For too many Warren Countians, an internet connection strong enough to simultaneously allow browsing social media and streaming the latest Netflix movie is barely a dream. Not served by the Spectrum cable company or any other high-speed internet service, these rural residents are making do with DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) or satellite signals that make checking your email more a nightmare than a dream.

But now, to paraphrase author John Maxwell, it seems that teamwork truly does make the dream work.

Warren Rural Electric Cooperative Corp. and Lafayette, Tenn.-based North Central Telephone Cooperative have teamed up to bring faster internet speeds to parts of Warren County that have largely been locked out of cyberspace.

Announced in October, the partnership involves WRECC providing the fiber backbone and lateral lines that NCTC then uses to bring internet service to homes.

Still in its infancy, with WRECC beginning to put the infrastructure in place, this partnership is already creating a buzz in the Boyce community and September Lakes subdivision areas chosen as the pilot project.

That buzz was evident Thursday when some 300 residents from an area with fewer than 800 addresses showed up for an informational meeting at Phil Moore Park. Nearly 150 of them signed up for NCTC’s broadband internet service on the spot. Many more have signed up online.

It’s a response that bodes well for those rural areas of the county where the pace of life is slow and so is the internet connection.

After seeing the turnout for that Jan. 30 meeting, NCTC President and CEO Johnny McClanahan said: “I think we’re going to be successful. Based on the turnout tonight, chances are good that we can roll it out to other areas of the county.”

That’s great news, and not just because more people will now have the opportunity to binge-watch “Stranger Things” or do their Christmas shopping online.

As any local Realtor will tell you, high-speed internet service is fast becoming as much of a necessity as water and electricity for homebuyers.

Used for online banking and shopping by mom and dad and for gaming and homework by the kids, a fast, reliable internet connection is hardly a luxury item these days.

As Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said when WRECC and NCTC announced their partnership: “Broadband access is important to everyone. It’s used for business and for everyday life. People call me just about every day saying they’re living in the dark ages because they don’t have high-speed internet.”

Maybe we can put the dark ages behind us, thanks to a partnership between two member-owned cooperatives.

WRECC, which put together another high-speed internet partnership last year with the Franklin Electric Plant Board, and NCTC, which has already been providing internet service to the Drakes Ridge subdivision and other areas along the Scottsville Road corridor, have responded to their members’ hunger for more megabits.

“Our board of directors has challenged us to find a way to bring high-speed internet to our members,” WRECC President and CEO Dewayne McDonald said when the partnership was first announced. “After extensive research, we decided that partnering with others was the best route.”

McDonald and NCTC’s McClanahan are to be commended for forming this partnership that is providing internet service at competitive rates (ranging from $64.95 monthly for 100-megabit to $94.95 for one-gigabit service).

This partnership isn’t the perfect solution – with some of the county’s most-rural areas being hit with “aid-to-construction” fees that in some cases will exceed $1,000 – but it’s a great step toward bringing all of Warren County into the digital age.



(2) comments


While the partnership between Warren Recc and NCTC is a step in the right direction we must not rest on this partnership. After all it was emphasized at the recent meeting that this is a test. If enough people don't sign up or maintain the service these companies may decide that they don't want to develop more of the area. So the community and the county leaders need to maintain their diligence in seeking funding, expansion and interest in building out the county. Almost weekly there are comments from our federal leaders that more money is being given for this development. Even President Trump discussed it in the State of the Union last night. We are one of the largest growing counties in the state - we should not sit back on our heels watching but instead lead by example.

Almost 40 years ago the cable industry was born from the same demands and needs. Townhall meetings took place just like this one, with discussions on when cable will come to the area. Look at what that industry has grown into in that time. While I understand the comments about initial cost, in the end the return on investment is substantial. Add the products that are developed because of this deployment - at home medical consultations and live video feedback, safety and security, IOT(internet of things) - connected appliances, vehicles, etc, and the potential of huge profits are just over the horizon.

While there is no doubt this is a great first step, we need to be seeking additional federal dollars to help offset the costs to low density areas. We should be developing a working relationship with these two companies and others who can serve the areas interest. Why not a fiber/internet board which meets regularly to develop strategies, understand under served areas and making sure that our county is being best served by the plans of these providers. In other words, work together to build a strong plan and something we can all be proud of showcasing with our Kentucky and Federal leadership. Sitting back and letting the various providers run through the county at will only allows them to target areas which will generate immediate rewards and in the end, leave the most challenging, rural areas still in the dark ages.

Rejoice in a good start but we need to remain diligent in seeking federal dollars and a plan that is right for Warren County. This isn't a time to sit back and see how well trial areas work.

Enough Already

As good as this is it is sad that it took WRECC so long to get on board with serving their customers with internet service. They built a network for themselves and a few businesses and ignored the vast majority of theircustomers. It is about time!

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