MetroNet poaches Shentel COO as it plots rapid growth

Privately held fiber provider MetroNet appointed Shenandoah Telecommunications (Shentel) executive Dave Heimbach as its new COO, tapping him for the role as it targets an aggressive expansion of its footprint.

Heimbach is due to join MetroNet on July 5 from his current role as EVP and COO at Shentel. He recently oversaw the sale of the company’s wireless division to T-Mobile for $1.95 billion and helped build up its fixed and fixed wireless businesses. Before joining Shentel, he served as COO of Rise Broadband, which provides service across portions of 16 states.

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Discussing the decision to bring Heimbach on board, MetroNet CEO John Cinelli told Fierce, “We’ve been growing very rapidly, and at all levels of the organization we’ve been hiring lots and lots of people…Even at the executive level we need more hands to do the work that we’re doing.” He added Heimbach’s experience working at two larger operators stood out to him during the hiring process.

Cinelli declined to share MetroNet’s current subscriber count or the number of customers it added over the past year, citing its status as a privately held company. Instead, he noted it has rolled out fiber in 120 communities to date across the Midwest and Southeast and is “looking to aggressively expand that number.”

“We believe there are lots of areas of the United States that are still underserved.” he said. “You can tell where we’re going to go by where we already are…based on the demand consumers are showing us for affordable broadband and broadband that works well with good customer service, we’re trying to build as fast as we can right now.”

Earlier this month, MetroNet announced it was entering its 11th state with a planned deployment in Bryan, Texas.

In terms of future targets, Cinelli said, “Definitely smaller towns is what we’re looking for because they don’t get the same kind of focus as the larger communities.” When evaluating new markets, he said MetroNet looks at competition, whether the town is growing, what employers are present there, whether the town is home to a university and the community’s reception to its overtures.

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He said the company currently offers service tiers at 100 Mbps, 200 Mbps, 500 Mbps and 1 Gig, with 65% of new customers taking 500 Mbps or above. He added all new installations have the ability to serve up to 10 Gbps. This capability is already live in a handful of unspecified markets, Cinelli said, noting “over time” it plans to offer 10-gigs across its entire footprint.