Bath and Highland Counties Receive Grant to Bring Universal Broadband Coverage

According to a press release, Bath and Highland Counties have been awarded a grant that will bring universal broadband coverage.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced on Monday that Virginia is deploying $2 billion to achieve near universal broadband coverage.  The award of new grants will advance Virginia 90% to the goal of achieving universal access to broadband and high-speed internet, placing Virginia on track to being one of the first states successfully charting a path to universal access to broadband.  The Governor said the pandemic highlighted the need for swift and bold action to extend high-speed internet across Virginia.

The Bath-Highland Network Authority and MGW was awarded $7,876,800, with $3,113,200 leveraged.  The project will build fiber broadband to 2,470 unserved locations and achieve universal coverage in both Bath and Highland Counties.

Virginia has allocated more than $722 million to provide universal broadband infrastructure in 70 localities, which will close 90% of Virginia’s digital divide. The funding—from the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) and the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)—will support 35 projects, connecting more than 278,000 households, businesses, and community anchor institutions to high-speed internet, and leverages more than $1 billion in private and local investments, pushing the total broadband investment in Virginia above $2 billion over the past four years.

The Department of Housing and Community Development administers the VATI program, which provides targeted financial assistance to extend broadband service to areas that are currently unserved by a provider.

In this application year, VATI received 57 applications from 84 localities, requesting more than $943 million in funding.   The Bath-Highland Network Authority application is one of the thirty-five projects awarded grants.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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