BROADWAY, Va. (WHSV) – A number of people in the Broadway and Fulks Run area are reporting that they are having internet connectivity issues. Shentel is expected to discontinue its Internet Beam service at the end of November, adding to the concern.
“If we lose Beam, we’ll have virtually no fast, reliable internet, which will affect everything in our home, from my home-based freelance business to my daughter’s schoolwork,” said Mary Jo Veurink, who lives off Broadway.
Beam Internet service through Shentel has been reliable for customers in the Broadway area, but in late September Shentel sent a letter to customers stating that service would be discontinued in late November. The company cited changes in the broadband landscape.
“Beam is a wonderful source of the internet and to drop it and no one has any other option is like we’ve all kind of been left behind and stepped back in time,” Veurink said. “It will feel like it was many years ago when many of us had no option for an internet connection, which in 2022 seems a little ridiculous. We realize the county is striving to bring the Internet to everyone, but it’s a slow process.
The loss of Beam is even more worrisome for customers in the Broadway area, as those without Beam service say other options haven’t been great.
“We’re kind of stuck with nothing because there’s no DSL available, there’s no Comcast. There is nothing except Hughesnet and DirecTV. The latency on Hughesnet and DirecTV is just terrible,” said Zach Roberts, who lives in the Broadway area.
Roberts worries that the lack of reliable internet options in the area will put those who live there at a disadvantage.
“If we went into another situation where schools are locked down and we need the internet from home to make Zoom calls, that makes it very difficult. I hope and pray that we don’t come to this point again, but if we did it would put us at a disadvantage and I think it’s a safety issue,” he said. .
Others in the area use T-Mobile for their phone and internet service which has had big problems lately.
“I’ve taken my computer to parking lots around town and used my hotspot where a tower is running to do my banking, access my medical records, check email, that sort of thing” said Chris Bolgiano, who lives in the Broadway area with her husband Ralph.
Bolgiano and other T-Mobile customers say cell service, which has generally not been a problem, has been minimal in the area for the past two weeks.
“It’s like living in 1800. There’s no communication, you have to get in your car and go somewhere to talk to anybody. We lost our landline phone at home. You know, it’s almost scary,” Bolgiano said.
Roberts and his family had to switch from Sprint to T-Mobile when T-Mobile bought Sprint. He says he had similar problems at home.
“There are dead spots on our street that go to our house and sometimes when you’re inside you click call and it interrupts the calls because there just isn’t enough service” , Roberts said.
The Bolgianos said that unless they want to drive into town, they can currently only get cell service on their rooftop, which is a major concern.
“It could be life-threatening or dangerous for a lot of people. If you need to make a call and there’s a hurricane, you can’t get on your roof. Maybe you can’t drive down your driveway because a tree fell on it and you can’t even drive into town to make a call,” said Ralph Bolgiano.
The couple said they received no response on the cause of the problem.
“We were just given very vague euphemisms. “Well, we think it will be fixed or we hope it will be fixed.” Then there is another service number that we called and got the same unanswered. I would say evasive on some level,” Ralph said.
T-Mobile did not provide comment on the situation when contacted by WHSV on Tuesday. This story will be updated as WHSV learns more.
Chris Kyle, Vice President of Regulatory and Industry Affairs of Shentel, issued the following statement regarding the reasons for the discontinuation of Beam Internet service.
The decision to end the Beam service was not easy. We understand the impact that removing Internet service will have on individuals and families. We have invested tens of millions of dollars to ensure that those who need internet access, especially at the height of the pandemic, would have it.
However, Shentel is currently transferring its spectrum in these areas to a national wireless service provider who will be able to provide additional wireless broadband coverage. Over the coming weeks, we will provide additional details as our spectrum transition progresses.
We saw ourselves as part of the solution to bridging the digital divide and worked in a grant selection process with the Commonwealth to receive funding from the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) to continue and even expand this service.
Unfortunately, due to several factors, the subsidy landscape has changed dramatically and funds have been allocated to fiber providers in our Beam area. We recognize that this is a difficult transition, but we understand that companies that have received grants will install fiber networks in these areas.
In addition to a new national wireless service provider adding wireless broadband service to these areas, we also hope that subsidized fiber companies will be able to provide broadband service so that communities have several alternatives. for their internet service.
Please visit the Commonwealth Connection map at: https://commonwealth-connection.com/ for the latest information on fiber service subsidies.
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