BENT MOUNTAIN, Va. – There's a big push to make sure people across Virginia have access to high-speed internet, and one Roanoke Valley businessman has taken those efforts into his own hands.
"I noticed there was an issue with people receiving broadband internet, basically," said Bent Mountain resident Eathan Gleiner, the owner and operator of MtnNet, a new broadband internet provider for the Bent Mountain area. "Since we've been lacking so far in our ability to gain access to these types of technologies, it just feels really good to be able to help people out in that vein."
MtnNet held its official ribbon cutting on Thursday. It will initially offer speeds up to 25 mbps. About one-quarter of homes on Bent Mountain will have access to the new service, and there are already plans to expand.
"For entertainment purposes, just streaming services, that kind of thing but also for education and business purposes for them to be able to grow their own businesses that they might need to utilize the internet for," Gleiner said.
MtnNet's first customer, Mike Mills, owner of Garden Works LLC, said he's waited years for reliable, high-speed wireless broadband in his home.
"We struggled for many years with our service before," Mills said. "It was unreliable, slow and expensive for what you got."
The Bent Mountain area is among the communities in Virginia considered digitally underserved or unserved. In December, Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans to pump millions of dollars into changing that.
"Living in a rural setting, we are often the last people, if ever, to get any type of service, and certainly a lot of our services get cut," Mills said.
Mills said this new service could be a game-changer for Bent Mountain residents, especially business owners.
"Having the ability to compete with larger markets, opening that access is huge," Mills said.