With broadband, WK&T is unlocking our community’s potential

By Trevor Bonnstetter
Chief Executive Officer

Trevor Bonnstetter

Trevor Bonnstetter

Our culture is fascinated with potential. We talk about athletes at the high school level having great potential, with hopeful futures at the college and pro levels. We talk about friends having the potential to be successful in business, education or the arts.

When we view something as having potential, we believe that within it lies the power for it to become greater than what it is now, to accomplish good things and impact lives in a positive way.

I can’t think of a better description for the broadband network we are building today.

At WK&T, we’re nearly finished with our state-of-the-art fiber network. The project, started in 2011, brought more than $123 million into the local economy. The money, which was a grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is transforming our region and preparing us with a new technology that’s truly future-proof.

But that is just the beginning of the story. The most important feature of our broadband network is the potential it holds. Studies have shown that when people put broadband to work in their homes and communities, some exciting things happen:

  • Household incomes rise
  • Job opportunities increase
  • Poverty levels and unemployment drop

The potential is there — but the key to unlocking that potential is you. Some of our customers are doing an outstanding job in this area:

The Graves County Career Center offers programs and tools to help jobseekers fill out and submit applications and resumes to potential employers.

Sedalia farmer Jed Clark can order parts and supplies, check rainfall gauges, activate his irrigation system and more from his smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

Tina Rives began selling antiques on eBay, then decided to open a store in Boaz. She uses her high-speed Internet connection to help make deals with customers by researching the value of her finds.

The network we are building today allows you to take advantage of today’s technology. But here’s the most exciting thing: Where the true power lies is in our network’s ability to adapt to new technologies as they become available, freeing you to explore new ways to put broadband to work. You have the tools to reinvent how you live, work and play.

So go innovate. Go learn. Go imagine new ways to use the technology we are blessed with in this region. Put it to work to change your community, your family, your business. Then be sure to share your story with us. Like those I mentioned above, your story may inspire someone else to unlock the potential of broadband, while discovering the potential inside themselves.

WK&T celebrates its 10,000th fiber customer!

WK&T recently celebrated a major milestone in its fiber buildout. After starting the project in 2011, WK&T welcomed Fairdealing resident Kris Lovett as the 10,000th member to be connected to fiber. Lovett was awarded a $100 Visa gift card and a $50 gift card to the WK&T Technology Store.

10K customerWK&T is entering the final phase of its fiber rollout, with more than 90 percent of the project complete. The fiber network gives members access to blazing-fast Internet speeds, faster than what is currently offered in larger cities like Paducah and Nashville. Fiber also provides high-definition television and crystal-clear telephone service.

Fiber work is ongoing in New Concord, the largest exchange, and will be complete by June 30.

“We don’t know what tomorrow will bring,” says Craig Sullivan, WK&T operations manager. “But we’ve learned that fiber is what needs to be in the ground to prepare for the future. We’re proud to provide fiber to our communities and prepare our members for the new opportunities that will happen because of this network.”

If your home or business is located within WK&T’s service territory and your service has not been converted to the fiber network — even if you only have WK&T phone service — please call 877-954-8748 and schedule an appointment today!

Hello, New Concord!

Good news: Your community is fiber ready!

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

Get connected to the possibilities of fiber!

Call to find out about special pricing!

877-954-8748 | wktelecom.coop

The search for better broadband should start with existing local providers

NEW NTCA logo 4CRural connections

By Shirley Bloomfield, CEO
NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association

There is no question that broadband Internet service is the key to economic and community development, especially in rural America. However, there are differing opinions in Washington about the best way to continue building our nation’s connected infrastructure.

While I applaud President Obama’s recent attention on increasing every American’s access to robust and affordable broadband, it’s not clear that his focus on creating more government-run networks in marketplaces where private operators already exist is the best path toward bringing more jobs and opportunity to rural America.

If our leaders are looking for an excellent model for what can be accomplished, we believe they should turn to the experts who have decades of experience deploying and maintaining modern telecommunications infrastructure: community-based, independent telcos like yours.

Rural telecommunications providers are delivering advanced technology to their customers.

Rural telecommunications providers are delivering advanced technology to their customers.

Nationwide, there are over 1,000 technology providers like yours that serve over 4 million households in the most sparsely populated pockets of our country, deploying high-speed, high-quality broadband services. For decades, these providers have gone above and beyond to build the infrastructure that allows our country’s most rural markets to access the same technologies found in our largest cities — and they’ve done it all under the extremely difficult financial and physical conditions that come with deploying technologies in rural and remote communities.

