WK&T would like to wish Tim Holloway a happy retirement! After more than 37 years working for the cooperative, Holloway retired from his position as the inspector of plant and safety in June. During his time with WK&T, Holloway was instrumental in helping to complete the fiber project, providing high-speed Internet as well as crystal-clear television and phone service to the area. From everyone at WK&T, thank you for all your work, Tim, and enjoy your retirement!
Members of the WK&T sales team are ready for the future! The sales team is taking steps to eliminate paperwork for documents and contracts by allowing customers to use a stylus to sign documents on a tablet. “We’re going green,” says Michael Lee, WK&T’s marketing and sales manager. “It’s a great way to save money and save the environment.”
If you’d like a sales representative to stop by and discuss WK&T’s full line of services, please call 877-954-8748 to schedule a visit.
By Trevor Bonnstetter
Chief Executive Officer
When it comes to technology, we want everything to be “smart” these days. We have smartphones and smart watches, smart appliances in our kitchen and laundry room, smart thermostats and smart home gadgets with smart apps to control them.
While all this smart technology is impressive and can make life more convenient while saving us money, the really smart part of it all is the broadband network that so many of these devices and apps rely on to bring us this functionality.
This trend toward devices that are only possible with broadband is not going away. And as broadband becomes the leading infrastructure driving innovation, it is impacting every facet of our lives.
That’s why we decided long ago that improving broadband service in our rural area was the smart thing to do. With access to an advanced broadband network, boundless opportunities open up for our region:
Smarter businesses: Technology allows businesses to reach new customers and better serve the customers they already have. Smart businesses are using data and their broadband connections to learn more about customer habits, streamline supply chains and optimize their operations. Studies have shown that broadband-connected businesses bring in $200,000 more in median annual revenues than non-connected businesses. Our network ensures that these tools are available to our local businesses so they can compete regionally, nationally or even globally.
Smarter education: Local teachers and school administrators are doing amazing things with tablets, online resources and other learning tools. These smart schools are opening up new avenues for students to learn. Experts say that nationally, students in schools with broadband connections reach higher levels of educational achievements and have higher-income careers.
Smarter health care: From bracelets that keep track of physical activity to telemedicine, smart technology and broadband are improving the way we monitor and care for our bodies. Physicians are able to confer with other medical experts, transmit X-Rays and lab results and communicate with patients over our network. Through smart electronic medical records, everyone from stroke patients to expectant mothers is receiving better care because hospitals and doctors are getting “smarter.”
Smarter homes: A host of new devices has allowed users to bring smart technology into their homes. Smart devices allow you to monitor your home, change the thermostat, turn on lights and even lock or unlock doors remotely.
We’ve made smart decisions that put our community in a position to take advantage of this smart revolution. As our devices, businesses, homes, schools and hospitals get smarter, rest assured that your cooperative is smart enough to have the infrastructure in place to handle these demands — plus whatever the future holds.
WK&T’s fiber project will be complete by the end of June
By Patrick Smith
When West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative started in 1951, locals banded together to bring telephone service to rural communities that were not profitable enough for large corporations trying to make big earnings for stockholders. Passionate locals went door to door, explaining the benefits of a telephone network and recruiting new members.
One after another, poles were erected and telephone lines were strung throughout the community. Soon, more and more members joined, and over the course of time, a vast telecommunications network was built.
But as time goes on, technology and consumer demands change.
WK&T saw the future potential of bringing fiber to the area, and in 2009, the cooperative was awarded a $123.8 million grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. While the new network would transform the community, it also meant the old network, which had previously taken decades to create, would have to be completely rebuilt in just six short years.
WK&T accepted the challenge.
“It’s been a massive undertaking to build the stimulus portion of the new broadband network in such a short amount of time,” says Trevor Bonnstetter, WK&T CEO. “But it’s been incredibly fulfilling to see the changes that broadband has already created for our community.”
