Citizens Telephone Cooperative is providing Floyd County with improved internet access by giving the county $10 million in federal funding through Alternative Connect America Cost Model.
Citizens Telephone has served Floyd for over 100 years, and the improved internet is aimed at developing the area’s business growth as well as its ability to reach cities from around the country as efficiently as possible.
Citizens CEO and general manager Greg Sapp says that the 1G speed, which stands for one gigabyte per second, “will far exceed what many are used to, even for larger cities in the area.”
The plan is to have 60% of Floyd County homes connected by the end of the year. By 2021, the goal is to have 97% of homes connected.
Residents in phase 1 along 221 North and in the town of Floyd are now eligible for the 1G connection, with this being just the first step in a seven-year plan.
The development has had far-reaching effects to Floyd County Public Schools as well, with the Collaboration and Career Development Center being spawned because of the wi-fi. The $17-million development will connect the area with local colleges like Virginia Tech, Radford and New River Valley Community College to create courses designed to give degrees and certifications leading to further college education and job opportunities.
“The help from Citizen making Floyd gig-certified creates opportunities for businesses in the county,” Floyd County Superintendent John Wheeler said. “The Collaboration and Career Development Center will partially act as an incubator for business development as we plan to offer the current workforce skills in Information Technology and similar fields in a high tech space.”
Wheeler also says that the improved internet helps students at home as well.
With the improved internet also comes aspirations for businesses in Floyd to reach more consumers. Community and Economic Development Director Lydeana Martin sees this as a golden opportunity for small businesses in Floyd.
“We have people in Floyd who not only are creating niche products they’re selling online, but also people who are creating content,” she said. “It really opens up a plethora of opportunities for people who are living in a rural place to really be at the table of the American economy.”
While still a work in progress, the improved internet access appears to be a huge step in the right direction for the development of Floyd County.
“[The internet access] allows people to live in a beautiful place, but also access the best of everything online,” Martin said.