Project Partners Include:
Last Updated 10-31-2023
History of the Project
In 2019, Grayson County Administration selected GigaBeam Networks to partner with the County to solve the rural broadband issues for the unserved locations throughout the County. Soon after, Appalachian Power selected Grayson to be the county for their pilot project under the direction of new Virginia legislation, thanks to Delegate O’Quinn, allowing investor owned utilities to help provide fiber optic lines in unserved areas. This pilot project is the first in the nation to utilize this unique opportunity and partnership of local/state government, investor owned utilities and private ISP’s.
Phase 1 – Planning & Funding 2019-2020
May – August, 2019 : APCo provides preliminary fiber paths including 238-mile path throughout the County. Paths selected were optimized for smart grid needs as well as maximizing the ability to connect as many unserved locations with broadband with financial feasibility as a factor in deployment.
July, 2019 – Project submitted to the SCC for approval.
September, 2019 – VATI grant applied for to fund a hybrid fiber/fixed wireless build. Proposed project does not include the entire County. Already served locations are not eligible and grant funding in 2019 was limited, preventing a county wide fiber the home network to be built. The grant application also received a challenge from a local cable provider forcing many areas in the central/eastern side of the county to also be removed from the proposed project.
July , 2019 – TRRC awarded grant of $325,000 matched with $325,000 in private funding to provide services in the Whitetop area.
January, 2020 – VATI grant approved:
VATI Grant Documents – The original grant submittal was for approximately $2.087 million, passing 1,760 fiber and 1,339 fixed wireless locations, for a total of 3,099. The challenge from the local cable company required a revision of the grant to approximately $1.838 million passing 1,760 fiber locations and 1,167 fixed wireless, totaling 2,927.
March, 2020 – SCC approves APCo proposal, project cleared for phase 2
Phase 2 – Design, Engineering, Construction Preparation
April – Dec 2020 – Low level design and engineering completed. Permitting started, ordering of materials.
Phase 3 Construction – Start date December 2020 – Completion Fall 2023
Dec 2020 – Fiber installation begins
July 2021 – Splicing of fiber begins
March 2022 – Service areas 1 & 2 activate
September 2023 – All fiber is built and operational
Wireless construction began in 2021 with completion scheduled for Fall of 2023. These locations could not be activated until fiber paths are completed to provide the connectivity to the sites.
With all projects approaching completion, currently over 3,100 passing are eligible for service.
The project is partially funded by 3 grant pools including 2 Tobacco Commission grants and 1 VATI grant. The funding locations are shown below:
Fiber Service Areas:
Below are the general fiber paths throughout the county with over 2,500 locations now eligible for service.
We’re building a hybrid fixed wireless/fiber network in Grayson County. Below is the wireless coverage currently being activated. The Fiber network will be “feeding” the wireless network for connectivity. Wireless coverage will follow the OLT paths in site construction and turn up of services.
Several new sites are currently under construction.
Is this a universal coverage project? No, The project does not cover every location in Grayson County. Areas in the eastern part of the county were challenged by the local cable company and had to be withdrawn from the grant. Virginia awarded approximately $18.3 million statewide in grants in the 2020 VATI cycle, making a county wide project not fundable at the time. With only approximately $2 million in grant funds, this project was never intended to be a universal coverage project for the entire County. There were estimated to be around 6,000 homes without broadband in Grayson in 2019. This project provides service to over 3,100 of those locations and sets up the core network to expand coverage to the remaining unserved locations as more funding becomes available.
Are there plans to include locations not in the project scope? Yes, once grant obligations are met, additional locations will be analyzed for expansion depending on funding availability (publicly and privately) and feasibility.
My location isn’t in a fiber service area, will I still get service? It is our intention to connect as many locations as possible in the project service areas. Fixed wireless is being deployed to cover the bulk of the non fiber areas. However, some locations will not be able to receive a wireless signal due to foliage blockage and terrain issues. GigaBeam will continue to add coverage throughout the county even after the grant projects are completed including fiber and fixed wireless expansion.
Why’s it taking so long to finish? This is a multimillion dollar construction project. Most projects of this size take 3-5 years to complete. We were on target with a construction timeline of 2.5 years, while navigating Covid. While the project was announced in May of 2019, it was only an idea at that time. Actual construction did not begin until December 2020, after funding and required approvals were obtained.
How does fixed wireless compare to fiber? GigaBeam is deploying the latest generation fixed wireless equipment which compliments fiber deployment quite well. Speed and performance is excellent with our design of short range deployment being fed directly by the fiber optic network.
I’ve heard that Facebook/Meta is involved, are you selling my data? NO. Meta did partner (indirectly) with the project offering engineering assistance for the project and have done so in other areas of the country. Meta was introduced to GigaBeam by the State of WV through their subsidiary, Middle Mile Infrastructure. Through MMI, they are building a multistate long haul fiber network to support their datacenters and infrastructure. These paths connect to major data center hubs in multiple cities including Columbus, OH, Ashburn, VA, and Atlanta, GA. GigaBeam is looking to leasing DARK fiber to connect to OUR datacenters (There are no affiliations to our data centers and MMI’s). Your data is secure and unavailable to MMI, Meta, or any other company. Currently, GigaBeam is not utilizing MMI fiber and working with other partners for primary connectivity as originally planned. MMI fiber adds redundancy to the network and we may utilize those paths in the future as our regional network continues to grow. We take our customers privacy and security very seriously which is why we include in our GigaBeam Experience portfolio the necessary tools to easily manage and protect your home from hackers and data intrusions. These value adds are not offered by any other ISP in the Grayson service area and we proudly include these features as well as many others bundled with access at less cost than the competitors unsecured internet only connections. GigaBeam is completely local, we care about our area as we are from this area and strive to provide the best in service to all of our customers, which are our neighbors, family members, and friends.
How does the service compare to other providers like Starlink and US Cellular?
- GigaBeam is faster with plans up to 1Gbps. The network is also designed to expand speeds up to 10Gbps in the future.
- GigaBeam is about 1/2 the cost of Starlink.
- GigaBeam includes the GigaBeam Experience – enhanced wifi, protection for your devices and family members, parental controls, as well as GigaGeek support. Starlink does not offer customer service other than a online ticketing system and no enhanced services/protection.
- GigaBeam is LOCAL and focused on our region and communities.
- Starlink and US Cellular speeds are not guaranteed and can vary significantly.
- US Cellular has unlimited usage. HOWEVER, once 300GB/month of usage is reached (almost all GigaBeam customers exceed this), speeds are reduced to only 1.5Mbps (FCC defined minimum speed to be classified as “broadband” is 25Mbps) GigaBeam is unlimited with no restrictions or bandwidth reductions.
We strongly encourage anyone interested in getting serviced to sign up immediately!
There is much work to be done before the entire service area is activated but deployment activation times are getting faster as final stages of the project are approaching. We strongly encourage anyone interested in getting serviced to sign up immediately. There is no obligation to sign-up! This will help us develop our deployment strategy and plan and will also include you in a mailing list for updates on the project and service availability. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!