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Roanoke County seeks proposals to expand broadband access

June 22, 2020 GMT

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — Officials in Roanoke County are seeking proposals to expand broadband access to unserved residents and businesses.

About 20% of the county does not have broadband access, The Roanoke Times reported Sunday. Internet providers have until July 16 to present their proposals to expand access to five areas that combined have more than 350 addresses in need of service.

“This has now become a top priority for our board of supervisors,” Information Technology Director Bill Hunter said. “We’re open to working with anyone who wants to help us bring internet to the county’s citizens.”

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Providers can present proposals for an entire area or parts of it.

Last year, local officials assessed the county’s internet needs by surveying residents. About 25,000 households received targeted mailings, and 2,800 responded to the survey.

“The percent of people that did not have internet was quite surprising to me,” Hunter said. “It was a bigger number than I thought.”

The county intends to pursue funding assistance through a state program. The newspaper reported county officials allocated an additional $100,000 in next fiscal year’s budget to provide matching funds for the state grant.