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Joining Forces to Bring Faster Internet to Pittsylvania, Va!

RiverStreet Networks, Pittsylvania County, and Pittsylvania County Schools are jointly committed to creating an extensive fiber-to-the-home network that reaches throughout the county. During the September 2021 Pittsylvania Board of Supervisors meeting, Chairman Bob Warren, School Board Chairman Sam Burton, and RiverStreet Networks CEO Eric Cramer signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to leverage all possible funding opportunities to continue to expand fiber across Pittsylvania County.

Pittsylvania County and Pittsylvania County Schools are committing a combined $16.5 million to a $75,696,939 fiber-to-the-home project. RiverStreet Networks is also willing to provide a $19.6 million match. The remaining $39.5 million is expected to come from a grant from the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. RiverStreet Networks is planning to pass 11,985 unserved locations, as defined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with this fiber network over the next several years. Additional funding opportunities are being sought to expand the number of unserved homes that can be passed with this fiber network.

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Who is RiverStreet?

For over 65 years, Wilkes Communications and RiverStreet Networks has helped families stay connected with loved ones and the world around them. What started as a residential telephone cooperative based in Wilkes County North Carolina has expanded to become a leading provider of high-speed broadband internet focusing on serving rural unserved areas. The 2018 acquisitions of People’s Mutual Telephone Company (Gretna, VA) and Gamewood Technology Group (Danville, VA) was the start of our initial presence of RiverStreet Networks in Virginia. Our People’s Mutual networks service area includes Gretna, Hurt, Renan and our Sandy Level exchange in Pittsylvania County. Our Gamewood Technology Group coverage area consists of the City of Danville and parts of Pittsylvania County as well as other parts of rural Virginia. The combination of these companies and our most recent acquisition of SCS Broadband in 2021 will allow us to expand our relationship in Pittsylvania County and help us to achieve our mutual goal of providing more rural communities with broadband connectivity. Demand for high-speed broadband has never been greater and this partnership and landmark project will lift up and improve service in countless households in unserved areas. It will help to bridge the digital divide and keep rural communities competitive and vibrant through not only Pittsylvania County but throughout rural Virginia as well.

About Pittsylvania County

The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors is dedicated to expanding access to reliable, affordable, and high-speed internet access to all county residents. As part of a strategic plan that was adopted in 2019, the Board of Supervisors identified a goal of providing broadband availability to 90% of county residents by 2024 by facilitating private sector development. The goal of providing broadband availability to as many residents as possible remains the same, but the Board is feeling additional urgency due to a few changes since 2019: the COVID-19 pandemic accentuated the need for quality internet access to do many everyday tasks and additional funding opportunities from all levels have become available. 

As a result, Pittsylvania County and Pittsylvania County Schools are investing a combined $16.5 million in a partnership with RiverStreet Networks for a $75.7 million fiber-to-the-home network expansion that will reach more than 11,985 unserved homes. While many county residents currently have access to some type of substandard internet service, Pittsylvania County leaders understand that fiber – which is the highest standard of internet – is the best option. While this project is an unprecedented investment, this does not represent the end of Pittsylvania County’s involvement. In partnership with RiverStreet Networks, Pittsylvania County is committed to leveraging additional state and federal funds, as well as other grant opportunities, to continue expanding internet access across our communities.

“We are thrilled to bring fiber internet to Pittsylvania County. Upgrading and expanding our existing network in Pittsylvania County into more rural communities will be the foundation for better connectivity for the community. The current pandemic has given us an immediate, real-world, example of how access to technology and connectivity are vital to educational, civic, and economic success. This partnership will align with our goal of providing more unserved and unserved communities with broadband connectivity.”

– Eric Cramer
President and CEO of RiverStreet Networks

“This Board of Supervisors understands that reliable and affordable internet access is no longer a luxury; it’s a utility that every resident of Pittsylvania County should have available to them. We are committed to expanding access to fiber networks to all of our residents and businesses through every resource at our disposal. Through this significant investment and lasting partnership with RiverStreet, we will continue to leverage other funding opportunities to give more of our community the ability to get online. After realizing several years ago that the Laurel Grove community would never get reliable broadband without significant investments, Dan River Supervisor Joe Davis has been persistent in keeping the issue of broadband access in front of the Board of Supervisors – as well as the community at large.”

-Bob Warren
Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors

“Pittsylvania County Schools is so glad to be able to partner with RiverStreet Networks and Pittsylvania County to expand internet access across our communities.  The need for every student of Pittsylvania County Schools to have reliable and affordable internet access was already apparent before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the last year and a half has only crystalized that need even more. We are excited for the progress that this partnership and project will make in connecting so many of our students.”

-Sam Burton
Chairman of the Pittsylvania County School Board