Warren County moving on broadband access plan

^ Posted Oct. 12

By Alex Bridges

Broadband access could spread to underserved areas of Warren County under a plan three years in the making.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday plan to hear a report from the consulting firm that developed the county's Community Telecommunications Plan. The Atlantic Group will present its report, which outlines the broadband needs across the county and the steps recommended to implement the plan.

Grants and Special Projects Coordinator Brandy Rosser explained Friday the first part to the implementation of the plan would inform people through the county's website. Information would allow people to understand when they move to an area what broadband services exist, the data transfer speeds, necessary equipment and the costs, Rosser said. The website would include hyperlinks to area servers.

The other part addresses ways the county can work with broadband providers and what the locality can do to help speed up the process and spread the availability of the service, Rosser said.

The 130-page study estimates the total investment by the county to implement the plan at $2,220,000.

"That could come from grant funding, if we find appropriate programs that would provide funding that would allow us to implement the program," Rosser said. "It's not something that would happen all at once. We're not asking the board to provide $2.2 million for the implementation.

"There may be certain areas, like if we were working with Verizon or Comcast or somebody and they say if you can provide $10,000 to help relocate these poles we'll speed up the service by six months and get people service," Rosser added.

However, as Rosser noted, nearly 90 percent of the county has broadband access, lowering the locality's chances to show it needs funding to spread service to underserved areas. Many other localities have far less coverage and fewer options, according to the study. The county's low unemployment also works against the locality when it seeks grants for this purpose, Rosser said.

Rosser and the team that worked on the matter, which began in December 2009, will seek approval of the plan by the Board of Supervisors as well as its endorsement to begin implementing the consultant's recommendations.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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