New Kent County, comprised of 212 square miles of land and water, is largely considered rural even though the County was named by the Weldon Cooper Center as the fastest growing locality in the Commonwealth. Despite the growth, a large portion of the County does not have adequate internet service coverage. New Kent County understands that high speed internet access is essential for our community - to include business, education, public safety, and home life. As such, the New Kent County Board of Supervisors has made this issue a priority.
On Monday, August 8, 2022, The New Kent County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve an agreement with Cox Communications to expand fiber optic high speed broadband services to every household and business in New Kent County.
What you need to know:
- In November 2021 the County issued a Request for Proposals for broadband providers to partner with the County to expand fiber optic high speed broadband services to every household and business in the County. The County received three proposals and after lengthy reviews, interviewed each firm in February of this year. The County selected two firms to negotiate with and after a long and thorough negotiation, the County has selected Cox Communications for a broadband expansion services contract.
- There are currently approximately 3,053 homes in the County with limited to no broadband service that will be connected within 28 months of Cox receiving its permits. Work is scheduled to begin by the end of September 2022, with an estimated completion in September 2024.
- The project will also involve upgrading infrastructure to existing customers, so that the entire County network will be fiber optic service, therefore existing Cox customers will receive a noticeable upgrade in their service.
- The upgrade to existing services is scheduled to begin in July 2023 and is projected to be complete by August 2026.
- The project cost for the expansion to unserved areas is $12,102,500, and the cost to upgrade existing customers is $4,000,000 for a total of $16,102,500.
- The funding for this project will not impact the County’s tax rate as all funding is available now. $11,902,500 will come from revenues that have been received from Rosie’s Gaming Emporium and Colonial Downs, and $4.2 million will come from Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
- Per the agreement, the Cox Communications contribution for this expansion is $17,797,500. This makes the estimated total cost $33,900,000.
- The County will also be applying for Virginia Telecommunication Act Initiative (VATI) funding, which would reduce the amount of County funds needed for the project.
Pursuant to our Broadband Agreement, Cox Communication will provide updates on their construction progress to date throughout the duration of the expansion project.
Since the execution of the Broadband Expansion contract in August 2022, the Cox Communications team has been working diligently to complete the project design work. To maximize the speed of deployment to all homes in the County, the project design will prioritize the unserved areas within Phase 1. Within a year of starting Phase 1, they will begin preliminary work to initiate Phase 2 construction in the existing service area. This method allows for maximize resources and design in the field through the close coordination of the various teams involved in these projects. Thorough and detailed network design will ensure that the construction team will complete Phase 1 of this project within 28 months.
To date, 37 percent of the initial network design work has been completed. Cox anticipates that the design for the initially designated areas could take another month to 45 days. This work will enable the completion of field surveys to identify specific routes, pole attachments, potential network equipment locations, and private easements that will be needed.
Supervisor Thomas Evelyn and County Administrator Rodney Hathaway met with Cox Communications to see the exciting preliminary work being done by Cox's construction team in the Talleysville area. Crews have also been working in the Barhamsville area as well. These two areas are the first of 22 unserved service groups in the County.
The Cox Communications team continues to make progress on the initial preliminary network design and construction plan and you may have seen them out in the field recently. They have now started the permitting phase of the broadband project and construction on the fiber backbone started this month in Barhamsville and will begin in Talleysville in February.
Supervisor Thomas Evelyn held a town hall meeting on January 26, 2023 to provide information and allow residents an opportunity to ask questions of Cox Communications. An Estimated Service Availability in Initial Unserved Clusters Map was provided at this meeting as well as Fiber Broadband Expansion Project Frequently Asked Questions.
Cox Communications also provided a broadband expansion update to members of the Board of Supervisors at the January 31, 2023 work session.
To date, Cox teams have completed approximately seven miles of aerial fiber reinforcement from the Telecommunications Center (TC) in New Kent County eastward to Barhamsville. Additional permits have been submitted to VDOT to begin the fiber reinforcement construction towards Talleysville. Construction westward is expected to begin by the end of February 2023.
