FTTP – Building a Network that is Future-ready

Broadband services, offered through SkyLine’s FTTP (Fiber to the Premise) network, is now available to approximately 98 percent of our existing customers, as a result of our FTTP network overbuild across the cooperative’s service footprint.

Broadband services, offered through SkyLine’s FTTP (Fiber to the Premise) network, are now available to approximately 98 percent of our existing customers, as a result of the FTTP network overbuild across the cooperative’s service footprint. SkyLine actually began placing fiber into its network as early as the late 1980s and with a total investment of more than $200 million over the past 30 years, this latest initiative to extend fiber connections all the way to each customer premise has given SkyLine the distinction of having the most extensive fiber infrastructure in the High Country. In telecom terms, delivering that ‘last-mile,’ dedicated fiber connection to the premise gives our customers access to the fastest Internet speeds available (and that now includes gigabit speeds, which equates to 1,000 megabits). Gigabit broadband delivers 100 times faster Internet speeds than traditional broadband, creating a next generation experience that has no rival.

The rise in demand for faster broadband speeds has been dramatic over the last 15 years. While SkyLine was the first to bring dial-up Internet to the region in 1995, it later ushered in high-speed internet in 2000 and at that time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defined broadband speeds in excess of 200 kilobits. Since then, Internet bandwidth needs have grown exponentially, and now the FCC’s defined broadband speed is 25 megabits.

“For several years, we’ve known that SkyLine’s future is in broadband, and our fiber buildout is providing that crucial starting point to expand broadband capacity and to welcome innovative applications and services of the future,” said CEO Jimmy Blevins. “Fiber gives us unlimited capacity and positions us to grow our network and be ‘future-ready’ as the needs and demands of our customers increase.”


SkyLine’s core network offers five divergent paths to Tier I Internet backhaul locations that ride on an intelligent, self-healing, fully-monitored fiber-optic ring with a service reliability of five 9s – that is 99.999 percent of uptime.


From video uploads, computer games, distance learning, video communication and telemedicine, upstream speeds are becoming more and more important for both home and business usage, and fiber can deliver.


Fiber cable has a longer life than copper because it does not corrode, is not easily affected by water and generates no heat. It isn’t damaged by lightning and better handles stress/strain, temperature fluctuations and climatic extremes.


Once installed, fiber is upgraded by changing the electronics that create and receive the light pulses. Like the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) shown here, approximately 14,136 ONT conversions have been completed during the FTTP initiative.

field services tech

SkyLine Field Services Technician James Horney.

» One of the latest drivers of broadband expected to make a revolutionary impact in the not-so-distant future is the Internet of Things (IoT), which basically means adding an Internet connection to physical objects, such as a watch, a thermostat, an appliance or even a car to control it or get data from it.

» A residential fiber connection can add to a home’s total value–one study shows an average increase of $5,000 on the purchase price, with monthly apartment rentals having an increased value of 15 percent.

The project has been a companywide initiative, with concentrated deployment efforts by our network engineering, outside plant and field services departments. According to Field Services Manager Brian Tester, who coordinated project activities internally as well as with other telecommunications engineering consulting firms, outside plant contracting companies and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), more than 1,800 miles of fiber have been constructed and approximately 14,136 customer premise ONT (Optical Network Terminals) conversions have been completed for this deployment. With the engineering and construction plan components in place, last-mile connections in conjunction with the Department of Construction (DOT) 221 road expansion in Ashe County primarily remain.

“A major takeaway from this strategic planning initiative to overbuild our traditional cooperative service area with fiber is that SkyLine will be finishing construction and deployment when most other telecommunications companies nationwide are just beginning,” Tester said.

Today, 90 percent of the nation’s households have three or more connected devices with the average now at seven and climbing. SkyLine’s FTTP network can accommodate the broadband requirements of any and all of our customers — residential and business alike.

Fiber services can enhance rural health care, economic development and education and afford businesses the opportunity to create alternative working environments for its employees such as teleworking. Earlier this year, SkyLine began its own teleworking field trial for some of its Support Services Department and more recently for some employees in its Customer Service Call Center. It is currently under evaluation for possible implementation in these areas of business operations.

Our FTTP network makes innovation and operational efficiency in the workplace possible not just for SkyLine but for practically any business it serves.

“…SkyLine will be finishing construction and deployment when most other telecommunications companies nationwide are just beginning.” SkyLine Field Services Manager Brian Tester

share-iconSupport Services Representative Donya Graham has participated in the teleworking field trial, made possible through SkyLine’s FTTP network, and through this experience, has enjoyed the flexibility of working from home.

FTTP Project Highlights


» FTTP services were offered to some customers as early as 2004, the first year FTTP construction began.

» In 2010, SkyLine was awarded $28.9 million from USDA Rural Development to accelerate our deployment timeline by constructing 889 miles of fiber to 25 communities in Ashe, Alleghany and Johnson counties.

» In 2012, Shady Valley, Tennessee became the first community and exchange in SkyLine’s service area to convert to all fiber-based facilities, which afforded customers the ability to access voice, data and digital TV–the triple play of services.

» SkyLine’s Smart Home retail location showcases Smart technologies including automation and surveillance, and more recently SkyBest has introduced hosted VoIP services and dedicated and cloud hosting services for businesses.

» In 2015, SkyLine became one of the first rural-based telecommunications providers in the nation to become Gig-Certified by NTCA—the Broadband Association.