Construction has begun for Hardy OneNet, the upcoming fiber-to-the-home network that will offer high-definition digital television, much faster Internet speeds and digital telephone service.
“It’s been a long time getting to this point, but we’re hopeful that things will now progress more quickly,” said Derek Barr, Hardy’s marketing and human resource director.
Three contractors are busy working throughout Hardy County on the first construction phase. ER Excavating & Utilities, Nichols Construction, and Henkels & McCoy are all working on fiber placement projects, Derek said.
“There has been work going on in Moorefield and in the Lost River area. Nichols started at night along Main Street in Moorefield so as to reduce traffic disruption as much as possible. ER Excavating already has finished initial construction of one job in Moorefield and is now in Lost River. Henkels & McCoy also is putting up fiber in the Lost River area,” he said.
It’s been more than two years since Hardy was first awarded a $31.6 million grant/loan combination from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program as part of the broadband stimulus initiative.
Derek said the delay in starting construction is due largely to working through the federal process.
“Every step and part of the project has to be approved by federal officials, and that process, which included getting initial environmental clearance, has taken much longer than we anticipated. Obviously, they’re dealing with a lot of projects, so we have to adjust. It has affected our timelines and made it difficult to tell people when we’ll be offering OneNet service in different areas,” he said.
Now that the first projects have been given the green light, “we hope to just keep trucking and stay busy as more projects complete that approval process,” Derek said.
OneNet involves a three-phase construction process. The first step, currently ongoing, is the placing of fiber-optic cables throughout the county, most of it aerial construction. Next will come the splicing together of those fiber sections. Finally, the third step will be connecting and installing the fiber to individual residences, Derek said. The second and third steps involve a new bid process for contractors.
“It’s impossible to predict exactly, but at this point we hope to have the first people receiving OneNet in January 2013. It will continue to be built throughout the county over the next several months,” he said.
Fiber-optic technology is the most advanced technology in the telecommunications industry.
“No other technology, whether it’s copper cable, wireless, or satellite, can deliver data as efficiently as fiber-optics,” Derek said. “Fiber can carry much more data, and it carries data much more quickly.”
Derek stressed that Hardy will be its own television service provider and will not be reselling another service like Dish Network or DirecTV.
“We’ve found that to be a common misconception,” he said. “Our TV will be delivered to your home via fiber, not a satellite signal. Fiber brings a clearer, more reliable signal. The TV picture is stunning. Plus, the same fiber connection will deliver Internet connection speeds that are exponentially faster than the current common speeds in the county.”
OneNet’s TV channel lineup also will feature more local, state and regional channels, such as WHSV-TV3 in Harrisonburg and WDTV out of Clarksburg.
“We’ll have the Washington, D.C., channels that people are used to in Hardy County, but we’ll also have more local channels so residents have access to state and regional news,” Derek said.
Hardy also has plans to have its own TV channel, which will develop over time. Derek said Hardy hopes to release more information about channel lineups and pricing in the near future.