Powell Valley Electric Cooperative understands that broadband access has become a necessity for many cooperative members. While the road to broadband can be a lengthy one, Powell Valley Electric Cooperative’s Board of Directors is committed to provide broadband services to all members throughout the cooperative’s system. Based on the direction of our Board, PVEC Fiber, a partnership between Powell Valley Electric Cooperative and Scott County Telephone Cooperative, was created to fulfill this commitment. This multi-year project will help the Cooperative enrich the lives of its members and serve as a basis to stimulate economic growth for the region.
The process of building a fiber infrastructure network from the ground up is no small job. The opportunities for grant funding and the ability to receive material play a factor in which area to begin the fiber buildout. As of today, we have received grant funding in Sharps Chapel and in areas of Virginia. We will continue to apply for additional grant funding allocated for broadband expansion. Grant projects have deadlines that must be met to honor the contract. As the fiber project began, the amount of time it took to receive fiber material after an order was placed neared 52 weeks. Now, the material is received monthly. The monthly material allotments will vary in fiber wire size and hardware. The location of the fiber buildout will be determined by the material that is received.
To bring fiber to an area, several steps must be completed. First, the design of the system must go through an engineering process. This includes determining the size and path of the fiber cable. The locations for fiber optic cabinets, which house the electronics that make the fiber serviceable, must be determined and installed. Second, a fiber optic backbone must be built. A backbone is comparable to a 3-phase electrical line, which will feed the individual cable going to the house. Once the backbone has been hung in an area, the fiber optic cable must be spliced to make the fiber continuous. A backbone fiber cable has from 144 to 288 fibers within its sheathing. Each fiber must be spliced individually. It can take up to two days to complete one splice location on the backbone fiber. This is an example of the time-consuming process of just one step of the fiber process. The spliced cables must now be connected to the electronics sites. Once these steps are complete, broadband service is available to that area.
When an area is serviceable, customers who have requested PVEC Fiber service will be contacted. The line that runs to a home is referred to as a “fiber drop”. Once a customer has requested service, an engineer must design the fiber drop going into the home. The completed design will be given to a construction line crew. After the drop is run to the home, a splicing crew must splice the fiber drop to the enclosure or loop on the pole. After these steps are complete, the installation inside the home can be scheduled by a PVEC Fiber representative.
The task to bring broadband to every cooperative member is massive, and the road for some will be long. Today, PVEC Fiber crews are working six days a week and additional fiber contractors have been hired. As of today, we have hung approximately 900 miles of backbone and installed 770 services to the home.
Here at PVEC Fiber, we promise to continue the expansion of broadband coverage throughout the region as quickly and as safely as possible. If you haven’t already, call your local PVEC office to get on our interest list or complete the PVEC Fiber Request Form at pve.coop. To help our members understand our current progress, updates will be provided in our Cooperative magazines and on our website. We appreciate your patience as we strive to bring this life-changing infrastructure to the communities we serve – just like PVEC started doing in 1938 when families in our area received electric service for the very first time.