NEW KENT — Cox Communications has promised universal broadband coverage across New Kent County by 2026.
Erin Rice, a senior public affairs manager with Cox, provided details of one of the company’s largest broadband projects to date at the Jan. 31 Board of Supervisors work session.
“This project is bringing broadband fiber to every resident here in New Kent County, in total that is more than 566 fiber miles across the county,” Rice said.
“Over 11,000 residents, homes and businesses will get that access to the fiber network, of which about 3,000 of those are currently unserved. By 2026, we will have universal broadband fiber coverage in the county,” she said.
Rice promised line extensions to residents at no additional cost. However, people who don’t take advantage of the extensions when the fiber network is rolled out would face costs if they signed on at a later date.
“If we are in their neighborhood for the next 18 months that extension will be granted at no additional cost,” Rice said. “If they come back in five years’ time and say ‘hey, I do want that extension’ then there will be some cost-sharing.”
Cox began building the fiber backbone in mid-January in the Barhamsville area, laying down more than 1,200 feet of fiber by the end of the month, according to Rice.
Cox is prioritizing the north west corner of the county and the Barhamsville area. These areas have the greatest need for broadband with 500 or more homes lacking a high-speed connection, Rice said. Field surveys began in the Barhamsville and Talleysville areas in November.
Rice said the project will likely require more than 4,000 private easements. Cox has put together an easement team to help residents.
“We do not want the easements, and the number of easements, to slow down this project,” Rice said.
New Kent County entered a contract with Cox for the $34 million project last summer.
Rice said the state is considering a request for a revised $4.3 million grant to defray the cost.
Cox Communications hosted a town hall meeting to outline the broadband project in January.
Vice chair Thomas Evelyn said the meeting was positive. “You are not going to make everybody happy. I have seen some of the Facebook stuff, but I think the majority of the residents were very happy.”
Evelyn said other underserved areas of the county will appear on the map later this year.
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