Bedford County expands internet access for 12,000 residents

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 4:41 PM EDT
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BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Around 12,000 residents in Bedford County will be getting expanded internet access within the next two years.

Bedford County is expanding broadband access to Stewartsville and most of District One. One resident explained with faster internet at home, she won’t have to go to the library every day to get connected.

“We don’t have internet,” Nicole Sheppard said. “My husband and I might be dragged into the 21st century if internet was more accessible where we are.”

12,000 residents will be getting ZiTel’s internet expansion in Bedford County. ZiTel is one of three companies to expand broadband into more rural parts of the county.

The chief operating officer explained how because ZiTel is a local company, employees understand the importance of providing internet to remote areas.

“We build where the other companies won’t. We’ll bring fiber down any country road,” Rodney Gray said. “These roads have sometimes 12 homes on them that the bigger national providers don’t pull cable down or don’t bring services to. Our objective is to bring services to those homes.”

More than $25 million in federal and state grants is helping fund the broadband projects. The county’s administrator explained at Wednesday morning’s launch party how the projects will bring Bedford County up to speed.

“A lot of people would say that this is the middle of nowhere, but actually, its the middle of somewhere,” Robert Hiss said. “We’re about to make it more the middle of somewhere with the broadband infrastructure that’s about ready to be deployed.”

Residents are excited to have more opportunities at home.

“I think its going to bring a world of possibility to a lot of people and it’s going to make it more convenient for folks to access information and be a part of what goes on in the world,” Nicole Sheppard said.

The completion deadline for the project is within 18 months, but officials say homes could receive internet access before that deadline.

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