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Shentel provides update on broadband in Bedford County

BEDFORD — Internet service provider Shentel, which is a partner in a broadband project funded by a Virginia Telecommunications Initiative grant, shared an update this week with Bedford County supervisors and staff regarding its endeavors in parts of the county.

Shentel will use both buried fiber, and aerial poles — or overhead builds — to bring internet service to unserved and underserved houses within the company’s coverage areas, said Jessica Wilmer, Shentel representative and a project manager.

About 20% of Shentel’s Bedford County coverage area will have buried fiber. Another 70% will have either new aerial utility poles built, or have attachments added to existing aerial poles to deliver internet to more homes. The remaining 10% of the build will be overlashes, or the addition of more cables to existing cables already attached to a Shentel pole.

Wilmer said aerial poles are typically the fastest, and less costly, internet infrastructure to build and use.

Shentel workers are walking more of the areas they will be covering to determine whether overhead lines or buried lines would suit the locations best. The survey teams also are identifying existing poles that could be used for overlashing.

At present, Shentel is waiting on multiple permits to be approved so they can start construction on some of the broadband work. The permitting process can take weeks to months, depending on project location, type and the entity which has to approve the permits, Wilmer explained.

Just south of the town of Bedford, 22 miles of fiber are ready to be built or installed as soon as the associated permit is approved. Shentel hopes construction on this stretch will begin within 60 days, Wilmer said.

Another 276 miles in Shentel’s designated service area have permits pending, she added.

The total estimated timeline for the VATI broadband project runs through October 2024, Wilmer said.

Later this year, Wilmer said construction and connections in parts of the Big Otter, Huddleston and a few Montvale areas are expected to be complete. By 2024, she said the company expects to be ready to begin working in the Big Island area.

A few days prior to construction, Wilmer said crews will go through the neighborhood they will be working in and leave informational door hangers for residents, letting them know what to expect. The company, she said, is working to continually communicate with residents and potential customers in Shentel’s VATI coverage areas.

A coverage map and more information can be found online at Shentel’s recently launched VATI website: Shentel.com/VATI

If you struggle to get a good phone signal inside your home, here are three things you should try to solve your problem.

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