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The Surry County Board of Supervisors intends to partner with Prince George Electric Cooperative (PGEC) and file a grant application with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for funding from the 2020 Virginia Telecommunication Initiative Program (VATI). The primary objective of the VATI is to provide financial assistance to supplement construction costs by private sector broadband service providers, in partnership with local units of government to extend service to areas that presently are unserved by any broadband provider. The project will be an extension of the current fiber-to-the home project currently underway.
Surry County consist of 310 square miles, nearly all the area is unserved or underserved by broadband. In 2018, the County Board of Supervisors with support of the Economic Development Authority entered into an agreement with PGEC Enterprises for Phase I of a fiber-to-the home partnership to provide connections to homes or businesses. The purpose of the public-private partnership of Surry County and PGEC Enterprises dba Ruralband, along with other local municipal partners, is to achieve the goal of having 100% of the Prince George Electric Cooperative service area in the county served by fiber-to-the-home. Additionally, PGEC Enterprises dba Ruralband will install fiber lines and will own and maintain the fiber system for the County. PGEC Enterprises dba Ruralband will provide internet service and handle all maintenance and billing. PGEC Enterprises dba Ruralband proposes at a minimum to offer three levels of broadband speeds: 50 mbps/50 mbps upload, 100 mbps/100 mbps upload, and up to 1 Gbps/1 Gbps upload. The proposed project must target unserved areas defined as having broadband speeds of 10 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 1 Mbps upload or less to areas not currently covered in the County. PGEC Enterprises will be working with the County on providing the geography of the project and other details.
The application will be submitted by the September 3, 2019 deadline. In accordance with requirements of VHCD, the public is invited to submit written comments on the proposed 2020 VATI grant application. To provide a record, comments should be addressed to Melissa Rollins, Asst. County Administrator, preferably by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments may also be sent by letter to Melissa Rollins, P. O. Box 65, 45 School Street, Surry, VA 23883 or by calling 757-294-5273. Public comment period will be open from August 3, 2019 to August 30, 2019. A complete list of comments will be sent to VDHCD. After the application submission deadline has passed and before project approval, the agency will post electronic copies of the applications on its website. Any private sector service provider wishing to request that DHCD deem a proposed project area as ineligible for VATI must submit a challenge with the information required in this section no later than 5:00 p.m. on October 9, 2019. DHCD will have 30 business days to validate a challenge.