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CARES Act grant will extend broadband to rural Augusta County communities

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A $333,378 grant from the CARES Act will be used to extend broadband to the Mountain Run residential area and households near the intersection of Heizer Tanyard and Jerusalem Chapel Roads located between Churchville and Buffalo Gap.

Last-mile fiber-to-the home for 36 households are included in the Lingo Networks Fiber Project, along with middle-mile fiber infrastructure which can serve additional FTTH customers.

It was estimated that out of the initial 36 households, at least 25 households need broadband for income-related reasons.

“Grants like these from the state and federal government are crucial to us so we can afford the overwhelming expense for getting broadband to our rural areas. That’s why I feel so fortunate for Augusta County to recently receive more than $900,000 in broadband grant money to benefit the citizens of the county,” said Pam Carter, the vice chair of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, who is a member of the Augusta County Broadband Committee.

Increased broadband connectivity will improve distance learning, telework, and telehealth capabilities in response to COVID-19 for underserved areas identified in Augusta County’s 2016 Broadband Telecommunications Strategic Plan.

High-speed internet will be available for those who subscribe or purchase the service. Future FTTH connections will be installed primarily through private funding from Lingo Networks.

“We are so grateful to providers like Lingo Network for their willingness to partner with Augusta County to reach pockets of underserved citizens where the return on investment is not as great,” Carter said. “Standard county revenue cannot begin to cover the costs to finance this service, so it is our task to identify and obtain funding sources to cover the thousands of households which need this service. The investment of private companies is essential for broadband service in our most rural areas.”

Lingo Networks performed data research and interviews with farmers and landowners in the area.

The plan is to provide fiber connections to residents by Dec. 25.

The total cost for the Lingo Networks Fiber Project is $416,722. Augusta County and Lingo Networks will each contribute 10 percent of the total cost – or $41,672 each.

Lingo Networks is also a partner in a previously awarded project funded through the CARES Act that was announced on Nov. 9. That project, the Swoope Tower Fixed Wireless Project, will provide last-mile broadband connection and middle-mile infrastructure for 310 households in Swoope.

The first two broadband grants, for Swoope and another with New Hope Cooperative in New Hope, secured a total of $567,063 in funding, bringing the total of CARES Act-funded broadband grants for Augusta County to $900,441.

Story by Chris Graham

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