First customer in Grayson County receives high speed internet access

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 4:30 PM EST
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GRAYSON COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - For people who live there, there is a lot to love about Grayson County.

“It’s a beautiful area. We’ve got mountains, we’ve got rivers. It’s unique,” says Carl Caudill, Director of IT for Grayson County.

Unique for its beauty and its method to bring high speed internet to its residents.

“We’ve created the first of its kind public/private partnership to create a solution for the rural digital divide,” says Brad Hall, Vice President of external affairs, Appalachian Power Company.

On Tuesday, the Elk Creek Volunteer Fire Department became the first customer on the broadband project that will provide high speed internet to around 6,000 residents of the county using Appalachian Power poles and GigaBeam Networks internet service.

“Everything is involved in internet access, you can’t do hardly anything without it,” explains Michael Clemons, CEO GigaBeam Networks. “In this area, they have no service, so it’s really hurt them to do everything from education, to healthcare, and jobs. This fixes all of that.”

“To be able to attract and retain industry, you’ve got to have key infrastructure,” adds Hall. :Not only electricity, but you’ve got to have water, sewer, and you’ve got to have a high-speed internet service.”

The state legislature was pivotal in passing a bill that changed the delivery model for broadband in Virginia, making this possible.

Federal programs also exist to help customers pay for the service.

“Through the federal communication’s commission, there’s a program called the emergency broadband benefit program and actually GigaBeam Networks participates in that program and it’s available to anyone in Grayson that has any federal subsidy payments,” notes Tamarah Holmes, Director of Broadband at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

Paving the way to improved education, healthcare, economic development, public safety, and entertainment.

“Getting access to the internet is going to be an ongoing process from this point on, but we can start hooking up customers up right after the new year,” says Caudill.

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