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The initial phase of a multi-million dollar wireless communications network upgrade for Southwest Virginia has been completed.
Officials say the Virginia Coalfield Coalition and its partners have completed the upgrade of 15 existing wireless towers in the coalition's seven-county region.
The upgrade will allow for 4G-enabled wireless service in Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Wise counties. The construction of 11 new towers is expected to be completed this year.
The project is being funded by a $11 million grant from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.
The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports that, when complete, the project will provide enhanced communications services to 200,000 residents, 95,000 households and 2,600 private non-farm businesses. Tobacco commission officials say the project will have immeasurable job-creation potential.