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Broadband initiative gets grant

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By April Wright, Reporter

A federal grant of $99,540 will help the regional Wired Road Authority to establish high-speed wireless Internet service for 360 homes and businesses in Carroll and Grayson counties and the City of Galax.

The grant is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through its Rural Development Agency.

The funding will allow the Wired Road Authority to provide high-speed Internet services to more customers.

The Wired Road Authority — comprised of members from Carroll and Grayson Counties and the City of Galax — is working to improve economic development in the region by expanding access to high-speed Internet services.

As part of the project, wireless towers have been installed at all Carroll County schools, a fiber optic network has been installed in downtown Galax and wireless towers have been installed in Elk Creek and Independence in Grayson County to provide high-speed Internet services to surrounding homes and businesses.

Debbie Bolen, manager of the Wired Road Authority, said the proposed Customer Premise Equipment project would purchase the equipment necessary to make about 180 fiber connections and 180 wireless connections to the Wired Road regional telecommunications network.

The equipment will be owned by the Wired Road Authority and leased to service providers operating on the network. The Wired Road will provide fiber installation and termination to the outside of the business or residential premise.

The service provider will then lease and install the equipment that connects the structure to the network.

“Access to high-speed Internet services is critical to achieving our economic development goals for the region,” said Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Abingdon).

The project will allow small, emerging local service providers to begin operating on the Wired Road without a large capital investment.

By providing the connection equipment to service providers through a low-cost leasing option, the Wired Road will assist small businesses to begin operating quickly with little to no capital investment.