Cable work brings connectivity

Published 8:51pm Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cable work going on along U.S. Route 460 aims to extend fiber connections to schools in southern Virginia but could ultimately benefit local residents as well.

Mid-Atlantic Broadband is installing connections throughout southern Virginia, and part of that involves bringing cable through Suffolk to extend it to points west, president and chief executive officer Tad Deriso said.

“The project is part of the federal stimulus program we were awarded two to three years ago,” Deriso said. “It’s designed to provide what we call a middle mile network.”

Deriso described the project as a “6,000-lane interstate highway” to connect hubs of high-speed technological access in Hampton Roads and Richmond to more rural parts of the state, thus encouraging jobs in high-poverty counties in the western and southwestern parts of the state.

In reality, the connection will consist only of 144 strands of fiber. Each pair of strands equals a connection.

“Just on two of those strands, you could probably get all the connectivity for all the customers of Suffolk, Chesapeake, Isle of Wight, Surry and Sussex,” Deriso said. “It’s a lot of capacity that can basically future-proof the region.”

As long as the cable is coming through, Deriso said, it could benefit customers in Suffolk who have been hoping for higher-speed options for television, Internet and phone services.

“If you have a home and you’re kind of out there, your choices right now are either dial-up or nothing,” Deriso said. “The nice thing is, since this network is there, it allows any kind of technology that’s coming through to hop off the network and go serve the various communities.”

The only challenge is convincing private companies like Verizon of the worth of serving customers along the route.

“If you’re going to build a new network in a neighborhood, you would want a good number of those people to sign up,” Deriso said. “We need to engage private sector customers to find solutions.”

The construction in Suffolk is expected to last another month or two, Deriso said. Regardless of whether it winds up helping folks in Suffolk, it already has benefited people to the west, he said.

“It’s just been a really fun project,” he said. “We’ve seen a huge impact. It’s creating jobs and investment.”

For more information about Mid-Atlantic Broadband, visit www.mbc-va.com.

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