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Construction plans being drawn up for Sunset Digital expansion

Nick Shepherd • Mar 22, 2017 at 11:32 AM

DUFFIELD — Construction plans to expand broadband access for communities in Southwest Virginia are in the works, according to a press release.

Sunset Digital announced the plans on Monday and said the areas selected will be provided by members of each county’s board of supervisors.

The planned expansion to seven counties is part of the company’s purchase of the Bristol Virginia Utilities’ OptiNet Division. Final approval of the sale is still pending. Sunset said last week the expansion would create 150 jobs in the region and connect a minimum of 10,000 households in the Cumberland Plateau.

“Connecting unserved communities is a key component of our expansion plan,” said Paul Elswick, CEO of Sunset, in a press release. “The local board members in these counties know their areas of need best, and with their help we will get a head start on our engineering starting this week.”

Members of the Sunset team will begin reaching out to various boards and localities for input and information. Community outreach members will poll individuals associated with the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission, the Mount Rogers Planning District Commission, the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission and the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

In addition, members of the boards of supervisors for Tazewell, Russell, Buchanan, Dickenson, Washington, Smyth, Wythe, Lee, Wise and Bland counties will also be consulted. With all that information, Sunset engineers will be able to identify where to focus their efforts to start connecting customers as early as this week.

Some of the communities already identified include Murphy Ridge, Frying Pan, Caney Ridge and Long Fork School, Thompson Valley, Home Creek and McClure. Sunset officials expect that list to grow.

Sunest Digital uses a system called FiberTrac, which allows engineers to visualize construction opportunities by helping to make sure the maximum number of households are connected in a single build.

“We save a lot of time by finding all potential homes and businesses before we build,” said Ryan Elswick, COO of Sunset, in a press release. “The old adage ‘measure twice and cut once’ is not lost on us. It’s how we can afford to build to rural areas and why so few others ever can.”

For more information or to show interest for broadband coming to your area, visit www.sunset-fiber.com/optinet.

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