Citizens Telephone Cooperative (Citizens) recently announced the expansion of its existing open-access fiber network in rural Virginia, making affordable, high-speed broadband service a reality for under-served and unserved areas. On Wednesday, April 25, representatives from local and state organizations joined for a ribbon cutting ceremony signifying the joint endeavors of the open-access project and the renaming of the NRV Competitiveness Center to the NRV Business Center.
This project meets the need of many community anchor institutions in the New River Valley region of Virginia who report being unable to access high-speed, affordable broadband services. In an effort to address this problem, NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) awarded a $9.2 million dollar grant to Citizens Telephone Cooperative (Citizens) to extend its open-access fiber network into unserved and under-served communities in the region. The project, New River Valley – Regional Open Access Network or NRV-ROAN, is an $11.5 million dollar project to construct 186 miles of middle mile fiber with access in remote communities with the purpose of providing access for economic development, research, education, emergency response, and health care. The grant proposal was a collaboration between Citizens and the New River Valley Network Wireless Authority (NRVNWA).
This “middle-mile” project traverses a seven county region which includes Wythe, Pulaski, Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke and Botetourt. Initially this 186 mile network addition will be 100Gbps (100,000Mbps) and include eight primary interconnection points that are strategically positioned to provide service to unserved and/or under-served areas and to tie into other open access fiber networks. This will allow wireless and other internet service providers to offer services to areas where service was previously unavailable; or areas that were determined to be economically infeasible.
“The impact and opportunities this joint venture will provide on these rural communities by allowing them to gain access to high quality, high speed, and affordable networks is paramount.” says Dennis Reece, COO & Assistant General Manager of Citizens.
Because of this new expansion, more than 50 community anchor institutions including Virginia Tech, Radford University, New River Community College, public safety entities, health-care facilities and government facilities will have access to symmetrical speeds between 5Mbps and 10Gbps (10,000Mbps) through Citizens’ extended open-access network.