SkyLine/SkyBest Gets Creative to Deploy Remote Fiber

Posted: January 20, 2021

Sutherland Community receives fiber by helicopter

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … a helicopter deploying fiber.

Tennessee Broadband Association members understand how difficult it can be to build a fiber network in some of the state’s most remote places, but SkyLine/SkyBest is getting some help from an unlikely piece of equipment.

SkyLine/SkyBest contracted with Treeline Helicopters to help run fiber through a portion of the Cherokee National Forest near Sutherland.

Kala Johnson, marketing supervisor with SkyLine/SkyBest, said crews began looking for out-of-the-box solutions while attempting to meet installation deadlines for a Tennessee Emergency Broadband Fund project.

“The idea originated from our staking crews who began to realize the challenges we were facing with construction in this particular area,” Johnson said, “After working out a few details with Treeline Helicopters, it became obvious that this was the most efficient way to get fiber in place quickly.”

The helicopter helped deploy about 2.5 miles of fiber through a very isolated area. Johnson said it was the first time in the company’s 70-year history to use a helicopter for infrastructure deployment, but it may not be the last.

“After witnessing the success of this project, it will be evaluated again if we face rough terrain in the future,” she said. “The process was very cost-effective. The time and labor hours we saved were substantial.”

Johnson said the company received positive feedback after sharing a video of the project on social media.

“This scenario is a true testament to who SkyLine/SkyBest is at its core,” she said. “We go to great lengths to reach even the most remote communities to ensure no one is left behind as technology continues to power our everyday lives.”

For more information about the helicopter or to see it in action, go to the SkyLine SkyBest Facebook page.

SkyLine/SkyBest owns Loretto Telecom, and all are Tennessee Broadband Association members, committed to bringing fiber internet to unserved and underserved portions of the state.