Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Weekly editor takes on America's biggest telecom over lack of internet access in rural areas

Ryan Craig
Ryan Craig, editor/publisher of the Todd County Standard, a 2,500-circulation weekly newspaper in Kentucky, hurled many barbs in a front-page column chastising the state for allowing telecom companies like AT&T to engage in public-private partnerships that never follow through on providing broadband to rural and remote areas.

"Why, oh why, is the Commonwealth of Kentucky determined to proceed to have public-private partnerships with quasi-utilities when the promises are not as promising for as for Eastern Kentucky, are vague for Western Kentucky and even more murky for Todd County on getting good internet services in the places that need it most?" Craig writes.

"Despite the money being allotted for building a wireless infrastructure to deliver affordable internet for all counties in Kentucky, the sticking points seem to be if the move is worth the time of companies like AT&T or Verizon who already have infrastructure in the majority of the state," he writes.

Hood Harris, president and CEO of Kentucky AT&T, recently met with Todd County citizens about Kentucky Wired, a state project designed to connect 84,000 residences and businesses, Craig writes. Harris refused to say how many of those 84,000 homes and businesses would be in Todd County, which has a population of 12,503.

Todd County, Kentucky
Harris answered most questions by referring them to Kentucky Wired or saying he would look into it, Craig writes. That includes a complaint from residents who must drive 16 miles for their grandchildren to use a computer with internet access, and a librarian and educator who expressed concern about a lack of options for libraries and schools.  To see the Standard's Facebook page, with complaints from readers about poor service, click here.

"After hearing about all the infrastructure and service troubles the company had in Todd County wouldn't it be fair to say we just haven't been or will be in AT&T's business plan?" Craig asks on the story jump. "I asked Harris that very question, which he denied and went back to the company doing what was 'feasible' and Kentucky Wired."

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