In FY 2020, The Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) is awarding $19 million to eligible applicants throughout the state to provide last-mile services to unserved areas.
The Northern Neck Planning District Commission and The Northern Neck Broadband Authority have submitted a regional application on behalf of six Virginia localities (Caroline, Mathews, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland Counties), addressing 13 different projects, including fiber expansion to Longwood University’s Hull Springs Farm in Westmoreland County.
The private-sector co-applicant in the application is Atlantic Broadband. The total cost of the project is $1,323,554, with around 51% of that being requested from VATI. The 13 projects will result in the availability of wired broadband services to 407 homes plus Longwood University’s research facility in the Northern Neck.
This public-private approach fully aligns with VATI’s priorities, whose objective is to “provide financial assistance to supplement construction costs by private-sector broadband service providers, in partnership with local units of government to extend service to areas that presently are unserved by any broadband provider.”
The Northern Neck Planning District Commission and The Northern Neck Broadband Authority are committed to implementing a regional approach to the expansion of reliable, wired high-speed Internet services in Eastern Virginia.
Because of the high cost of deploying truly reliable technology (i.e., fiber and coax, which will not become obsolete in the short term), it is essential that local units of government partner with the private sector, with companies that have the expertise and capacity to do the work, and that are also willing to make substantial capital investments themselves.
The State of Virginia intends to make additional funds available through VATI annually, and The Northern Neck PDC will continue to partner with localities and the private sector to take advantage of this initiative.
Grant awards for this funding cycle will be announced in December of 2019.