Rural Broadband Initiative
The demand for access to high-speed, reliable, broadband internet has been compared to the demand for electricity in the 1930’s which led to the electrification of rural Virginia. Your Cooperative is an advocate for bridging the digital divide. REC is not an internet service provider, however, since 2019 we have launched projects and implemented solutions that can help make broadband internet access a reality in our 22-county service territory.
Hanover County Partnership
Hanover County Announces "Connect Hanover" Partnership With All Points Broadband, Dominion Energy Virginia and REC
July 28, 2021:
All Points Broadband is partnering with Dominion Energy Virginia and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC), who will lease “middle-mile” fiber capacity to All Points and leverage the initiative to improve the operation and efficiency of their electric grids. As it moves forward with efforts to modernize Virginia’s energy grid, Dominion Energy is working to provide “middle-mile” fiber optic cable infrastructure that can also be used to bridge the digital gap and reduce broadband deployment costs in Hanover County and other areas of the Commonwealth. All Points will serve as the partnership’s last-mile internet service provider and be responsible for providing service to end users in Hanover County.
Hanover and its partners will focus on areas that are currently unserved, such as those where residents must use satellite, DSL, cell phones or mobile “hot spots,” which do not provide adequate speed and data for today’s applications. Ensuring broadband availability for all of Hanover County will require a combination of state and federal financial support and a multi-year construction timeframe.
“Broadband access is more important than ever, and we’re proud to work with our partners in Hanover County to be part of the solution and help bring this critical resource to the communities we serve,” said Charlene Whitfield, Senior Vice President of Power Delivery, Dominion Energy. Added John Hewa, President and CEO of REC: “We are proud to partner with Hanover and All Points Broadband to help bridge the rural digital divide. REC is committed to improving the lives of the residents and businesses that we serve and improving broadband access certainly achieves that mission.”
By the end of August, All Points Broadband will develop a network design for presentation to the Board of Supervisors and approval in September. The County will apply for grants through the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) in September. Grant announcements will be made by late 2021 or early 2022, and funding would be made available by July 2022. The utility partners anticipate construction could begin as early as fall of 2022.
Yes, the goal is to ensure that unserved residents have access to broadband speeds via a fiber internet connection that will be deployed on a countywide basis.
- August 2021 – All Points Broadband develops a network design for presentation to the Board of Supervisors. Citizens are asked to provide feedback on current service levels
- September 2021 – Presentation and approval from Hanover County Board of Supervisors
- September 2021 - Hanover County applies for funding through the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI)
- December 2021/January 2022 – Notifications of Virginia Telecommunications (VATI) grant awards received
- Early 2022 – Dominion Energy application to SCC for middle-mile work
- Fall 2022 – Pending grant funding awards and regulatory approval, utility partners and county anticipate construction to begin.
Electric utilities can help by utilizing fiber capacity for both their operational needs and for broadband access, reducing broadband deployment costs for ISPs to reach unserved homes and businesses.
All Points Broadband is the service provider for residents and will bill for service. In addition, Lumen, Comcast or other providers may also deliver service as part of the Connect Hanover initiative.
These details are still being discussed and additional details will be provided once they are finalized. However, deployment will branch outward from existing fiber connections and will be organized to maximize the efficiency of the total buildout.
Deployment plans will be shared at the Sept. 8 Board of Supervisors meeting. Ultimately the build out will be based on available funding and designated areas of electrical infrastructure and customer demand.
Central Virginia Regional Partnership
More Than 25,000 Central Virginians Get Broadband Access Through Regional Broadband Partnership
June 24, 2021:
Dominion Energy Virginia, Firefly Fiber BroadbandSM, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, and the Counties of Albemarle, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, Greene, Louisa, and Powhatan have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to advance a regional broadband partnership that aims to deliver fiber-optic broadband service to unserved and underserved households and businesses in areas of Central Virginia, subject to regulatory approvals.
- This partnership is enabled by bi-partisan legislation adopted during the 2021 General Assembly Session. The agreement could extend access to more than 25,000 Virginians who currently lack access to reliable broadband services.
- Rappahannock Electric Cooperative will own a fiber network where it delivers electricity in the counties of Louisa, Albemarle, Goochland and Greene Counties. Firefly will serve as the internet service provider. This project will also improve reliability and resiliency while modernizing the grid to provide advanced energy solutions.
How to Be Sure Your Home or Business is Included:
The project is intended to cover all possible locations in these counties that do not have access to broadband meeting the minimum qualifying service speeds that the Commonwealth of Virginia has established which are 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload from a fixed wireless or wired connection.
- If you only have access to satellite or cell phone for internet service, you are considered unserved.
- If you have connections to a fixed wireless service or have DSL or other phone service and your speeds do not reliably meet the 25/3 threshold, you are considered unserved.
- We need your help in defining the final unserved area map. Please visit www.fireflyva.com/rise from your home computer using your home internet connection or using a mobile device from any location if you do not have home internet access. Follow the link to complete a short survey providing your address and what internet service options you have.
