$3.5 million awarded to Pittsylvania County for further expansion of high-speed Internet

$3.5 million awarded to Pittsylvania County for further expansion of high-speed Internet

Pittsylvania County is receiving help from the Commonwealth to expand broadband and Internet access in the area.

Earlier this month Governor Youngkin announced the recipients of more than $59.5 million in state grants through the 2023 Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI). There was $3,548,250 earmarked for broadband expansion efforts of Pittsylvania County.

The grant application was submitted in August 2022 on behalf of the county by the Western Piedmont District Planning Commission (WPPDC) and requires a match from a local Internet service provider.

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RiverStreet Networks (RiverStreet), which is already working with the county and WPPDC on other broadband expansion projects, Fiber to Premises (FTTP), has agreed to match $1,856,750 (34%), for a total project cost of $5,405,000.

The project will provide FTTP service to approximately 2,100 locations in Pittsylvania County.

The VATI program, administered by the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (VADHCD), provides targeted financial assistance to extend broadband service to areas not currently served by a provider.

Projects were selected through a competitive process that evaluated each project based on demonstrated need and community benefit, applicant readiness and ability, and proposed project cost and leverage. The level of funding awarded is based on the infrastructure needs in the project area.

In this application year, VATI received 35 applications requesting more than $300 million in funding. Since 2017, Virginia has invested more than $798.7 million to connect more than 358,000 homes, businesses and community anchor points in 84 locations.

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The awarded funds will be used by RiverStreet to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet infrastructure, establish last-mile connections, and provide technical assistance to promote digital literacy and adoption across the region.

RiverStreet began a county-wide FTTP project in unserved areas in the summer of 2022 with the help of 2022 VATI funding. The 2022 grant focuses on approximately 12,000 locations that cannot receive download/upload internet speeds greater than 25 /3 Mbps, while the VATI 2023 contribution applies to offices that cannot receive at least 100/20 Mbps; meaning that additional localities are now eligible for VATI funding.

A formal agreement with an official start date and timeline for the 2023 VATI grant is being drafted and negotiated between VA DHCD, WPPDC, the county, and RiverStreet. The VATI 2023 contribution requires the completion of the scope of work (availability of the service in approximately 2,100 locations) within three years of the formal adoption of the agreements.

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RiverStreet has already installed fiber throughout the county as part of the VATI 2022 project since January.

This grant provides another excellent opportunity to facilitate access to such an essential service, like high-speed Internet, for our County residents who live in areas without reliable Internet. We are extremely grateful for the continued support of the States, Western Piedmont and RiverStreet for the county’s broadband expansion initiative,” said Darrell Dalton, chairman of the county board.

For more information on the Pittsylvania County Broadband Initiative and related projects, click here.

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