Regions Hampton Roads

Broadband expanding on the Eastern Shore

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The Eastern Shore of Virginia Broadband Authority (ESVBA) has gotten a big boost in its efforts to spread low-cost, high-speed Internet access throughout the peninsula. In early December, the authority received $1 million in federal stimulus funds to complete implementation of “last mile” connections, or community networks, in Nassawadox, Exmore, Willis Wharf and Belle Haven.

The money is expected to create 20 jobs initially, but the long-range economic effect is immeasurable, says Cheryl Tyson, ESVBA’s project manager. “This will definitely be an economic development engine,” she says. “When businesses are looking to locate anywhere, they insist on broadband speeds. It’s a requirement, like having electricity. So this will be very important for the Eastern Shore to attract new businesses, enable business expansions and continue to be a viable place to live and work.”

In Nassawadox, for example, the Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital will now be able to connect in real-time to other medical facilities in the Hampton Roads region.

Tyson notes that broadband will be largely available on the Eastern Shore by the end of 2010. The backbone of the project will go live in February, and the stimulus grant funding must be spent within a year.

Another four communities are also being connected through other funding sources. The Wallops Island area, for example, is being built out with broadband capability through a capital appropriation from NASA.

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