Spurred by more than $2 million in funding through the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, Warren Rural Electric Cooperative Corp. and internet provider North Central Telephone Cooperative are moving ahead with their rollout of broadband internet service in rural parts of Warren and neighboring counties.

But the other internet provider that was awarded some local RDOF funds for broadband rollout, Charter Communications, has yet to begin extending service to more than 6,000 homes and businesses in Warren, Butler, Ohio and Simpson counties.

Charter, which does business locally as Spectrum, was awarded $58 million this year in RDOF funds statewide, and $1.2 million of that is to extend service to rural parts of Warren County.

The local work hasn’t started, Charter alleges, because of problems getting the pole access needed to extend the cable.

“We’re trying to build new broadband to 6,055 homes, but we’re running into some difficulties,” said Joe Crone, Charter’s vice president of construction overseeing the company’s RDOF rollout in Kentucky and Ohio.

The problem is pole access, Crone said, and he pointed to WRECC as the main obstacle in gaining that access.

“We’re running into issues with WRECC,” Crone said. “Basically, they’re stipulating that they’ll only accept 120 pole applications in a month.

“There are more than 19,000 poles in our build area, so we’re looking at 13 years to get our build done.”

WRECC Senior Director of Communications and Public Relations Kim Phelps took issue with that description.

“We stand ready to work with Charter,” Phelps said in an email. “We support their efforts to bring quality high-speed internet to our members as soon as possible while we protect Warren RECC’s members’ electric system integrity and reliability.”

Charter took the extraordinary step this week of sending a complaint to the FCC, asking the federal agency to address the issues.

In the ex parte presentation to the FCC, Charter Vice President Maureen O’Connell wrote: “Charter and its predecessors operated for decades under an agreement with WRECC for pole attachment requests that did not limit the number of attachments WRECC would process each month, and despite Charter having a current, operating pole attachment agreement, WRECC insists that Charter sign a new pole agreement before it will process any applications. The new agreement also would unreasonably and arbitrarily limit the number of pole attachment applications it would process, which would prevent Charter from meeting its RDOF timelines.”

For its part, WRECC is moving forward with its rollout of both the RDOF portion of Warren and neighboring counties and its partnership with NCTC to bring broadband to unserved portions of Warren County.

WRECC and NCTC, which in 2019 started a partnership to bring broadband internet service to 800 residences in southeast Warren County, won a bid for RDOF funding to provide service in areas of east Warren County, across Grayson County, and some of Edmonson County.

The partners were also awarded $300,000 from Warren Fiscal Court to extend broadband beyond the initial pilot area.

WRECC Vice President of Engineering and Operations Butch Massey said that rollout is going well.

“In Warren County, we have about 85% of our RDOF areas done,” Massey said. “It’s going well, and people are really pleased with the product they’re getting from NCTC.”

Massey said more than 50% of the homes that have access to the NCTC service have signed up for it, and he expects that rate to go up as more cable is built.

“People have been clamoring for this for a long time,” Massey said. “The RDOF funds and the grant from the county have allowed us to do it much faster.”

Massey made a recent presentation at a fiscal court meeting, updating the magistrates about the progress of the rollout. Charter is scheduled to make a similar presentation in December.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.

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