The VCC said the upgrades enable wireless service providers to turn up fourth-generation (4G) wireless services in select communities in Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Wise counties.
The network upgrades will result in improved wireless coverage in the region and expand the reach of broadband services to areas that are underserved and unserved by high-speed Internet. Affected residents should immediately notice dramatically improved Internet speeds to their 4G-enabled wireless devices, the VCC said.
The project is a multi-year undertaking and will continue with upgrades to 12 additional existing wireless towers by the end of February, expanding the 4G service to Lee and Scott counties and the city of Norton.
The VCC said 11 new build-to-suit towers will be deployed to fill in coverage holes in the regional coverage map, including Tazewell County, by the end of the year. Additional build-to-suit towers will be deployed at other locations once the network is stable and the overall regional coverage needs can be reassessed.
The project is among the nation’s first full scale deployment of a 4G network in a rural market, funded by an $11 million grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission.
Tobacco Commission Chairman and state Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, said the project, when completed, will provide advanced communications services to more than 200,000 residents, 95,000 households and 2,600 businesses.
“Beyond the significant impact advanced technology will have on economic development and improving regional service,” Kilgore said, “the investment will have immeasurable job creation potential.”
The VCC is a regional economic development partnership of the Cumberland Plateau and LENOWISCO Planning District commissions encompassing Lee, Wise, Scott, Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties and the city of Norton.
The VCC’s implementation partners include the BVU Authority, Scott County Telephone and G4S Technology.