CWA Cable TV Inc. has entered into an arrangement with Empower Broadband Inc. to accelerate the deployment of high-speed broadband services to consumers in Lake Gaston Americamps, River Ridge and Tanglewood Shores in Southside Virginia.

CWA President Cathy Ashworth said this fulfills a long-sought dream of her late husband, Winston Ashworth, to upgrade CWA’s cable network to bring broadband to their customers.

A subsidiary of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, Empower Broadband will invest approximately $1.5 million to convert the existing analog television system’s coaxial cable network into an industry-standard fiber-fed broadband Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 3.1 system offering access with the high-speed upload and download capabilities it offers elsewhere in the area.

President and CEO John C. Lee Jr. said, “By converting CWA’s existing facilities, we will be able to radically accelerate broadband deployment to our members in River Ridge, Americamps, and Tanglewood. This opportunity parallels a nationwide trend as coaxial-based high-speed broadband systems provide service to 69 percent of the U.S. internet market.

“This technology is also weather- and terrain-proof, and available system upgrades ensure its performance does not suffer as additional customers take advantage of this excellent broadband option.”

Cathy Ashworth has run the cable TV system on her own since her husband died in 2003. Ashworth stated, “It was a tough go at times, but we had invested so much of ourselves in the business and in our community. Serving our friends and neighbors made it all worthwhile.”

Although the transition will cause some disruption and service gaps, CWA will continue to provide cable television service to the affected neighborhoods until Empower is ready to make the transition on a “node by node” basis within each of the areas.

At the conclusion of the transition, CWA will end operations as Ashworth moves on to the next chapter in life, enjoying a well-earned retirement. She will remain in the community and is grateful to CWA’s customers for their faithful support through the years.

Additional information on the transition will be forthcoming from Empower Broadband.

“EMPOWER subscribers are indicating that the many, many television options available through broadband such as Hulu or Pluto, which is free, are more than meeting their television needs and doing so at a cost-saving as compared to their previous providers,” Lee indicated.

“We are pleased that we’ve been able to acquire these coaxial assets and will be bringing service to these three communities that consist of over 2,000 residences, mitigating the many infrastructure challenges and a long deployment schedule if we were to install new fiber. We are confident that the residents there will be very pleased with the serious broadband horsepower provided by this technology.”

Report by Priscilla Lawson Whirley, Communications Specialist, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative