Virginia Governor announces high-speed internet coming to rural counties

Bedford County's goal, have 97 percent of residents with high-speed internet

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam made a big announcement Friday that more than a half million Virginians have been waiting to hear.

“I’m proposing $46 million, on top of $4 million already appropriated, for a total of $50 million in the coming year, to help get broadband to those Virginians who don’t have it now,” Northam said.

Northam traveled all the way to Bedford County because he says the county’s yearslong efforts to create a broadband plan-- showing and seeking financial commitment and help, as well as working with the private sectors-- is a perfect model of what other localities should follow.

“It’s great to hear him call us a model, but it’s a lot of hard work,” said Bedford County administration Carl Boggess. “The board has put big money into this as far as getting these capital assets up. So they’ll start going up in 2019.”

Roanoke company Blue Ridge Towers is  putting up nine new towers and bringing other broadband changes.

Blue Ridge Towers President Anthony Smith says the company is investing $1.6 million to this project.

“We’re developing towers. We’re constructing towers. We’re installing fibers, 10 and a half miles of fiber and then Blue Ridge Towers has a subsidiary BRISCNET. We’ll also be the wireless internet service provider,” Smith said.

The contract between Blue Ridge Towers and the county will be signed next year.

And for those who have suffered slow dial-up, county leader Boggess said, “Be patient and we would hope that you’ll be covered when the school starts in 2019.”

The county's goal is to have 97 percent of the county covered with high-speed internet.