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Press Release: Sunset Digital to purchase OptiNet Division from BVU

February 5, 2016

(DUFFIELD, Va.)—Paul Elswick, Chief Executive Officer of Sunset Digital Communications, Inc., announced today that an unsolicited offer by his company to purchase the OptiNet Division of Bristol Virginia Utilities Authority (BVU) has been approved by BVU’s Board of Directors.

“This is a great day in Southwest Virginia. The agreement marks an important milestone for both organizations,” Elswick said. “Sunset Digital intends to continue to bring excellent service to current OptiNet and Sunset Digital customers, then expand those services across Southwest Virginia.”

Paul Elswick and his son and Sunset Digital’s co-founder, Ryan, approached BVU Chief Executive Officer Don Bowman several months ago, expressing interest in purchasing the OptiNet Division. The agreement includes the assets of the broadband system. Plus, Sunset Digital will honor government grants that were used for the construction of the OptiNet network. As part of the agreement, Sunset Digital will lease the current BVU office facility located on Lee Highway in Bristol, Va.

“The agreement must be reviewed by governmental bodies and may take several months to complete,” Ryan Elswick said. “In the interim, we want to assure current OptiNet employees that we do not foresee any layoffs once the agreement has been finalized. OptiNet employees will join our existing team of Sunset Digital professionals and we will offer competitive benefits as part of the Sunset team. Together, we will focus on exceptional customer service and on expanding our broadband services to other communities. We know that broadband service improves the quality of life for new customers and creates new economic development opportunities for the region.”

For current OptiNet customers, no rate increase in their services is expected in the wake of the transaction. “If you are a current OptiNet or Sunset Digital customer, there will be no significant change in rates or service quality,” Paul Elswick said.

He went on to say, “Both Sunset Digital and OptiNet were created by the foresight of the Virginia General Assembly and the formation of the Virginia Tobacco Commission. Their vision was to transform Southwest Virginia from a tobacco economy to one built on the future. Today’s agreement is the next step in realizing that vision.”

The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission was chartered by the Virginia General Assembly in 1999. Its mission is the promotion of economic growth and development in tobacco-dependent communities, using proceeds of the national tobacco settlement. Both Sunset Digital and BVU utilized grant funds from the commission and other government sources to build their broadband infrastructures.

For Sunset Digital, those grants helped to build thousands of miles of fiber-optic infrastructure that now serves 90,000 business and residential customers. The family-owned and operated business is headquartered in Duffield, Va., and serves Lee, Wise and Scott counties, the City of Norton in Virginia, and Hancock and Claiborne counties in Tennessee, as well as business customers in the Tri-Cities.

While the agreement is under review, Sunset Digital will expand its website to answer questions about the transition and to solicit interest from potential new customers in the counties of Lee, Wise, Washington, Russell, Dickenson, Buchanan, Tazewell, Smyth, Bland and Wythe. Look for the information soon at www.Sunset-Fiber.com.

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