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nTelos Wireless Tower Goes Up Wednesday Afternoon North Of Nellysford – UPDATE 9:20 AM EST

[ 34 ] February 12, 2009 |
©2009 NCL Magazine : A tower crew attaches antennas to the top of the newly installed Ntelos Wireless tower along Route 151 across from Rockfish Presbyterian Church. Click any image for larger view.

©2009 NCL Magazine : A tower crew attaches antennas to the top of the newly installed Ntelos Wireless tower along Route 151 across from Rockfish Presbyterian Church. Click any image for larger view.

Nelson County, Virginia

Updated 9:20 AM EST 2.12.09
Since we posted this original story earlier today, we had another conversation with John Apesa in nTelos’ wireless division. Thursday morning John told us that nTelos is kicking off a special promotion for folks here in Nelson. They will be offering the mobile broadband aircard for .99 cents and unlimited monthly mobile broadband internet for $39.99 per month. “With our recently installed sites on both the mountain and in the valley, our coverage in Nelson will be very good,” John told us in a telephone conversation today. For people to get that offer, they must call John Apesa direct at 540.457.2000 or you can email him at Though John could not give us an exact date on when the newest site in this article will be up and running, he said it would be very, very soon and that would greatly increase the range of mobile broadband. Though some customer reps have told Nelson residents they can’t get nTelos broadband, John says many of the new sites coming online haven’t caught up with the information the reps have on hand and most people will be able to get the service.

Look for many more updates on this in the coming days!

Earlier post
As we have been telling you over the past several weeks, nTelos Wireless has been on an aggressive plan to continue improving their network of wireless capability in Nelson County. “Most recently, nTelos added coverage to our footprint around the Wintergreen Lodge and mountain top communities. This coverage enhancement strengthens our in building penetration as well as provide high speed data services 3G to the area. We also activated a new cell site that provides outstanding coverage to the Stoney Creek Golf area and surrounding communities. This coverage improvement also extends the nTelos voice and 3G footprint to the town of Nellysford that was previously not serviced by nTelos,” Mike Minnis, with nTelos in Waynesboro tells NCL Magazine.

The new tower in conjunction with other completed nTelos sites will greatly expand the coverage area of wireless broadband capability in the county to areas that currently have few options for high speed internet. A plan underway to provide broadband over power line (BPL) has yet to be implemented and is many months behind schedule in getting service to customers. Verizon Wireless is in the process of consolidating its recently acquired Alltel network in Nelson and other areas over to higher speed EVDO service and mobile broadband as well. The nTelos tower was approved last year after some opposition by residents living nearby.

Off to the left in this photo (west of Route 151) a crew can be seen in the distance working on the single monopole that holds the antennas.

Off to the left in this photo (west of Route 151) a crew can be seen in the distance working on the single monopole that holds the antennas.

“The most exciting part of the network enhancements is the launch of our 3G mobile broadband network throughout Virginia and West Virginia. This provides broadband service to areas that have not had broadband service available to them or another choice for service in areas that do have broadband available,” Minnis continues.

Several other monopole installations have already been completed in Nelson such as one behind The Wintergreen Fire Department in Stoney Creek put in by AT&T in late 2007. Others have been installed along Route 29 east of the Rockfish Valley.

No specific date was given by Minnis for activation of the nTelos site, but work has been ongoing daily and service from the new facility is expected within a few weeks at most.

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Comments (34)

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  1. Erik says:

    Just called John Apesa…

    It looks like the tower “might” reach us in Greenfield. We’re 2.8 miles away from the tower and under a metal roof at that. John was honest and said it was iffy.

    At $40 a month with and a .99 cent aircard….. with speeds at 400kbps -1.5mbps it’s a decent deal.


  2. NCL Mag says:

    Erik, I’d say you probably have a good shot. I know here we are basically looking right at the antenna, hilltop to hilltop, and we are about 1.1 miles from there line of sight. I know with one of those outdoor antenna extenders it would probably work with no problem. The price is certainly right for sure. As soon as it’s up we are giving it a spin, if it works we are there.

  3. Erik says:

    John wrote me back…..

    After re-analyzing the map, he thinks I might be OK as well.
    I’ve just gotta get away from the BPL fiasco. It’s the silliest business plan I’ve seen in a while.

