Millions granted for internet

Published 2:19 pm Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The internet has become a necessity for just about everyone. If you own a business, go to school, or simply want to connect with friends and family, the need for high-speed internet is ever increasing.
With that ever-increasing need, Charlotte County is set to receive more than $6 million to bring high-speed internet to citizens.

As part of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Connect America Fund Charlotte was granted $6,359,724 for rural broadband in 2,567 locations.
“We’ve been working with the FCC and the USDA to find common-sense solutions to this issue,” said Congressman Denver Riggleman. “I’m excited to see the great work that is being done here to help keep our rural communities strong.”

This grant is Phase II of The Connect America Fund, which aims to expand rural broadband services and close the digital gap in rural areas throughout the nation.

The grant, awarded to RiverStreet Communications based in North Carolina, is set to be funded later this month.
RiverStreet Communications specializes in last-mile broadband service and installing broadband in rural areas with low population density.

In all, RiverStreet Communications is receiving $32.1 million to deploy service to 13,518 homes and businesses in rural Virginia at Gigabit download speeds.

Lunenburg and Mecklenburg counties will also be served by RiverStreet Communications.

County Seat Supervisor, Gary Walker, said Friday that if (RiverStreet Communications) was going to reach more than 2,000 homes it “will pretty much have to be all over the county.”

Walker went on to add, “We are trying to get a meeting with them to see if they have a plan.”

According to a release for the FCC, this is the third wave of funding from the FCC as part of the Connect America Fund and expands broadband to 205,520 unserved rural homes and businesses in 23 states.

Joan B. Tuck, professor of Information Technology at Southside VA Community College in Keysville, said that Broadband Internet access continues to be a challenge in rural areas such as Charlotte County with 478 square miles. “As a faculty member at Southside Virginia Community College for the past 21 years, I specifically know how important internet access is to education and for students to be successful,” Tuck said.

Tuck also said she felt that the expansion of the internet should be to all citizens. “Internet service providers (ISP’s) working on expanding broadband should reach most citizens throughout Charlotte County, not just inside town limits or those close to existing towers,” she said. “The ISPs should have a mission to serve the underserved, and a substantial grant such as this gives them the opportunity to meet the challenges head-on.”