Bedford County looking to partner with Comcast on broadband expansion

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) The Diamond Hill General Store has a little bit of everything. Cold-cuts, craft beer, a garden center: they serve about 400 customers a day. The one thing they say they’re missing? High speed internet.

“It affects our credit card business, people want to come in and have lunch and do a little business while they're here and they can't get on their iPads, they can't get on their phones,” said Christine Brodt, owner of Diamond Hill General Store. “It's a frustrating situation.”

Soon, their concerns could be eased. Bedford County is continuing efforts to get high speed internet to more of its citizens. Monday night, the Board of Supervisors took a step towards providing that service in the South-side of the county.

Comcast has approached County leaders to expand their services surrounding the Smith Mountain Lake area.

“This would be money being put into the project by Comcast, not money through the county of Bedford,” said Carl Boggess, Bedford County Administrator.

Comcast would put forward a portion of the money. For the rest, the county and Comcast will apply for a grant from the Tobacco Commission through the research and development fund that Boggess said Delegate Byron worked hard to get set up.

Expanding services would not only help residents, but businesses in the area.

“We’ve had calls throughout the years from business and we've done the best we could to find grants that we could look for and any kind of funding. And it's been difficult,” said Traci Blido, Director of Economic Development for Bedford County. "When you have a county the size of ours and the geography of ours it is difficult to get to the last mile. But that is our objective here."

The application for the grant is due November 15th and the commission is expected to review it in January.

The county will also be applying for a much smaller project with Shantel Cable in the Chapel Woods area.

Comcast would definitely be working in the South surrounding Smith Mountain Lake, but the specific parameters have not been released yet. The Diamond Hill General Store is hoping they'll make the cut.

“It would be wonderful I would have all these tables full. I'm sure. Because people just come in all the time looking for internet,” said Brodt.