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Internet network to be built along U.S. 58

Published 8:39am Friday, August 20, 2010

FRANKLIN—More than $10 million in federal economic stimulus funding will go toward the construction of a high-speed Internet network, part of which will traverse Southampton County along U.S. Route 58.

Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative, which has its headquarters in South Boston, Va., will use the grant money to install about 170 miles of fiber optic cable across several counties in southern Virginia.

Tad Deriso, president and chief executive officer for Mid-Atlantic Broadband, said the 170-mile segment to be built is the final piece of an open-access network stretching from Virginia Beach to the Cumberland Gap.

“This project is the linchpin of our entire strategy to help revitalize rural regions across southern Virginia and connect them to the rest of the world,” Deriso said Thursday. “Extending to Hampton Roads is a critical piece of our expansion plans to bring more connectivity to the network, which benefits our communities.”

The $10 million includes $1.2 million in matching funds from Mid-Atlantic Broadband, and another $1.2 million from Old Dominion University.

Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson said residents and businesses in the county would benefit greatly from the project.

“This has huge implications for Southampton County because access to the Internet is the great equalizer in today’s world,” Johnson said Thursday. “Not having Internet access really places a community at a distinct economic disadvantage.”

Deriso said Mid-Atlantic Broadband currently has about 800 miles of network across southern Virginia. He said the new fiber optic line would start in Emporia and continue along U.S. Route 58 into Suffolk. Another line would be extended north from Wakefield into Surry County, then head east through Isle of Wight County and terminate in Chesapeake.

Construction could begin within months. The new network lines would serve about 84,000 customers.

“All different kinds of carriers will be able to use the network at the same cost,” Deriso said. “It’s not just for our company. Our members that want to start providing broadband services to residential and business customers in these markets will be able to do so with this new fiber optic line.

“This is an underserved region that doesn’t have DSL, cable modems or any other broadband option.”

Wednesday’s announcement comes four months after Buggs Island Telephone Cooperative in Bracey was awarded $22.8 million in grant money to expand and improve existing broadband and voice communications networks to a large swath of southern Virginia, including Franklin and Southampton and Isle of Wight counties.

BIT officials said in May that the company could build as many as four service towers in our area to provide high-speed wireless Internet. The service should be available by late 2011.

The Mid-Atlantic Broadband project is one of 97 similar projects in 37 states that will receive federal stimulus funds. Collectively, the projects will cost about $1.8 billion.

  • hilltopper

    I concur…

    Suggest Removal

  • FromHere

    I’m in the boonies in the Boykins area and have the wireless Verizon broadband. Works just great. Verizon said I’d need an antenna to get internet service, but I don’t. If you get any kind of cell service, you guys out in the boonies elsewhere ought to try it. Don’t quote me, but I think you can take it back if it doesn’t work.

    Suggest Removal

  • hilltopper

    Is this really the best use of stimulus money aka…our money? Is this really the best way to help the struggling? An add on TV said every American family was on the hook for 10K…King Obama should of gave us all 10K each of our money…think of the stimulation if we all had 10K of our loot to spend…I’m so happy Al Gore invented the internet.

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  • fhancock

    I find the current cost of wireless (and even land-line) too much. On a fixed income and getting the internet is just one more “necessity” it seems. “Being competive” is no guarantee that it will be affordable. Furthermore, I doubt if those in the interior of SoCo will be able to get hooked up…yes, a map of the proposed wireless area would be helpful. By the way, uploading the new TN format, as well as signing in, has been a slow process. I am going to actually start waiting for the hardcopy in my mailbox as it is a quicker access! Doubt if I will be making many online comments unless I am at the high-speed service of the library.

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  • chuck

    I live in an area that has cell service, so I can get wireless internet. I can also get high speed satellite. Both are comparable in price. It is my understanding that the costs for broadband via this new internet network along Rte 58 will be competitive with wireless and satellite.

    Would love to have fios, but it doesn’t appear that will be an option here any time soon.

    Suggest Removal

  • standingbear

    Friends along the rural roads would like to know what new services,IF ANY, will be available?No cable, no cell phone service,but will they have wireless or not.Sometimes a map helps explains the story.

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  • employee2

    What does Charter or Verizon think of this?

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  • http://www.blackwaternottoway.com Jeff Turner

    So what does all this mean for us that live say on Unity rd near Sedley where we currently do not have cable nor cell phone service? Will we be getting some kind of cable service like Fios? Will we be getting wireless? Or will there be an option to pick between the two? I don’t care as long as we get something besides dial-up.

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    • stanleycr1

      Yes you should be getting wireless sometime next year. See
      bitcommforum.com for info on the project.

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