Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.
Broadband coming to Caroline?
Some parts of Caroline County could get broadband Internet access as early as next year if the county’s homeowner associations want it.
NWT Enterprises, a Maryland-based technology company, is interested in running an underground fiber line network throughout the rural county, which could provide Internet, phone and television services.
To get started, they’d need to have approval from the HOAs at Lake Caroline, Lake Land’Or and Belmont, which have nearly 3,000 residents collectively.
NWT President Kevin Manovich said when he started his company last year, he noticed that rural areas had a high demand for those services, but they weren’t being offered by larger corporations due to the smaller and more spread out population.
He described Caroline as being along the Internet highway between Fredericksburg and Richmond, except there are no exits in Caroline that lead to Internet connectivity.
“If people don’t have the resources that other people do have, they can’t be as competitive,” he said.
That’s why he thinks Caroline would be a perfect fit for his business approach.
NWT’s plan would include running a fiber line to Lake Caroline, which currently has no high-speed Internet provider.
The line would later extend to the other communities, schools and eventually to the more rural areas areas, such as Sparta and Dawn, he said.
Joe Childs, a NWT representative, met with Caroline officials and community members Thursday night in a meeting organized by Supervisor Floyd Thomas, who heads the county’s technology committee and has made getting broadband a priority.
“I don’t care how we [get broadband], I just care that we get it,” Thomas said to the crowd of about 20 people.
Residents of Lake Caroline, Lake Land’Or, Belmont and the school system’s IT consultant all said they were interested and would have more detailed discussions with NWT in the coming months.
The project seems to fit in with a technology curriculum the school system is currently working on.
Representatives from Metrocast and Virginia Broadband were also in attendance.
Childs assured them that they didn’t want to compete, but to partner with them.
He said they would allow small companies to tap in to their fiber and also offer services. An approach that would relieve them of some of the back office work.
Child said the plan is a win-win for the customers that finally get service, the small business that can offer more services and the county that can use the services to recruit other businesses and new homeowners.
“We think this will help the county a great deal,” Childs said.
Thomas said there is no financial county investment in this project and that it would be up to the residents to make it happen.
“I’m jumping on he train,” Thomas said. “The train is going to bring broadband to the county. But if you don’t get on the train, it ain’t going nowhere.”