Cox is pleased to report that the first phase of the fiber reinforcement is complete. To date, ten miles of fiber overlashing is complete along New Kent Highway towards Barhamsville. The site survey work for the Barhamsville and Talleysville clusters is now finished. A majority of the Northwest County cluster is complete. Teams are working diligently and anticipate that all field survey work will be complete by April 2023, with final network design projected by May 2023 for the unserved areas.
Joint Press Release with Cox Communications in its entirety:
New Kent County and Cox Announce $34M Expansion Partnership
Expansion includes county-wide access to fiber-optic network for every home and business
Chesapeake, VA – Every home and business in New Kent County will have access to ultrafast, reliable, symmetrical internet service across a 100% fiber-optic network thanks to a partnership with Cox Communications and a $34M investment.
“As the fastest growing locality in Virginia, expanding broadband access is a top priority for the leaders of New Kent County,” said Chairman Thomas W. Evelyn, New Kent County Board of Supervisors. “This is a major step forward and the partnership with Cox will help to ensure that our community thrives well into the future.”
The first phase of the public-private partnership between the county and Cox will enable the buildout of services to approximately 3,000 residents that currently do not have broadband access. The project is set to begin in September and will ensure all county residents can experience the opportunities presented by an increasingly connected world, including access to education, healthcare services, and employment opportunities. Anticipated completion for this phase is 2024 but residents will have access to Cox services as soon as the buildout in their neighborhood is complete.
The second phase of the partnership will enable the buildout of a fiber-optic network to the remaining residents and businesses to ensure everyone in the county has access to the new network. This project will create a pathway to providing multi-gigabit symmetrical speeds to the home that will power the next generation of internet users. Together the two phases represent a combined $34M investment, with $16.1M from the County and an additional $17.8M from Cox, to build out a total of 566.7 fiber miles across the County.
“Connectivity is at the heart of everything we do. Our team here in Virginia has been focused on providing the most powerful connection - high-speed internet - to communities across our state. We thank New Kent County for putting their confidence in Cox to bring these important services to their residents,” said J.D. Myers, II, Senior Vice President and Virginia region manager, Cox Communications.
Cox has already begun engineering and design necessary to start the permitting for this fiber network and is working with property owners to obtain necessary access approvals. Residents in New Kent will soon see work commencing in their community and those living in phase one areas can visit https://www.cox.com/getfiber to express interest in Cox services and speed up the installation process. In addition to powerful high-speed internet, residents will have access to voice, TV, and home automation services, as well as a growing suite of business offerings.
Cox will make every effort to minimize the construction impact where and when possible and will communicate the expansion and progress of their work with residents through local media, and direct communications from Cox.
Expansion in New Kent is part of Cox’s overall commitment of a multibillion-dollar annual infrastructure investment over the next several years to build a 10-Gigabit capable, fiber-based network. Breakthrough enhancements to cable’s broadband DOCSIS 4.0 technology combined with expanded fiber to the premise will enable Cox to deliver multi-Gigabit symmetrical speeds in the coming years to both residential and business customers to support a growing host of high bandwidth applications.
About New Kent County
New Kent County, Virginia was formed in 1654, by the House of Burgesses when it was carved from what was then York County. Today the 212-square mile county is governed by a five-member Board of Supervisors and is home to over 23,000 residents. New Kent is recognized as the #1 fastest growing locality in Virginia. Between 2010 and 2020, New Kent's population grew by almost 5,000, an increase of 26.5 percent.
About Cox Communications
Cox Communications is committed to creating meaningful moments of human connection through technology. The largest private broadband company in America, we proudly serve six and a half million homes and businesses across 18 states. We're dedicated to empowering others to build a better future and celebrate diverse products, people, suppliers, communities and the characteristics that make each one unique. Cox Communications is the largest division of Cox Enterprises, a family-owned business founded in 1898 by Governor James M. Cox.