$35M grant brings broadband internet to 12,000 people in Western Tidewater area

Posted at 5:08 PM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 17:46:54-04

SUFFOLK, Va. - Thousands in Hampton Roads are about to be more connected than ever.

On Thursday, local and state leaders gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of a project aiming to expand broadband internet access in rural communities. The $35 million Virginia Telecommunication Initiative will connect more than 12,000 people in Suffolk, Isle of Wight County, and Southampton County.

The grant was awarded to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding comes, in part, from the $23 million VATI grant with additional support from each locality and Charter Communications totaling $35 million.

Suffolk hosted the groundbreaking event with speakers from all three communities. Two state delegates and the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission praised the opportunity. The city manager says the impact will be huge.

“In our rural areas the last several years, kids have had to go to school virtually, businesses have had to operate from home. This really showed a need…We kind of knew it, but now we know it, broadband access is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” Mayor Mike Duman said.

The project is scheduled to be completed within three years.

Last year, then Virginia Governor Northam announced new initiatives to expand broadband access. It's a mission current Governor Youngkin says he will continue to make a priority.