New broadband network operating in Page
A new fiber optic and microwave network in Page County provides a local hospital with some options.
Page Memorial Hospital currently uses the new network as a backup to its existing fiber line. The new service also aids the hospital in transmitting medical records to and from its parent company, Valley Health, in Winchester.
In the future, the network could allow the hospital to provide telemedicine video conferencing in which a patient in Luray, for example, could see and talk with a specialist in Winchester.
“Broadband helps with what we are doing here, and it helps smaller communities reach out to the world to get information that’s needed to conduct business every day,” says Travis Clark, the hospital president.
The $2 million network, finished last spring, is owned by the Page County Broadband Authority (PCBA) and managed by Edinburg-based Shenandoah Telecommunications Co. The cost was financed by a $1.6 million grant from the broadband initiative of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 and a $412,000 grant from the county.
The system includes fiber optic cable installed in Shenandoah, Stanley, Luray and Rileyville plus a microwave network connecting the towns. “The idea is that over time, we can expand this network to move in different directions as service needs might change,” says Martha Shickle, executive director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission, which provides support services to PCBA.
One company’s expansions plans will be aided by the broadband network. SD Solutions LLC, an information technology consulting company, wants to move its headquarters from Centreville to Luray in the next three years.
That move would increase its employment in Page from two workers to more than 20.
Balaji Venkatesan, the company’s president, says reliable Internet access has been a struggle in the Shenandoah Valley since he located part of his business in Luray. “I don’t think, with the current infrastructure I have, I can rely on doing business that will be very efficient for … customers,” says the executive, who has government clients in Washington, D.C. Access to a fiber optic network, however, would allow him to reliably serve D.C. customers from Luray, letting the company recruit employees in the area, he says.