WARSAW, Va. (WAVY) — On Thursday, Governor Ralph Northam joined Dominion Energy Virginia, All Points Broadband and Northern Neck Electric Cooperative for a groundbreaking ceremony on the Northern Neck.
The event celebrated the start of the first phase of a project that will deliver fiber-optic broadband access to approximately 7,200 currently unserved households and businesses in locations in King George, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland counties.
“Expanding access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet has been a top priority since the start of our administration—and the pandemic has only underscored the urgency in bridging the digital divide,” said Governor Northam. “By leveraging federal, state, local investment and private capital, this project will bring connectivity and opportunity to rural, unserved communities in the Northern Neck. We need to think big to make universal broadband a reality in our Commonwealth, and this regional initiative is exactly the type of unique partnership that will deliver on this promise.”
The project is being financed by a $10 million grant from the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative, along with federal and local funding and private investments.
“Bridging the digital divide is a complex challenge that requires new business models and new ways of thinking,” said Jimmy Carr, CEO of All Points Broadband. “The Northern Neck initiative is a model of what can be achieved through a combination of public-private and electric-utility partnerships, and we are excited to bring more projects like this one to fruition.”
In 2019, the General Assembly established a pilot program that established this partnership between electric utilities and broadband providers. The program has already connected more than 13,000 homes and businesses.
Gov. Northam has since signed bipartisan legislation that makes the legislation permanent across Virginia, including on the Northern Neck.
“We are thrilled to see this project on Virginia’s Northern Neck moving forward and are excited to work with our partners to help bridge the digital divide in the communities we serve,” said Ed Baine, President of Dominion Energy Virginia.
Dominion Energy is responsible for installing over 200 miles of fiber from Fredericksburg to Kilmarnock that will serve as the foundation of the project. All Points Broadband will then lease the “middle-mile” fiber from Dominion before installing the “last mile” portion of the network in the last quarter of 2021.
“We are proud of the role Northern Neck Electric Cooperative has played to bring this project to today, and the example this initiative has set for other regions throughout Virginia,” said Brad Hicks, President and CEO of Northern Neck Electric Cooperative.
Residents of the Northern Neck can visit fiber.allpointsbroadband.com to register their location, determine whether their location is included in the project’s initial phase, and sign up for future project updates.