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Broadband project nears completion in Bedford County, ramping up in Franklin County

Broadband project nears completion in Bedford County, ramping up in Franklin County

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Briscnet and Blue Ridge Towers have nearly completed the first phase of an ongoing project to provide high-speed internet to Bedford County residents. Construction is expected to ramp up in the coming weeks in Franklin County to provide similar service to its residents.

Work recently was completed on 10 of the 12 planned towers in Bedford County to provide fixed wireless internet to residents. The fixed wireless can provide internet speeds up to 25 mbps in areas that have no other access to high-speed internet.

John Manning, chief operating officer of Briscnet, praised the Bedford County Board of Supervisors and its broadband advisory committee for its cooperation with the project. He said he expects all the towers to be operational in the next two weeks.

“We have installed 97% of this initial project to deliver much-needed broadband to the unserved and underserved areas of Bedford County, and we just received the go-ahead to complete the final site,” Manning said. “Our network is now a highly capable foundation for high-speed internet services in Bedford County, and our newly won FCC licenses give us expanded network capabilities and resiliency not contemplated in the county’s original broadband plan. Once we meet the pent-up demand in the areas covered by this first-phase network, we hope to have the opportunity to extend service to more families and businesses in the Bedford County that need high-speed internet access.”

Phase two of the project is to extend broadband to the harder-to-reach locations in Bedford County that were not covered in phase one. Manning said they should have a better idea of areas that were not reached once customers begin signing up for service.

Smaller towers could be constructed around the county to expand the fixed-wireless signal from the main towers. Manning said the broadband internet signal can reach up to 5 miles from the tower.

Towers constructed in the Smith Mountain Lake community should provide high-speed internet service to area residents, including in Franklin County. Manning said anyone interested in signing up for service should visit the Briscnet website at briscnet.com.

Manning said he expects construction to begin on towers in Franklin County early next year with service available as early as next spring. Some of the proposed tower locations include Westlake as well as equipment installed on already existing towers in locations such as Scruggs.

The fixed wireless speeds are expected to be significantly greater for Franklin County residents due to the use of a CBRS radio-frequency spectrum not available to Briscnet and Blue Ridge Towers constructed the 12 towers in Bedford County.

“Franklin County will get the benefit of CBRS,” Manning said.

Manning said CRBS should allow residents to have internet speeds as high as 100 mbps to residents within 6 to 8 miles of the proposed towers. Like in Bedford County, that signal will be dependent on how well the line of sight is between a home and the tower. Residents living in low-lying areas may be blocked from a clear signal due to topography.

Briscnet also will work with Franklin County to figure out what areas were not reached in the first phase of their plan, Manning said. Work is expected to then begin installing smaller towers to expand the signal to homes not reached in the first phase.

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