By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A cellular telephone company is discontinuing its service in the Star Valley of western Wyoming after six years, leaving more than 2,000 customers to find a new service provider by the end of the year.
Eric Gewiss, spokesman for Silver Star, told Cowboy State Daily that 2,200 customers will be affected by the company’s decision to discontinue cell service in Star Valley by Dec. 30. When the company first entered the area around 2017, it had approximately 6,000 customers.
“This decision has been weighing on us for a long time,” he told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “It was a difficult decision and a lot of analysis and discussion and consultation went into it.”
Gewiss explained that as cell service technology continues to improve, more upgrades are required, such as improving wireless mobile telecommunication technology from the common third generation, or 3G, to the current fifth generation, or 5G.
These upgrades can cost millions of dollars and without enough customers in the area to justify them, the decision was made to ultimately discontinue service in the area. Contributing to the decision was the company’s inability to provide perks offered by larger companies such as unlimited national data plans.
“When we started doing this, it was because there was a gap in rural coverage and the national carriers certainly weren’t in those rural areas,” Gewiss said. “But what’s happened over the last several years is that national carriers are staring to get more and more coverage in the rural areas.”
Silver Star cell service will not immediately stop. Customers have until Dec. 30 to switch to a different mobile carrier, which Gewiss said will give them time to do their own research and decide which cell service is best suited for them.
Gewiss also clarified that Silver Star was not going out of business, as some speculated on social media after the discontinuation announcement. The company will also continue to provide internet service in its coverage areas.
“The wireless business is only 10% of Silver Star’s work and we actually serve more customers in Idaho than in Wyoming,” he said.
The Wyoming Business Council declined to comment for this story, since Silver Star is a private business.