The Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors and Broadband Authority could not agree whether or not to continue onto phase 2 of their agreement with All Points Broadband that could greatly expand internet service in the county.
The bodies had a joint meeting on Wednesday to hear a preliminary plan from All Points CEO Jimmy Carr ahead of the deadline to apply for funds through the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI). All Points is proposing a universal fiber-to-the-home plan for the county’s unserved areas.
Board members grappled with the large cost estimates that would come from the county and could not agree on an approach to the application and before their meeting was scheduled to adjourn at 11 p.m., and some members did not want to vote to extend the meeting longer.
Carr proposed two different routes the county can take with a broadband project — a regional approach and a county-specific approach. A county-specific approach would cost the county less money, but it would make their VATI application less competitive than if Rappahannock submitted an application with other counties in the region.
All Points is estimating the project to cost $19.5 million. In a regional approach, All Points would secure $6.5 million of the total project cost, and VATI would provide $6.9 million if the county’s application is approved. The county would have to contribute $5.9 million, 30 percent of the total project cost, and would be eligible for funds through the American Rescue Plan Act.
A county-specific approach would cost the county $2.9 million.
VATI grants can cover up to 80 percent of a project’s cost. However, Carr said in order to remain competitive, the requested amount of money should be under 50 percent. The deadline to apply for funding is Sept. 14.
The project proposed by All Points includes about 270 miles of fiber infrastructure to extend to all remaining unserved areas in the county. In order to bring fiber-optic technology to the entire county, All Points would also partner with Rappahannock Electric Cooperative.
The bodies could not reach a decision on Wednesday, and noted the poor weather may have prevented members of the public from attending the meeting.
The board recessed and continued the meeting to Tuesday, Sept. 7 and 7 p.m. at the Rappahannock County courthouse.
Watch the full Board of Supervisors meeting (2 p.m. & 7 p.m. sessions):