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DUO Broadband and Kentucky Telecom Association Discuss Closing the Digital Divide with U.S. Congressman Comer

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U.S. Congressman Comer and representatives of DUO Broadband and the Kentucky Telecom Association met to discuss the importance of better broadband Internet service for rural Kentucky. Standing, from left, are Mark Henry, DUO Broadband Vice President Operations; Tom Preston, DUO Broadband CEO; U.S. Congressman James Comer, R-Kentucky, 1st District; Tyler Campbell, KTA Executive Director;Daryl Hammond, DUO Broadband Vice President/CFO; and Howard Kent Cooper, DUO Broadband Legal Counsel. Also meeting with the group was Sandy Simpson, Field Representative for Congressman Comer.

April 11, 2019 JAMESTOWN, KY — U.S. Congressman James Comer, R-Kentucky, 1st District, met with representatives of DUO Broadband and the Kentucky Telecom Association (KTA) on Thursday to review progress in deploying fiber optic broadband to rural communities, plans for 5G mobile implementation, and other issues related to Kentucky’s telecommunications infrastructure.

“We had a wide ranging discussion about fiber optic network build outs, 5G deployment and how important continued Universal Service Funding (USF) is to the success of closing the digital divide between urban areas and rural parts of the country,” said Tyler Campbell, Executive Director of KTA. “The main thrust of our conversation with Congressman Comer was to emphasize the importance that fiber continues to play in terms of building and maintaining a 21st Century economy for rural America.”

Universal Service

Universal service is the principle that all Americans should have access to affordable communications services. Universal service is also the name of a fund and the category of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) programs and policies to implement this principle. Universal service is a cornerstone of the law that established the FCC, the Communications Act of 1934. Since that time, universal service policies have helped make telephone service ubiquitous, even in rural areas like Russell, Adair and Cumberland counties.

Today, the FCC recognizes high-speed Internet as the 21st Century’s essential communications technology, and is working to make broadband as universal as telephone.

“We discussed some of the unique challenges to deploying broadband across Kentucky,” said Tom Preston, DUO Broadband CEO. “Challenges like less customer density in rural communities as opposed to larger cities, our region’s topography, infrastructure costs, and ongoing network maintenance expenses. We also discussed the need for contribution reform for USF as it’s still a funded from a percentage surcharge on declining interstate and international long distance revenues.”

The National Broadband Map and 5G

Part of the discussion revolved around federal regulations about how the national broadband map is developed. “Right now it’s based on Census block data. We’re looking for it to be more granular,” Campbell said. “If the information is more accurate then DUO Broadband stands a better chance of continuing its progressive approach to fiber deployment and remaining aggressive in building out fiber to even more of the region.”

As 5G technology begins to play a bigger role in how telecommunications are delivered, having a strong fiber optic backbone will become even more important.

“Congressman Comer has a strong interest in looking out for Kentucky farmers. He recognizes the importance of 5G technology and the role it can play for the growth of smart agriculture in Kentucky,” said Campbell.

“5G is revolutionary, but this revolutionary technology still requires building a fiber optic connectivity to cell sites and small cells that support 5G,” Preston said.


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