The county plans to work with ADD Equipment to construct three towers for wireless broadband network installation in just one of the moving parts to supply internet to underserved areas in the county.
Halifax County Board of Supervisors chose to award the $602,082 contract with ADD Equipment following a staff recommendation when they met Monday. They plan to use CARES Act funding.
Supervisors had previously allocated $1,228,000 of CARES Act funding towards broadband initiatives and $750,000 for broadband towers.
County administrator Scott Simpson told supervisors he anticipates these towers to be finished by the end of December.
The county also is working with RiverStreet Networks, an extension of Wilkes Communication, to provide equipment for these towers using grant funding.
RiverStreet Networks is acquiring SCS Broadband, an internet provider the county has been working with for the past few years.
According to the county administrator, the county is currently overseeing three grants for broadband, including one from the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI), another from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revilitzation Commission to supply equipment for broadband towers and another to supply equipment to broadband towers.
EMPOWER Broadband, in conjunction with Halifax County, was awarded the $710,514 VATI grant in January.
The grant will aid in building 37 miles of fiber optic cable including the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) serving 634 homes and businesses in Halifax County. EMPOWER Broadband is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC).
Simpson told supervisors the VATI grant is tied to wireless on four towers in the county, with one of the towers constructed by Mid-Atlantic Broadband in Virgilina.
Another tower is located in the Acorn area, which Simpson said is already loaded with equipment. He said they’re still waiting for equipment for that tower, along with two more, that goes in customers’ homes. Shipment, he said, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He anticipates the tower in the Acorn area to be active in the next month to two months.
Two more towers are expected to be leased from commercial cell towers, SCS Broadband and RiverStreet Networks, Simpson added.
He explained that they’re in the process of doing structural analysis for those lease-able towers.
The county also is looking at funding from the Connect America Funding and the Federal Communications Commissions’ Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.
“There’s a lot going on with broadband right now…it’s kind of behind the scenes,” said Simpson, who added. “Hopeful by the first of the year some of these funding streams will fall in place.”
ED-6 supervisor Stanley Brandon, who chairs the broadband committee, asked for patience from the community, which he said he does not taking pleasure in asking.
“I feel like we’re 30 years behind already. But, broadband is coming. It’s just not coming fast enough,” he added.