September 02, 2013
Highland Telephone Cooperative Goes Fiber Optic
By Brittany Walters-Bearden
Residents of McCreary County, Kentucky will soon see the benefits of a fiber optic telephone system as they make the jump from the outdated copper wiring system to more modern and faster fiber optic system. Crews have been working to help the area make the crossover since April, but more manpower is needed to finish the job.
Janie Slaven, of the McCreary County Record, reports that this has been a time-consuming conversion, as new lines with a plastic-encased drop had to be installed to the customer’s house. There are two separate exchanges in McCreary County, and each exchange has four routes; one is for Pine Knot and the other is for Stearns/Whitley City. The first installation was in the Smithtown area, and the other is currently ongoing in the Pine Knot area. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done for the area to be completely fiber optic, with the next project scheduled for the Sawyer area this month.
Mark Patterson, the CEO of Highland Telephone Cooperative promises, “We’re picking up speed.” There are extra crews due in the next few weeks. He explained, “We have been cutting over at a rate of 20 customers a day and we need to ramp that up to 60 per day.”
McCreary County was awarded a $67 million federal USDA Rural Utilities Service grant in the latter part of 2010, and construction of the new network began in 2011. This is all part of President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—through which several areas are upgrading their networks—and will be applied to three areas belonging to the Highland Telephone Cooperative. Patterson explained that “Construction is a long, drawn-out process.” Currently, he says, they are maintaining two different networks—the copper wiring system and the fiber optic system. The copper network, he anticipates, will be completely disconnected within three years, following the project’s targeted date for completion, September of 2015.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson
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