Nelson: Fiber Network Manager Announced – Update 12.8.12 – 1:30PM

Blue Ridge Life™2012 : Photo By Yvette Stafford : North District Board of Supervisor Tommy Harvey and Nelson County Administrator Steve Carter (left) discuss a variety of issues Wednesday night, December 5, 2012 during a town hall meeting at RVCC. The most discussed topic was the status of fiber high speed internet across Nelson County.

Nelson County, VA

Updated By Tommy Stafford – 12.8.12 at 1:30 PM
Talk about awkward. Owning a magazine with a companion website that is covering the topic of a new fiber broadband network being installed here in Nelson County while sitting on an advisory committee for that very project. It’s no secret I have questioned some of the methods and disclosures of county officials along the way over the past year, (see story below) which eventually led to an exchange between myself and Nelson County’s administrator. For this reason, I have resigned this weekend from that committee so I/we can cover this issue in its entirety without any conflicts whatsoever. It’s the right thing to do.

I sent my letter of resignation and reasons why to Mr. John Taylor, the Chairman of that committee who lives at Wintergreen, along with Alan Patrick (vice chair) who lives in the Rockfish Valley in Nellysford. Both of these men are honorable people. They have worked hard on this project in an advisory capacity over the past year or so. I’ve nothing but praise for them. This move has nothing to do with them. To the contrary.

Below you will find the text of the letter I sent to Mr. Taylor Saturday morning.

Dear John,

I joined the Broadband Advisory Committee within the past two years despite my personal reservations regarding the notion of Federal taxpayer money being used to fund the creation of a local telecommunications infrastructure. However, once the stimulus funding had been secured, I surely did not want to see that money go to waste. Because of my previous experience in telecom (I was a managing partner in a tower / telecommunications company in Tennessee), and because my current publishing business relies on fast internet for productivity to meet deadlines, I figured I could offer valuable insight as this project progressed.

It has always been my concern that such an expansive project — though kick started with Federal stimulus dollars — would in the end prove to be unaffordable to most families and businesses in Nelson County. It was my hope the Broadband Advisory Committee could serve as a liaison between the County and its taxpayers. But for that, you need transparency.

To my dismay, an unpainted broadband tower was erected at Martins Store, not too far from where nTelos erected its cell tower, which met aesthetic design standards as it stood along a Virginia byway. Though the County made private carriers paint their poles and make them as discrete as possible in an attempt to blend into the scenery, the County failed to abide by its own rules leaving those living here and visitors to the Rockfish Valley with an eyesore.

I am concerened that somehow my recent remarks were twisted as though I blamed county staff for the problems we have encountered from top managers and administrators regarding transparency. That has never been the case. Conversely, I have personally championed their commitment and dedication throughout this entire project.

At the Town Hall meeting on December 5th at the Rockfish Valley Community Center, attendees were legitimately concerned as to the availability and pricing of the county’s broadband network. Though Blue Ridge Internetworks’ entry into the project as a manager/ISP is a positive, the fact that the Nelson County Broadband Authority has yet to announce workable, realistic rates, is worrisome. These rates will indirectly determine rates and packages set by local ISPs.

Given my vocal criticism of the process, as well as the fact that I publish a local magazine which has covered the project in it’s web version, I feel that it is best to step down from the committee to avoid any conflict of interest.

That said, I wish those involved in the process my very best. It’s my hope the project is successfully completed allowing fiber internet to be a reality in the near future.

It’s been a sincere pleasure serving with you and Alan along with other members of the committee.

Best Regards,

Updated By Tommy Stafford – 12.7.12 at 4:15 PM
On Friday morning December 7th, Nelson County Administrator Steve Carter called our office to express his displeasure with a quote that BRL/NCL Publisher Tommy Stafford gave regarding the status of the fiber project.”I read your post and was very disappointed about your comment that this project was off course or whatever you said, which is completely ridiculous, Tommy, and not very much appreciated,” Carter said in his voicemail. This is the paragraph and quote pulled verbatim from the original story:

Blue Ridge Life Publisher and a member of the Nelson Broadband Advisory Committee, Tommy Stafford, had a lengthy conversation by phone with Baylor Fooks of BRI on Thursday morning. “I am convinced they mean business and will do this right. Admittedly, beyond any control committee members had, this project has drifted off course and delayed longer than projected. But, I feel with Baylor and his team at the helm now, things will change rapidly, for the good,” Stafford said.

After a followup phone call and in fairness to Steve Carter, I told him I would gladly update the story with his feelings of dissatisfaction. Carter vehemently disagreed that the project had become adrift and said it was on target and within the guidelines of the federal requirements. I conveyed that myself and at least two other members of the advisory committee have felt out of the loop on the progress and decisions made within the past six months. There were additional concerns, that to date, not a single business or residence had been connected and only Nelson Government had use of the network.

But, again stressed that I felt things were back on track now that a network operator and ISP had been selected. Though throughout the conversation we disagreed on several points, it ended positively agreeing to disagree on some aspects.

