Roanokers set to get 2 new fiber internet options and long asked for options besides Cox Communications

Shentel said it’s ready to bring first customer online in 2021, Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority surveying potential customers

ROANOKE, Va. – In the course of just two days the Roanoke Valley has slingshotted into the future of the Internet, and you soon may no longer be stuck with just Cox Communications or Comcast.

On Monday, the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority announced it’s getting into the fiber home internet game. On Tuesday night, Shentel unveiled plans and said it’s ready to start construction to do the same thing.

Both are good news for the consumer, who has been begging for options for years.

With each passing day, our lives move closer to the cloud and fast internet is what’s in. On Tuesday night, Shentel Vice President, Chris Kyle, went before city council to unveil his company’s plan to bring fiber optic internet right to people’s homes. They’ll be the first to offer the service in the region if they meet their construction goals.

“It’s the purest form of ensuring gigabit speeds, the highest speeds not just today, but tomorrow,” Kyle said.

Roanokers have historically had one broadband internet choice at home with Cox Communications, but for most customers that is not fiber to the home. Most people receive their internet over fiber optics to their general neighborhood, but it’s carried over traditional coax cable from there to individual homes. The Fiber to the Home plan runs the fiber line directly to the house instead, which according to Shentel provides a faster service with more reliability.

Internet aside, this would be the first time the area has seen true competition, starting with four core neighborhoods in the city: Raleigh Court, 10th Street and Round Hill, Southeast Roanoke, Cove Road and Lafyette Boulevard corridor and spreading from there.

“Anytime we can introduce other providers in the community to be able to provide different kind of services, or provide a more competitive price, of course bodes well for the consumer," said Bob Cowell, Roanoke City Manager.

But some on City Council, such as Michelle Davis, questioned how the service would compete with the broadband company taxpayers already pay for. The Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority made its announcement the day prior and said it too is getting into the home internet game and plans to work with vendors to run fiber to the house.

Cowell said the city can’t deny Shentel the permission to do the project based on that alone.

“The franchise agreements are as long as they follow all the requirements that we have then they have the right to go into that area just like the broadband authority," Cowell said.

But unlike the authority which is still in its residential planning phases, Shentel said it’s ready to go now. It will offer a triple play plan with phone, internet and television service like what you’d have with traditional cable.

Shentel hopes overall that competition will help create more overall user satisfaction and that it delivers what people have been begging for - choice.

“A market like Roanoke, a city like Roanoke that’s as dynamic as it is, that’s growing, it deserves to have the competition in the residential broadband market and that’s what we’re going to bring," Kyle said.

Shentel hopes to have its initial network rolled out by 2023. The RVBA is asking people to take its survey for its future service at this link.

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