In today’s digital age, broadband Internet access seems like it’s just about everywhere on everybody’s personal electronics and smart phones. In rural Edwards Ridge in Dickenson County, VA, however, the Appalachian Mountains are a physical barrier that has made broadband delivery in the area costly. Installation costs so much per square-mile that large broadband suppliers wouldn’t invest, and Scott County Telephone Cooperative (SCTC), the local communications utility, didn’t have the resources on its own to build a broadband network.
USDA Rural Development provided the cooperative with a FY 2015 $2.1 million Community Connect Grant for a broadband IP Ethernet network that will serve about 580 homes and businesses in Edwards Ridge and the surrounding region.
Some residents around Edwards Ridge commute to Clintwood, Coeburn or Wise, VA, where they have broadband access at work, but they are eager to have it in their own homes and local hangouts.
The Scott County Telephone Cooperative broadband project is expected to boost local economic development. It will allow workers to telecommute, and also encourage businesses and healthcare providers to consider relocating in Edwards Ridge, creating more employment opportunities for people in a rural area where unemployment is high. Additionally, broadband will increase education options for Dickenson County school students.
Thanks to USDA Rural Development, high-speed access to the world-wide web is finally coming to this rural Virginia mountain community.