It's hard to believe that it has been less than three years since Lynches River Electric began the task of providing fiber optic broadband internet to every one of our members.
When Steve Chewning, who served as board chairman at that time, announced the co-op’s broadband plan at the 2019 annual meeting, he said, “...this job will not be finished until the member that lives in the last house at the end of that dirt road in the most rural areas of Chesterfield, Kershaw and Lancaster counties has access to the outside world through a world-class broadband system.”
The promise made that October morning has been fulfilled as the last stretch of fiber was installed along Hartsville-Ruby Road in late March. Underground construction, delayed due to weather, is in the final stages. Today, RiverNet Connect provides access to every co-op member in the three counties we serve, and to date, over 5,800 members have signed up to receive this service.
Get all the facts about RiverNet Connect: RiverNet Connect Services [PDF]
When the pilot program began in 2020, the original projection for completion was five years. However, according to Joey Adams, vice president of Engineering and Operations for RiverNet Connect, the project was completed two and a half years ahead of schedule. Completing a project of this magnitude on time, much less early, is a minor miracle, especially when a global supply chain crisis occurs in the middle of the rollout. I attribute the early completion to the way materials were managed and the work of our committed employees and contractors. With 1,753 miles of fiber optic cable now installed, LREC members have affordable access to connection speeds up to 1 gigabit per second.
Just as LREC began providing electricity to the rural areas we served in 1939, after decades of being ignored by the large power companies, we have now closed the digital divide for the homes, farms, and businesses of our members. To live, work and learn in today’s digital environment, it is critical all people have access to reliable and fast internet. With RiverNet Connect, our members now have access to higher internet speeds over a long distance, which makes things like economic growth, online education, and online healthcare possible.
The feedback from our members has definitely been positive. Customer satisfaction is not only related to cost but also to the overall value that fiber-to- home brings. This has been a wonderful opportunity to provide another reliable service to members whom we have already built trust.
We don’t intend to stop with just our service territory. With the help of our legislators, we hope to one day provide RiverNet Connect to all the small communities we can.
BRIAN W. BROUGHTON
President & CEO
Affordable Connectivity Program
Through the Affordable Connectivity Program, eligible households will receive a discount up to $30 per month for internet service. To see if you qualify or for more details, visit affordableconnectivity.gov.