Thanks to the hard work and commitment of companies such as your local provider, rural America now has access to affordable broadband in some of the most remote locations. But the sustainability of those networks is at risk, and other areas need broadband as well. Policymakers in search of answers to these communications challenges in rural America should turn first to those who have shown they can get the job done time and again, rather than casting about for the next new thing, creating regulatory uncertainty and putting at risk significant investments already made in existing networks through the prospect of redundant or wasteful overbuilding.

There’s already a great broadband success story out there in rural America, and it is being written by community-based telecom providers like yours. As our national broadband story progresses, we should strive to build upon proven initiatives and leverage existing efforts that are working, rather than pursue new uncharted pathways. As this debate plays out, you can be assured that you have a voice in Washington, as your provider joins with hundreds of others through NTCA as the unified voice of America’s rural broadband companies.

Tech Tips: Watch the Big Dance on a new HDTV!

Matt_3969Hi, 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!

Each spring in Kentucky, you know where to find basketball fans — in front of their TVs watching the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Whether you’re cheering on the Wildcats, Cardinals, Racers or Vols, there’s no better way to watch March Madness than on a new, high-definition television.

When it comes to choosing a new television, buying the right one can seem like a daunting task. The choices for new HDTVs are practically limitless: There are LED and plasma screens, smart TVs, 4K resolution and curved televisions — just to name a few. Then you’ll have to choose the right size and the brand you like best while keeping the choice within your budget. But don’t worry if you already feel like it’s too much to handle. Just look at it like this: You’re going to spend countless hours with your new TV, so you want to make sure it’s the right one.

LED (light emitting diode) televisions offer bright screens with brilliant colors that are especially good for movies and gaming. Plasma screens are an older technology, which means they’ll be less expensive, and they offer a more cinematic-type picture. 4K TVs are the new kids on the block. They offer an incredibly high-quality picture — nearly four times better than a standard 1080p HDTV. However, most television and movie studios haven’t started filming in 4K yet, so you’ll be ready even if you have to wait a little while before it gets here.

Remember how 3D TVs were going to be the next big thing a few years ago? Curved TVs are the other latest television technology to cause a big buzz. Curved TVs allow you to experience a wider field of view and a greater picture quality. But, much like the 4K TVs, there are drawbacks to curved TVs. Curved TVs generally require the viewer to buy a larger-than-normal model to fully appreciate the new look, and curved TVs are already some of the most expensive currently available.

Whatever size and type of TV you get, consider making it a Smart TV. Smart TVs allow users to connect to their favorite streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, Pandora and Spotify.

When it comes to the size of your new TV, measure the space you have available and keep in mind that the larger the television, the further you’ll need to sit from the screen to get the best view.

When deciding how much you want to spend, remind yourself that discounted, off-brand TVs are cheap for a reason and may not last as long or have the features you want. Cheaper TVs can also be considered HD even if they only offer 720p resolution. To get the best picture, make sure the TV has 1080p resolution.

If you stick to a name you know and trust, you’ll likely be a lot happier with your choice. In order to stay on budget, remember that a TV with the latest technology will have a higher price, but a proven technology that’s a little older may be the best option to stick within your budget.

The WK&T Technology Store has HD televisions available from 22 inches to 70 inches — whichever one you choose will be the perfect model for you to watch your team make it all the way to the NCAA Championship.

Landline? You still need one in 2015

Today, mobility means everything. We want to check email, log onto Facebook, watch videos, get the news and generally stay connected no matter where we are. And that, of course, includes the ability to make phone calls. With mobile phones in practically everyone’s pocket, some people question the need for a traditional landline. But consider this:

  1. With a landline, you never have to worry about signal strength. Knowing you can get a call through, especially during an emergency, is more than a comfort.
  2. Speaking of emergencies, your landline sends your complete address information — including apartment number — when you dial 911. Cell phones use GPS-based information, which can be inaccurate.
  3. The clarity of a conversation on a landline (if you have a quality wired or cordless handset) is unmatched by any cell phone call.
  4. With the right plan, you’ll never run out of minutes with a landline.
  5. Your “home phone number” provides a way people can always reach you or leave a message. When everyone in the house has their own cell phone with separate numbers, the landline can serve as a central point of contact for the entire family.

