Shentel Says It Will Begin Next Year Hooking Up Broadband Service To Areas In Frederick County Where It’s Lacking

Map courtesy Frederick County Government

The company is receiving a state grant to do this work.

Edin burg, Va. (KM) – Shentel Telecommunications Company says it hopes to bring broadband services very soon to some sparsely populated areas of Frederick County. “We’re working with the state with right now. There’s a contract that needs to be in place. But we expect that construction should start the middle of next year,” says Bryan Byrd, Government and Community Affairs Specialist Shentel.

Early in July, Frederick County announced that Shentel will expand broadband to the northern, northeastern and southern portions of the county. These areas were identified in the 2020 Rural Broadband Study as  underserved sections of the county when it come to broadband.

Shentel is receiving a $10-million grant from the Maryland Office of Statewide Broadband for this project. “The big piece of that needs to go in is fiber optic cables. It will be sat little over 200 miles of fiber that we’re going to need to install out there, and that’s really the key piece that missing,” says Byrd.

Normally, it would not be considered very profitable  for internet providers to extend internet service to sparsely population areas where there’s no infrastructure and few customers.  . But Byrd says the $10-million grant and partnerships with the federal, state and local governments will make this project possible. “With these partnerships and the subsidy that’s been made available, now that fixed cost at the front end because,  that’s subsidized. Now it becomes a a golden opportunity really right now to get this infrastructure out,” he says.

He also says Shentel has similar contracts in other states it serves, including Virginia and West Virginia.

Chris Kyle, Vice President of Industry and Regulatory Affairs, says these operations to build and maintain the infrastructure and provide the service to these areas  will be done in Frederick city. “It would be one thing if we were just talking about just these locations. But when you look at who we are in that area, in that region, we bring a lot of advantages, cost advantages, to serving this unserved pocket by doing all of the building we are doing in Frederick County, in Frederick city,” he says.

Shentel has franchises to operate  cable television systems   in Frederick city and Middletown.

After the work has begun, Byrd says the company will move very quickly to set up service for customers. “As we break this into smaller sub projects, when one project is done, we light ’em up while we roll on to the next project. It will be on a rolling basis,” he says.

There’s an estimated 3,000 customers in these three areas of Frederick County who lack broadband service.

By Kevin McManus