The fight to deploy vital broadband service into the deep south counties is gaining speed.

Just last week, more than $2 million in grant funding was approved by the Virginia Tobacco Commission for new broadband wired and wireless service projects in Tazewell, Buchanan and Russell counties. The project aims to help those residents and businesses who currently have no access to broadband services.

According to Delegate James W. “Will” Morefield, R-Tazewell, and State Sen. Ben Chafin, R-Russell,  about 1,411 households and businesses will be served in the three-county area.

The project in Tazewell County will bring wireless broadband service into the Thompson Valley and Cove communities.

“The project will use 18 microsite deployments to provide service into unserved areas at minimal expense,” Morefield said. “Access points will be placed on the main backhaul tower in addition to microsites.”

According to Morefield, microsites are small sites situated on utility poles to relay coverage and will pick up a signal from the master site at Morris Knob to extend service, which is the main tower that currently serves customers in the Tannersville community. He says the project also will allow for the expansion of cellular service in the area if negotiations with cellular providers are successful.

“In today’s technology driven society, access to the internet is imperative to economic development, education, and quality of life,” Chafin added. “It is my belief that building out internet access through new projects like these is equal to the need of previous generations building the interstate road system and building out access to electricity.”

The Thompson Valley and Cove communities are two areas that have been long in need of broadband service, according to Mike Hymes, the Southern District member of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors.

We, too, are pleased to see the approval of funding by the tobacco commission for this critical infrastructure upgrade.

In today’s high-tech society, broadband internet service is as essential as public water and sewer when it comes to economic development and job creation.

This welcomed project will help in opening up other parts of Southwest Virginia, including the Thompson Valley and Cove communities, to future growth.