Kenbridge negotiates with Shentel

Published 8:42 am Thursday, April 14, 2016

Kenbridge’s renewal of its franchise agreement with Shentel isn’t going to be so perfunctory this time.

The agreement has been long-standing, but now town council has decided to request revisions and updates to some of its terms.

Shentel, officially Shenandoah Telecommunications Co. is a telecommunications company headquartered in Edinburg. The company’s website boasts that it brings advanced broadband services, digital TV, high-speed Internet and phone services “to more of our neighbors” in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.

“We specialize in providing advanced services to rural and underserved markets, because we believe you deserve the same level of service that you would expect from a larger metropolitan area,” the website states.

The company is seeking a 15-year non-exclusive agreement with Kenbridge, Town Attorney Cal Spencer said.

Through the years and various provider mergers and acquisitions, the agreement has simply been rolled over, and the last real negotiation on it was in the 1990s, Spencer said.

The agreement calls for Shentel to provide cable to the police station and fire department. Meanwhile, the code has changed to allow localities to receive a 5 percent payment fee. Currently, Kenbridge only receives 3 percent. The town is considering asking for the maximum 5 percent.

“The problem is, it may be passed along” to the customers, Spencer told the council at its Tuesday, March 15, meeting. “It may not.”

Council members said the town will research the matter.

“We need to look at some other localities,” Mayor Emory Hodges said. “If that’s what they are getting, that’s what we should get.”

Council also said during its March meeting that all the town services should be bundled through Shentel.