Central Virginia Electric Cooperative celebrated the conclusion of its rural broadband project and reaching the milestone of 20,000 connections at a luncheon last week. CVEC launched its fiber project in 2018 and offers internet and phone service through Firefly Fiber Broadband, its wholly-owned subsidiary.
CVEC and Firefly accelerated their efforts to make broadband service available to all 39,000 CVEC members and completed mainline fiber construction of over 4,000 miles of fiber at the end of 2022 for a project total of $150 million. The project was scheduled to be completed at the end of 2023, but construction concluded a full year early. Final connections for CVEC members will continue for the next few months in remaining project areas.
Sen. Creigh Deeds, Virginia District 25 remarks, “Bringing fiber broadband to rural communities is life-changing for the residents and a game changer in terms of remote learning and telework opportunities. We have been so fortunate for the vision and leadership of Gary Wood, the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative team, and the board of directors. When I think about Firefly’s 20,000th connection, I think about the number of school children who can more readily access outside learning materials, the small business owner who can now operate with lower overhead, and the older couple who can now video chat with their grandchildren. It is indeed worthy of a celebration.”
Firefly is expanding its reach in the region, which is great news for residents and businesses in the area who do not receive their electricity from CVEC and wish to take advantage of their lightning-fast internet. Through the Regional Internet Service Expansion project, a partnership with 13 counties designed to bridge the digital divide and bring Firefly’s lightning-fast internet to unserved and underserved homes and businesses in rural central Virginia, Firefly will make broadband service available to another 50,000 underserved locations that are served by utilities such as Appalachian Power, Dominion Energy, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and Southside Electric Cooperative.
On reaching this milestone, CVEC President and CEO Gary Wood concludes, “CVEC and Firefly have reached this milestone through the power of partnerships. So many folks have played a critical part in reaching 20,000 rural broadband connections and transforming the lives of those who reside in rural central Virginia. Firefly is grateful to its loyal customers who trusted in us since we announced the start of the project in 2018. We have connected so many already, but there are at least twice that many who now want to be connected. We will keep moving as fast as we can until we achieve universal service in our area.”
CVEC announced at the luncheon that they joined with business partner S&N Communications to give back to the community as part of the celebration. CVEC donated $10,000 to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, which serves multiple counties throughout the cooperative’s service area. S&N Communications, Inc., Firefly’s fiber construction partner, matched CVEC’s donation in the amount of $10,000. According to the BRAFB, one dollar provides four meals for those in need. The donation of $20,000 will supply over 80,000 meals to the local community.
–Report by Melissa Gay, Communications and Member Services Manager, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative