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Hundreds connected to broadband in Greene County

Hundreds more Central Virginians are now connected to broadband internet.

The Regional Internet Service Expansion, or RISE, project celebrated a milestone last month.

On May 20, local and regional leaders gathered at Lydia Mountain Lodge northwest of Stanardsville to celebrate the first 400 Rappahannock Electric Cooperative customers in Greene County to be connected to broadband via Firefly Fiber Broadband.

“This is the second county we’ve been able to celebrate such a milestone with,” John Hewa, president and CEO of Fredericksburg-based REC, said at the ceremony. “As our partnership with Firefly continues to move forward and make progress, we’ll be able to celebrate these milestones with more counties. It’s a shining example of co-ops working collaboratively together and the positive impact it has on the businesses and communities we serve.”

The RISE project is not limited to Greene County.

In 2022, the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission signed a contract with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, launching the $288 million fiber internet construction project known as RISE. The project, being constructed by Palmyra-based Firefly Fiber Broadband alongside partners REC and Virginia’s largest public utility Dominion Energy, plans to provide access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet to more than 36,000 businesses and residences. The project is being funded via a $79 million Virginia Telecommunications Initiative grant administered by the planning commission along with $209 million in local and private sector matching funds. Madison County, one of the 13 counties in the project, is contributing roughly $2.1 million. The project is expected to cover the eastern and southern portions of the county, including Brightwood, Oak Park, Locust Dale, Radiant and Rochelle to name a few.

Since its official launch, RISE has been full steam ahead. With completion expected by December 2025, REC is working with Firefly to prepare make-ready work on its own infrastructure which will help Firefly to deploy its fiber network. In some areas, including those in Greene County, customers are already being connected to the service. A portion of Madison County residents are included in the Stanardsville-McMullen service area, which is undergoing fiber construction. Connections are expected to begin soon. The first Madison connections in the Pratts-Wolftown area are expected later this summer.

“We’re moving as quickly as we can every single day,” Firefly President and CEO Gary Wood said.

Madison County residents are encouraged to preregister for Firefly by visiting The site allows residents to check availability and view updates on how the project is progressing in their area.

In addition to Firefly, REC is also working with internet service provider Brightspeed, the successor to CenturyLink, which is expected to cover a portion of Madison County. The cooperative is adding attachments to its poles for that service.

As part of the original Virginia Telecommunications Initiative grant application for the RISE project, areas covered via a Federal Communications Commission grant to other companies were added, forcing those companies to either enter into agreements to build out their projects within three years — half the time required by the federal grant regulations — or give up the areas and funding allowing them to be taken over by Firefly.

One of those companies was Central Telephone Company of Virginia, a subsidiary of Lumen which later transferred ownership to Brightspeed. Brightspeed entered into a memorandum of understanding to complete its project by Dec. 15. As part of the agreement, Brightspeed is to meet various milestones at certain times along with providing monthly construction updates beginning in March. Milestones include design, make-ready work, fiber placing and more.

Those reports haven’t been readily available, but a proposed coverage map is available at


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