Broadband Grants – the Link to Tobacco

Unlike the federal broadband stimulus, which may remind some of the Carly Simon song Anticipation, a grant program funded by the Virginia Tobacco Commission just awarded $1,514,143 to members of the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative (MBC). These 50/50 matching grants are helping to expand broadband to over 15k residential and business customers who previously only had access to dial-up Internet.

Although these are unserved areas of Southern Virginia, the cost works out to only $200 per household. The all-important and on-going, mid-mile operational costs will presumably be lower than other rural areas due to MBC’s robust regional fiber-optic network, which counts 55 private-sector telecom members.

Three (3) of the four grants were for broadband wireless, while one was to add ADSL to 14 digital loop carrier areas. It will be interesting to see if Virginia is a leading indicator as to whether the federal stimulus money will favor wireless projects over copper and fiber expansion. 

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