Fujitsu speeds FTTP broadband roll-out to underserved rural Virginia

March 30, 2021
Fast-tracked FTTP project allows local electric cooperative to meet CARES Act funding deadline, despite challenges posed by the pandemic.

Fujitsu Network Communications, Inc. this week announced the successful deployment of a 53-mile fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband network for Craig-Botetourt Rural Electric Cooperative (CBEC) headquartered in New Castle, Virginia.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fujitsu reports that the network's roll-out was expanded and expedited to enable CBEC to meet members’ needs for reliable, high-speed internet and digital phone services throughout a heavily forested, mountainous area of southwestern Virginia.

As explained by a statement from the vendor:

As demand for remote working and online learning accelerated in 2020, underserved rural communities in the area struggled with little to no access to broadband internet, trying to achieve connectivity with slow, unreliable DSL and dial-up technologies, or paying for expensive satellite services. CBEC recognized their cooperative members’ critical need for high-speed communications, and prioritized deployment of new rural broadband infrastructure to provide connectivity for remote workers, telemedicine, distance learning, community services and online shopping.
Fujitsu was selected to be the prime broadband network and integration partner for the FTTP project, responsible for network design and build-out, multivendor equipment and software procurement, network integration, testing and service turn-up. While the first phase of the project began in February 2020, the scope was extended in mid-October. Fujitsu’s ability to quickly mobilize resources and synchronize project elements enabled completion of phase two in just eight weeks, helping CBEC meet the December 31, 2020, CARES Act deadline for funding reimbursement.

According to Fujitsu, the new fiber broadband network, which passes 700 addresses, makes it possible for CBEC to serve the essential connectivity needs of their cooperative members, delivering symmetrical, high-speed internet services up to 300 Mbps and digital voice services. Since the launch on February 1, 2021, the co-op already has 155 new subscribers.

Jeff Ahearn, CEO, Craig-Botetourt Rural Electric Cooperative, commented, "The response from our community is overwhelmingly positive. Improved broadband means a better quality of life for our members, attracting new residents to the area and encouraging existing residents to stay when they might have otherwise moved. The ability of Fujitsu to efficiently manage the overall project while accommodating a very tight turnaround means that we can deliver unmatched, next-generation fiber broadband services to our members at a time when they are most needed."

"Being connected with reliable, affordable, high-speed broadband has become a must-do for the economic vitality of communities of all sizes," concludes Greg Manganello, senior vice president and head of wireless and service solutions, Fujitsu Network Communications, Inc. "We applaud CBEC’s vision as well as our partner’s support that enabled us to complete the network expansion in record time despite pandemic challenges. Now local families, schoolchildren, and businesses can be online, fully engaged, and productive in creating their best future."

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