Bedford County, in partnership with three Internet Service Provider (ISP) partners, was awarded multiple grants totaling $25,225,717 from VATI in the county’s ongoing efforts to achieve functional universal broadband coverage in Bedford County. These funds will help bring reliable, high-speed internet service to at least 11,932 serviceable units that are currently unserved or underserved by broadband.

The details for Bedford County’s three grant awards are as follows: Bedford County and its partner Shentel are due to receive $8,642,313 in funding for 5,565 serviceable units. Bedford County and its partner Zitel were awarded $8,523,908 in funding for 4,114 passings. Bedford County and its partner RiverStreet Networks were awarded $8,059,496 in funding for 2,253 serviceable units.

These VATI grant funds, in turn, will leverage approximately $30 million dollars in matching funds, stemming from local government and private ISP matching funds. 

“Bringing broadband service to all of the residents of Bedford County, regardless of anyone’s socioeconomic and geographical situation, has long been one of my top priorities, as well as my board colleagues,” stated Bedford County’s chairman of the board of supervisors, Tommy Scott. “We are delighted to be awarded these grant funds by the Northam Administration and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) through its VATI program.”

The awards, announced at public events featuring Gov. Ralph Northam, are three of 35 project awards, totaling $722 million in funding in the governor’s ongoing initiative to bring broadband connectivity to many of Virginia communities across the commonwealth that still do not have access to reliable, high-speed internet service. According to the Northam Administration, this round of grant awards will connect “more than 278,000 households, businesses and community anchor institutions to high-speed internet, and leverages more than $1 billion in private and local investments.”

Speaking to the importance of the announcement, Northam’s chief broadband advisor, Evan Feinman, stated, “It’s incredible to see the governor’s goal realized and see the hard work of our local partners pay off in this way. I can’t wait to see the day in 2024 when every Virginian has access to broadband.

Regarding the announcement, Bedford County Administrator Robert Hiss stated: “I am proud of the work the county has done with Shentel, Zitel and Riverstreet and their company leadership and their engineers and am delighted that VATI has reviewed our applications and awarded these broadband grants to the partnerships we have created with all three. We look forward to putting these funds to good use so Bedford County can bring this essential utility to all of our citizens.”

On behalf of Zitel, CEO Brandon Camden stated, “ZiTEL is very pleased about our partnership with Bedford County and the Commonwealth of Virginia with the recent VATI grant announcement. We are a locally owned company headquartered in Bedford County, and our mission is to bring high-speed internet access to the places others will not. Our company slogan is: ‘ZiTEL, Where Country Roads and Fiber Meet’ and is what we truly believe in. We will work diligently to expand our service to the citizens of Bedford County and are poised to be a partner with the county for years to come.”

For the RiverStreet project, Bedford County is part of a larger regional VATI application that includes: Amelia, Campbell, Charlotte, Nottoway, and Pittsylvania Counties. This larger regional project will pass 24,641 locations with fiber at an estimated cost just over $152 million.

In response to the VATI grant award, Eric Cramer, RiverStreet Networks President/CEO, stated, “Our reliable infrastructure solutions have helped the communities we serve prepare for today’s demand for high-speed internet for remote learning, virtual meetings and much more. RiverStreet Networks is proud and pleased to be working on this project with Bedford County. We are all connected by the internet.”

“Shentel is thrilled to continue its longstanding partnership with Bedford County, playing a critical role to close the digital divide,” stated Chris Kyle, vice president with Shentel. “Shentel has proudly served the citizens of Bedford County for over a decade, and we could not be happier to be on the leading edge of this historic effort to bring broadband service to every Virginia resident. With deep roots in Bedford County, Shentel is committed to continuing its growth to bring the best available broadband technology to those who have been unserved for far too long.”

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