Broadband Communities

JAN-FEB 2016

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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32 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 FTTH DEPLOYMENT Kentucky's 'Gigabit Hollers' PRTC's full fber buildout ofers new hope to an impoverished region of Kentucky. By Masha Zager / Broadband Communities P eoples Rural Telephone Cooperative (PRTC) has served Jackson County and Owsley County in Appalachian Kentucky since 1950. Te two counties together have a population of about 18,000, and the biggest town has 900 people. In terms of income, these counties are in the bottom percentile of all U.S. counties, and unemployment rates are high. "It's a beautiful place, and it has wonderful people," says CEO Keith Gabbard. "My mission is to make it a better place to live." Gabbard has pursued that mission by building out fber to the home throughout PRTC's entire service area, beginning in 2008. In addition to investing its own funds, PRTC made use of Rural Utilities Service funding, including a $17.5 million grant through the broadband stimulus program. "Te ARR A program and the grant money really helped," Gabbard says. "Tey made it possible." Money wasn't the only challenge. To pull fber cable through rough terrain where vehicles could not easily travel, contractors had to rely on mules, following an old Kentucky tradition. In 2015, the buildout was completed. Fiber now passes every home and business in the service area – even the most remote – and about 60 percent of co-op members are connected to fber broadband services. However, fnishing construction is only the beginning of the larger project of using the network for the betterment of Jackson and Owsley counties. Despite having been brought up, as Gabbard puts it, "not to brag on yourself," he is now busy letting the world know what PRTC has done. Keith Gabbard, CEO of Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative, at the event celebrating the launch of gigabit service Keith Gabbard will speak about broadband and economic development at the 2016 BroadBand Communities s ummit , April 5–7 in Austin. h G b b d i l l k b

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