RVBA to bring fiber-optic connections directly to homes

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - People across the Roanoke region will soon have a new way to stay connected.

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For the first time, the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority is offering people fiber-optic connections to their homes.

"This is being done in different parts of the country, but really for us in Virginia this is a first step. We are leading edge, not bleeding edge," RVBA President/CEO Frank Smith said.

Traditionally, the non-profit’s broadband connectivity has just been used by local businesses and municipalities.

Now, fiber connections are expected to bring faster, more reliable internet and other digital services to neighborhoods.

"Whether it's security services, public safety, telehealth, those are the things that are going to make the difference," Smith said.

This new broadband access will make it easier for people to stay connected and communities to grow, Roanoke County Board of Supervisors Vice-Chair Phil North said.

"It's almost like everything else today that we have: water, sewer, electricity. This now is a service that is needed as well," North said.

RVBA has launched an online survey to help decide where it should start building first.

It’s encouraging people throughout Botetourt and Roanoke Counties, and Salem and Roanoke Cities to complete the survey so they can determine the areas of interest throughout the region.

"We want to be stimulating innovation that leads to creative solutions. And that's exactly what we want to do here and that's the goal," Smith said.

The fiber cables could be used by different service providers throughout the area, creating a more competitive marketplace and giving customers more service options, Smith said.

RVBA hopes to have a plan for the project in place by the end of the year.

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