Loudoun County and its partners All Points Broadband and Dominion Energy have filed their application for $17.75 million in state funding to expand rural broadband access, and county staff members on Oct. 5 said they’re hopeful about the results.
The county and two companies are hoping to use that money toward an estimated $71,975,000 project to run fiber optic cable along existing power lines, expanding broadband access to unserved and underserved areas of the county. They applied for the state’s Virginia Telecommunication Initiative grants.
According to the application filed with the state, the project would put in place 663 miles of fiber to around 240 square miles of the county. That is expected to reach 8,855 new addresses, including 8,185 homes along with rural businesses like bed-and-breakfasts, Great County Farms, Bluemont Vineyard, Dirt Farm Brewing, Homestead 1870 Farm Market, the Stone Manor Boutique Inn, Catoctin Apiary, Georges Mill Farm Bed & Breakfast and Farm Artisan Cheese, among many others. It would also connect Bluemont Community Center, the Philomont Community Center, and the Between the Hills Community Center.
And county staff members told supervisors at their meeting Oct. 5 that between the many letters of support from businesses, town governments and lawmakers, and the higher than required local funding match, Loudoun County has posted a strong application, even though some other applicants propose to reach many more homes, such as by combining multiple localities. Assistant Director of Information Technology Dave Friedrich said after discussions with All Points, a company that has experience in similar projects, it was decided that the funding the Board of Supervisors has put forth sets Loudoun’s application apart.
The Board of Supervisors in July allocated $12.425 million of its American Rescue Plan Act fund allocation toward the project.
The state’s requirements also brought a bit more good news for Loudoun residents—previously, All Points planned to charge extra for bringing service more than 500 feet from the nearest line, for example up long driveways. Thanks to requirements by the Department of Housing and Community Development, All Points now will not charge extra for the first year after it begins offering service in a neighborhood.
All Points plans to charge a $199 installation cost to each new customer; previously according to a county staff report, they had estimated they would be charging extra to as many as two-thirds of new western Loudoun customers.
Customers will still be able to request that the fiber be buried underground, rather than following aerial power lines; in that case, they would be charged for time and materials plus 10%.
Decisions on the grants are expected in late December.