If Virginia is for lovers, Shenandoah Telecommunications must carry some interesting conversations. Through a dozen subsidiaries, the company (which also does business as Shentel) provides telecom services in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. Shenandoah Telephone has more than 24,000 access lines in service; (the population of Shenandoah County is 41,000). The firm's wireless subsidiaries offer mobile phone, paging, and tower services; as a Sprint Nextel affiliate, subsidiary Shenandoah Personal Communications offers wireless services to more than 270,000 customers. The company's cable TV unit serves about 75,000 customers, while about 14,000 households subscribe to its dial-up and broadband Internet access.
Recognizing that the market for wireline service is shrinking from the rise of mobile phones as a primary phone and VoIP technology, Shentel is focused on growing its cable holdings. It paid $148 million for the cable business of JetBroadband in 2010 as part of an effort to expand its cable network. The deal added more than 60,000 customers in southern Virginia and West Virginia. ShenTel plans spend about $33 million over the next two years to upgrade the Jet Broadband network to enable high definition broadcasting, digital video recording, faster Internet connections, and digital telephone services. Later that year it bought cable assets in Salem, West Virginia and Oakland, Maryland from Cequel Communications (which does business as Suddenlink), adding about 7,000 residential subscribers.
With revenues for resold Sprint wireless service accounting for a majority of the company's sales, Shentel received a boost in 2010 by adding prepaid wireless service from Sprint subsidiaries Virgin Mobile and Boost. The OK from Sprint to enter the prepaid phone market in its service area from Harrisonburg to Altoona, PA, added an immediate 50,000 customers to subsidiary Shenandoah Personal Communications Company.
Previous acquisitions include the assets of Mount Solon, Virginia-based North River Telephone Cooperative for $600,000 in 2009, which expanded Shentel's wireline footprint by about 1,000 lines in rural areas of the state.
Other subsidiaries include Harrisonburg, Virginia-based NTC, which provides integrated telecommunications services to student apartment complexes and college dorms in the southeastern US. Its information services subsidiary, ShenTel Service Company, offers dial-up and digital subscriber line services to about 14,000 households. Shenandoah Mobile Company owns and leases tower space within its 140-tower PCS service territory and offers paging services to customers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Shenandoah Long Distance Company resells long-distance service to almost 11,000 customers. – less