Three southwest Virginia counties, Pulaski, Bland and Montgomery, are banding together in search of better, faster internet service. WXFR-TV reports that the counties plan to partner with Appalachian Power to bring high speed internet to the region.
“The pandemic isn’t what promulgated this but perhaps what’s expedited this particular project,” said Pulaski County Administrator, Jonathan Sweet. “COVID-19 has been, really, an eye-opener, especially with people working from home, education from home,” agreed Bland County Administrator, Dr. Eric Workman.
Over 1,300 residents in the three counties responded to a survey, weighing in on their broadband preferences and experiences. The findings are being turned over to Appalachian Power, which will then make a recommendation to the Virginia State Corporation Commission. While it is not expected to be a quick fix, the end result could see 15,000 households with viable broadband connections of at least 25MB of download speed and 3MB for upload speed. An increase in mobile hotspots is serving as a temporary solution for many.
Residents like Adam Fariss, who owns the Iron Heart Winery in Pulaski County, are supportive of the plan to bring better connectivity to their remote region. “Every time we produce a new label for our wine, it has to be submitted to the Federal government via the internet. We have to upload a high-definition image; the application is multiple pages. It’s a long process,” he noted, which may require visiting friends with better internet connections to complete.
“That’s why I live out here is because of that desire to be out in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, but it’s also nice to have, you know, modern-day technology available at your fingertips,” Fariss added.