Greenbrier County Commission approves ‘eleventh hour’ GigReady broadband project changes

By Matthew Young, RealWV

LEWISBURG, W.Va. – The Greenbrier County Commission – during a special Thursday meeting, held in their new chambers – granted “eleventh-hour” approval of changes to the “management and operations agreement [with] Citynet LLC. for (the) GigReady broadband project.”

According to County Attorney Britt Ludwig, the commission tentatively approved the agreement during their June 27 meeting. However, according to Ludwig, “One of the key terms has changed.”

“The original project design was to include a middle-mile build from Beckley to Greenbrier County,” Ludwig explained, adding that the “middle-mile build” was to include 244 strands of fiber – 122 of which were to be used as a “backbone” for future industrial growth within Greenbrier County. For “a variety of reasons,” the State has requested that the middle-mile build-out not be completed as part of the project.

“So the 244 strands will not be built through Greenbrier County,” Ludwig noted. “Because the middle-mile is not going to be built, it’s not possible to provide the county with the 122 strands that were part of the original agreement when it was proposed to the State and the county.”

“Because of that, it is necessary to ask for approval now that that’s changed,” Ludwig added.

Ludwig further explained that while the middle-mile build-out was initially factored into the amount of funding which the county would contribute to the project, “The county-portion of the funding has been reduced significantly because of the lack of that middle-mile build-out.”

“It’s not like we’re just getting less and still paying the same amount of money,” Ludwig said. 

Additionally, Ludwig advised that the changes to the plan were negotiated between Citynet and the State, “And we were a little bit late to know that, and that’s why we’re coming back.”

At the conclusion of Ludwig’s explanation, Commission President Tammy Tincher requested confirmation that excluding the middle-mile build-out from the GigReady project would, in no way, diminish the quality or scope of services it is intended to provide.

“It’s just simply the change of that build-out, and how the service gets to Greenbrier County?” Tincher asked. 

“That’s correct,” Ludwig replied. “Instead of the middle-mile build-out that would be funded in-part by the county, the county is going to lease capacity from Segra on their line that runs the same area that this build-out would be.”

Ludwig added that while the anticipated “redundancy” will no longer be provided by the canceled middle-mile build-out, the service-capacity will remain unchanged.

“We’ll still serve as many customers as originally planned,” Ludwig said.

The next regular meeting of the Greenbrier County Commission is scheduled for 10 a.m., on Tuesday, July 11.

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