Faster Internet service is here

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By Joe King

Morgan County’s primary Internet provider received certification this week that is expected to lead to 100 times faster service speed in the area for those willing to pay for the upgraded plan.

“This gigabit certification caps off years of careful planning, investing and building a brand-new fiber network for our area,” said CEO Mark Patterson. “All along, we knew our commitment was worth the effort so our friends and families in this area could keep their rural lifestyle without sacrificing world-class connectivity.”

The certification comes on the heels of the company receiving a nearly $750,000 federal grant that was announced in October to replace the copper network system with all-new fiber optics in the southern end of the county. Because of the new system, the cooperative is able to deliver world-class gigabit broadband speeds to the people of Morgan and Scott counties in Tennessee and McCreary County, Kentucky.

To build the fiber network capable of bringing gigabit speeds to the region, Highland crews and contractors ran more than 2,700 miles of fiber — enough to stretch from the cooperative office in Sunbright, Tennessee, to Vancouver, British Columbia. The investment carries a price tag of about $66 million.

“Our area lacks interstates and many economic advantages that other communities enjoy, and we’ve suffered through some extremely high unemployment in recent years,” Patterson added. “An asset like a gigabit-capable network can be our competitive edge when it comes to bringing in industry and growing existing businesses.”

While gigabit speeds are a major tool for economic development, the speeds will also add convenience to the daily lives of those in Highland’s service area. For example, Highland members with the new faster connection can download a two-hour, high-definition movie in as little as 25 seconds. Downloading that same movie on a 10 Mbps connection would take about 55 minutes, according to a press release sent by the company.

The new service will be available by Nov. 15. in all areas that Highland currently serves. Some areas in Coalfield don’t have fiber optics, but work is underway to get that in place, which will allow for the faster service. Pricing isn’t settled yet, but Patterson said it will vary based on the speed of service package selected.