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Defends broadband service in region

To the Editor:

We at Thacker-Grigsby Telephone Company are extremely proud of the fact that we offer broadband Internet to 100 percent of the homes and businesses in Knott County. Needless to say we were shocked and very disappointed in the article published January 23 in the Lexington Herald Leader concerning government funds to expand high speed Internet in Kentucky. This article grossly misrepresented broadband in eastern Kentucky, Knott County in particular.

I am an employee of Thacker Grigsby Communications in Hindman, which has reliable broadband available to 100 percent of Knott County homes and businesses, a much higher percentage than the article’s statistics of 73 percent of homes in the United States and 67 percent of homes in Kentucky which have access to broadband Internet. This proves that Knott County broadband is way ahead of the curve. The areas in Kentucky that are lack broadband are not served by small independent telephone companies, whose only source of revenue is dependent upon rural areas. While broadband is served in some areas in eastern Kentucky by larger, nationally known communications companies, these companies can make a much higher return on their investment by only supplying services to highly populated areas.

The article also stated that, “Government has to take the lead in connecting sparsely populated areas because it is not profitable for communications companies.” Thacker-Grigsby has profited and grown for over 60 years by serving many different forms of telecommunications, including broadband, to one of the most sparsely populated areas in the state. The state and federal government are constantly touting themselves as ambassadors of rural Kentucky. How is using our tax dollars to overbuild our nationally competitive infrastructure, eliminating our revenue and some of the 100-plus jobs Thacker-Grigsby supports in this flailing economy “helping” anyone in this area?

The map of Kentucky featured in the article showed Knott County as being in the “Information Highway Slow Lane”, meaning there was no broadband available which could support download speeds of 25 megabits per second. Thacker- Grigsby provides some customers with 100 megabits per second, and all customers with whatever speed they request.

Thacker-Grigsby and its affiliated company, TVS Cable, provide broadband in all of Knott County, 80 percent of Letcher County, 65 percent of Perry County and are currently building infrastructure through a large part of Breathitt County as part of the Broadband Initiative Program grant/ loan awarded in 2010.

While broadband in some areas of eastern Kentucky or rural America may not be as comprehensive as Thacker-Grigsby, it is negligent to imply all of eastern Kentucky is lacking in this service. As a matter of fact, there are 13 independent telephone companies in Kentucky, all serving rural areas, each of which can serve 100 percent of their population with broadband service. On the other end of the spectrum, many nationally known companies choose to only provide broadband to county seat towns or areas which are densely populated.

So many times eastern Kentucky is depicted as a depressed area that has a stereotypical reputation of being technologically behind. This article only furthers that mindset. Areas in eastern Kentucky that Thacker- Grigsby or any other independent telephone company serve can and do have broadband service equal to or better than any other communication company in the commonwealth of Kentucky.

Thacker & Grigsby
Telephone Company
Hindman, Ky.

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