Citizens Telephone Cooperative (above) in Floyd has been given a $9.2 million dollar government grant to to extend its open-access fiber network into unserved and under-served communities in the region.
The project, New River Valley-Regional Open Access Network or NRV-ROAN, is an $11.5 million dollar project to construct 186 miles of middle mile fiber with access in remote communities with the purpose of providing access for economic development, research, education, emergency response, and health care.
The grant proposal was a joint effort between Citizens and the New River Valley Network Wireless Authority (NRVNWA). This “middle-mile” project traverses a seven county region, including Wythe, Pulaski, Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke and Botetourt. Initially this 186-mile route will be 200 Gbps and include eight primary interconnection points that are strategically positioned to provide service to unserved and/or under-served areas and to tie into other open access networks. This will allow wireless and other internet service providers to offer services to areas where service was previously unavailable; or areas that were determined to be economically infeasible.
“The impact and opportunities this joint venture will provide on these rural communities by allowing them to gain access to high quality, high speed, and affordable networks is paramount,” says Dennis Reece, assistant GM of Citizens. Adds Congressman Rick Boucher, “Our work to build Southwest Virginia’s broadband infrastructure has borne fruit. For example in the spring, I announced that DIRECTV would locate a virtual call center in our region as a result of the region’s extensive broadband network, and that center now employs 137 Southwest Virginia residents.
"The federal funds announced today represent another major step forward in advancing our economic development opportunities by expanding our information technology infrastructure”.
Because of this new expansion, more than 50 community anchor institutions including Virginia Tech, Radford University, New River Community College, public safety entities, healthcare facilities and government facilities will have access to speeds between 10 Mbps and 10 Gbps through Citizens’ extended open-access network. Entities such as Radford University will now have diverse routing, significantly decreasing the chances of network loss and New River Community College’s two campuses will now be interconnected, as will four public school systems: Pulaski, Giles, Montgomery and Wythe.