Loudoun County supervisors on Sept. 21 unanimously approved a contract to run fiber optic cable to six government facilities in the rural west: Bluemont Community Center, Bluemont Public Safety Radio Tower, Philomont Community Center, Philomont Fire and Rescue Station, Loudoun Heights Fire and Rescue Station, and the Loudoun Heights Public Safety Radio Tower.
It is the latest step in the board’s work not only to connect county facilities, but also to expand broadband internet access into the rural reaches. Segra—the same company that gives it name to Segra Field at Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park—was the only company to respond to a request for proposals for the project. For $4.57 million, the company proposes to install that fiber optic cable and lease it to the county for eight years.
The hope is that this work will allow last-mile providers to connect to the fiber optic cable linking those government facilities, bringing broadband service closer to underserved homes and businesses. According to county staff members, Segra has committed to install additional fiber capacity along those routes and provide fair, consistent, and competitively neutral terms and prices to last-mile providers.
The contract is in addition to another, larger contract the company won from the county in December 2019, when supervisors approved a $15.5 million contract to lay fiber to more than 110 county facilities, also installing additional capacity to build private broadband access from a backbone network connecting county schools.
The fiber cable to the Between the Hills facilities will bring fiber optic cable closer to Neersville, at a time when residents in that area and in Lovettsville are fighting a proposal by AT&T to put a cell phone monopole atop Short Hill Mountain. AT&T has argued that project would provide better hotspot coverage.