Firefly Fiber Broadband Comes to Rockfish Valley

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Installing fiber cable at Martin’s Store substation on Route 151. Photo: Mary Cunningham.

Warm weather brings thoughts of spring and summer and the fireflies are a part of that scene. This year the buzz is about Firefly Fiber Broadband™ the tradename for the high-speed internet and voice over internet phone service (VOIP). Connections are coming to Martins Store substation on Route 151 serving Afton and Nellysford. and expected to begin in May. Pre-registrations are offered now to members of Central Valley Electric Cooperative (CVEC) with an opportunity to skip the $100 installation fee.  

CVEC is building fiber for expanding communication over their existing electric system to benefit members. The fiber network will use laser beams and glass fibers to move data at speeds of up to one gigabit per second.  The build-out for Martin’s Store will include 500 miles of optic cable that will stretch from Afton Mountain down Route 151 to Brent’s Mountain plus the side roads and subdivisions, including Stoney Creek, on either side of the main road. It will also extend along Route 6 from Martin’s Store station to Woods Mill and cover the Route 29 corridor from Davis Creek to Covesville in Albemarle County.  Portions of Faber will be included, as well as Wheelers Cove and Dutch Creek. 

Unlike cable, DSL, satellite, cellular, and fixed wireless connections, “Fiber To The Home” (FTTH) internet has both fast download and upload speeds. This symmetrical service means that you can upload and download at the same speed.

According to Jace Goodling of Afton, CVEC Director for East District, Firefly is “a better deal than the (Nelson) county offered at half the price and is more reliable—it’s a huge thing because it’s offered not just to people along the main road.” 

Goodling described three stages happening on fast forward for the Martin’s Store rollout:  The south leg includes Nellysford, Wintergreen and Beech Grove, with hookups happening now. If you are not pre-registered, Goodling recommends that you call now for free installation. The central leg of the rollout is Route 6 to Route 29. The north leg in Afton will have service by July.

Goodling said the process is now managing 20-30 hookups every day. The first step is the inspection of poles followed by another crew replacing the poles where necessary.  Next the crew strings a line of fiber either above or in-ground consistent with existing lines. A crew then runs hookup to the house and lastly the service inside is set up. 

The CVEC website (mycvec.com) identified plans for a project to build and offer fiber for members to take advantage of reliable, high speed internet that only the FTTH system can offer in rural areas. Now everyone in the Rockfish Valley will have access to data streaming for their home and personal use, telecommuting and business operations. 

Central Virginia Services is a separate subsidiary of CVEC for subcontracting the installation so electric service member customers are not required to be directly involved in the new business service. Initial focus will be on areas that are most dense and the lowest cost to serve to quickly generate revenue. Funding from the federal, state and county level to help offset costs is being pursued.  CVEC received a $30 million grant to assist the project and applied for a $66 million loan from the Rural Utilities Service to finance the first part of the project. In March, CVEC was granted nearly $1 million in funding from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.  

A contractor works to connect cable at Martin’s Store substation to the overhead power lines that service the CVEC area. Photo: Mary Cunningham.

The CVEC fiber-optic network will be installed on and adjacent to existing overhead and the underground electric distribution lines which utilize the existing infrastructure.  CVEC will own the fiber-optic cable, and its wholly owned subsidiary, Firefly Broadband™ (Firefly) will operate the internet and telephone service. Highspeed internet is offered at 100 megabits per second for basic rate or upgraded to 1 gigabit per second of unlimited data. Voice-over IP (VoIP) phone service with unlimited local and long-distance calling will also be available. Firefly will include a managed Wi Fi service for wireless devices in the home.  

CVEC was created in 1937 to bring electricity to thousands of rural Virginians not served by the large power companies. CVEC is a member-owned, not-for-profit, electric utility, serving homes, farms and business and providing electric service to rural Virginia counties including Nelson and parts of Albemarle. Firefly is carrying on that legacy now as the first to bring FTTH, high-speed internet to the rural community. Choosing to be a Firefly customer helps connect fellow local residents, local businesses and supports local infrastructure growth. Firefly internet is homegrown right here in Central Virginia, with virtually all technical and support staff based in Virginia.  

If you live in the CVEC service area of Martins Store substation including Beech Grove, Nellysford, Stoney Creek, Afton and Woods Mills, you can now pre-register for Firefly service and receive a no-cost modem and free installation. Firefly Fiber Broadband is on Facebook and can be reached at 833-473-3591.b 

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