FCC gives $6 million to expand rural broadband across central and southeast Virginia

By Zach Armstrong

PRINCE GEORGE, Va -- The Federal Communication Commission donated over $6 million to the Prince George Electric Cooperative’s wholly owned fiber subsidiary, RURALBAND, to expand broadband across central and southeast Virginia to the counties of Dinwiddie, Isle of Wight, Prince George, Surry and Sussex. 

The funding will enable RURALBAND to expand its gigabit speed-capable broadband service throughout the co-op’s rural Virginia territory consisting of the five counties. The funding will come through the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction.

“In many of our communities, options for high-speed internet are limited and unreliable, and we are working hard to get to those areas with fiber-to-the-home broadband,” said PGEC President and CEO Casey Logan. “Over the past year, we’ve made significant inroads throughout the areas we serve and this award will help us speed that deployment and get fiber access in the hands of the homes and businesses we serve.”

The Prince George Electric Cooperative currently has over 5,000 customers in its fiber-to-home program. RURALBAND launched in 2017 with its first pilot program and was Virginia’s first electric co-op fiber entity to connect a FTTH network subscriber.

RURALBAND’s deployment is set to encompass 1,300 miles of fiber and is currently  utilizing a Virginia Telecommunication Initiative grant and working with Dominion Energy to eventually serve 100% of residents in Surry County with awards secured through federal auctions.

A release by the PGEC stated “RURALBAND’s 100% fiber network offers ultra-fast speeds for both downloading and uploading. This symmetrical speed and the power of fiber allows multiple users and devices at the same time without any service degradation. This is a must-have in the age of COVID where the needs for reliable broadband — remote learning, working from home, staying connected with loved ones and virtual doctor visits — have become front and center.”

Prince George Electric partnered along with 90 other cooperatives to form the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium led by rural fiber-optic network design and construction management leader Conexon to give the co-op more bidding power with the FCC. Conexon’s RECC was awarded over $1.1 billion to deliver world-class FTTH service to over two million rural Americans across 22 states.

The PGEC is headquartered in Waverly and is a not-for-profit member-owned energy provider that serves over 12,000 homes, farms and businesses in the counties of Dinwiddie, Prince George, Southampton, Surry, Sussex and Isle of Wight.