Glo Fiber, a 100% fiber broadband company, has announced its plans to expand into Salisbury on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It will be the Virginia-based company’s second foray into the Maryland market after expanding into Frederick last year, and it will serve 11,000 homes and businesses.
“Salisbury … looked like an attractive community that was missing this puzzle piece, and we thought that it would absolutely help long term if we invested there,” said Chris Kyle, vice president of industry and regulatory affairs at Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (also known as Shentel), Glo Fiber’s parent company.
Glo Fiber focuses on bringing high-speed fiber broadband into smaller, more rural communities that are not served by other mainstream fiber providers. It offers what is call “fiber-to-the-premises” broadband, which runs an individual fiber into each home it serves.
This method of delivering broadband allows customers to get both higher downloading and uploading speeds, Kyle said, in contrast with cable modem networks, which usually have lower upload speeds. These lower speeds became especially troublesome as COVID-19 forced people to study and work from home, which often required them to upload assignments and documents to the internet.
Because of this, having fiber-to-the-premises broadband available can be an economic asset, motivating more people in Salisbury to start their own businesses, allowing employers in Salisbury to give their workers more flexibility to work remotely and encouraging new businesses to move to the area, Kyle said.
“People that want to grow their business or expand it to (Salisbury) want to be able to say people can work from home, and (broadband) is one of the most important aspects of working from home,” he said.
Kyle said that Glo Fiber values its long-term commitments and partnerships with the communities and municipalities it serves, priding itself on providing top-tier customer service to users in these often-overlooked rural areas.
“This is something where you invest, it takes multiple years to build the network. It’s a very long-term infrastructure project,” he said. The construction of the network will be a multimillion-dollar investment, though Kyle said the company would not know the exact cost until it was further into the process.
Shentel began offering residential fiber service in 2018 after seeing positive responses to its commercial fiber business, which serves companies, school systems and other clients, including some in Maryland. Since then, the company has begun offering service in towns across Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Its fiber arm recently rebranded as Glo Fiber after having previously been known as Shentel Business.
Beyond its projects in Frederick and in Salisbury, which is slated to start construction in early 2023, Glo Fiber also has plans to expand into other parts of Maryland. After its networks in Frederick and Salisbury are completed, Glo Fiber hopes to branch out into other municipalities in Frederick and Wicomico County, respectively.
While Kyle was uncertain when construction of the fiber network in Salisbury would be complete, he noted that construction ordinarily takes about two years. Service typically begins in individual neighborhoods as construction in those neighborhoods is completed, rather than when construction as a whole is finished; the company has recently begun service in certain areas of Frederick.
Along with broadband, Shentel will also offer other services, like standard cable, to customers in Salisbury and Frederick.
“If this technology is the lifeblood of commerce and how people live, work and play in the future, why wouldn’t you want it to be prevalent in Salisbury, Maryland?” he said.