October 13, 2023
History was made in Roanoke County on October 12, 2023 when Bee Online Advantage (BOA) Broadband, a subsidiary of Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative (CBEC), connected its first customer, Mr. Larry Starkey. This marked a significant milestone in the efforts to provide universal broadband coverage for homes and businesses in the county. The event was commemorated with a visit to Mr. Starkey’s scenic property, a land that has been in the Starkey family since the early 1800s.
In attendance to mark this special occasion were several key stakeholders and officials. Jeff Ahearn, CEO of CBEC/BOA, led the team. He was accompanied by Troy Hall, Director of Operations, and Maiya Ashby, Director of Communications, both of CBEC/BOA. Representing Roanoke County was Martha Hooker, Board of Supervisors Chair. Also present was Tyler Craghead, TYCOMM Fiber Technician.
This connection marked the beginning of Bee Online Advantage's Phase 3 broadband connections. This phase aims to reach out to a vast territory covering 495 homes in Roanoke County. It's a monumental project, one that would not have been possible without the generous funding of $1,581,584.00 provided by the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) grant. This funding, awarded in December 2021, comes from the Commonwealth of Virginia and is aimed to ensure universal broadband coverage in the county. In addition to the VATI grant, the Roanoke County Economic Development Authority contributed $839,208 to the project.
The importance of this achievement cannot be overstated. Broadband connectivity is no longer a luxury but a necessity in today's digital age. It opens up opportunities in education, healthcare, commerce, and communication, significantly improving the quality of life. It is especially crucial in rural areas like Roanoke County, where access to these services can be limited.
For Larry Starkey and his family, this connection means more than just faster internet. It signifies progress, an entry into the digital world, and access to opportunities that were previously out of reach. It also represents the historical significance of a family property, cherished for centuries, now becoming a part of the digital revolution.
For Bee Online Advantage, this is just the beginning. The completion of Phase 3, which plans to be completed November, 2023, will bring them a step closer to their goal of providing comprehensive broadband service in Roanoke County. It is a testament to their commitment, hard work, and the successful collaboration with Roanoke County and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
As we celebrate this milestone, we also look forward to a future where every home and business in our seven county CBEC territory enjoys the benefits of reliable broadband service. With the unwavering support from the community, the county officials, and dedicated service providers like Bee Online Advantage, that future is not far away.