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Roanoke Electric Cooperative is resuming its Roanoke Connect broadband internet deployment, with the goal of providing a faster and more robust fiber-to-the-premises communications network throughout the region.

Installations had been curtailed in recent months, as the co-op revamped its strategy in consultation with a new engineering firm. 

The previous rollout was centered around fixed wireless last mile technology as the method of delivering internet connections over the airwaves. 

The co-op’s revised plan calls for fiber-to-the-premises broadband, offering homes and businesses far faster connection speeds and higher bandwidth.

The new rollout is scheduled to begin October 2020, at which time the upgraded high-speed internet service and equipment will be deployed. 

“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we worked through the challenges of launching this huge undertaking,” said co-op President and CEO Curtis Wynn. “The co-op team will soon begin providing member-owners detailed information on Roanoke Connect’s rollout, including construction schedule and deployment timelines.”

Beginning in May, member-owners can start registering for the high-speed internet service on a designated CrowdFiber website.

The co-op is also offering free installation for member-owners who register early. “For those of you who have already signed up, thank you,” Wynn said. “For those still considering it, we encourage you to register early to lock-in free installation of your new internet service.” 

As before, the network will have the ability to power smart devices, such as smart thermostats, to monitor energy consumption and ultimately reduce energy costs for member-owners.  However, the new planned broadband network, with fiber optic cables running directly to homes and businesses, offers added benefits. It will be less susceptible to inclement weather and structured to offer new products and services in the future.

“By deploying this fiber optic technology, we will be able to provide faster and more reliable connection speeds,” Wynn said. “Our primary goal remains the same, and that is to offer you both high-speed internet and savings on your electric bill.”

Meanwhile, in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the co-op has also set up several locations throughout its service area so community members can access a free Wi-Fi connection.

“We know during this COVID-19 pandemic many residents in our communities have a need for access to the internet for making telemedicine appointments, applying for jobs online, doing school homework assignments and filing for unemployment benefits,” said Wynn.  “We want students and other citizens across the region to be able to simply drive up to these locations, stay in their cars and enjoy the benefit of a quality high-speed internet connection.”

The hot spots are set up in Bertie, Hertford, Gates, Northampton and Halifax counties at the following public locations: 

Roanoke Electric Cooperative – 518 NC Hwy 561 W, Aulander, NC

The Roanoke Center – 409 N Main St, Rich Square, NC

Mapleton Substation – 307 Collin Rd, Murfreesboro, NC

Jackson Substation – 540 Mt Carmel Rd, Jackson, NC

Roanoke Rapids Substation – 1205 Three Bridges Rd, Roanoke Rapids, NC

Cool Spring Baptist Church – 1400 NC Hwy 137, Eure, NC

Tarheel Bar-B-Q – 9 US Hwy 13 S, Eure, NC

Tillery Community Center - 321 Community Center Rd, Halifax, NC

To access this service, people are encouraged to park at one of these locations and remain in their vehicles. 

On your laptop or mobile phone, select “Settings” and then “Wi-Fi.” There you will find the co-op’s hot spot: “Roanoke Connect Public Wi-Fi.” No password is required. 

As a safety precaution, public access to these hot spots is only available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

For more information about these services, call 252-209-2236.