VATI Rural Broadband Internet Access Project Explained
In December 2021, the governor of Virginia announced that Clarke County is one of eight counties in the Northern Shenandoah Valley that will share a $95,303,000 Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) grant for much-needed rural broadband infrastructure.
This project is the largest broadband project in Virginia history. It is a partnership between eight Virginia counties (Augusta, Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Rockingham, and Warren), All Points Broadband, and the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission, and it aims to provide universal broadband (fiber-to-the-home) to all unserved areas of the region.
Unserved is defined as not currently being served by a wired fiber connection. The project in Clarke consists of 3,278 passings (fiber connections) and 280 fiber miles. The map on this page shows the project area.
The number one concern voiced by Clarke residents over the past decade has been the lack of universal broadband coverage in the county. In 2017 – and after the county invested in a comprehensive telecommunications infrastructure study – the Board of Supervisors appointed a Broadband Implementation Committee that diligently worked on different aspects of implementing better coverage throughout Clarke County. The VATI grant funding presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to achieve universal broadband coverage in the county.
After the Commonwealth of Virginia announced funding in late 2021, all parties involved signed a project agreement on July 22, 2022, allowing the project to begin. All Points Broadband is currently working on low-level design and the pole attachment make-ready process. Fiber construction is expected to begin in spring 2023 and conclude in July 2025.
All Points Broadband and the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission expect to provide regular construction updates to Clarke County, and those updates will be posted on the Clarke website.
COSTS: All Points Broadband will notify property owners approximately 60 to 90 days before service becomes available to their addresses. For the first 12 months after service is available at any location, All Points Broadband’s standard installation fee of $199 will include any length of service drop required to make service available to a location. The lowest speed plan of 50/50 mbps is estimated to cost $59.99 per month with plans as large as 1/1 gbps also available.
Clarke County’s portion of this project will cost $23.6 million. Funding for the project is possible because of a $9.6 million investment made by All Points Broadband, $8.6 million in funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia, and $5.4 million allocated by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors. Note: Clarke County’s contribution is a combination of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, carry-forward funds provided by the public school system, and general county savings. No debt or tax increases were required.
Rappahannock Electric Cooperative is also playing a critical role by providing middle-mile fiber for the project.
WHO QUALIFIES: The project map above shows areas included in the rural broadband project. Residents should go to fiber.allpointsbroadband.com to confirm their inclusion in the project area and to preregister for notifications. This is an essential step to ensure that All Points Broadband has identified properties for service as a currently unserved location.
Direct questions about the broadband project to County Administrator Chris Boies at (540) 955-5100 or [email protected].