ROANOKE, VA. – Many in our area are getting a choice they’ve never had before with new competition in broadband providers.
Glo Fiber, a product of Shentel, is rolling out in the Lynchburg, Roanoke and New River Valley areas.
In Roanoke, crews are all over the city flying the fiber wire on utility poles or burying it underground. They’re installing the fiber optic cables for the newest internet service provider in town.
“We’re right in the middle of it,” Chris Kyle, a vice president at Shentel, said. “As a percentage point, you can look at our trucks, this activity is pretty widespread across Roanoke.”
The Roanoke area already has plenty of fiber in the ground but it’s primarily run to local businesses, schools and government centers. Glo Fiber is the first in the market to bring fiber directly to the customer’s home, meaning it opens up the fastest speeds.
“But those speeds also come with more reliability and a more reliable network. Fiber to the home is the most reliable network you can put out there, but it’s also upgradable in the future,” Kyle said.
There are hundreds of customers in the Roanoke area so far. Robert Pringle is one of them who relies on his internet for streaming and running his security cameras. He recently switched from another provider.
“Completely different, I haven’t had any problems,” Pringle said. “It doesn’t ever lag or buffer or anything on like Netflix or streaming anything.”
When Glo Fiber was first announced last year, Roanoke City Manager Bob Cowell said new competition would be good for citizens.
“Anytime we can introduce other providers in the community to be able to provide different kinds of services, or provide a more competitive price, of course bodes well for the consumer,” Cowell said in 2020.
But Kyle said if the pandemic showed us anything, it’s that upload speeds for live video services are just as important as download speeds, and that’s where he said fiber to the home shines.
“So that’s where the symmetrical speed part of it really matters, and that’s why it’s going to be such an important economic development tool and it has been in other communities where we’ve launched this,” Kyle said.
Shentel said they’re growing the network over the next year or two to more neighborhoods in Roanoke. The Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority plans to offer fiber to the home internet access as well, but they’re still in the planning stages.