A day that has been years in the making, Thursday marked a major milestone in REC efforts to bring high-speed internet to unserved and underserved communities. Local and regional leaders joined REC in Louisa County to celebrate the first residents in Louisa and Goochland counties to be connected with high-speed internet as a result of the cooperative’s work.
The project is the result of a partnership that includes REC and Firefly Fiber BroadbandSM along with Louisa and Goochland counties.
“For REC members still waiting for broadband, we are heading your way. This is only the beginning,” said John Hewa, REC’s President and CEO. “Between now and the end of the year, we anticipate service becoming available to several thousand REC member-owners—with all members in Louisa, Goochland, Greene, Madison and Albemarle having access to internet from Firefly by 2025.”
Firefly officials echoed that excitement.
“Firefly is pleased to partner with REC to offer affordable and reliable fiber-to-the-home internet access to thousands of their members who have no other viable option," said Firefly’s President and CEO Gary Wood. "Access to broadband by all is expected and necessary in today’s world and rural Virginians are finally receiving the connectivity they so need and desire. We are transforming lives one home and business at a time."
Work is ongoing on the 2,650 miles of fiber to the home that will be leased by Firefly across five counties. Make-ready and fiber construction is under way throughout Louisa and in Goochland, and make-ready engineering and construction continues in Greene, Madison and Albemarle counties.
REC is collaborating with a variety of contractors who are working in all phases of the project to build the fiber network. Make-ready engineering is when workers go to each pole to determine if any modifications are required to support the fiber and its associated steel strand. Make-ready construction is when contractors set new poles or make other system modifications so that fiber construction crews can then come in and install the fiber.
During the event, Louisa County and Goochland County officials reiterated their commitment to the partnership with REC and Firefly, and Superintendent of Louisa County Schools Doug Straley emphasized just how far this project will go in supporting rural communities.
"It's an opportunity to give our students here in Louisa and Goochland the same opportunities" that students in more populated areas have, he said. "The only way to make that happen is to give them the tools that everyone else has."
Regarding partnerships that are making broadband possible, he continued: "I love rural America. This is why: We make things happen, and we find solutions."