What is The Wired Road project?

The Wired Project is a regional open access, multi-service telecommunications network that has been started by the governments of Carroll and Grayson counties, the City of Galax, and the Crossroads Institute. The Wired Road will be operated as a digital road system–local governments will build and maintain the digital road system, but private businesses will use the digital road to deliver goods and services to customers. Local government will NOT sell services to businesses and residents.

Isn’t fiber too expensive for rural areas?

The Wired Road project uses a business model that is entirely different from traditional broadband networks. The Wired Road, when complete, is projected to have many service providers offering a wide array of services, including voice telephony, television programming, Internet access, telemedicine/telehealth services, business videoconferencing services, home and business security services, movies on demand, business and residential computer backup services, and many other advanced services. This multi-service model, rather than just selling triple play or Internet only (what most call “broadband”) provides a very robust business model that easily pays for fiber connections to most homes and businesses, even those located in the more rural areas of Carroll and Grayson counties.

When will The Wired Road project start?

Construction started in September, 2007. The first customer (Carroll County Public Schools) was connected in October, 2007. The first business and residential customers were connected in January, 2009.

What kind of funding is being used for the project?

A variety of public and private funding is planned to support the design and construction of the network. Phase one funding has come from a variety of source, including the three local government partners, the Carroll County Public School system, and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. The Wired Road partners are exploring a variety of public and private funding options for Phases Two and Three, and for several years, revenue from the network itself will help fund the build out.

Is Phase One only offering service in downtown areas (Hillsville, Galax, Independence)?

Phase One planning includes some fiber in downtown Galax and Independence, and getting Hillsville “fiber ready.” But rural areas of Carroll and Grayson counties are also included in Phase One. Businesses and residents of both counties will have access to the services via high performance wireless connections.

Has the project tried to make use of existing infrastructure and assets like under-utilized educational fiber networks?

The Wired Road is making heavy use of existing assets that are already in place, including existing fiber, existing wireless towers and structures, and other facilities from both public and private sources.

Won’t this network compete with incumbent providers?

All services on the network will be sold to businesses and residents by private providers. The local governments will NOT sell any services to businesses or residents. Incumbent telephone, TV, and Internet providers have all been invited to sell both their existing services and new services on the network, and several incumbent service providers have already indicated that they plan to attach to the network and market their services.

What technology is being used?

A combination of wireless and fiber systems will be used to deliver services. Customers will order services directly from The Wired Road Web site and have many of those services available and ready for use just seconds later. The open access, multi-service design substantially lowers the cost and effort of providing services, meaning that service providers can easily scale up to support thousands or tens of thousands of customers.

Will the network be able to handle business class services?

Fiber connections will deliver 100 megabit of capacity to businesses and homes, and Gigabit connections will be an option for businesses that require it. The 100 megabit connections will easily handle a combination of services simultaneously, including three channels of HD television, multiple telephone lines, Internet access, security services, and other specialized offerings.

Won’t a 100 megabit connection be expensive?

The 100 megabit connection will be provided free to every home and business. Customers will order services (e.g Internet access, telephone service, TV) from service providers and pay the service provider directly for the service.

Where does revenue from the project come from?

Service providers that use the network to deliver goods and services will share a portion of their revenue with the network, in direct proportion to the amount of network capacity that a particular uses. This revenue share model encourages innovation by service providers because the cost of offering a new service is very low.