Franklin County approves broadband expansion projects to deliver faster internet

Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 5:31 PM EDT
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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) -5,500 Franklin County residents will have expanded internet access within the next three years.

The Board of Supervisors approved two new broadband expansion projects for the county Tuesday afternoon. The projects are looking to bring faster and more reliable internet to rural parts of town.

Broadband expansion.
Broadband expansion.(WDBJ7)
Broadband expansion
Broadband expansion(WDBJ7)

The projects are set to be completed in 24 to 36 months. Board of Supervisors Chairman Ronnie Thompson explained how the projects are getting Franklin County up to speed.

“This is just bringing Franklin County into today’s world,” Thompson said.

Thompson explained he is looking forward to the expansion of opportunities that come with the expansion of broadband.

“There’s a lot of people that can work from home, but they can’t in these rural counties, and it’s because of the topography,” Thompson said. “These mountains are beautiful, and I don’t blame them for wanting to be at home and work and raise their family.”

Residents living in more remote parts of town are excited to get up to speed with faster internet.

“I’m looking forward to being able to do my school work at my house instead of having to go to a local coffee shop, or stay at school longer to do some work,” Boones Mill resident Gina Cielski said. “Even stuff as simple as relaxing and watching something on a streaming network because right now all I have are the bunny ears on my TV.”

Shenandoah Cable Television, LLC. will serve 3,500 residents and River Street Networks will reach 2,000 customers. Franklin County’s broadband expansion approval on Tuesday is part of an ongoing project from 2019 to decrease the digital divide in the county.

“We’re way beyond the dream, we are way beyond the talking, and we’re in the building zone right now,” Thompson said.

Both the Shenandoah Cable Television, LLC. and River Street Networks project expansions are funded through state grants and American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“It’s just going to make it a lot easier to do things at home like normal people do,” Cielski said.

The two projects will cost Franklin County about $31 million to complete. The construction for the two projects approved on Tuesday is set to start at the end of 2022.

Even though there is a deadline of three years, board members said residents could start seeing some of the internet access before the deadline.

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