The new network is being constructed using fiber optic technology. It works by sending pulses of light along strands of glass the thickness of a human hair. The network is delivering blazing-fast Internet speeds throughout the area, in addition to crystal-clear television and phone service.
In June, when WK&T will complete the project, each customer’s service will be operating on fiber, allowing the cooperative to discontinue its maintenance of the copper system.
Many companies integrate fiber as part of their network. Some use it alongside copper, and others use one strand for multiple members who share the bandwidth.
WK&T’s fiber-to-the-home network is different, giving members a true fiber connection from the switch at the central office all the way to a member’s home or business.
And, there’s no sharing. Each home or business has its own dedicated line of fiber so they can experience all the connected world has to offer — now, and years into the future.
“I feel like fiber gives WK&T members a product that is truly future-proof,” says Stacey Riley, operations manager for WK&T. “There’s been a lot of work involved in this project by our employees and the community. It’s a big accomplishment for us to have the new network built in just a few years.”
Since the work began, thousands of local businesses and residents have seen the impact of fiber — a technology that’s not yet available in many larger cities like Nashville and St. Louis.
The efforts of the cooperative’s first patrons have paid off time and again. Over the past 64 years, people have depended on WK&T to bring first-class service to the area. WK&T’s services have helped recruit businesses, big and small, and the cooperative has helped locals live and work in their hometown. Today, broadband is continuing the tradition and helping to bring new innovations to the area.
“The infrastructure WK&T is building will continue to change the whole community,” says Bonnstetter. “It’s exciting to think about how fiber will change these communities and the advancements we’ll see in 10 or 15 years.”
Need a boost? The closer your device is to the wireless router, the stronger the signal. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, the signal can weaken between your router and the device you’re using. It could be the distance between the devices, or even the construction materials used in your home or office. Luckily, the NETGEAR EX2700 Range Extender can give your wireless signal the boost it needs. The EX2700 plugs directly into a wall outlet and provides an unobtrusive, simple solution. It’s easy to install and simple to use. The WK&T Technology Store has them on hand now.
How to set up a Wi-Fi network to share your broadband Internet connection among your devices
Hi, I’m Matt Garrett. I work at the WK&T Technology Store in Mayfield. In this column, in each issue, you’ll learn about technology and read simple tips to get the most out of your electronics. For more tips or help with your devices, please come see me at the store. I’m always happy to help!
A wireless network provides the easiest, most efficient way for you to get the most out of all your devices. With the power of the Internet, the latest tablets, smartphones, gaming systems, computers and smart televisions are transformed into more robust devices that can make your life easier.
By following a few simple tips, you can set up your own Wi-Fi network and get the most out of your new gadgets and your WK&T Internet connection.
Wireless networks have always been convenient for laptop users, but now more and more products are designed to access the Internet through Wi-Fi. Once you set up your home network, you can enjoy the full functionality of all your Wi-Fi-enabled devices — along with whatever new gadgets are coming next.
A wireless network, coupled with the power of a WK&T broadband connection, will expand the possibilities for using the Internet throughout your home — all from the comfort of your couch.
BUILD YOUR NETWORK
Wi-Fi networks essentially have two pieces: the modem and the router. The modem is the gateway to the Internet, and the router is where your devices connect to access that gateway.
Most of the newer modems WK&T sells or rents to customers have Wi-Fi routers built in. But even if your router and modem are separate devices, the installation is fairly easy. Routers usually come with an installation CD that you will need to open on your main computer. Follow the prompts in the software to get the network up and running.
LOCK IT UP
The next step is setting up security to prevent unwanted users from logging onto your network. These freeloaders can slow down your connection speed by using up bandwidth, or — worse — they can use your network for illegal purposes.
Follow the instructions with your router’s software to enable security features like password protection and encryption. Make sure to store your passwords in a safe place so you can easily connect to the network.
