Highland Telephone Cooperative Begins Fiber Optic Installation

Highland Telephone Cooperative began an initiative on Monday, April 6th, which in the words of Gideon Hiner, co-manager of HTC, will prepare the county for the future of the internet.  HTC began as a mutual telephone service in 1905 and was incorporated as a cooperative in 1980. It provides much of the county’s internet by serving over 1,300 access lines.

The “Fiber to the Home” project will  improve the county’s information highway infrastructure, allowing greater speeds and reliability. While HTC currently offers DSL service in varying speeds, demands on bandwidth from streaming video, gaming and other data intensive activities can create a need for more capacity, which fiber optic cable can provide.

Mr. Hiner explained the project and the company’s plans.

“We’re beginning this Fiber to the Home project here in the town of Monterey, with the anticipation of the needs of the future of Highland County. As the industry has changed over the years, people need more and more bandwidth on their internet. Each individual’s needs differ. We do know that these needs will change as time goes on, and we’re preparing ourselves to meet the needs of the homeowners in the future.

“Connecting homes directly to fiber optic cable enables enormous improvements in the bandwidth that can be provided to the customers. The electronics on the end may change as time goes on – the fiber will always meet the bandwidth needs of the future. To this point in time, they do not know the limitations of how much bandwidth they can get on fiber, and that’s why fiber networks are said to be “future-proof.”

“The work we’re doing right now is an infrastructure to enable us to put fiber drop to each home in the future as the need arises. We are going to have the capacity to serve each home in the Monterey community with fiber with this project, and we’re putting in approximately eight miles of fiber optic cable. At this point, it is only in the town of Monterey. We are also doing some other fiber projects throughout the county, but there will be no capability to do fiber to the home in these other areas just yet. But we certainly have plans to grow this in the county to where eventually, every home would be reached with fiber.”

Pricing for the new service would be dependent upon customer preference.

“The bandwidth that people use is, of course, it costs the Highland Telephone as we purchase the bandwidth. There is a possibility of price increases, but it would be certainly dependent upon the customers needs and what they request. We do have some pricing in line for speeds up to ten megabit, and we are providing some services to other community facilities with up to thirty megabit of bandwidth.”

Mr. Hiner described what town and county residents can expect to see in the way of construction.

“There will be some construction crews around town in various places. We are going to have a number of poles replaced, as well as there is going to be some plowing equipment, backhoe equipment working around the town. A lot of this will be done off-road, near existing right-of-ways. But there will be some moving of equipment around town, various places.

“We’re not expecting any interruption in service to customers, and in case anyone is fearful of this, it will certainly not entail any change of phone numbers.”

The project is estimated to be finished in early July.

For more information on the benefits of fiber optic service, Mr. Hiner recommended visiting the Fiber To The Home Council website at www.ftthcouncil.org.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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