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First Residents Connected as Part of Watauga County’s Broadband Expansion Efforts

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Last Updated on July 6, 2022 11:34 am

Boone, North Carolina (July 6, 2022) – Approximately 30 Watauga County residents are now connected with SkyBest fiber-optic internet thanks to American Recovery Plan funds awarded by the county to Blue Ridge Energy and SkyBest Communications to build broadband infrastructure where none existed.  

The project to bring high-speed internet to more than 1,700 unserved locations in Triplett, Powder Horn, Wildcat, Stony Fork, Blackberry, Sampson, Meat Camp, Howard’s Creek and Castle Ford is well underway with crews currently working in the Castle Ford, Wildcat, Howard’s Creek and Ray Brown communities. Residents in the project areas are encouraged to submit their address online at https://fiber.skybest.com to be contacted by SkyBest, the internet service provider, when service is available at their location.

The project requires the construction of 150 miles of overhead and underground fiber in rural and mountainous terrain. It will take approximately two and a half years to complete. To be as efficient as possible in the face of supply chain delays, Blue Ridge Energy and SkyBest Communications began working immediately in the areas for which materials were readily available. 

 “As local companies, the timely completion of this project is our priority. We are continually adapting our plans to make progress wherever possible while we wait for needed materials, equipment and federal approval to cross the Parkway to reach Powder Horn and Triplett,” according to Brad Shields, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Blue Ridge Energy.

With the funds awarded earlier this year, Blue Ridge Energy will construct the fiber-optic backbone infrastructure on its existing pole lines. SkyBest Communications will connect to this infrastructure and extend fiber for high-speed internet to homes and businesses.

SkyBest Communications is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SkyLine Membership Corp., a telecommunications cooperative based in West Jefferson.  SkyLine and SkyBest have provided internet access to homes and businesses in Ashe, Alleghany, Watauga and Avery counties in North Carolina and Shady Valley, Tennessee since 1995. SkyBest began offering fiber-optic internet service in parts of Caldwell County in 2017.

Blue Ridge Energy serves some 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, Va. Learn more at www.BlueRidgeEnergy.com

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