State of the Business: Bringing high-speed internet to northeastern North Carolina

Reliable and affordable high-speed internet access is fundamental for living and working in the rural Southeast. Fast broadband service is vital for industries such as agricultural production, manufacturing, forestry, and, yes, electric utilities.

Roanoke Cooperative (RC) views broadband connectivity as a catalyst enabling rural prosperity through modern communications between our rural households, schools, businesses, healthcare centers, and the rest of the world.

Since 2020, Roanoke Cooperative’s broadband subsidiary has committed to a long-term project to install more reliable high-speed internet technology to subscribers in Bertie, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton, Gates, Perquimans, and Chowan counties. Each new broadband connection reaches speeds up to 940 Mbps and uses a fiber-optic cable, which can send data as fast as 70% of the speed of light.

One of the region's fastest growing internet providers

The large nationally known internet companies have not offered broadband internet to the more remote areas in our area due to the prohibitive costs of service delivery. To ensure success in the initial stages, we will build a network that will serve the greatest number of homes and businesses to add as many subscribers as possible.

To date, Roanoke Cooperative’s broadband subsidiary has installed 350 miles of fiber optic cable to serve Roanoke Cooperative’s member-owners. In that time, we have brought internet service to more than 2,500  broadband subscribers. Our mission is to have universal access to broadband connectivity available to all member-owners of Roanoke Cooperative before the end of 2025. This is in line with the co-ops overarching mission and vision: Roanoke Cooperative’s mission is to pursue innovation relentlessly and offer the finest, most-reliable, and cost-efficient services in the industry. The co-op will serve member-owners tirelessly and enhance their lives and communities. Our vision is that the co-op will commit to being one of our member-owners' most trusted service providers and most admired by its peers.

Progress Highlights

  • As of January 1, 2023, over 350 miles of fiber have been constructed and over 40% of RC’s locations currently passed are using the service. All substations have high-speed connectivity which increases reliability and enhances the grid.
  • Most of the fiber construction completed in 2022 was in grant-funded areas, i.e., the southern end of Bertie County, southeastern end of Roanoke Rapids, and some of Gates County. We have services in other areas using a former technology (fixed wireless), but our change in technology will ensure everyone has access to fiber eventually.
  • Roanoke Cooperative’s broadband subsidiary has kicked off 2023 with a ramped-up schedule to serve almost 70% of Roanoke Cooperative’s membership by the end of the year. There are 20-plus construction crews in the region preparing to deploy as much as 25 miles of fiber per week.
  • Connections are currently underway in Gates and Northampton Counties, and work will be in the western end of Hertford County soon. This current year is anticipated to be a remarkably busy year as member owners should see a lot of activity throughout most of the electric cooperative’s service territory.

Through Roanoke Cooperative’s broadband subsidiary, the co-op can utilize broadband connectivity as part of its smart-grid modernization. This modernization will provide social and economic benefits for member-owners, ensure reliable power and operational excellence, and help the co-op control energy costs and implement innovative load management controls and programs. We are committed to meeting the demand in unserved and underserved locations for high-speed internet services, which are essential to community development, economic growth and prosperity, and educational attainment.

To Learn More:

(800) 433-2236