You asked: High-speed Internet at least a year away

Published 10:39 am Saturday, May 14, 2011

You asked: What’s going on with high-speed Internet for Western Tidewater?

COURTLAND—The availability of high-speed Internet in Western Tidewater remains at least a year away, according to Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative in South Boston.

The company received stimulus funding to finish a broadband Internet system by installing 170 miles of fiber optic cable across several counties, a segment of which – from Emporia to Suffolk – will traverse Southampton County.

The project’s design phase is about 80 percent complete with an end-of-the-month deadline, said MBC Project Manager Doug Herrin.

“We have to design in order to know where to go (with the lines),” Herrin said.

The permitting phase of the project, which is about halfway done, includes an environmental assessment. The company also must have permitting to install poles where lines cannot be buried, Herrin said.

“We can’t disturb any ground until the environmental issues are signed off on,” he said.

Once a Finding of No Significant Impact statement is issued by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Herrin said the company would submit a request for proposals for pole construction. MBC hopes to send that out as early as June.

Herrin said once the project is under way, it would take about a year to complete.

While MBC is responsible for bringing the cable to the area to make high-speed broadband possible in rural areas, one of the cooperative’s member companies will bring the technology into homes. One such member is Buggs Island Telephone, which was given a grant to expand wireless Internet services to the City of Franklin, and Southampton and Isle of Wight counties.

Herrin said Buggs Island would build towers that could transmit the MBC service wirelessly to homes.

Southampton County administrator Mike Johnson also said Buggs Island would offer a storefront in Franklin or Southampton County for subscription purposes.

Several calls to Mickey Sims, general manager for Buggs Island, have gone unreturned.