BARC Begins First Phase of FTTp Project in Virginia

  • BARConnects
  • Civitium
MILLBORO, VA — BARC Electric Cooperative announced the first phase of a fiber-to-the-premises project, leveraging BARC’s existing electric infrastructure to deliver ultra-high-speed Internet, telephone and cable television services. BARC will deliver these services through its wholly-owned subsidiary, BARConnects, which will own and operate the network.

Michael Keyser, BARC’s CEO and general manager, said, “This project is a groundbreaking project for the state of Virginia and will make us the first electric cooperative in Virginia to offer fiber-to-the-premises to our customers.  We are taking a page out of our history books and applying it to rural broadband – the modern equivalent to rural electrification.  We did it once with electricity and we will do it again with broadband.”

BARC If You Want Broadband!
Like rural electrification in the 1930s, BARC is relying on support from the customers it serves to move the project to construction. To gather supporters, BARC has launched a campaign called “BARC If You Want Broadband!” and is utilizing a web-based application called “CrowdFiber” by Civitium.

Supporters can go online to pre-register for service and track the progress towards BARC’s goal. BARC has established a goal of 1,550 supporters before constructing the fiber network - the minimum number of eligible customers expressing support necessary to ensure long-term sustainability (supporters are called “backers” on the website). BARC is not asking for a financial commitment – rather, a simple expression of interest in taking service should the network be built.

Fiber Network to Encompass Entire Electric Service Territory
Phase one encompasses 325 miles, with the capability of connecting over 4,000 homes and businesses in Rockbridge county and the city of Lexington with high-speed fiber optic cable. Over time, BARC expects to expand the network through subsequent phases to encompass its entire electric service territory.

For over a year, BARC has been developing the engineering and business plans to bring this project to fruition. BARConnects will offer triple play (Internet, telephone and cable TV), double play, and single play packages for residential and commercial customers. 

“It is important for all customers interested to preregister for this project and join the growing list of backers. Customers who happen to fall outside of the initial phase of the project should still register, as they may still be able to receive service through phase one. They also will remain on BARC’s radar screen and help inform future decisions about prioritizing locations for expansion,” said Mr. Keyser.

In exchange for becoming a backer, customers located in eligible areas will receive a free fiber connection to the home/business when the project proceeds — a $1,700 value (provided you pay for a monthly service package). Customers who do not pre-register will be required to pay to receive a fiber drop once the project proceeds.

With this groundbreaking fiber-to-the-premises project comes many community benefits. High-speed Internet access has proven to increase population growth, bringing great economic improvement by bringing new businesses and jobs to the area. Studies have shown that high-speed Internet access is a catalyst for the local economy.

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