Appalachian Power proposes plan to extend broadband access in Bland and Montgomery County

(WSAZ)
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 7:53 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY/BLAND COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Appalachian Power announced a proposal Wednesday that could make broadband access available to nearly 15,000 homes and businesses in Montgomery County and Bland County.

Bland and Montgomery County officials have chosen internet service provider GigaBeam Networks to collaborate on the project.

“Our efforts to bring quality internet access to parts of Bland and Montgomery counties in many ways mirrors what we’ve accomplished in nearby Grayson County,” said Chris Beam, Appalachian Power president and chief operating officer. “Fiber-optic cable allows us to utilize new digital technology on the grid to improve electric service for customers, while also creating an opportunity to lease the excess fiber to an internet service provider for broadband.”

The company says the lengthy and costly middle-mile infrastructure required to reach customers in mountainous terrain and sparse populations often hinders broadband expansion in rural communities.

Bland and Montgomery counties through the New River Valley Regional Commission received a $39 million Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) grant late last year from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to assist with financing the project.

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