- If you have fixed wireless or wired internet service, we will also ask that you run a speed test once you have completed the survey; satellite or cell phone services will not be required to run the speed test.
Dominion Energy Virginia, Firefly Fiber Broadband, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and the Counties of Albemarle, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, Greene, Louisa, and Powhatan have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to advance a regional broadband partnership.
The partnership aims to deliver fiber-optic broadband service to unserved and underserved households and businesses in these areas of Central Virginia.
A timeline for the project in each county has not yet been established – with the exception of Louisa. At this time, it is critical for members to complete the survey to help identify the underserved and unserved areas in each county.
The utilities and each participating county will work toward a phased approach; for Dominion Energy Virginia that will include an application to the State Corporation Commission to seek regulatory approval in early 2022. The first phase for each county will include engineering studies which will determine the most efficient deployment plan and funding requirements.
REC will own the fiber network where it delivers electricity in the counties of Louisa, Albemarle, Goochland and Greene Counties. Firefly will serve as the internet service provider. For REC, this project will also improve reliability and resiliency while modernizing the grid to provide advanced energy solutions.
Firefly Fiber Broadband is an internet service provider that offers lightning-fast internet via fiber.
Dominion Energy is installing fiber in rural areas as it moves forward with efforts to transform Virginia's energy grid. This fiber capacity can be used for operational needs as well as broadband access, reducing broadband deployment costs for internet service providers like Firefly Fiber Broadband. Under the agreement, Firefly will lease the “middle-mile” fiber installed by Dominion Energy in the company’s electric service area in these nine counties.
Work Underway to Expand Broadband to REC Member-Owners in Louisa
July 13, 2021:
Some Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) member-owners in Louisa County are one step closer to having access to broadband internet service.
- Authorized contractors from Pike Engineering are currently working in the Shannon Hill area conducting pole-by-pole surveys to determine what preparations are needed to existing facilities for the fiber installation.
- Once survey work is completed around Shannon Hill, Pike Engineering will move to the area of REC’s Mt. Hope substation off of Route 33 and Paynes Mill Road in the eastern end of Louisa County.
- As REC and Firefly continue to define the order of work throughout Louisa County, member-owners will be notified directly and updates will be provided. Some REC member-owners in the Shannon Hill and Mt. Hope areas can expect to receive notifications from Firefly near the end of 2021 inviting them to sign-up for service.
Member-owners who are served by REC from the Shannon Hill substation and circuit may expect to sign up for broadband service by the end of 2021 and be connected in the spring of 2022.
Information on packages and installation schedules can be found on the Firefly Fiber Broadband website at www.fireflyva.com or by calling 833-473-3591.
It is estimated that 50% of the County will have access by the end of 2023, 75% by the end of 2024. Project completion is slated by the end of 2025.
Members served by one of the Shannon Hill substation circuits where work is currently underway will receive communication by mail, email and phone regarding the progress and what they may see in their area as the work on the project continues.
REC is providing use of its infrastructure, including poles and will own the fiber broadband network constructed in its service area. REC contractors will conduct “make-ready” work such as rebuilding a line, changing poles or moving transformers to accommodate the fiber installation. Firefly Fiber Broadband contractors will then install the fiber on REC’s poles and underground areas.
REC has started the make-ready engineering and design process on one of the circuits served from the Shannon Hill substation. Members in this area will see REC contractor, Pike Engineering on or around their property conducting pole-by-pole surveys to determine what preparations are needed to existing facilities for the fiber installation.
Once the engineering and design process is complete later this summer, construction crews will perform the necessary make-ready construction to overhead facilities, such as: repositioning transformers, adding anchors to the ground near the poles, and even replacing poles.
After work on this circuit is completed, Pike Engineering will begin work on one of the circuits out of the Mt. Hope substation.
Once survey work is completed around Shannon Hill, Pike Engineering will move to the area of REC’s Mt. Hope substation off of Route 33 and Paynes Mill Road in the eastern end of Louisa County.
Louisa County, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Firefly Fiber Broadband, and Dominion Energy Proposed Partnership to Bring Broadband to Louisa County
March 1, 2021:
REC, Firefly Fiber BroadbandSM, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, and Dominion Energy Virginia have formed a partnership to ensure high-speed internet access is available to all of the homes and businesses in the County.
- REC will own the fiber network constructed in the majority of the county, and is providing use of its infrastructure, including poles, to make the Louisa County broadband initiative a reality.
- Firefly will be the internet service provider for the partnership and will ensure the availability of fiber broadband on a county-wide basis.
- Firefly will lease the “middle-mile” fiber installed by Dominion Energy in the company’s electric service area in Louisa County.
REC and Orange County Partner to Expand Fiber Communications Network
December 20, 2019:
On Dec. 17, the Orange County Broadband Authority (OCBA) approved an agreement between the county and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) to lease capacity across 19 miles of fiber optic cable that REC is installing as a part of the Cooperative’s new Fiber Utility Network.