HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Hanover County announced a partnership among All Points Broadband, Dominion Energy and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative that will make broadband service available to underserved areas in the county.
Despite coverage maps indicating that virtually all of the county has access to high-speed broadband internet, a large portion of residents do not.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Hanover County, as well as our rural residents who have been impacted by the lack of access to broadband that many in suburban areas currently have,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Sean M. Davis said.
The initiative is called “Connect Hanover” and will target areas of the county that lack a broadband connection of at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps. According to a release, All Points Broadband will help the county to deliver broadband access with minimum speeds of 100 Mbps/100 Mbps to all remaining unserved areas.
Scott Brown has been a Hanover County resident for 21 years. He told 8News that he hasn’t always had broadband services, but that has improved over time.
“There’s quite a few areas that are substantially lacking communication services — good cell service, lack of DSL, lack of internet connectivity,” he said. “The announcement today is hopefully a great step forward, fixing the digital divide.”
All Points is working with Dominion and Rappahannock Electric to lease “middle-mile” fiber capacity to improve the operation and efficiency of their electrical grids.
“Broadband access is more important than ever, and we’re proud to work with our partners in Hanover County to be part of the solution and help bring this critical resource to the communities we serve,” Dominion Energy Senior Vice President of Power Delivery Charlene Whitfield said.
As it moves forward with efforts to modernize Virginia’s energy grid, Dominion Energy is working to provide that “middle-mile” fiber optic cable infrastructure that can also be used to bridge the digital gap and reduce broadband deployment costs in Hanover County. All Points will serve as the partnership’s last-mile internet service provider and be responsible for providing service to end users.
“We are proud to partner with Hanover and All Points Broadband to help bridge the rural digital divide. REC is committed to improving the lives of the residents and businesses that we serve and improving broadband access certainly achieves that mission,” Rappahannock Electric Cooperative President and CEO John Hewa said.
At its Wednesday meeting, the Hanover County Board of Supervisors is set to consider using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to start jumpstart this process.
“Broadband is probably the number-one issue that we hear about from our citizens on a day-to-day basis,” Hanover County Administrator John Budesky said. “The proposed investment will also enable us to leverage state and federal funds and make us much more competitive for grants.”
To ensure their home is included, residents are asked to complete a survey online here to determine if their location has been identified as underserved and to subscribe to project information.
“It’s an expected commodity. Internet is almost like a utility now,” Brown said. “I went to a presentation at one of the electric coops where a mother who was a teacher — when she got fiber to her home, she was able to spend an additional seven hours [per week] with her family because she could enter her grades from home and not have to stay at the school to enter them because she had no internet service in the house.”
The timeline for deployment lists August of 2022 as the anticipated start of construction.