RUSTBURG — Wireless broadband is about to spread into more of Campbell County. In four to six months, unserved areas of the county — such as those surrounding Evington, Red House and Brookneal — should see increased internet accessibility.
The Campbell County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved B2X Online’s $1.4 million proposal to install wireless internet transmitters with the potential to provide more than 1,400 county residents with internet access. The county will use a portion of its $4.78 million in CARES Act money to pay for the project.
The CARES Act is the $2 trillion federal relief package passed in the wake of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Localities must spend the money by December.
With schools slated to open in September, and remote learning a necessity, Warren Kane, CEO of Salem-based B2X Online, said the company is moving as quickly as possible, and internet access is more essential than ever.
“With this COVID-19 thing that’s going on, we know that’s a serious problem and we know how it affects everybody at home, at work, in schools, everything else,” Kane said. “It’s keeping us all at home, and internet has become the primary way of communication.”
B2X Online plans to install transmitters on six existing towers and two water tanks in the county. The company also plans to build a tower on Red House Road. It does not yet have the owner’s permission to install transmitters on any of the towers. Once completed, the company would be able to serve residents from Gladys to Brookneal and Red House to Concord.
Between the nine proposed locations, Kane said B2X could reach more than 1,400 potential customers.
Concord Supervisor Matt Cline expressed concerns about sufficient coverage in the Concord area.
Kane said B2X could continue to work toward solutions, even potentially amending the project in the future to include an additional tower in the area.
Internet packages would start at around $50 a month, with a $200 installation cost. Depending on the packages purchased, download speeds could go up to 40 Mbps. According to the project report, on average most customers either have 12 or 25 Mbps packages.
As sites come online, customers could be connected immediately.
In business since 2003, Kane said B2X already serves many of the surrounding localities, including Appomattox, Franklin and Bedford counties.
The towers proposed to house the equipment, and provide coverage in a five to eight miles radius, are tentatively located at Brookneal Elementary School, the Brookneal airport, William Campbell High School, Concord Elementary School, Red House and Johnston Mountain, among others.
Along with the B2X wireless broadband project, the county has two other recently approved broadband initiatives in the works — a project from Shentel and another from RiverStreet Networks.
Campbell County Administrator Frank Rogers said the county anticipates receiving a second wave of CARES Act funding of roughly the same amount in the coming months. Though it is acknowledged Campbell County is in desperate need of more broadband access, especially in its most rural pockets, Rogers said at this time the county does not have comprehensive numbers of unserved and underserved residents.