As an extra precaution, be sure the firewalls are activated on any computer you plan to connect to your Wi-Fi network.
CONNECT YOUR DEVICES
Once the network is up and secure, try connecting your devices. You will need to enter your security password on each device you want to connect. Most computers and smartphones have an easily accessed network settings menu where the password can be entered.
Televisions, Blu-ray players and game systems have similar menus, but you will also need to open programs like Pandora or Netflix and follow a few more steps to link the apps with your account.
If things just don’t seem to be working out, try restarting the process. But this time, set your device to choose the wireless network you’re trying to connect with and tell the devices to “forget this network.” This will clear out any stored information that may be disrupting the process. It’s a clean slate to work from, and it usually solves the problem.
A wireless network can greatly enhance the benefit you receive from your WK&T broadband Internet connection. Don’t fret! More times than not, there’s no issue setting up your network and getting your devices connected — and once you do, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
WK&T is nearing the completion of its fiber project. Call to schedule your free fiber conversion before it’s too late!
What will YOU do with Internet speeds of 50 Mbps or more?
- Work from home
- Discover new music, books, movies & games
- Learn a new skill
- Earn a degree online
- Connect with your doctor
- Share family photos and video
You can win big when you like WK&T on Facebook! The cooperative will hold a Facebook contest each month in 2015, with each winner receiving fabulous prizes from WK&T.
Mayfield resident Kristen Hendon won WK&T’s Valentine’s Day contest in February. She won a $25 gift card to Applebee’s; a dozen roses from King’s Flowers, Gifts & Antiques; two movie tickets to Princess Theatres of Mayfield; and a large heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates!
Thanks to everyone who entered, and check back often to keep up with the latest WK&T news and your next chance to win!
After more than 35 years of working for WK&T, Craig Sullivan retired from his position as operations manager. Sullivan was among the dozens of employees who played a vital role in the creation of WK&T’s new fiber network. Sullivan waited to retire until the project was only four months away from completion and the main line fiber portion of the project was completed. “I’m very proud of the network and the work WK&T has done to build it,” says Sullivan. “When you look at the rural areas that we serve, it’s wonderful to know that these residents have access to this incredible technology.” WK&T would like to wish him the best of luck in his retirement!
By Trevor Bonnstetter
Chief Executive Officer
The results are in. Almost 200 readers responded to The WK&T Connection readership survey in our January/February issue. Your responses gave us good insight into what we’re doing right and how we can serve you better.
I appreciate those who took the time to share this valuable feedback with us.
Not surprisingly, the stories about local people in our community and the articles about food are the most popular pages among respondents. But I was pleased to see readers also enjoy the articles with information about your cooperative.
Perhaps that readership is why 85 percent of respondents said this magazine gave them a better understanding of technology, and 90 percent said they have a better understanding of the role this cooperative plays in economic and community development because of The WK&T Connection. It’s very gratifying to know our efforts are working.
I shared this data not to boast about how proud we are of this magazine, but to explain the reason why I’m proud of it. I believe having informed and educated members is a key factor to the long-term health of this cooperative.
In fact, educating our members is one of the seven core principles that lay the foundation for a cooperative. The National Cooperative Business Association says members should be informed about company and industry news “so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative.”
Informed and engaged members make our cooperative better.
Broadband has been in the news quite a bit lately, from net neutrality to the president discussing high-speed network expansion. It’s important for our members to know how federal regulations, state policies and shifts in the industry can affect their broadband and telephone services.
Educating you on issues that matter to rural telecommunications and your community empowers you to become advocates for rural America. Big corporations and urban residents certainly find ways to make their voices heard, and it’s up to cooperatives like us and members like you to let legislators and policymakers know that rural America matters and decisions that affect telecommunications cooperatives matter to rural America.
I hope you enjoy the stories and photos in this magazine. I always do. But I also hope you come away with a little better understanding of your cooperative, the role we play in this community and the role you can play in making rural America better.