Plans to expand internet access

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Salem internet provider told Charlotte County supervisors Tuesday that it plans to expand service in the county.

B2X Online Inc. CEO Warren Kane presented the company’s plan to attempt to partner with the larger Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. (MBC) in order to utilize its equipment and provide more services.

The presentation was requested by Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Gary Walker.

Kane said his company, founded in 2003, tries “to provide internet where there is no internet” and after driving around the county on his own, he believes Charlotte County is an area in need.

“Our mission is to provide underserved and ‘no-served’ areas,” said Kane.

“I’ve been spending a lot of time riding around in the county looking to see what areas are available and what we can do and how we can bring internet to this area because it is definitely in need of some internet.”

Plans for four new MBC internet towers are in place, including one that has been proposed to be built at Eureka Middle School, in addition to the four already constructed. Kane said he is having conversations “that have been very, very positive” with MBC regarding use of the tower, saying he would like to avoid “overbuilding,” with B2X equipment on top of MBC’s equipment, by sharing the equipment.

The head of B2X Online Inc. said no definitive agreements have been made, but his company has worked alongside MBC in the past.

He said the company hopes to improve the wireless internet access for the northern region of Charlotte County to start.

Supervisor Garland Hamlett, of the Drakes Branch District, noted the southern portion is concerned with “somewhat restricted” access as well. Kane said his company is aware of the limited services across the county after conducting studies, but is uncertain of the timeline for the countywide project.

He said the progress would depend on successful negotiations with MBC.

“We’re not sure exactly what direction we’re headed yet. We’re trying to see if this thing with Mid-Atlantic works out … it will be easier for everyone and then everything will happen faster. If it doesn’t happen, then we’ll have to overbuild on them which will extend the project out even longer,” said Kane.

Each tower would provide services across a 12-mile radius.

Kane said his company tries to offer affordable wireless services with plans starting under $50.

According to Kane, B2X already covers the entirety of Bedford County. Within Charlotte County, the company has a tower set up in Red House.

“We’re looking at if this does start moving forward, it’s going to happen this year,” said Kane.

“It doesn’t mean we’ll have coverage everywhere, it just means we’d start working together and then expand out,” he said.