Surry County Broadband Project Updates
Surry County Broadband Project Update - April 2017
On March 29, 2017 the Honorable Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) grant awards of $945,000 through VATI for Albemarle, Augusta, Bland, Gloucester and Greensville counties. These funds were designated for communities partnering with private sector providers to extend broadband access to unserved areas of the Virginia.
Regrettably, Surry County's grant submittal was not selected for funding. The Surry County Board of Supervisors directed Administrative Staff to commence negotiating with SCS Broadband, Inc. our grant partner to develop a public private partnership to launch broadband subscription services in Surry County post-haste!
SCS Broadband, Inc. has committed to offering wireless ISP service to Surry County subscribers in CY2017 using the new generation LTE technology which offers more efficient bandwidth, with minimal incidents of latency and buffering. LTE was designed for outdoor wireless, not indoor wireless local networks. As a more advanced technology designed specifically for outdoors, LTE signals can hold higher modulation levels in the face of obstruction. LTE also does a better job of aggregating the various reflections from leaves and still provides high levels of throughput.
The proposed network design will permit our ISP partner to offer subscription services to business and residents ranging from 10 to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (and with the current generation of fiber network equipment, LTE, speeds of up to 1 Gigabits per second (Gbps)). Upload speeds will be open to availability by location, with a minimum of 1Mbps and a maximum of 20 Mbps. Services are to be supported by an existing fiber backhaul to a contracted exchange network.
The exchange will allow for the use of major high bandwidth applications within the network such as Netflix, Apple TV and Blackboard. Please see the SCS Broadband, Inc. website for information regarding subscription pricing and bandwidth.
Broadband Implementation Improvement Grant Update
Meeting participants thought it prudent to provide an update regarding the broadband project and model for delivery of services, in light of inquiries related to the launch of wireless broadband service county wide and the impending May 1, 2015 grant agreement deadline. We elected to provide a bulleted listing of points regarding the project as follows:
- Surry County developed relationships commencing in early 2005 with varied funding agencies to include USDA, NTIA and the VDHCD to aid in implementing a broadband fiber network to support local businesses, community service facilities and residential constituents via wireless connectivity
- After receipt of a Comprehensive Improvement Grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the County partnered with Mid-Atlantic Broadband (MBC) for the installation of a municipal-owned fiber network. To date 23,000 linear feet of fiber has been deployed and connects the County's government seat, Town of Surry, the community service facilities located within the Town and the Surry West Industrial Park.
- November 2013, Surry County's fiber network was lit and now offers circuits to its businesses that has greater reliability, increased bandwidth, and costs that are significantly lower than a T1 line. In short, the local network offers more service, which is dedicated per subscriber, with greater reliability, for less cost.
- Surry County with the support of its business partners, is delighted that to date the prescriptive job creation requirements outlined as a funding condition, 30, were exceeded by >500%, 160 jobs created.
- Edwards Hamm and Windsor One partnered with Surry County to meet grant conditions and were immediately connected to the fiber network. A fiber service provider has been contracted, rates have been set and other businesses can subscribe/buy fiber services at their discretion.
- The last phase of the Broadband Grant project is actively being implemented and consists of a 350 feet lattice style communication tower located off Commerce Drive. The tower will be designed with loadings to support both our public safety communication infrastructure and two or more wireless carriers that will have access to the County owned fiber network truncating at the tower base. We will actively seek relationships with carriers to offer Internet services to our constituents by offering access to our infrastructure at discounted rates. This model seeks to gain entry of wireless Internet service providers to the community by surmounting the obstacle they previously expressed regarding high infrastructure costs in comparison to the sparse population and limited potential subscribers. The infrastructure costs in this model have been fully borne by the County.
- We would like to offer a word of caution. The wireless market is different today than when we initially commenced this project and where before larger carriers evidenced minimal interest in entering our local market, today we would not be surprised if these same carriers alongside smaller wireless providers are desirous of access to the County owned facilities for the purpose of offering subscriber services, albeit at much more competitive rates than represented in 2010.