Dominion Energy Virginia has proposed three pilots designed to deliver broadband to select rural areas of the state.
The proposed projects, which would include nearly 300 miles of middle-mile fiber at a projected cost of about $29 million, would provide broadband to residents in Surry County, Botetourt County and the Northern Neck. The projects have received support from the Virginia General Assembly, but still need to be approved by the State Corporation Commission.
According to Dominion Energy, Virginia has many rural areas without broadband service. In total, nearly half a million of the state’s residents don’t have easy broadband access.
According to a recent State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) study, nearly one-fifth of rural students lack broadband at home, compared to less than 10% of students in urban areas.
Earlier this year, Dominion Energy and Prince George Electric planned a rural broadband project in Surry County, as Telecompetitor reported.
Dominion Energy Broadband
All three proposed projects call for Dominion Energy to deploy middle-mile fiber and for local electric cooperatives to deploy internet access to unserved locations. The three projects include:
- Surry County: Forty-three miles of middle-mile fiber infrastructure. The partner company is Prince George Electric Cooperative (PGEC)’s internet service provider subsidiary, RURALBAND.
- Botetourt County: Thirty-four miles of middle-mile fiber infrastructure. The partnership is with BARC Electric Cooperative and its BARC Connects internet service provider.
- Northern Neck: Installation of about 217 miles of middle-mile fiber infrastructure. The project includes a memorandum of understanding between All Points Broadband, Dominion Energy Virginia, Northern Neck Electric Cooperative and the counties of King George, Northumberland, Richmond and Westmoreland.
“With so many Virginians working and learning from home due to COVID-19, access to reliable internet is an absolute necessity,” said Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia, in a prepared statement about the Dominion Energy broadband projects. “We hope these partnerships are the first of many, and we’re optimistic about how much these efforts could help communities here in our home state.”
“Access to high-speed broadband provides opportunities for our community to attract new businesses, create jobs, and increase the number of citizens with work-from-home capabilities,” said Melissa Rollins, County Administrator – Surry County, in a prepared statement. “This initiative is critical to setting up future generations for success.”