Firefly Fiber Broadband makes progress in Cumberland County

Firefly Fiber Broadband is making progress in its Cumberland County expansion project, but the work will take a bit longer. That was the update given to county supervisors during their Tuesday, April 11 meeting. 

During his presentation, Gary Wood, president and CEO of Firefly Fiber Broadband, showed a map of where the company currently is in bringing broadband to the county. The Central Virginia Co-op area is in service and is still connecting people there who are interested. At the top of the service map, that is the northern part of the county, work is still going in construction and building fiber. In the southern portion, they are engineering and soon should be ready to send the designs in for review. 

On the reconnect project they have worked with the county to put a lease together to put a communications site in. This is the first property Firefly has worked out a lease with in partnership with a county. 

So what does all that mean? Well, in Cumberland County, Firefly broadband currently has 1,310 passings, meaning a business or home that has service available, with 800 who’ve taken service. As of the first week of April, Firefly had 20,000 connections across all service areas. 

Firefly Fiber Broadband explains coverage

While receiving equipment and preparing for servicing the county, some have asked why there is not 100% coverage. According to Wood, especially in rural areas there are residents who have never had internet and when it’s offered feel like they don’t need it. These folks may change their mind and be connected after the broadband is set up. 

“In 1937, when we first ran electric lines, we had a 40% acceptance rate,” Wood said. “Less than half of the farms signed up for electric because they had nothing to plug in.” 

Turning to Cartersville, the area has 620 passings and about 60% of residents there have connected. This is about what they expected and are seeing this across the board, Wood said. They also plan to bring broadband to the Bear Creek area, which can be beneficial for the state park, especially from a public safety standpoint. 

Investing in Cumberland 

So far, Firefly has invested about $5.6 million into Cumberland County. One other piece is that the southern Cumberland area applied for grants that have not been announced yet. This grant is usually announced in December or January/February so they hope being in April it will be announced soon. 

“Our investment in this was about half a million dollars and so for a $580,000 investment we are getting 17 almost $18 million return,” said Brian Stanley, “So, it’s a great benefit for the county.” 

County Administrator Derek Stamey added that part of the investment was also to the Kinex project meaning there is an even bigger return in this project.

An up to date map of the project can be found at Fireflyva.com under ReConnect Cumberland or on the county’s website.

Public hearing set for VDOT

Stamey gave a brief update on Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) matters in the county. 

Currently, there is routine maintenance and pipe work repair work currently taking place where it’s needed. A public hearing will be set for Tuesday, May 9, to discuss the secondary six year plan. 

“For now the previous plan remains intact with no roads added this year,” said Stamey. “We’d have to revisit those next year.”

VDOT is recalibrating the plan due to inflation causing costs to go up for projects. In light of this, they look to update the plan next year with accurate numbers as prices are fluctuating since the origin of the plan.

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