The announcement is the result of a project that took several months, as HardyNet engineers worked with Capon Springs staff to devise and implement a method to bring high-speed broadband to the resort. Capon Springs representatives had said their existing internet service was insufficient to operate the business and provide the internet connectivity sought by many tourists and groups seeking to stay at the venue.
“We’re very happy that we were able to come up with a way to bring broadband to Capon Springs and Farms,” said Derek Barr, Hardy’s director of customer service and sales, marketing and human resources. “This is something that (West Virginia Republican) Senator Shelley Moore Capito was particularly interested in, and she has been very supportive of our efforts.”
In a press release, Sen. Capito said the broadband capability will greatly increase opportunities for Capon Springs resort.
“Broadband deployment is absolutely necessary for our rural communities to thrive, and Capon Springs and Farms is a perfect example of this,” the senator said. “Connecting Capon Springs will lead to so many new opportunities for the resort, and it will help drive tourism and strengthen our local economy. Today is an exciting day for the resort, and it is a great example of local business initiative and partnerships.”
Sen. Capito complimented Hardy Telecommunications for its “creative mechanisms” used to get broadband service to the resort.
The project also drew praise from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai.
“My visit to Capon Springs with Senator Capito has long stuck in my mind. Hearing firsthand about how the lack of broadband holds back West Virginia residents and businesses has motivated me to help close the digital divide. I’m thrilled to hear that this partnership will bring Capon Springs Resort much-needed broadband access and hope other communities throughout the Mountain State soon join it on the digital grid,” Chairman Pai said.
In July 2017, Sen. Capito brought Mr. Pai to Hardy and Hampshire counties to see the contrast between communities served with fast, reliable broadband and those without. Hardy built and operates OneNet in Hardy County, a network that brings fiber-optic connections directly to homes and businesses, enabling much faster broadband speeds. In Wardensville, the group visited ASC Services LLC, a company that transcribes federal agency and other hearings and sends those transcripts to clients all over the world, including several news agencies like CNN and Fox News. The business requires near-constant video viewing that consumes a great deal of bandwidth, so a high-speed broadband connection is essential.
“There is a day and night difference between even here and neighboring Hampshire County,” ASC President Elizabeth Pennell said at the time. She said ASC’s presence not just in Hardy County but in the state of West Virginia is “hinging on one thing and one thing only – the connectivity and broadband provided (by Hardy Telecommunications).”
Afterward, Sen. Capito and Chairman Pai traveled to Capon Springs resort, where Jonathan Bellingham, whose family has owned the resort for generations, told Sen. Capito and Mr. Pai that broadband has become such a necessity that his business suffered because many groups can’t stay there for long periods without a broadband connection.
The broadband capability is being delivered via an extensive fixed wireless connection, Derek said. HardyNet’s current internet service stops right outside of the town of Wardensville along W.Va. 259, and the costs of building a wired connection to the resort in Hampshire County were too prohibitive. So Hardy engineered a solution, erecting a short pole in Wardensville that connects a fixed wireless signal to a cell tower outside Wardensville, then to equipment on a tower on Capon Springs property, resulting in a high-speed connection to the resort area.
“We also thank the Wardensville town council members, who were very cooperative in allowing us to put a small pole on town property that provided the best sightline to the cell tower,” Derek said.
Capon Springs paid for the project, and the connection is specific to the resort, he said.
“The project was designed specifically to serve Capon Springs resort,” he said. “It doesn’t allow us to serve any other residents in Hampshire County through this method. At this time we simply don’t have the funding to extend our service throughout the surrounding Capon Springs and Yellow Spring areas.
“We are in regular communication with Hampshire County representatives,” he continued. “We offer them expertise and guidance on certain internet-related issues if they request it. Should sufficient funding and the appropriate situation develop, we’d be happy to consider an expansion of our service territory, but obviously broadband deployment is an expensive process.”
Capon Springs and Farms General Manager and family member Eddie Brill said his business, which attracts more than 4,000 households to the resort each year, hopes to work toward the goal of bringing Hardy Telecommunications broadband service to the area.
“We were able to greatly improve broadband service for both our business and our guests through a substantial investment from the resort. Our intention is that since we have laid the groundwork for getting this service to the resort, we look forward to continuing to work with Senator Capito’s office and Hardy Telecommunications to provide the desperately needed broadband access to Capon Springs, Yellow Spring and surrounding communities,” Mr. Brill said.