Buggs Island grant suspended for failing to provide wireless Internet

Published 11:02 am Friday, February 1, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The federal government has suspended an $18.9 million grant to a South Hill company for failing to provide wireless high-speed Internet to 15 south-central Virginia counties, including Southampton and Isle of Wight counties.

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration also has asked Buggs Island Telephone Cooperative for its latest financial records and staffing plan to ensure it will provide the service, said agency spokeswoman Heather Phillips.

“We found that the grantee was not making adequate progress in meeting its milestones, in part due to technology issues it is still working out,” Phillips said.

The grant could be terminated 60 days after its Jan. 4 suspension.

Repeated phone calls to Buggs Island were unreturned.

Buggs Island was expected to launch the service on Sept. 15, but its equipment has continued to interfere with a cellular phone company’s equipment.

Buggs Island also received $3.9 million from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission for the $23 million system.

Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson had heard the grant might be suspended.

“At this point I do not have the details because I have not been in contact with the company,” Johnson said.