Franklin County Approves Broadband Expansion Plans to Bring Faster Internet to 5,500 Residents

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) – 5,500 Franklin County residents will benefit from expanded Internet access over the next three years.

The Board of Supervisors approved two new broadband expansion projects for the county on Tuesday afternoon. The projects aim to bring faster and more reliable internet to rural areas of the city.

Extension of broadband.(WDBJ7)
Broadband expansion
Broadband Expansion(WDBJ7)

Projects are expected to be completed in 24 to 36 months. Board of Supervisors Chairman Ronnie Thompson explained how the projects are accelerating Franklin County.

“It just brings Franklin County into the world of today,” Thompson said.

Thompson explained that he looks forward to the expansion of opportunities that come with broadband expansion.

“There are a lot of people who can work from home, but they can’t in these rural counties, and that’s because of the topography,” Thompson said. “These mountains are beautiful, and I don’t blame them for wanting to be home, working and raising their families.”

Residents living in more remote areas of the city are happy to keep up to date with faster internet.

“I can’t wait to be able to do my school work at home instead of having to go to a local coffee shop or stay in school longer to get work done,” said Boones Mill resident Gina Cielski. “Even things as simple as relaxing and watching something on a streaming network because right now all I have are bunny ears on my TV.”

Shenandoah Cable Television, LLC. will serve 3,500 residents and River Street Networks will reach 2,000 customers. The approval of Franklin County’s broadband expansion on Tuesday is part of an ongoing project since 2019 aimed at bridging the county’s digital divide.

“We’re way beyond the dream, we’re way beyond the talk, and we’re in the construction zone right now,” Thompson said.

Cable Television from Shenandoah, LLC. and extensions of the River Street Networks project are supported by state grants and American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“It’s just going to make it a lot easier to do things at home like normal people do,” Cielski said.

Both projects will cost Franklin County approximately $31 million. The construction of the two projects approved on Tuesday should start at the end of 2022.

Even though there is a three-year deadline, council members said on Tuesday that residents could start seeing some internet access before the deadline.

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