About the Project

Rappahannock has joined a regional initiative to develop and execute a strategy to achieve universal, fiber-to-the-home broadband for all unserved locations in the County through a regional grant application to the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI).

This regional initiative includes All Points Broadband, Dominion Energy Virginia, Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and seven participating Counties.

The partners have completed high level design for a universal, fiber-to-the-home broadband network to serve the more than 2,000 locations in Rappahannock that are not served by wired, gigabit-capable broadband today.

All Points’ network and partnerships are specifically designed to secure VATI grant funding in the current application cycle, and to be an eligible use of ARPA funds.

The Project is planned to be substantially complete within 24 months of receiving the VATI grant award.

Funding award areas in Rappahannock County

NSVRC project funding application areas

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative Fiber Optic Utility Network

Frequently Asked Questions

In 2015, the FCC defined “broadband” internet as an internet connection having 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download, and 3Mbps upload capability.  This standard was established to have a minimum benchmark of service across all types of connections and to promote access to high-speed Internet for all U.S. citizens.

In some places, these speeds are quite slower than what is commercially available to customers.  In other places like Rappahannock County, there are very few customers that actually have that fast of Internet service.

A speed of 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload will support typical usage including high-quality video streaming.  The FCC has a consumer guide of examples of typical usage and the speeds required to support each usage type.

In comparison, the service offered by All Points Broadband will provide much higher speeds to customers, with speeds starting a 50Mbps for both download and upload, with a maximum offered speed of 1000Mbps (1 Gigabit per second or Gbps).  Several packages will be offered with different speeds and pricing to ensure quality service is affordable and competitive to other providers’ services.

These speeds ensure that the benefits of the investment into the Project will last well into the future.

The access to high-speed Internet service has become an absolutely essential utility for modern life, and the residents of Rappahannock County are no different than any other place in their needs for the service.  Universal Broadband access for Rappahannock County residents will provide economic benefits while preserving the rural character of the County.

Some immediate benefits to residents would be:

  • Enhanced learning both at school and at home
  • More telework opportunities for adults
  • Telehealth services for people of all ages
  • Better phone & 911 communication, as local providers have been abandoning their copper phone networks and leaving citizens without reliable 911 service.
  • Access to financial services and banking

With our information-based society, it is all too important to provide citizens equal opportunities for internet access.  With it, we can ensure more economic opportunities and security for residents without increasing taxes or engaging in a never-ending cycle of development.

All Points Broadband (APB) will be providing the fiber-optic Internet service to end users.  

As part of the network, APB will utilize the newly-constructed fiber optic utility network owned by Rappahannock Electric Cooperative.

The overall project cost will require ~$19.4M in funding.

  • All Points would secure $6.5M (34%) of total project cost.
  • VATI application would provide $6.9M (36%).
  • County contribution would be $5.9M (30%) and eligible for ARPA funding.
  • Of the County contribution, a $3.5M private pledge has been offered by Chuck Akre and his family through the Fagus Foundation.
  • The Rappahannock County School Board has pledged $370,000 toward securing the infrastructure necessary to bring fiber to families with school-aged children.  The funds were allocated from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Plan.

The remaining funding gap after those contributions is approximately $2M.   The Broadband Authority is currently exploring options to cover this gap, and will provide a donations portal through the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation for private parties to make individual tax-deductible contributions.  More information will be posted on this site as details come into focus.

The County is committed to obtaining full funding for the project without any increases in tax rates or special assessments. 

It is important to note that the costs to Rappahannock County and the State of Virginia are fixed.  Any project cost overages will be absorbed by All Points Broadband.

All Points Broadband has stated in their presentation to the County that the customer costs will be as follows:

Standard installation fee of $199:
• All customer premises equipment
• 500-foot service drop included
• Long drop (longer than 500 feet) charges waived for 12 months after service available in area

Residential monthly service offerings (upload x download in Mbps):
• 50 x 50: $59.99
• 100 x 100: $79.99
• 500 x 500: $99.99
• 1000 x 1000: $109.99

Current estimates indicate that VATI would announce grant decisions in December 2021 and that the contract would be issued by July 2022.

REC is projected to have its Fiber Utility Network mostly completed in Rappahannock County by the end of 2021.

Construction of last-mile fiber would begin immediately after the VATI contract is issued to All Points Broadband, and the first customers could be connected as early as the fourth quarter of 2022 and the majority of customers connected by the summer of 2024.

The Commonwealth of Virginia, via the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission (NSVRC) is the grant applicant, having submitted the combined regional application.

The application is submitted in conjunction with Augusta, Rockingham, Page, Warren, Rappahannock, Fauquier, Clark, and Frederick Counties.

Augusta, Rockingham, Page, Warren, Rappahannock, Fauquier, Clark, and Frederick Counties.

DHCD conditionally removed the VATI/RDOF overlap areas on the basis that the VATI grantee and the RDOF awardee enter into an agreement to provide broadband access within three (3) years of the VATI announcement.

In the event the RDOF awardee forfeits any area(s) included in the original VATI application or, if the RDOF awardee(s) and the VATI grantee do not enter into a MOU prior to the issuance of the contract from DHCD, DHCD reserves the right to fund the original grant request, including the RDOF funded area that has been conditionally removed.

The grant awards announcement was made on December 15, 2021.

NSVRC 2022 Award Letter

The NSVRC, eight counties, APB, and DHCD will be negotiating the terms of the agreements necessary to make VATI and other pledged funding available. During the negotiation period the RCBA will be working with our grant partners to complete challenge discussions so as to finalize the eligible grant area and financial requirements.

After successful agreement negotiations by and among NSVRC, DHCD, APB, and the eight counties; the County’s match funding would likely be invoiced by NSVRC in stages as a reimbursement during the development phase of the project.

Project Documents

The latest info for meetings, agenda items and documents pertaining to the Broadband Authority can be found on our Board Docs site.