New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | February 21, 2020

Broadband committee presents first plan to New Kent leaders

By Andre Jones | January 29, 2020 12:12 pm

With Internet becoming more of a necessity in today’s society, New Kent County leaders received an update of bringing broadband Internet to the county.

New Kent Broadband Advisory committee chairman Chris Stone made a presentation to county leaders at Wednesday morning’s work session.

Utilizing his 25 years of background, Stone’s presentation spoke about several problems the county faced with the lack of high-speed internet. Stories about businesses spending money just to connect to the Internet to students having inadequate access to log online were among the top problems the committee faced when formalizing a plan.

Stone opened up his presentation by saying the committee recommended a phase-in process. In the first phase, a person would be hired to find grants for service to help create an open access network.

That person would serve as an executive director and report to the committee about the process. The second phase would be known as the “mid mile”, a centralized point where government buildings, schools, and businesses could connect with. Fiber would connect these sites that provides the county opportunity to create applications and other amenities for the county.

The third phase, considered the “last mile”, would connect homes to the broadband. Cables could be connected above or below ground and splice into the facilities.

A hybrid approach could also be used that could allow Internet to be connected wirelessly via towers.

Stone’s Powerpoint presentation pointed to having 800 clients on the tower within three years and 5,000 residents in the first seven years. A goal of 163 business clients in the first seven years is also listed on the committee’s plans.

Figure wise, the investment over four years would cost the county $19.2 million, with $10.3 million coming within the first two years as upfront costs. The return of investment (ROI) would take nine years to pay off. But the 12-year plan would result in a profit of $20.6 million over the final three years of the plan. However, Stone said that for every $2 million in grants that is invested into the project, it reduces a year on the return of investment.

After the presentation, District 1 representative Thomas Evelyn praised the presentation.

“This is something that the county wants,” he says. “This is like a utility now, similar to electricity.”

“I think this needs to continue to be a conversation with the board,” chimed in District 3 and board chairwoman Patricia Paige. “We are talking about $20 million and we need to work constantly towards this goal and this board.”