Faster internet appears to be on its way to the Hanover County area.
Hanover has struck a deal to eventually expand internet service in the eastern and western parts of the county, and Ashland is gearing up for an upgrade to its internet service.
On April 12, Hanover’s Board of Supervisors finalized a deal with SCS Broadband Internet Service, a wireless internet service provider, intended to increase the internet availability in rural areas of the county.
SCS Broadband will begin in July two initial five-year leases for the Ellyson’s emergency communications tower at 5834 Cold Harbor Road and the Old Church tower at 2343 Old Church Road. Service to customers is expected to be available within 120 days of July 1, or sometime in the fall.
There are three other towers SCS Broadband is expected to lease in Montpelier, Rockville and Beaverdam.
SCS Broadband CEO Lon Whelchel said the company was new to Hanover.
“Hanover was seeking somebody to come in to provide internet service in the under-served locations of the county,” Whelchel said.
Whelchel said SCS Broadband has been around for 12 years and is owned by AcelaNet.
Deputy County Administrator, Frank W. Harksen Jr., gave a presentation on the deal with SCS Broadband at a Board of Supervisors meeting in April. Harksen said the county has been in talks with SCS Broadband since at least August.
“It’s a pretty broad coverage as a result of this,” Harksen said. “It gets Hanover and it goes into the surrounding counties.”
Harksen said in an interview Thursday that of all the firms Hanover has been in talks with, SCS Broadband was the most interested and the most responsive.
After Harksen’s presentation, Cold Harbor Supervisor Scott A. Wyatt said he has been contacted by residents looking for broadband coverage in eastern Hanover.
“I think this is much needed,” Wyatt said. “We’re kind of limited on access.”
As Hanover looks to expand wireless internet to its residents, Ashland is looking at how better internet service can entice economic development.
Town Manager Josh Farrar said the town is exploring how it can tap into a line of dark fiber located near Interstate-95 exit 92 in Ashland. Farrar said the dark fiber in the area is part of a line that runs from Northern Virginia to Richmond and has the potential to give Ashland some of the best internet in the country.
“As an economic development tool, it’s really important,” Farrar said of having improved internet. “Having better service would make us a more attractive destination.”
Farrar said Ashland is looking into how to go about installing the infrastructure needed to connect Town Hall to the dark fiber. A public meeting is planned for May or June to share more details with the community on the process.
Farrar said part of the town’s vision is to get high-speed internet service available to the Holland Tract, a more than 200 acre parcel in the northern part of town Ashland hopes businesses will want to develop.
Additionally, improving wireless internet in Ashland could be a boon for potential residents and visitors to downtown’s cafes and shops, Farrar said.