Original Story from 12.6.12
Nelson County administrator Steve Carter and Board of Supervisor Tommy Harvey hosted a town hall meeting at the Rockfish Valley Community Center to announce that the Nelson County Broadband Authority has chosen Blue Ridge Internetworks to operate and manage the County’s fiber network. Central District Supervisor Connie Brennan couldn’t attend the meeting due to being ill. In a prepared statement, BRI founder Baylor Fooks said his company cannot promise “super high speed Internet to everyone in Nelson County,” it is assessing the need and will be “provisioning the areas with the deepest concentration first.”

For months we have been following the progress of the fiber network which begins in Colleen and runs up Route 29 to Route 6 to 151 and north into Afton.

Among the concerns expressed from would-be subscribers are the rate structures and availability of providers. Clay Stewart, CEO of Arrington-based Stewart Computer Services, mentioned at the meeting that he was investigating the possibility of providing wireless internet to the Afton area using the county’s fiber network. He encouraged potential subscribers throughout the county to notify BRI as the company continues its area study and development of service plans and pricing.

Blue Ridge Life Publisher and a member of the Nelson Broadband Advisory Committee, Tommy Stafford, had a lengthy conversation by phone with Baylor Fooks of BRI on Thursday morning. “I am convinced they mean business and will do this right. Admittedly, beyond any control committee members had, this project has drifted off course and delayed longer than projected. But, I feel with Baylor and his team at the helm now, things will change rapidly, for the good,” Stafford said.

Ironically, the only people currently with the actual use of the fiber network is Nelson County Government. Thus far, no private entities have had access to the network. That should change soon, with BRI entering the game.

According to BRI’s web site, the company is hoping to launch broadband service in early 2013.

Here is BRI’s official release Thursday morning:

The Nelson County
Broadband Authority has
Chosen Blue Ridge
InternetWorks to Operate
and Manage The County’s
Fiber Network
Nelson County To Become An American Fibertown.

Nelson County, Virginia, December 5, 2012: Nelson County is days from full deployment of a 30 mile fiber optic network and has chosen Blue Ridge InternetWorks to manage the new network. This means high-speed, fiber-optic Internet is headed to Nelson County.
The Nelson County broadband project constructed a fiber optic middle mile networkdesigned to provide a state of the art high-speed fiber optic backbone extending generally through the center of Nelson County from north to south, providing the ‘highway’ for private providers to enhance and expand broadband internet services in the county. Generally speaking the network runs from Afton through Greenfield and Lovingston ending in Colleen.
Blue Ridge InternetWorks will also be a private internet service provider using the network to deliver high-speed Internet services to customers within the County.
“Our goal is to bring affordable first class internet services to Nelson County. We are thrilled to have Blue Ridge on the Nelson County team. They are already working to design service offerings and packages to bring our local businesses and residents up to higher Internet speed,” says Thomas Bruguiere, Broadband Authority Chairman.

“This is a middle mile network,” says Baylor Fooks, founder of Blue
Ridge Internetworks. “This means we cannot promise super high speed Internet to everyone in Nelson County. What it does mean is that we are assessing need and will likely be provisioning the areas with the deepest concentration first.”
Kick off for high speed Internet in Nelson begins in 2013. The County maintains a very unique topography so Blue Ridge will be analyzing the network on a case-by-case basis. Fortunately this involves citizen and business feedback and input.
“Honestly this begins with consumers telling us what they need,” says Jeff Cornejo, of Blue Ridge Internetworks. “We really want to know who to serve first. To that we’d like consumers to go to our website or call us to register their interest. It’s the absolute key to getting high speed Internet coverage in your boardroom or living room in 2013.”

If you live or work in Nelson County tell us where you need high speed Internet by visiting or call 434-951-7999 to give us your information.

About Nelson County Broadband Authority: http://www.nelsoncounty-

The Nelson County Board of Supervisors serves as the Broadband Authority which oversees the network. The project was funded by Federal ARRA funding, Commonwealth of Virginia block grants and local government funding. Additional information is available on the NTIA Broadband USA project site.
About Blue Ridge Internetworks (
Blue Ridge InternetWork’s headquarters and data center are located in Charlottesville, VA. Founded in 2000, BRI offers hosting, IT services and high-speed Internet access. BRI has a staff of 25 employees. This team plans, designs, implements and maintains high-speed data networks for more than 1500 customers.


  1. Based on BRI’s archaic and slow pricing and technology posted for their current DSL customers in the Charlottesville area I am not encouraged that this project has done anything to bring affordable internet to Nelson County.

    This will not be any better than the Verizon 3g service i’m already forced to use but at least I now have a shared data pool and it’s bundled with my cell phone bill.

    For me to have any interest in internet service from BRI it would have to be 5mpbs+ for $50 or less a month. And even that is a fraction of the speed that comcast offers.

    This is too little, too late for Nelson county. What a waste of federal funds. Wireless technologies will eclipse this soon. If this service isn’t $20 or less in 5 years it will serve no purpose to any residential customer.

  2. So when all is said and done does anyone have the costs associated with a residence connection at this date?


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