Regions Shenandoah Valley

Kentucky broadband deal expands Shentel’s footprint

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Dave Heimbach says the deal gives it a presence “in Kentucky
where we hope to continue to grow.” Photo by Norm Shafer

The recent acquisition of a small broadband company is another step in the growth of Shenandoah Telecommunications Co. (Shentel). 

The Big Sandy Broadband deal allows Edinburg-based Shentel to expand its footprint into Eastern Kentucky. The purchase price was not disclosed.

“Big Sandy is in a part of Kentucky where we hope to continue to grow,” says Dave Heimbach, Shentel’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Big Sandy had roughly 2,500 customers, but Shentel believes it can attract another 2,000 in the area. “Hopefully, we can grow our penetration rates,” Heimbach says.

Shentel is a “great example of a company that has figured out a way to integrate technology into rural areas,” says Matt Polka, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh-based American Cable Association. “They make strategic acquisitions and revitalize communities.”

Shentel provides cable television, broadband internet and voice services to customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. It also is a Sprint affiliate with wireless coverage in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. In addition, Shentel provides fiber services to commercial and wholesale customers along its 5,641-mile network in four states.

Shentel has three lines of business — cable, wireline (landline telephone) and wireless. It is Sprint’s largest affiliate in the U.S.

The company has more than a million wireless telephone customers and operates more than 400 stores under the Sprint brand. “We design, construct and operate the Sprint network across a big part of the East Coast,” Heimbach says. “We cover a wide swath of geography.”

Cable is the company’s second-largest segment. “We cover approximately 200,000 serviceable homes,” Heimbach says.

Wireline is the company’s oldest but smallest division. “We have all of our fiber-optic access in that segment along with traditional phone service,” he says.

Last year, Shentel was named to Fortune’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies list of publicly traded companies. In 2018, the company re­­corded operating revenues of $630.9 million, a 3.1%  increase over the previous year.

“One of the big catalysts for that designation was the regional wireless acquisition of nTelos in 2016,” says Heimbach. “When we did that, we roughly doubled the size and scope of our wireless coverage area and customer base.”

The amount of data being consumed on a daily or monthly basis “has exploded,” Heimbach says. “We have to constantly reinvest in our network so people can enjoy video consumption. That’s also true for the cable segment.”

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