Shentel targets field service efficiencies as it pushes fiber to 300k homes

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The operator currently has around 45,000 homes passed with Glo fiber and aims to reach 74,000 by the end of this year and 300,000 by end-2026. (AndrewSoundarajan/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (Shentel) teamed with CSG to deploy its cloud-based Field Service Management platform, aiming to streamline operations and reap cost efficiencies as it aggressively expands its fiber and fixed wireless access footprints.

Jeff Manning, Shentel’s VP of operations, told Fierce the new platform has already been rolled out for its Glo fiber and Beam fixed wireless internet services, and will be extended to its cable business next month.

Manning explained CSG's platform enables Shentel to more effectively schedule its 200 technicians to cover the roughly 500 dispatch calls it serves each day. In addition to allowing it to handle a higher volume of work orders with the same number of staff, Manning said the new system helps it better monitor and control on-time arrivals, allowing it to reallocate resources behind the scenes if it looks like a miss might occur. It also provides new customer-facing features, including a ‘Where’s My Tech’ tool which lets subscribers track the estimated arrival time of their technician, he added.

The move comes as Shentel presses head with efforts to meet aggressive growth targets for its Glo and Beam services. Manning noted the operator currently has around 45,000 homes passed with Glo and aims to reach 74,000 by the end of this year and 300,000 by end-2026. It has similarly ambitious plans for Beam, targeting 45,000 serviceable homes by end-2021 and 215,000 by end-2026, up from 20,000 today.

RELATED: Shentel expands fixed wireless service for rural communities

Shentel has more modest expansion plans for its incumbent cable business, looking to grow its current footprint of 209,000 homes passed to 215,000 by end-2026.

“So a lot of growth there, a lot of activity around construction, in getting those markets built, a lot of activity around the sales and installation of those customers that are coming on board. And this is all part of what the CSG platform helps us with. Helps us as we growth that business…helps us get that work scheduled more effectively,” Manning said.

Fiber focus

The executive noted Shentel launched four Glo markets in 2020 and has already added three more – Salem, Roanoke and Lynchburg, Virginia – so far in 2021 with a few more planned for the rest of the year. It is using 10G-capable XGS-PON technology from Nokia for its fiber build, he said.

In terms of future target markets, Manning said Shentel plans to maintain its historic focus on smaller, more rural areas which are geographically positioned to tap into its 6,800-mile regional fiber backbone. While the company isn’t “going to go and overbuild a market that already has another one or two fiber-to-the-home providers,” he noted DSL, cable and wireless markets without multi-gigabit capabilities are fair game. Glo currently offers multi-gig service through its 2 Gbps speed tier.

“There’s an appetite out there for competition in these markets. There’s an appetite for higher speeds and symmetrical services that we can provide,” he said. Though there “hasn’t been a great demand for anything over 2 gigabits per customer at this point,” Manning said it’s well-positioned to “pull the levers to make that happen” when the time comes.