February 2023 Fiber Construction Update
EMPOWER continues to aggressively build out our fiber network across the service area and our high-speed service is now available to nearly 10,000 homes and businesses with over 3,500 of those locations taking advantage of this terrific service. At the end of this three-year project, we will have 3,000 miles of fiber cable installed across portions of six counties, bringing access to over 30,000 customers in Southside Virginia; thanks to our partners in the Regional Broadband Expansion Project. As we continue to connect subscribers daily across portions of Brunswick, Charlotte, Greensville, Halifax, Mecklenburg, and Pittsylvania counties, please check back regularly for updates to this schedule.
In addition to the areas listed below as Current Construction Projects, service is available to many homes and businesses in areas already completed. To check the eligibility of your address, please go to our website, www.empowermec.net and click “Check Availability”. Our registration process will guide you through completing an application if service is currently available, or it will register your interest for a future build.
You can also view the EMPOWER Eligibility Map to see if your address is included in the three-year Regional Broadband Expansion Project. This map is color coded and will show you which phase (year) of the project that your address is planned. As we begin working in new areas, those will be added to the list below to keep you updated on which part of the Construction Project and Phase we are in.
Please note: There are six basic steps in the construction process. Once we begin working in your area, please allow approximately six months for total completion. This timeline is contingent upon weather, permit approvals and the availability of materials.
|Brandi Circle off Gasburg Road||Awaiting Easement Approval|
|Poythress Road off Gasburg Road||Awaiting Easement Approval|
|Reavis Gin Rd||Complete|
|611 Western Mill N||Complete|
|Shelton Hall Rd, Tates Mill Rd, Rocky Rd to 92||Home Installs|
|Hwy 15 South to Laconia Rd||Fiber Construction|
|Horse Horn Rd, Carrington Rd, Rutledge Rd||Fiber Construction|
|Whitlow Rd, Jones Store Rd||Make Ready|
|VATI Extension, East Hitesburg Church Rd, Red Bank Rd, Rice School Rd, Wise Loftis Rd, Rip Rap Rd, John Puryear Trail, Wilborn Rd, North Fork Church Rd||Drop Slicing/Home Installs|
|Hodges Street off Howard P Anderson||Awaiting Railroad Crossing|
|Leighwood Trl and Sweeney Trail||Complete|
|Chestnut Rd||Make Ready|
|Hwy 501 Bannister River to Mount Olive Church||Fiber Construction|
|Lake Gaston Americamps||Complete|
|River Ridge/Golf Drive||Complete|
|Hicks Drive and Waynes Court||Home Installs|
|Miles Creek Rd, Skyline Rd, Pack Rd, Deer Run Rd, Wagon Wheel Rd||Home Installs|
|St. Tammany||Fiber Construction|
|Buckhead, Hawks Nest, Cannon's Ferry, River Rd, Cliffs on the Roanoke||Make Ready|
|Gordon Lake Rd||Splicing|
|Red Gate Rd, Baskerville Rd, Bowers Rd, Busy Bee Rd, Gordon Lake Rd, Camp Rd||Splicing|
|Merrymount, Granite Hall||Make Ready|
** Please note that the above descriptions are general areas and may not cover entire roads or areas. The descriptions generally list the route the fiber is installed. Please "Check Availability" at www.empowermec.net to verify eligibility.**
We will continue to send updates on the status of our fiber construction. Hang in there while we bring you the best of the best … fiber! We appreciate your patience and support.
If you have any questions regarding projects, our crews, or anything related to EMPOWER’s services, please contact us at 1-833-RURALBB (1-833-787-2522), 434-636-2274, or by clicking the “Contact Us” button at www.empowermec.net/content/contact-us. You can always stay up to date with our progress by visiting www.empowermec.net or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EmpowerBroadbandInc.
Construction of a fiber optic network is a complex and lengthy process. Numerous contractors are involved, and the entire process can take six to 12 months to complete, depending upon the length of the circuit, the terrain and soils, weather, availability of materials and other external factors. Most utility distribution lines are a mix of overhead and underground construction. The following discussion covers the phases of construction along overhead electric distribution lines, which are served by Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative or Dominion Energy. You can see each step below:
Step 1: Make Ready Engineering and Construction
After an in-house design of the fiber build to the distribution access point, field engineers go to each pole to determine if any modifications are required in order to support the fiber, keeping in mind NESC clearance requirements. Line crews will change poles, move transformers from one side of the pole to the other, move wires on the pole, add new anchors to the poles, and perform other work to allow the ﬁber to be placed later.
In addition to engineering the design, other steps include obtaining permits, staking, coordinating with Miss Utility, finalizing ROW easements and procuring material, all of which are done before construction can begin. This work has the widest variance in time of all construction phases. The make ready construction phase can take five months or more to complete.
Step 2: Fiber Construction
The construction team will bury fiber cables underground or string it from poles to connect your neighborhood to our fiber network. This process can take up to another three months. You may see us digging holes during this stage. When we’re done, we will return all sidewalks and green spaces to the way we found them. Fiber construction can take four to eight weeks on a circuit.
Step 3: Splicing
Once the strand and ﬁber is placed, splicers will make splices at each end and tap point. They splice the necessary cables at each point and mount the splices in enclosures secured to the distribution poles or in pedestals. The splicing work can take another three to six weeks for the main lines.
Step 4: Service Drop Construction
The next step is service drop construction. This work can be done in parallel with some of the earlier work, or it might be done after the main line ﬁber is in place. The drop crews extend the ﬁber from the nearest splice point to the structure receiving service and leave coils of ﬁber in each location.
Step 5: Drop Splicing
The ﬁnal outdoor step in ﬁber construction is the splicing of the drop. The splicer connects the last length of ﬁber at the tap point and also mounts a network interface device (NID) at the structure with the ﬁnal splice inside the NID.
Step 6: Home Install
The final step is to install the ONT/router in the consumer’s home and connect it to the outside NID. The installer will call the consumer to schedule this appointment once the above steps are complete.
As you can see, there will be multiple contractors and vehicles passing each point over several months before the service is ready for final installation. If you have any questions, please feel free to call our office at 1-833-RURALBB.