announcement was made by the Orbital Energy Group, GTS’ parent company. The project will begin immediately and take several years to complete.

This isn’t the first time Charter has tapped GTS for network construction. In July, Charter contracted GTS for about 8,600 miles of “full-service construction” across Louisiana, Alabama and North Carolina. GTS said that project, which was funded through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) would take five or six years to complete.

Charter, which serves more than 31 million customers in 41 states through its Spectrum brand, was the big winner of the RDOF auction measured by the number of locations served. The service provider won $1.2 billion. The company said it will make a $5 billion investment in rural networks.

“This new award from Charter demonstrates their continuing confidence in our expertise and abilities,” GTS CEO Mike McCracken said in a press release about the Charter VATI project.”It also illustrates GTS’s capacity to support the buildout of RDOF type programs and related projects, which we expect to continue into 2022 and beyond.”

Other VATI Projects

Charter is just one of multiple service providers that have won VATI funding.

In May, Atlantic Broadband said that a VATI grant would help support a project to link four Chesapeake Bay, VA, counties — Caroline, Mathews, Lancaster and Middlesex – by a 130-mile network. The project, which is expected to take 18 months to complete, is being funded by a VATI grant of $4.2 million, $1.5 million from Atlantic Broadband and $1.5 million from the counties.

In March, VATI announced $20.1 million in grants for 11 projects connecting 13,400 households, businesses and anchor institutions. The projects will be funded through an additional $18.8 million in private and local investment. Seventeen communities will be impacted.

Joan Engebretson contributed to this report.

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