Back in January, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said Franklin County would receive a $2.3 million broadband grant. Blue Ridge Towers, Shentel, and BRT subsidiary BRISCNET lined up to help kick off the project. Even after the unexpected pandemic shutdown, Franklin County is ready to move forward, reports SmithMountainLake.com.
“The pre-authorization from the state allows the county and its partners to move forward on these necessary items to get this project going while the final contract negotiations and approvals are taking place. As soon as all contracts are completed with private partners and the state of Virginia, construction and equipment installation can begin,” said Steve Sandy, Director of Planning and Community Development for Franklin County. “We expect that to happen this summer. The county is looking to implement the construction in phases to get customers connected to the network as soon as possible and not waiting until the entire project is completed in 2021.”
There are already four cell towers in place. The project to bring broadband to Franklin County, will require seven new towers and will replace two others. The overall plan will use both fixed wireless and fiber broadband. The fixed wireless portion of the project is expected to wrap up by next fall.
The initial area of development encompasses the towns of Waidsboro, Wirtz, Windy Gap, Hardy, Burnt Chimney and Grassy Hill Road. Additional grants are in the works that would allow broadband expansion into neighboring regions including Endicott, Ferrum, and Penhook.
“The county continues to work to expand broadband offerings in Franklin County utilizing different technologies while also maximizing the use of county facilities and resources and our use of grant funding resources,” said Franklin County Board of Supervisors Chairman, Leland Mitchell. “The county is pleased to have a continued partnership with the state of Virginia, Shentel and Blue Ridge Towers – BRISCNET to help provide this vital infrastructure to our citizens.”