  4. NCL Mag says:

    Erik, yea, I think depending on your elevation you will be fine. My experience with this kind of thing in the past has been pretty good, even at distance a decent way out. I am meeting with them later in the week to get more details. Guess you read the latest BPL update today too. 🙁

  5. Erik says:

    John said he was meeting with you Friday. That’s kool. I think it’s about time for some other provider to weigh in on the High Speed drama here in Nelson. He was great on the phone and very upfront in email as well.
    He said he’s going to check out some spots to see where nTelos’ range will reach.

    By the way, for those who’ve already returned their BPL modems, what’s the procedure? Any tips? How long does the refund take?

  6. Kevin Phillips says:

    Erik, as I mentioned before, I sent mine back and rec’d a check for 99 bucks 2-3wks later. I didn’t save the address but call tech support and they can give it to you–don’t waste your time with email. I do remember it was sent Attn: Amanda Davis at IBEC. I had already decided to stick with dial-up and wait for wireless when I found out I could already get wireless from nTelos. It was interesting to see someone mention only certain outlets working well with BPL but not surprised–“Honey, what is the computer doing in the bathroom?” Ha. I read shortly after this started that a big BPL project in Dallas area flopped (not IBEC) but a company teamed up with Dish TV type outfit. The power company ended up buying the equipment to use in some part of their operations. Hmm? Although, IBEC may be doing something new with it but BPL is not new.

  7. C. R. says:

    Sounds like Ntelos still won’t be an option for most of the county. I live about 5 miles North of Nellysford off 151 and sounds like I will be out of range of this new tower. I guess I’m stuck waiting on IBEC. Has anyone heard any feedback from the individuals who are actually on-line using BPL?

  8. NCL Mag says:

    C.R. – You actually are in about a perfect area for the newest nTelos tower. Additionally they have new site in Stoney Creek and on the mountaintop looking down in the valley. So if you can’t get one particular tower, another may actually fill the gap.

    The only information we got about a week ago on BPL users was from a person over toward Faber. This person was not able to plug the modem into just any outlet but just a particular one. We have yet to get a post / comment from anyone actually using it.

  9. Erik says:

    “We have yet to get a post / comment from anyone actually using it.”

    That’s the crux of the matter right there isn’t it?

  10. Greg Heuer says:

    Tommy – Can you, at your meeting Friday (while I’m in Phoenix), find out if WE will be in range down here at the Ski Barn/Beech Grove/664 area?

  11. Courtney says:

    I called John Apesa on Friday and got my air card in the mail last night. We’re on Moses Hughes Ln in Beech Grove- John felt it would work since we’re close to the Brewery. I tried it last night, and it could never get enough signal to connect- I would get one bar or none. I’m going to move my computer tonight to a better spot and see it if works.

  12. NCL Mag says:

    Courtney & Greg, I will know on this Friday, but you will probably have to wait on an additional site that will be going inline there in Beech Grove. I am not totally sure if it’s cleared the regulatory process yet. It was originally objected to by an adjoining landowner and I am not sure if it has been worked out thus far. But do know they have a proposed site there for Beech Grove which will certainly work for you if it comes online.

  13. Jen says:

    Hello all,
    We live in Greenfield about 2 miles away from the new tower, we decided to give the ntelos air card a try about 3 wks ago, just going off the reception we get from the stoney creek tower (I am guessing) and the service works great! It is SO fast, and we have had no troubles! We gave up on the BPL and I am so glad to be done waiting for high speed!! I’m betting our ntelos service will just get even faster when the new tower is up and running. We are so pleased!!

  14. Knowledge Is Power says:

    EVDO booster antennas are available for the USB antennas (“portable broadband wireless cards”) that nTelos uses:

    Ironically, nTelos does not sell the booster antennas, but they can be purchased online for around 50 dollars or so at various places online.

    In addition, the EVDO wi-fi routers that nTelos does sell directly can be obtained online for much cheaper prices. These wi-fi routers will allow multiple computers to use a single USB antenna connection.

    It is important to note that booster antennas and EVDO wi-fi routers must be compatible with the USB antenna that nTelos uses. I believe that nTelos uses the CDU680 USB wireless broadband equipment.

    The nTelos portable broandband network is very fast and speedy. You can try one personally at the nTelos retail stores.

    I know personally that only getting one or two bars (out of 5) in a marginal area without any additional booster antenna equipment installed still provides over 1Mb on download speeds and around 500 kB on upload.

