Citizens gets grant to expand high-speed data network

Floyd County has long enjoyed fast, reliable broadband Internet service thanks to Citizens Telephone Cooperative’s leadership in deploying high-speed data services in the region.

Now Citizens has a grant to expand and improve broadband service in a seven-county region — primarily underserved areas of Wythe, Pulaski, Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke and Botetourt counties.

The $11.5 million grant from NITA will provde an 186-mile data route with 200 gibabytes per second and eight primary interconnection points positions to provide service to unserved and/or underserved areas and to tie into other open access networks.

“The impact and opportunities this joint venture will provide on these rural communities by allowing them to gain access to high quality, high speed and affordable networks is paramount,” Citizens Assistant General Manager Dennis Reece says in a press release from the company.

Citizens say the expansion will serve more than 50 “community anchor” institutions — including Virginia Tech, Radford University, New River Community College along with public safety entities, healthcare facilities and government centers.

Not bad for our little local telephone co-op.

(My thanks to Citizens Telephone General Manager Greg Sapp for a heads-up on this news)

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for reporting on this topic, Doug. I read further and was disappointed to learn that this grant money won’t be used to upgrade the infrastructure in the existing Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) area – 95% of Citizen’s traditional customers are considered served and 60% of those customers subscribe to broadband. But “Citizens is working on a long term plan for FTTH in its ILEC service area. The plan to provide FTTH access to every home and business in the service area is currently estimated to cost over $26 million and could take up to a decade to complete. In the meantime, Citizens will continue to explore additional ways to increase bandwidth to customers using existing infrastructure.” FTTH is an acronym for Fiber to the Home, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that fiber will be run into each home – it can mean fiber to a remote terminal, as is typical in Floyd County, or it can mean fiber pushed deeper into the network with a shorter length of copper cable to the houses. At any rate, it is important to realize that this grant won’t do much to improve access speeds for Floyd County residents – it is to connect the neighboring areas to the rest of the world. All well and good, but I’d like to know more about Citizens’ plans for improving the fiber backbone in Floyd County. The network in Floyd County is quite antiquated – Citizens uses cables with single strands of fiber instead of ribbon cable, for example. I don’t know the sizes of the cables in Floyd County, but I’d be surprised if there were any cables larger than 48 strands and those cables, if they exist, don’t extend very far from the Webbs Mill Rd. switch.

    Oh, and one other point for all the conservatives out there reading this: this grant money is from stimulus money and doesn’t create any jobs at all. None. Right? Yep, I thought so.

  2. Congressman Boucher has pushed for broadband expansion for nearly two decades, initiating success in Lebanon, VA, and other locales. He asked for stimulus funding to accelerate his hopes for everyone’s future.

    Industry selects locations that have certain infrastructure characteristics; fiber-optic availability is one of them.

    Jobs are created when industry is served well, according to the successes in more than one part of SW VA, thus far.

    I hope that the completion of the endeavor will be much shorter than 10 years; it can be done.

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