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 NSVRC, All Points Broadband, Dominion Energy Virginia, Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and eight participating Counties.

The partners have completed high level design for a universal, fiber-to-the-home broadband network to serve 1,981 locations in Rappahannock County by 271 fiber miles of gigabit-capable broadband today.

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 portions of the newly-constructed fiber optic utility network owned by Rappahannock Electric Cooperative.

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

  • All Points will provide $6.5M (34%) of total project cost.
  • VATI application will provide $6.9M (36%).
  • County contribution will cover the remaining $5.9M (30%).

Commitments to support the county contribution include:

  • A $3.5M private pledge has been offered by Chuck Akre and his family through the Fagus Foundation.
  • The PATH Foundation has pledged $1.0M.
  • A $715,768 pledge by the Board of Supervisors using ARPA funds.
  • 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 these contributions is approximately $315,000. The Broadband Authority is currently exploring options to cover this gap, and has developed a donations portal through the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation to enable private parties to make individual tax-deductible contributions.  The Board of Supervisors voted to fill any remaining gap with ARPA funds.

The County has funded 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 committed to the following:

Standard installation fee of $199:

• All customer premises equipment

• 500-foot service drop included

• No additional long drop fees will be charged during the first twelve months after service is available in a customer’s area. Additional long drop fees will apply after the twelve-month period.

Residential monthly service offerings (upload x download in Mbps):

• 50 x 50: $59.99  “Basic Service Tier” **

• 100 x 100: $79.99

• 500 x 500: $99.99

• 1000 x 1000: $109.99

** Rate increases for the Basic Service Tier will be limited to the rate of inflation as measured by the CPI for at least 10-years after the date of the first subscription

All service levels are eligible for the federal Affordable Connectivity Program’s $30/month discount.

Now that the agreements have been executed, the three-year contract period has begun. Work will begin with low level design and utility “make ready work.” Construction was originally scheduled to begin in Q2 2023 starting with utility pole make-ready work and continue until the end of July, 2025.  However, currently (June 2024), due to delays with initial construction, the schedule is being revised with an updated schedule anticipated in Q4 2024.

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

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

The application was 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 with their initial grant award, but the county entered into an agreement with Shentel to support their withdrawal from the RDOF program. As a result, DHCD added all RDOF areas back into the VATI project with the final executed agreements.

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

NSVRC 2022 Award Letter

Read a project memorandum from October 30, 2023 written by County Administrator Garrey Curry, with updated info on unserved areas and additional grant money available through the federal BEAD program to serve those areas.  Also included is a map showing the three Fiber Service Areas (FSAs) used for deployment by All Points Broadband.

Now that all agreements have been executed the next steps include:

  • The first phase of the project will be focused on Low Level Design and the utility pole attachment make-ready process. Several months’ worth of designed and permitted fiber miles will need to be released from Low Level Design prior to fiber construction commencing.
  • Residents will be notified approximately 60-90 days before service will become available at their address.
    • All service levels are eligible for the federal Affordable Connectivity Program’s $30/month discount.
    • The variable component (what some ISPs refer to as a long drop fee) of a standard installation will be waived for the first 12 months following serviceability to a location.

Project Documents

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

The documents can be found by clicking in the upper-right corner of the Board Docs page, and selecting “Broadband Authority” from the menu.

The original VATI project documents are available at the links below.