$19M for high-speed Internet

Published 8:29 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner on Tuesday announced $19 million in funding to bring affordable high-speed internet to the cities of Emporia and Franklin.

The infrastructure grant awarded by the Department of Commerce’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program to Buggs Island Telephone Cooperative will expand and improve the existing broadband and voice communications network. The funds are provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, supported by both senators.

This is the second installment of funding to expand high-speed internet service in Southside Virginia. In February, Webb and Warner announced a $16 million infrastructure grant.

Upon completion, the project will offer high-speed wireless Internet to as many as 100,000 households, 14,800 businesses, and 800 community institutions. Additionally, the project will reduce the equipment costs of equipment for residents to install broadband service at home.

“These projects are valuable in terms of attracting new businesses, allowing medical professionals to give better care, and giving tens of thousands of local residents access to the internet,” said Webb. “With unemployment rates above 12 percent, Emporia and Franklin have been hit hard by the economic downturn. It is our duty to provide this part of the Commonwealth with a fair shot at the future. I have consistently fought for the expansion of high speed internet in Virginia’s rural areas and I am pleased Emporia and Franklin will receive these funds.”

“Access to reliable and affordable broadband allows our rural schools and small businesses to better compete in today’s global economy,” Warner said. “Our previous investments helped to lay the foundation for this expansion of high-speed Internet across Southside, and the stimulus investment we announced in February tackled many of the region’s ‘middle-mile’ issues. With today’s grant announcement, we begin addressing some of the ‘last-mile’ connection issues.”