Co-ops Provide Update on Fiber Expansion in Eastern Watauga County


Officials from Blue Ridge Energy and SkyLine Membership Corporation/SkyBest Communications, Inc. met with members of the Watauga County Commission Oct. 6 to provide the latest update on fiber construction activity in the east in Watauga County, where crews from both companies have built antennas and buried fiber that will bring gigabit-enabled broadband connectivity to residents and businesses.

Company managers, county commissioners and project staff from both companies pose for a joint photo at one of the Foggy Ridge Road construction sites near Ben Miller Road in the Deep Gap area. This location and the overhanging area below will receive fiber to the premises (FTTP) services via one of the new remote facilities to be built on Wildcat Road as part of the fiber expansion project. Pictured L-R: Scott Eggers, Blue Ridge Energy Senior Communications/Fiber Analyst, Thomas Russell, Fiber/Telecommunications Team Leader, and Doug Johnson, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Charlie Wallin , Watauga County Commission members Billy Kennedy and Larry Turnbow; and SkyLine Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kim Shepherd, Chief Technology Officer Robbie Farmer, Plant Manager Brant Davis and Staking Engineer Eugene Seatz.

The two companies have completed 75 miles of construction across Phases 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the Elk Creek/Powderhorn, Stony Fork/Wildcat, Blackberry/Sampson and Howard’s Creek/Ray Brown areas), and as part from Phase 1 of the project, there are currently 62 active fiber customers now connected to broadband services through SkyBest Communications. With $7.5 million in funding from the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, a total of 150 miles of aerial and underground fiber will be constructed by Blue Ridge Energy and SkyLine/SkyBest over the next two and a half years to serve over 1,700 unserved or underserved locations.

In an early September meeting with Watauga County Commission members Charlie Wallin, Billy Kennedy and Larry Turnbow, SkyBest chief technology officer Robbie Farmer refers to a staking map of eastern Watauga where SkyLine/SkyBest and Blue Ridge Energy are building aerial and underground fiber that ultimately brings symmetry high-speed Internet services to residents and businesses.

Despite supply chain delays for some equipment, companies are reporting steady progress as splicing is progressing well and remote site acquisition, on-site work and placement activity is proceeding well for all Site (s. Project area residents are encouraged to submit their address online at www.fiber.skybest.com to be contacted by SkyBest when broadband service becomes available to their location.

About Skyline

SkyLine Membership Corporation has a long history of bringing advanced telecommunications services to Northwest North Carolina and East Tennessee since its formation as a member-owned telephone cooperative 71 years ago. Recognized for its Gig-capable fiber optic network as one of the largest and most progressive rural telecoms in the United States, SkyLine and its wholly-owned subsidiary, SkyBest Communications, provide advanced communications and technology solutions on an expanding network in northwestern North Carolina and eastern/mid Tennessee. The companies specifically provide symmetric Gig and bundled broadband services (voice, Internet, digital TV), business communications, networking and hosting solutions, business phone systems, security and monitoring services monitored.

SkyLine and SkyBest continue their efforts to expand the delivery of fiber technology to underserved areas, engage in collaboration to advance the telecommuting economy, and contribute meaningfully to communities through their service footprint.

About Blue Ridge Energy

Blue Ridge Electric serves approximately 78,000 members in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany and parts of Wilkes, Avery and Alexander counties. Its propane and fuels subsidiary serves customers in the Cooperative’s service area as well as Burke, Catawba and Grayson County, Virginia. To learn more, visit www.BlueRidgeEnergy.com.

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