STAFFORD COUNTY — — Residents of Marlborough Point and parts of Widewater will now have access to broadband Internet service provided by KGI Communications, LLC. The King George County-based firm is the first company to offer high-speed broadband to this area of Stafford County.
Who can get service and how?
Currently, this service is available to “those within the MP [Marlboro Point] area from Potomac Overlook to the water, and Widewater, on the water near Simms Point area and a small area around,” said KGI Communications President Michele Wido.
“KGI is a wireless internet service provider who uses Airfiber to provide superfast broadband with no throttling and unlimited usage. According to survey data, there was no true high-speed broadband, only satellite, and some areas could get hot spots,” Wido said.
They offer several business packages ranging from $125 per month to $400 per month.
For household service, they offer several service options. They offer both month-to-month and 2-year contract options. Packages range from $150 to $200 for contract plans and $5 more per month for month-to-month service.
The road to broadband and what lies ahead
“KGI resorted to a standard commercial project and installed an antenna and equipment on a King George County tower that would send signals across the water into Stafford. It is definitely not the bigger solution designed which would have served all of Marlboro Point as it can reach only about a third. Basically, if you can see the tower you are in!” Stafford County Aquia District Supervisor Cindy Shelton stated in an email.
Late last year, Stafford County applied for a grant to help fund the expansion of broadband services to the Marlborough Point and Widewater areas, from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Telecommunications Initiative. However, it did not receive any grant funds.
“The project was scaled back to only those who came to our Aquia Roundtable [a monthly meeting hosted by Shelton for her constituents] and signed up or who contacted KGI directly. Since the supplier doesn’t require contracts, individuals pay more upfront to ensure that they will remain,” said Shelton.
Moving forward, the county plans to apply for more grant money to provide broadband internet service for more rural areas of Stafford County not served by cable or fiber lines.
“We are working on a county-wide plan and also teeing up for the new commonwealth grants set at $19 million. The county currently has an RFI [request for information] on the streets for organizations and partners to apply as partners with Stafford for the grant funds which close on Labor Day. Of course, the vendors must create their own responses, but the groups from Aquia are more organized as we meet often and trade solution ideas,” Shelton said.
Another possible solution, if the county does not receive grant money, is to create a special service district, where taxes in a defined neighborhood can be raised to fund the project.
Shelton explained, “…many of these residents are considering applying for a service district… Stafford proposed this idea to the General Assembly last year and Delegate [Bob] Thomas took it beautifully across the finish line. A service district allows a group of people to self organize to build infrastructure that serves only them. The project is paid upfront by the county and the residents are taxed over 10 years to pay back the free loan.”
Thomas proposed legislation that expanded the definition of service districts.
“The legislation gave localities the ability to create a service district for this. Without that they wouldn’t be allowed to apply this concept of service district for broadband,” said Thomas.
KGI does have plans to extend its services to other parts of Stafford, but the company won’t say to which neighborhoods.
Pictured left to right in the featured story photo: Michele Wido, President of KGI, Dave Kleber, Marlborough Point resident, who knocked on doors to get people to sign up for KGI’s Service, Aquia District Supervisor Cindy Shelton.