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Tobacco commission awards $334,395 for Halifax County broadband

SoVaNow.com / June 10, 2019
Meeting Thursday in Danville, members of the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved nearly $8 million to expand broadband internet access in Southside and Southwest Virginia, with Halifax County snagging $334,395 for its wireless broadband network to serve rural areas of the county.

The county’s tobacco grant will help pay for Phase II of Halifax’s project with SCS Broadband, which is developing a network to serve remote areas where internet service is weak or non-existent. Phase II of the project calls for the installation of broadband communications equipment on towers in Nathalie, Volens, Turbeville and Virgilina.

Previously, Halifax County received a $231,108 state grant for the Phase II expansion. The Tobacco Commission also provided an earlier grant award of $206,206 to help pay for Phase I, which called for wireless broadband to be available to paying customers in the Nathalie area in 2018.

The build-out of the wireless network has been slowed by a number of factors, from bad weather to FCC regulatory delays and concerns that the county’s private partner, Nelson-based SCS Broadband, is overextended with other projects in Virginia. Neither Phase I nor Phase II service has begun.

The new timetable for availability of rural broadband through the county’s public-private network is sometime in 2020, after tower locations are chosen and the equipment is installed and tested. SCS Broadband provides updates on tower installations at its website, scsbroadband.com.

All told, the Tobacco Commission funded 14 Last Mile Broadband Program requests that will provide over 16,000 new homes and businesses with a high-quality broadband connection of at least 10 Mbps.

Tobacco Commission Chairman, Del. Terry Kilgore said, “I’m excited about the investments the Commission made particularly in education and broadband expansion. Expanding broadband access and educational opportunities in Southern and Southwest Virginia is critical if we are going to be successful in developing the diverse economy we want in these regions. I think the investments made by the Commission at this meeting are a big step in the right direction.”

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