New Internet option available in Frederick

Posted: February 8, 2013

The Winchester Star

Walter Banks, director of Information Technology for Frederick County, demonstrates the Internet speed of the service provided by NOVECnet and powered Exede, a satellite broadband available in Frederick County, using an iPad that has been set up in the county’s offices. The county’s IT office has set up the iPad so that residents can come test the service. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Frederick County residents who are dissatisfied with their Internet service can test drive a fledgling Virginia provider’s service in the county’s Information Technology office.

Christopher Hild, director of operations for Manassas-based NOVEC Energy Solutions Inc. and its Internet-providing subsidiary NOVECnet, demonstrated his company’s satellite Internet capabilities during a gathering in the IT office on Thursday.

While streaming a YouTube video on an iPad, Hild used another tablet device to stream a program on Netflix. Both devices used NOVECnet’s Internet, much like multiple devices in the same home using the same connection, and a speed test performed on one device by downloading a document while the other device continued to stream a video showed little impact on the speed, Hild said.

NOVECnet started enrolling customers in June 2012, and currently has about 200 customers — primarily in the rural western parts of Loudoun County. But Frederick County residents can also enroll for service.

Since the company provides Internet via a satellite dish — about as big as those used for television service — Hild said NOVECnet can be a better option for rural customers than other service providers.

“That’s usually the reason people talk to us — they can’t get Comcast and they can’t get [Verizon] FiOS,” Hild said. “If you can get FiOS, then we’re not a product that you’d be interested in, and if you’re happy with Comcast, then there’s no reason [to change] ... But if you have dial-up [Internet], we are what you want, or if you’re not happy with Verizon or Comcast.”

While satellite Internet providers have developed bad reputations in the past due to inclement weather negatively affecting service, Hild said that NOVECnet customers have not reported rain, storms or clouds noticeably affecting their Internet service.

He added that NOVECnet could be used by either small or home-based businesses, but that the service would not be ideal for larger businesses.

Walter Banks, Frederick County’s IT director, said following the presentation that NOVECnet’s iPad will be available in the IT office for about 45 days if local residents want to test the provider’s speed and compare it to their current home service.

The IT office is located on the first floor of the Frederick County Administration Building at 107 N. Kent St. The public can test out Internet service providers during the office’s normal hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

While NOVECnet is the first Internet provider to set up a demonstration in the IT office, Banks hopes others in the area will do the same to show residents the range of options available if they’re not satisfied with or currently don’t have Internet service.

According to Banks, four primary areas in the county — Gore, Shawneeland, Star Tannery and Mountain Falls — are underserved by Internet providers.

“A lot of residents had expressed to me through emails, through phone calls, through conversations on the street that basically they heard about this provider, heard about that provider,” Banks said. “When we sat down and met with some of the small providers in the area, we said ‘Hey, we certainly understand your need to get the word out [about your service] ... We’ll offer a space if you offer the equipment and the installation.’”

— Contact Matt Armstrong at marmstrong@winchesterstar.com