Afton, Virginia —Firefly Fiber Broadband, 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.
Melissa Gay, 434-263-7638 (email@example.com)