EMPOWER Broadband, a subsidiary of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC), is committed to extending fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) internet connectivity to homes and businesses across Southside Virginia and, most recently, is fulfilling that mission through a partnership with Greensville County. Recent communications from Governor Northam's Fast Track Broadband CARES Act funding have announced an award to deploy high-speed fiber broadband to a rural portion of Greensville County.
The Fast Track Broadband CARES program is an expedited process to deliver high-speed connectivity to homes and businesses to mitigate the subsequent impact of COVID-19. EMPOWER and Greensville County officials have worked diligently to complete the application resulting in a successful award of $475,025. Funding will provide for the construction of seven miles of fiber passing 124 locations immediately adjacent to Pine Log Road, and Beef Road, in the Brink Community of Greensville County. This shovel ready project is made possible through the extension of EMPOWER’s existing fiber facilities running along Brink Road. Engineering teams have begun design including the acquisition of needed equipment and construction material. The installation of mainline fiber is scheduled for completion by December 25.
John C. Lee, Jr., EMPOWER Broadband’s President and CEO noted, “We’re pleased to expand our partnership with Greensville County and work together to provide the best in broadband service to our members, and the citizens of Greensville County. Our shared mission is to aggressively meet the challenges brought on by the digital divide, which has been extraordinarily intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic and has been devastating for education and business. This project will mitigate the lack of desperately needed connectivity in our rural communities and provide reliable and consistent high-speed broadband to both homes and businesses.”
Lee added. “EMPOWER’s fiber deployment is moving at an accelerated pace, and to meet the need and demand of our communities we’re adding additional crews and resources to undertake this project. Doing so accommodates our deadline and does so without disrupting our continuing focus in areas already slated for deployment. Our goal is to meet the needs of rural residents and deliver broadband service as quickly as possible… and every day, we’re doing just that … one home, one business, and one community at a time.”
The application period, State level reviews, and approvals comprise an extremely time sensitive process…all designed to rapidly inject CARES funding to immediately address the growing need of students and businesses requiring access to high-speed broadband. This expansion project will deliver service to over 300 Greensville County residents.
Brenda Parson, Greensville County Administrator commented, “On behalf of Greensville County, we thank the Commonwealth for this award, and we thank EMPOWER for its commitment to provide broadband services to those in our rural communities. This partnership aids in mitigating the complications experienced by our students and employees working from home who struggle as a result of the lack of connectivity impacting rural Virginians and the citizens of Greensville County. Without such funding, our residents continue to be straddled with the responsibility of meeting the increasing demands of remote learning and working from home … all without the most important tool to do so. For that reason, providing broadband to our citizens is a top priority for our county, a priority that we’re seeing fulfilled with a great partner like EMPOWER.”
EMPOWER is now accepting online applications and is notifying eligible homes and businesses by mail. To accommodate this accelerated construction schedule, residents along the route are strongly encouraged to confirm availability and register online at www.empowermec.net. Simply go to the website and “Click Here” just below the heading “Check Availability and Register Your Interest”. Once the application and Drop Permission forms are returned; scheduling for drop installation from the mainline to homes and businesses can begin.
Lee commented, “This award, and partnership, represents a tremendous opportunity to provide world class connectivity and further address the educational, employment and economic development needs of the residents we collectively serve with Greensville County officials. We commend the Greensville County Board of Supervisors and County Staff who are working diligently to make broadband a reality for their citizens, and our rural members. It is evident they are fully committed to delivering broadband to their constituents… and so are we.”
MEC’s subsidiary, EMPOWER Broadband, Inc., provides middle-mile capacity, retail high-speed internet service, as well as voice over IP telephony, high-speed data services, and advanced cloud-based solutions, to over 4,000 accounts in the cooperative’s service territory in Southside Virginia and northern North Carolina. For more information, please visit www.empowermec.net.