  15. Courtney says:

    Thanks for that info, Knowledge. I moved my PC to a “better” spot this morning and was able to connect using Ntelos wireless! Woohoo!! I got two bars for brief second, then only one. I connected to the Internet, but nothing… Yahoo loaded about halfway, but then nothing. It was still connected, however. A step in the right direction, and I might be able to send my BPL modem back!

  16. Erik says:

    Is there a way to attach an external antenna to the Card?

  17. Rev. Tommy Thompson says:

    Hello everyone,
    I ordered the Ntelos service and have experimented with two different air cards here in Faber, VA (just off Irish Road (US-6E). What I learned is that with Ntelos aircards you must be at least 1.5 miles from the tower. It will not work on my road at all. I had my wife drive me around since we had to go to Waynesboro and noticed that it works great on US 6 between 29 and 151. I had speeds around 1.2mbps at one point. However most of the time i was around 500-800kbps.

    When I turned right off of VA-6 onto VA 151 toward Waynesboro, I had no service for a couple miles. The closer I got to Afton, it started working very well (around 1mbps).

    If you live on that side of the county, it should be fine for you; however if you live in my neck of the woods, it unfortunately will not work. I will say that customer service is outstanding. So they are definitely worth dealing with.


  18. Knowledge Is Power says:

    Yes. The CDU680 has a rubber boot which covers up a small 3mm antenna jack. This is how the USB broadband card is connected to the booster antenna. Since the USB wireless broadband equipment is made differently, it is important to get the correct cable and booster antenna for your model of wireless broadband equipment.

    I strongly suggest for anyone interested in reading more about EVDO technology to visit:

    This site is a wonderful resource full of helpful members who have been through your wireless broadband experiences first hand and can report which solutions worked the best in their situations.

    Also of note is that the CDU680 will pivot to several different orientations for the best possible reception adjustment. While this equipment is called an, “aircard” it actually looks like a USB jumpdrive. (And in actually, can also work as a small jumpdrive if you’d like.)

    More importantly, the CDU690 by the company Franklin was the first EVDO wireless broadband manufacturer to natively support Apple OSX.

    This is great news if (like me) you use Mac computers at home. The modem will also work through a VM application like Parallels. This means that you can log on using OSX, and open up a VM session and “share” the internet connection witout requiring a disconnection and reconnection to the modem. With this set up, it is possible to use Windows Explorer and Apple Safari at the same time on the same computer.

    In addition, if you are using Mac computers at home, you can use the CDU680 to set up Internet Sharing and create a wi-fi network with your other computers and devices. Using my nTelos wireless broadband connection, I can connect our PS3, windows laptops and iPod Touch without needing to purchase a separate wi-fi router. The latency is acceptable for doing on-line gaming with a PS3 or XBox 360. If you have an iPhone, you can also connect to your Apple-Generated wi-fi network and use the internet to run Skpe or other voice over IP services.

    I’ve been very pleased with my service from nTelos.

  19. Erik says:

    Well…. John just wrote me and let me know that my place is not in range….. yet.
    But they’ll be putting in another tower “soon” and perhaps that will change.

  20. Brady says:

    FWIW, I am experimenting with an Alltel aircard this morning. I was getting 2.0mbps down and 750kbps up near Tye River in southern Nelson. However, in Roseland I’m getting 120k down and 70k up. So, for some people an Alltel card at $62/month after taxes might be a real possibility.

  21. Courtney says:

    Ahhh sigh of relief, I just mailed my BPL modem back to IBEC. Yay!!!! We bought a new laptop (nothing fancy, sorry techie fans), and our Ntelos wireless works AWESOME! So pleased. On a funny (ironic) note, when I opened my BLP modem box to put the return instructions inside, I noticed this on their “READ THIS FIRST” sheet- “Depending on your location within the substation we will have your service in place within 8 weeks.” HAHAHAHAAHAHA I received my modem in August, ummm I think it’s been a little more than 8 weeks. Oh well, all’s well that ends well. Good luck to those of you waiting for BPL. Try Ntelos wireless if it’s available to you.

  22. NCL Mag says:

    Courtney, thanks! We have BPL info coming to us from the Faber area and thus far it has been pretty problematic. Reports of having to plug into certain outlets, slow speeds, difficult setups, and the speeds and range not being up to par. Think you have made the correct choice.

    We have decided here to either wait on the nTelos site near us to be activated or simply stay with satellite if necessary. In our biz we can’t be without reliable internet.

