Broadband grant approved

Published 9:01 am Friday, July 5, 2019

Approximately 400 homes and businesses in Lunenburg County could receive new or upgraded broadband fiber, thanks to a grant effort by the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and Kinex Telecom.

According to a release from Kinex, based in Farmville, the telephone and internet service company received $439,068.84 in matching grant funds from the Tobacco Commission to build fiber to homes and businesses in Lunenburg County, spanning 41 miles.

“The money is a 50 percent matching grant between Kinex and the Tobacco Commission Research Committee, as part of an effort to bring broadband to unserved areas within the Commission’s footprint,” the release cited.

Kinex had already planned and permitted a substantial fiber build in the Lunenburg area and had committed several hundred thousand dollars, according to the release, but because the grant schedule was in the same time frame, Kinex decided to apply to the Commission through the Research & Development Committee Broadband grant.

“By matching Kinex’s funds, the commission would double the resources, thereby increasing the number of homes that could be reached, by at least 200,” the release cited. “The commission reviewed the project, its likelihood of success, its value to the community, and approved it overwhelmingly.”

The project will include 28 miles of middle mile fiber and 13 miles of last mile fiber, bringing the total build to 41 miles, according to the release.

Lunenburg County Administrator Tracy Gee said in a statement that the county appreciates the work of the Tobacco Commission and Kinex.

“The Board of Supervisors strongly supports upgrades to internet access for all of our residents of Lunenburg County and we are grateful for the support of the Tobacco Commission in that initiative,” Gee said. “The Board appreciates Kinex approaching Lunenburg Administration staff regarding this opportunity to start the important task of tackling our middle-mile and last-mile gaps in internet service.

“As you can see from the press release from Kinex, Lunenburg County will see the potential for up to 200 new users to gain access, plus better speeds for existing users,” Gee said. “Our hope is that private providers, like Kinex, will continue to partner with the County and the Tobacco Commission to increase broadband connectivity and availability, especially for the rural consumers in the last-mile.”

Kinex is utilizing the latest fiber Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology, which links all electronics at 1 Gigabits per second (Gbps). However, the fiber will support 10Gbps.

“Years from now, when the network requires more bandwidth, the electronics can be upgraded, keeping the community on the cutting edge of technology,” the release cited.

Kinex President Jim Garrett cited in the release that the funding “is a great use of Tobacco Commission money. We started building fiber a decade ago and have been self-funded until now. With this help we can reach more clients and help bring modern features to the rural areas, at a much greater pace.”

Kinex is several weeks into the project and expects to begin adding new clients in the fall, according to the release.