A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the RURALBAND Education Center’s opening and the Universal Broadband Project launch was held on Sept. 6 at the Eastside Enhancement Center in Dinwiddie County. Officials from Dinwiddie County and Prince George Electric Cooperative, and RURALBAND staffers were available on-site to talk to interested members about signing up for fiber broadband service and discuss to affordability options.

“It all comes down to education, and we want to have a presence in the community to show the value that high-speed internet can bring to our members,” said Casey Logan, president and CEO of Prince George Electric Cooperative.

To make broadband a reality in Dinwiddie County, grants and public-private partnerships are essential. Dinwiddie County’s partnership with RURALBAND includes support from the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the Cameron Foundation, Southside Electric Cooperative, the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and Dominion Energy. Leveraging American Rescue Plan Act funding, broadband will be a reality for all underserved or unserved areas of Dinwiddie County by the end of 2024.

Lane Chambers of RURALBAND explains the concept of the cooperative living room.

“Broadband is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity,” said Harrison Moody, chairman of the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors. “Now more than ever, it is imperative that Dinwiddie County residents have the opportunity to access the internet from their homes. After two unsuccessful broadband projects, we are excited to partner with RURALBAND, a company with a proven record of success in bringing high-speed, affordable broadband to rural localities.”

Lane Chambers, general manager of RURALBAND, said, “RURALBAND is committed and dedicated to meeting the needs of the citizens of Dinwiddie County. Through this project, we will run 4 million feet of cable. This is no easy feat, but we are ready for the challenge and will not leave anyone behind.”

“Partnerships are vital to overcoming challenges that are too big to tackle alone. Dominion is proud to work with RURALBAND and Dinwiddie County on this transformative project,” said Matt Packett, project manager at Dominion Energy.

Dr. Tamarah Holmes, DHCD’s director of the Office on Broadband, also attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “So many people played a part in making this happen in Dinwiddie and to design the best possible solution for the residents of Dinwiddie. The work that is going to happen over the next two years will get us to universal coverage in Dinwiddie,” Holmes said.

RURALBAND will have a physical presence in Dinwiddie County through its Cooperative Living Room, also known as the RURALBAND Education Center, located inside the Eastside Community Enhancement Center. Citizens can gain hands-on experience with the RURALBAND service through devices such as smart TVs, computers, and an Echo Dot.

The Living Room is open during the Enhancement Center’s normal operating hours. Citizens can also make an appointment to meet face-to-face with a RURALBAND representative and ask questions or receive more information about services provided through RURALBAND.

— Report by Prince George Electric Cooperative