Augusta County understands the significant impact that internet access has on education, the economy, employment opportunity, and quality of life. We want all citizens to be connected but we have some challenges.
The County faces several challenges in assisting citizens with access or improvement to internet services, including:
- land area of 967 square miles, mostly rural in nature; and
- limited information on the provider networks available throughout the County; and
- providing evidence to meet grant criteria of an unserved population due to number of providers in area; and
- the need for middle-mile services to provide last-mile services.
Public-private partnerships with a provider can assist in overcoming these barriers.
There are multiple providers that have infrastructure in the County that could extend their services for better internet services to individuals. The County has been writing grant applications with interested providers and have received one award to date (2017-Arbor Hill area of the County). Grant applications have included fiber to the home in some areas.
Most of the websites have a page to review the internet services they provide. Some of them also have the ability for the individual to enter their address to see if there is service at their home or place of business.
Local providers (per FCC 477 filings):
- Rural Broadband Networks Services, LLC dba High Speed Link http://www.highspeedlink.net/
- MGW Networks https://www.mgwnet.com/
- Lingo Networks https://lingonetworks.net/
- xfinity (previously Comcast) https://my.xfinity.com/?cid=cust
- Segra (previously Lumos Networks Corp.) https://www.segra.com/
- Shentel dba Shenandoah Telecommunications Company https://www.shentel.com/
- Verizon Communications, Inc. https://www.verizon.com/about/
- New Hope Telephone https://www.newhopetel.net/
- ViaSat, Inc.
- Hughes Networks Systems, LLC
If you know of another internet provider that is not listed, please contact Augusta County, 540-245-5610.
In October 2018, the Augusta County Board of Supervisors appointed a Broadband Committee made up of County
citizens to assist in facilitating solutions presented in the 2016 Strategic Plan.
The Committee also recruited additional residents for sub-committees to develop partnerships, increase awareness,
improve marketing and provide technical assistance.
|Amy Thornton||North River||6/30/2020|
|Evan McHaffa||South River||6/30/2020|
|Larry Powell||Middle River||6/30/2022|
|Mark Journell||Beverley Manor||6/30/2022|
Board of Supervisors: Pam Carter, Steve Morelli
The Committee established by-laws that include:
- Identify, promote, facilitate and accelerate improvements to broadband infrastructure in Augusta County
- Collect and maintain comprehensive information on the state of broadband in households, businesses, schools and public gathering areas in Augusta County
- Analyze internal data to identify areas negatively impacted by lack of availability and quality of broadband services in Augusta County to identify areas for improvement
- Report to stakeholders on the current status and improvements to broadband services in Augusta County
- Facilitate and accelerate improvements by identifying and pursuing public and private funding opportunities to improve infrastructure through partnerships with private broadband providers through the most efficient process possible
- Appointed by Board of Supervisors, one per district
- 4 year term
- Meet 4th Thursday of the month at 7 pm (Government Center in Verona)
- Information Management & Analysis - gather and analyze data
- Marketing & Outreach - administer surveys and educate stakeholders
- Operations - write and submit grants
History of Broadband in Augusta County
Augusta County is a member of the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission which is a designated Economic Development District (EDD) under a program administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. As an EDD, the CSPDC prepares a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) through an intensive planning process.
The 2018 CEDS establishes regional economic development goals to guide the region in achieving its vision. One vision of the plan is to address critical infrastructure updates and anticipate future community needs to improve the Central Shenandoah Region’s competitiveness to attract and retain business (Vision II).
The first goal under this vision is to expand and improve the region’s technology and telecommunications systems. Specific objectives are:
- Develop stronger, reliable broadband coverage through innovative partnerships between localities and telecommunications companies, specifically focusing on rural areas;
- Expand and advance cell service availability throughout the region to attract businesses and residents; and
- Utilize state and federal broadband funds to implement telecommunication projects.
Two applications were submitted for FTTH "fiber to the home" projects in the Deerfield and Middlebrook areas. The applications were not awarded but valid and pertinent feedback from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will help future efforts.
The Broadband Committee was established to identify, promote, facilitate and accelerate improvements to broadband infrastructure in Augusta County (see the committee's mission statement).
Members of the Committee are appointed by the Board of Supervisors, one representative per district for a 4 year term.
An application for a tower in the Parnassus area along with fiber being laid on Routes 252 and 254 was submitted for a Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) grant but not awarded.
The tower would have improved the speed of connection in a three mile radius for 739 residences and 8 businesses. The tower placement was based on the analysis from two studies.
The Route 252 fiber project would have developed 5.3 miles of fiber, establishing 110 FTTH (fiber to the home) connections.
The Route 254 fiber project would have developed 3.2 miles of fiber for 75 FTTH connections.
Augusta County received a Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) grant, one of five awards made statewide. The grant funded 80% of the project, which was in the Arbor Hill area and included:
- installation of approximately 36,500 feet of fiber optic cable
- construction of a tower to facilitate improved broadband coverage
Total project costs $398,880
Grant Award $278,880
Match: County $60,000
Natch: Provider $60,000
- Fiber to the home (FTTH) services available for 65 homes
- Fixed wireless equipment installed
- Vetting customer ability to connect via fixed wireless
- Marketing for cell provider co-location
The completion of a project of this scope requires participation from many entities. It was a complicated and arduous process.
DHCD Contract - agreement between the County and DHCD that project will be completed and funds transferred
MOU with Lingo - agreement between the County and Lingo that details responsibilities of each party
Contribution agreement with Economic Development Authority - agreement between the County and EDA for pass through of funding
Land lease between provider and landowner - lease between Lingo and landowner for land for tower
In 2016, Augusta County completed a Community Broadband Telecommunications Strategic Plan in consultation with Consulting Gateway Corporation (CGC) and Dewberry through the award of a Virginia Telecommunications Planning Initiative Grant. The plan outlined “Last Mile Connectivity Solutions” for County management to consider. Several options were outlined, including Network Extension Funding Public Private Partnership, which has thus far been pursued through the application for Virginia Telecommunications Initiatives Grants offered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development in 2017-2020.
- Streamlines goals
- Defines County’s role
- Identifies future grant opportunities
- Identifies areas in need for future deployment
- Identifies telecommunications partners
- Assists with planning for growth in County
In the fall of 2011, The Atlantic Group was contracted to assist the county in developing a Wireless Facilities Analysis with respect to the development of towers in areas of poor or no service. The consultant identified gaps in 3-G services and evaluated the geographic areas of the County. The report concluded that for Augusta County to be able to service current poorly served areas and anticipate future 4-G services, the county should create a strategic plan to help address these needs. The consultant also identified twenty-one (21) rural areas where new tower development was needed.
From this analysis, in two of the 21 areas, towers were constructed in 2014 (Deerfield - a public safety narrow-banding project) and 2018 (Arbor Hill - Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) 2017 project).