Buggs Island submits plan for Internet service

Published 11:49 am Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The South Hill company working on a wireless, high-speed Internet system for 15 south-central Virginia counties, including Southampton and Isle of Wight counties, has filed a plan with the federal government in hopes of continuing the project.

Buggs Island Telephone Cooperative filed the plan with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration in addition to its latest financial records, said agency spokeswoman Heather Phillips.

In 2009, Buggs Island received an $18.9 million federal stimulus grant to build the system. The company also received $3.9 million from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission for the $23 million system.

Buggs Island planned to launch the service on Sept. 15, but had issues when its equipment was interfering with a cellular phone company’s equipment.

NTIA, which oversees the project for the federal government, on Jan. 4 suspended the project and gave Buggs Island 60 days to come up with a plan to get its system operating.

NTIA also raised concerns about Buggs Island’s ability to complete this project in a timely manner, Phillips said. It was supposed to have been completed within three years after receiving the grant.

Buggs Island reported that as of Sept. 30 the project had cost $15.1 million and was 80 percent complete.

NTIA could terminate the grant after 60 days from the suspension.

When asked what would happen to the money that has been spent, Phillips said it was too premature to comment.