Nelson County, Virginia
Firefly Fiber BroadbandSM, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC), celebrated the milestone of 20,000 rural broadband connections this month at a private ceremony at Veritas Winery, demonstrating Firefly’s incredibly rapid growth and commitment to connecting central Virginia to reliable, affordable high-speed internet.
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. Connections for CVEC members will continue for the next few months in remaining project areas.
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 (RISE) 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.
Senator 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.”
Over 165 guests joined on Wednesday, including Board of Directors, local and state elected officials, contractors, lenders, suppliers, business and residential customers, and business partners who have contributed to the company’s success. Welcoming remarks were offered by Firefly Communications Manager, Melissa Gay, Firefly’s Board Chairman George Goin, and luncheon sponsors Calix and Graybar.
Speakers at the celebration included Bruce Maurhoff, Firefly COO and Sr. VP, Tina Mallia; Firefly CFO and VP, Allen Powell; Board of Directors Chairman for S&N Communications; Firefly Business Customer Bill Tonkins of Veritas Winery; Firefly Residential Customer Susan McSwain of Nelson County; Congressman Bob Good VA-05; Senator Mark Peake District 22; Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger VA-07; Tamarah Holmes, Office of Broadband Director for Department of Housing and Community Development; Jonathan Chambers, Partner at Conexon; and Gary Wood, Firefly CEO and President.
On reaching this milestone, Firefly President and CEO, Gary Wood, concludes, “Firefly has reached this milestone through the power of partnerships. All of the folks in this room today 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.”
Congressman Bob Good, VA-05, stated, “I am glad to celebrate Firefly Fiber Broadband’s efforts to reach over 20,000 rural homes in the 5th District with high-speed broadband internet. This greatly benefits education, local businesses, economic development, and thousands of citizens in our district.”
Firefly and CVEC joined with two business partners, CoBank and S&N Communications, to give back to the community as part of the celebration. Firefly donated $10,000 to the Roberta I. Harlowe Scholarship, awarded by VMDAEC Education Scholarship Foundation, which has provided 998 scholarships totaling $900,000. The scholarship, named for the former VMDAEC Scholarship Foundation Chair and current Vice Chair for the Board of Directors at CVEC Roberta Harlowe, will be awarded in the amount of $2,000 to winning students in the CVEC territory. Firefly’s donation will be matched by CoBank’s Sharing Success program, totaling a contribution of $20,000 to local scholarships for high school students.
Additionally, CVEC donated $10,000 to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank (BRAFB), 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.
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About Firefly Fiber Broadband
Headquartered in Palmyra, VA, Firefly Fiber BroadbandSM is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative. Firefly offers lightning-fast internet via fiber to the premise that is reliable and priced fairly with no hidden equipment costs or special introductory pricing that increases the base cost of phone or internet later. Firefly has no contracts, no data caps, or slowdowns, and offers symmetrical upload and download speeds. Firefly Light offers 100 Mbps for $49.99; Firefly Flash offers 1 Gbps for $79.99, and Firefly Voice is $34.99 with a $5.00 discount when bundled with the internet. For more information, visit www.fireflyva.com/rise.
About Central Virginia Electric Cooperative
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative is a member-owned, not-for-profit, electric utility serving over 38,000 homes, farms and businesses in the rural portions of 14 Virginia counties. CVEC is proud to be a Four-Star Cooperative for Service Excellence certified by the Touchstone Energy Service Excellence Program. CVEC is an equal opportunity provider and employer. For more information, visit www.mycvec.com.
Calix, Inc. is a telecommunications company that specializes in providing software platforms, systems, and services to support the delivery of broadband services. The company was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in San Jose, California.
CoBank is a $158 billion cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing, and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water, and communications providers in all 50 states. The bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving more than 75,000 farmers, ranchers, and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country. CoBank is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and retail lending associations chartered to support the borrowing needs of U.S. agriculture, rural infrastructure, and rural communities. Headquartered outside Denver, Colorado, CoBank serves customers from regional banking centers across the U.S. and maintains an international representative office in Singapore.
Conexon works with Rural Electric Membership Cooperatives to bring fiber to the home to rural communities. We analyze economic feasibility, secure financing, manage construction, train employees, optimize business performance and determine optimal partnerships. We will be with you from a project’s conception all the way through to its long-term sustainability.
Graybar, a Fortune 500 company, specializes in supply chain management services, and is a leading North American distributor of high-quality components, equipment, and materials. We serve the construction market, the commercial, institutional, and government (CIG) market, and the industrial and utility markets. Graybar products and services support new construction, infrastructure updates, building renovation, facility maintenance, repair and operations, and original equipment manufacturing.
About S&N Communications
Headquartered in Louisa, VA, S&N Communications, Inc., is a leader in providing reliable and cost-effective construction, site assessment and acquisition, tower construction and maintenance, logistics, and inventory management services to their customers. S&N is committed to propelling the wired and wireless communications, gas, and electric industries into the future.
Veritas Winery was started by Andrew and Patricia Hodson in 1999. Born out of their love of wine and commitment to producing quality wine, Veritas has grown into a 20-year-old family business that is on the leading edge of the Virginia wine industry. With over 50 acres in the Monticello wine region, and producing a complex portfolio of wine ranging from sparkling to beautifully balanced red wines, Veritas wine quality starts in the vineyard, and the terroir of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Winemaker Emily Hodson, daughter of Andrew and Patricia, has been the winemaker at Veritas for over 15 harvests and continues to author the beginning chapters of a young and vibrant wine region. Her philosophy is simple – she strives to give each varietal natural, balanced expression by focusing on attention to detail and cultural practices. Her old-world principles of viticulture and vinification are met with her innovative take on winemaking using state of the art technology and principles to capture the true essence and character of each varietal.