    The reports we have had from the Tanbark area say of you simply want to view web pages and have no real aspirations of downloading large files or viewing videos, etc, then BPL will probably be okay, but it’s far from being as advertised last summer. as noted in your comment.

  23. Rev. Tommy Thompson says:

    Well, the Ntelos didn’t work for me here in Faber, so i thought I’d go with Alltel. I get full bars 1XEV on my blackberry curve, so i thought the air card would definately work. I called and spoke to a salesperson in Charlottesville who told me she was getting 2-4Mbps in Nelson. However, i am averaging 250kbps download and 100kbps upload. 🙁 I will say, Alltel’s customer service has NOT been helpful either.

    I guess I am stuck with Wildblue or IBEC. 🙁

  24. Amy W. says:

    We got our nTelos card today, and it’s lightening fast compared to WildBlue. They weren’t sure we’d get service down here (we’re in the ski barn/spruce creek area) but we are, and it’s been a huge improvement. I would highly recommend it … give John a call and tell him I sent you 🙂 BPL modem is getting returned on Monday! Thanks to all for the info posted here – I wouldn’t have known about the nTelos option if it wasn’t for you guys!

  25. Rev. Tommy Thompson says:

    Okay, I was able to get a new card from Alltel, and this one works better. I found the best place in my house and purchased a Cradlepoint MBR1000 modem. So, I am able to get around 700kbps to 1Mbps now since i can keep the air card stationary in the best position in the house. Hurray! I cancelled my wildblue today and am sending the BPL modem back tomorrow morning.

    Alltel’s customer service can be frustrating, but maybe this service is for you. I will say, if you go this route, don’t get the Huawei EC-168 air card. it WILL NOT work with the cradlepoint routers. Ask for the UTstarcom UM175 instead; it is compatible. Cradlepoint did tell me that the Huawei EC-168 will be compatible in like 4 months when the firmware update comes out.

    I hope this helps someone else.

  26. Rev. Tommy Thompson says:

    Just for kicks, I received a call from IBEC today. The rep told me I should be able to surf the net now. I tried, and it didn’t work. I called them back and the rep who answered the phone said, “Well, you should be able to get on one page at least for now.” WHAT??!! Then he was not able to tell me when I would have adequate service and also told me that the average speed was 200-300kbps.

    I am glad to be sending my modem back!

  27. Colin Winter says:

    I am the husband to one Amy W. above and we’re getting 4-5 bars as she said. I’m curious, someone mentioned you can by EVDO routers online for much cheaper than the ones offered on NTELOS site…can anyone advise on a model or two we could search for/order? Do you plug the aircard into the router, or just set up the Wi–fi router with our NTELOS login info/etc.?

    Thanks so much in advance…

  28. Colin Winter says:

    One other followup–I tested the speeds near intersection of 664 and 151 (our house essentially) and was getting 700-1000 kbs. download and 150-300 kbs upload. I uploaded a 51 MB file in 4 minutes last night. This was vastly faster/superior to our WildBlue service (at least 10-15 times faster.)

  29. Martha Makel says:

    We live very close to Amy and Colin and rushed out to Intelos Sat. The salesman showed us the router he recommended for the Franklin CDU-680 card he sold us. He selected this card because most of our computers run xp (not vista) and mac systems. Intelos sells the NexAira NexConnect 3G Wireless Wifi Hotspot Router for $170. We just bought one from ebay for $145. He also suggested trying Best Buy.

  30. Jen says:

    Does anyone know if the tower is working…we have been waiting, but have not noticed any changes in our signal?????

  31. NCL Mag says:

    Hi Jen,

    In some informal discussions we have been told it will be active in the next few days. Like you, we haven’t noticed any increases in the EV signal strength here in the Rockfish Valley. But have been told fairly soon, a matter of a few days. -T-

  32. Jen says:

    I hope so, we are really looking forward to it! We must have driven by the tower a hundred times to see if anything was happening. Thanks for your reply.

  33. […] Nelson County Life Magazine : » nTelos Wireless Tower Goes UpWe also activated a new cell site that provides outstanding coverage to the Stoney Creek Golf area and surrounding communities. … We live very close to Amy and Colin and rushed out to Intelos Sat. The salesman showed us the router he recommended for the Franklin CDU-680 card he sold us. He selected this card because most… Uncategorized by admin […]

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