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Shenandoah Telecommunications

Shenandoah Telecommunications was faced with the challenge of delivering a beefed-up communications package, including high-speed Internet, to some underserved rural areas in the Shenandoah Valley. Bound by the Blue Ridge Mountains on the east and the Appalachian Mountains on the west, the valley boasts some of the most dramatic scenery in the eastern United States. But the region’s famous gaps and hollows also present huge challenges for communications service providers.

“Many of our customers are located down in the valleys and are surrounded by mountains,” said Adele Skolits, chief financial officer for Shenandoah Telecommunications, or Shentel. “These areas are typically underserved due to the high cost of providing telecommunication services.”

Shentel is a publically-traded communications company based in Edinburg, Virginia, providing wireline, wireless and cable communications solutions to customers in the Shenandoah Valley.

In 2010, Shentel’s acquisition of the assets of a local rural cable operator positioned the company to address the challenge of delivering triple-play voice, high-speed Internet and television services to underserved rural markets in southern Virginia and southern West Virginia.

In addition, the acquisition meant that Shentel picked up nearly 43,000 new customers. CoBank led a syndicated transaction — involving five commercial banks and 12 Farm Credit institutions — that Shentel used to finance the acquisition and refinance existing loans.

“We have a clear strategy of sticking to our knitting, which means focusing on serving rural areas,” Skolits said. “With the completion of the acquisition, we’ve been able to expand our service offerings and to experience gains in customers and revenues. It truly positions Shentel to continue delivering vital communications services to rural customers and also to experience strong growth across the board for the company.”

Shentel’s longstanding relationship with CoBank allowed the company’s leadership to move with confidence, secure in knowing they could depend on CoBank to meet their financial needs.

“CoBank really knows us and our business,” Skolits said. “They have the proven ability to bring the right partner banks on board and the capacity to ensure we get the right financing. We appreciate that CoBank was able to structure a deal that works so well for Shentel, our board and our customers — now and for the future.”


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