New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | December 15, 2017

High-speed Internet service proposed to NK supervisors

By Andre Jones | November 29, 2017 12:42 pm

New Kent county leaders received a look at the first plans to bring high-speed Internet to the county.

SCS Broadband representatives Lon Welchel and Clay Stewart appeared before the county’s board of supervisors at Wednesday morning’s work session.

The broadband design presentation relayed an overview of plans to bring the service provider to New Kent. Stewart said plans are to provide unlimited data to residents with speeds ranging from 10-50 megabytes per second. Current plans utilize placing equipment on towers within the county. That equipment will provide a radius ranging from three to twelve miles away from the tower. Additional connection devices, known as community relays, will be placed in areas where signals are weak or non-existent to increase the probability to receive service. Stewart said that SCS Broadband should provide Internet connectivity to roughly 75-80 percent of the county.

The financial aspect centered around the equipment being placed on towers. Components, parts, and labor can cost upwards to $40,702 on the high end for each tower. Each community pole tops off at a price tag of $13,167. Stewart commented that because of the number of towers within the locality, the construction of additional towers would probably not be necessary, saving the jurisdiction money.

A two-year rollout timeline pegged the first three towers and two community relays to be equipped and activated within the first six months of 2018. Three more towers and two additional relays are expected to be added by the end of 2018. Plans in 2019 call for three towers and one community relay to be added in both the first half and second half of the year.

Equipping 12 towers and six relays garnered a total cost of the project at $972,156. That number was something that concerned District 1 representative Thomas Evelyn.

“Constituents are concerned about what the next step is,” Evelyn commented on the nearly $1 million price tag. “How much money is the county going to have to put up?”

Welchel interjected, mentioning past relationships with other jurisdictions SCS Broadband has worked within.

“Grants have propelled us and some counties have given us some funds,” Welchel commented. “We are trying to stay off commercial towers because of the cost.

“Every dollar that we save goes into resources such as hiring,” Stewart chimed in. “We don’t put any money in our pocket and we put it back into our system.”

County administrator Rodney Hathaway told county leaders that possibilities existed through grants, with some available funds leftover from the emergency radio project. He said he expects to apply for those funds through an EDA (Economic Development Authority) grant but also said how those grants are used.

“Any grant that we offer to them should be performance-based,” the county administrator commented.” We know this is going to be a tightly budgeted year as we address needs voiced by the school.”

According to the broadband representatives, the rollout of Internet service may be received as early as March 2018. Stewart emphasized that rollout will be based on which area had the most number of requests along with vicinity to an active tower.

Cost of installation is pegged at $198 for all equipment that includes guaranteed replacement. Plans are expected to cost a minimum of $40 per month.