Citizens Telephone Cooperative plans to lay around 1,700 miles of fiber-optic cable over the next three years, delivering next generation gigabit internet to front doors across 97% of Floyd County by 2021.
By the end of this year, the growing network will reach 60% of the county and is poised to become the envy of rural communities everywhere struggling with internet access issues.
Gigabit internet is considered the future-proof gold standard, but it is not widely available in Floyd County’s neighboring population centers including Christiansburg, Blacksburg or Roanoke.
The Federal Communications Commission classifies high-speed internet as download speeds of 25 mbps. Citizens’ service will be 40 times as fast.
“There is not another community as rural as Floyd that’s going to be completely connected as soon as Floyd,” said Evan Feinman, Gov. Ralph Northam’s chief broadband advisor. “I think it’s very safe to say this is leading the way on truly rural communities.”
Internet infrastructure is expensive in sparsely populated areas, where providers have to lay miles of fiber to reach a single customer. The math rarely makes sense, so providers often haven’t updated technology and entire communities have been left behind.
But Citizens enjoys a couple of advantages over other providers.
The entire buildout is expected to cost $35 million, which will be partially offset by $10 million in federal funding through the Alternative Connect America Cost Model program.
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