By Matt de Simone
Botetourt County households now have an opportunity to experience the power of fiber-optic Internet. The 2020 pandemic limited many local citizens from attending events and vacations. While many struggled to transition into a new way of life, Botetourt County administrators worked diligently to provide the community with a chance of obtaining a resource that many households and businesses in the surrounding areas have yet to encounter.
Over the next few weeks, The Fincastle Herald gives subscribers a closer look at the process of building a “backbone” of fiber-optic lines across Botetourt County.
RVBA providing “the last mile”
The Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority (RVBA) is no stranger to Botetourt County. Over five years ago, local business and government leaders realized the need for additional innovation regarding broadband services. RVBA created a model for new and existing carriers could run on the network and drive price competition with other areas.
“We broke ground in August of 2015,” RVBA President Frank Smith explained. “We built the first 50 miles of fiber between the end of 2015 and the middle of 2016. Then we added another 30 miles within Roanoke County. RVBA completed that project in October of 2017. At that time, we were up to about 85 miles. Right now, we’re up to 110 miles-plus in Botetourt County, Roanoke, and Salem.”
RVBA helped with the new Botetourt County Administration Offices’ connectivity at the Greenfield Learning Center in Daleville. They installed fiber in the switching setter at the offices, added an 11-mile “backbone” of fiber down Etzler Road for a partner provider to provide fiber to the homes, and also started a wireless project where RVBA installed a service node on top of the Administrative Offices that connected them to a co-location facility in the building.
A co-location facility contains data cabinets where customers can add their servers. The facility also allows other telecommunications providers to use it as a “storage room” to enable connectivity between services. It provides choice on the enterprise side and lets other services come in, run off that network, and give the last mile of service to homes.
They also installed a node on top of the Greenfield water tower with support from the Water Authority to provide wireless services in cooperation with another partner laying the “last mile”—connecting from that core of the fiber and extending that location.
“A co-location facility is a place to bring equipment, to connect fiber, and to provide additional services to us and for our team to provide those services to other providers,” Smith added. “It brings choice into the area, which is really good.”
The RVBA’s primary responsibility in Botetourt’s broadband expansion was building fiber-optic broadband for the area. The next step is to offer services along Etzler Road. RVBA currently looks to engineering, timeframes, and construction schedules—all of which are in-play as the expansion heads toward competition in that area.
“First, you have to build the foundation,” Smith continued. “Then, you have to take the next step, and we’re in that next step right now.”
The COVID-19 pandemic was an interesting period for the RVBA. There was a sense of urgency to complete projects. RVBA was called upon to help the community. The pandemic greatly affected hospitals. Fortunately, local teams and especially the medical field handled any connectivity issues, which left RVBA to redirect focus on other projects like the broadband expansion in Botetourt.
“We’re doing things that are right for the community,” Smith said. “Not just for the short term, but also the long term.”
For more information on Botetourt’s broadband expansion, visit www.bocobroadband.info.