Five counties have been awarded a total of $502,491 in grant funding for fast-tracking broadband from the Commonwealth of Virginia as part of the federal CARES Act. Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland, Lunenburg, and Nottoway counties have each been awarded $85,000.

The Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) assisted all five counties in submitting the applications. The project, in partnership with Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp (MBC), will improve broadband in these counties. MBC will partner with existing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in each county to expand broadband services to target areas. The project will benefit approximately 2,445 households and 400 businesses.

The funding will allow MBC to invest in and install new optical networking equipment. Internet access, bandwidth capabilities, and functionality will all be improved, specifically benefitting students participating in remote learning, residents teleworking, and local businesses seeing Wi-Fi demand increases as businesses shift to virtual environment.

“MBC was created to establish open-access high-capacity fiber backbone network connections to enable ISPs to provide robust broadband services in Southern Virginia, where sometimes infrastructure investments can be tough to justify. This CARES Act funding will help us keep fulfilling this mission for Southern Virginia,” said Tad Deriso, MBC President and CEO. “The diligent work of the CRC to secure CARES Act broadband funding will pay big dividends for their localities.”

This project will not only have immediate impacts but will facilitate ongoing broadband expansion projects well into the future providing both short- and long-term benefits for MBC’s ISP customers.

Nottoway County Public Schools (NCPS) was also awarded $77,491 to purchase 395 hotspot devices with pre-paid data plans. These devices, combined with 400 hotpots previously purchased from separate CARES Act funds, will provide at least 84 percent of the student body with a reliable form of internet. The remaining 16 percent of the student body live in areas with connections that cannot sustain a hotpot device.

“This grant funding is great news for the students and families of NCPS,” said Marcia Martin, Director of Instructions, Grants, and Technology for NCPS. “The ability to purchase additional hotspots will create more equitable access for students in the school division. We are most appreciative for being selected as recipients.”

Both broadband projects are scheduled to be substantially completed by the end of the year.

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