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Grayson County poised for a broadband expansion via new state law

Published by on May 21, 2019


INDEPENDENCE — About 75 percent of the people in Grayson County lack access to quality broadband. Even for some connected to broadband, their internet speed is so slow that people in the rural county jokingly describe it as “advanced dial-up.”

The county set a goal three years ago to provide broadband access to all of its residents who want it. Soon, that ambitious goal — one that rural communities all over the country are struggling to achieve — will 5cdd6b3fe2ae3 Image 300x225become a reality.

“Grayson County is going to go from being one of the least-connected counties in the commonwealth of Virginia to having significant high-speed broadband access,” said Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Washington, who also represents Grayson County.

Gov. Ralph Northam signed legislation in March that will allow Virginia’s two largest electric utilities — Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power Co. — to provide the broadband infrastructure. The legislation from O’Quinn goes into effect in July, when a three-year pilot program will begin, with Grayson County the first locality to participate.

Northam identified expanding broadband coverage to all Virginians within a decade as one of his priorities as governor. His administration, including his chief broadband officer, worked closely on the legislation.

“I don’t want any part of Virginia to be disconnected,” Northam said. “I want everyone in our great commonwealth, no matter who you are or where you’re from, to have access to opportunity. And in the 21st century, broadband is a requirement for opportunity.”

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