Device of the month: Sharp 70-inch Smart TV (Model LE650u)

SharpTVThe Sharp LE650u is an incredible value for the money. It features better picture quality than many similar models of TVs, with accurate colors in both bright and dark rooms. This smart TV has multiple apps pre-installed, including Netflix, Hulu Plus and Pandora as well as a Web browser so you can access your favorite streaming services. Sharp was sure to include an easy-to-use remote control with several simple, handy shortcut buttons. If you’re in the market for a great TV at an unbeatable price, the LE650u is a solid value. The WK&T Technology Store has them on hand now.

You’ve got mail

With so many new apps and services to help keep us connected, email is still king in the business world

TelcoBadgeProof2From instant messaging applications such as Skype to social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, the past few years have brought us many new options for connecting electronically. And yet, when it comes to communicating in business, email remains the method of choice.

In the report “Technology’s Impact on Workers,” released by Pew Research Center at the end of last year, 61 percent of workers who use the Internet say that email is very important to doing their job.

“The high value of email comes despite the challenges of the past generation,” the report states, “including threats like spam and phishing and competitors like social media and texting.”

Email’s continued reign as the communications tool of choice has its benefits. The study found that 39 percent of workers believe that email, along with the Internet and cell phones, allows them more flexibility in the hours they work.

The downside to that flexibility, however, is that 35 percent — almost the same amount — say these tools have increased the amount of time they spend working.

BBB chart

Need a boost?

How to get better performance from your Wi-Fi network

74_tplink router internet with objectsWK&T’s fiber network delivers the high speeds and bandwidth you need to enjoy all the Internet has to offer. With a Wi-Fi network, you can extend broadband Internet service throughout your home and across all your devices, including smart TVs, smartphones, computers, tablets, gaming consoles and more.

“If you only have one device connected to the Internet, you’re really just scratching the surface of what broadband Internet can offer,” says Michael Lee, product and sales manager with WK&T. “Not only does a Wi-Fi network let you connect wirelessly to the Internet with your laptop or iPad, but it lets others in your home connect with their devices, too. It opens up a lot of possibilities.”

Weak Signal?

While a Wi-Fi network enhances the capabilities of your Internet connection, it’s important to remember that several factors can affect Wi-Fi signal strength and quality. These include:

  • Distance: Devices closer to the router will have stronger connections.
  • Age: Older devices may use technology that cannot take advantage of today’s faster Internet speeds.
  • Devices: Each device shares part of the total available bandwidth. Several connected devices means less bandwidth for each.
  • Other: Microwaves, cordless phones, fluorescent lights, Bluetooth devices and other electronic devices could interfere with your Wi-Fi signal.

Boosting your Wi-Fi

If your family often connects several devices to your Wi-Fi network at the same time, and your speeds are impacted, contact WK&T to discuss options for upgrading your Internet speeds to match the needs of your home.

If you experience loss of signal in rooms located upstairs or on the opposite side of your home from your router, you may want to consider purchasing a network extender to boost the power of your Wi-Fi network. These small, affordable devices plug into a normal electrical outlet. Once connected to your Wi-Fi network, they extend the reach of your network to more rooms in your home, or even to your patio or deck.

An Option for Extending

TPlinkThere are many options available, but an inexpensive, well-reviewed choice is the TP-LINK TL-WA850RE ($30, Amazon.com). It has one-touch setup with most routers, a signal indicator to let you check performance and an Ethernet port to make wired devices wireless. Similar devices are available at WK&T’s Technology Store as well as most electronics stores.

Email overload? Manage your inbox with these simple tips

With so much importance placed on email in today’s business world, managing your messages can be overwhelming. You can benefit from this communications tool without letting it wreck your day by putting a few simple principles into action.

Set an email schedule. If you make yourself available for email all day long, you leave yourself open to constant distraction. Set a schedule of specific times during the day when you will check email. You may have to adjust it to find the schedule that’s right for you, but try starting with once before lunch and again early afternoon. You will feel more freedom than when you are drawn in by every email that lands in your inbox.

Turn off notifications. You can’t stay focused on any one task if your computer provides a pop-up notification every time an email comes in. Turn off that productivity-killing feature. In fact, shut down your email app altogether and only launch it when you are ready to focus on email.

Organize your inbox. Most email apps allow you to set up folders, filters and rules to bring order to your email madness. It may take a few weeks of adjusting to find the approach that best fits you, but the result will be a more organized workspace. Your mail will be in intuitive categories so that you’ll be able to deal with the most important messages first.

Keep it brief. When you send an exhaustive email with hundreds of words and multiple questions and points, you invite an equally exhaustive response that you’ll have to wade through.

Consider alternatives. Email is not for every conversation. In fact, it’s a terrible way to manage a project. Post messages pertaining to a specific project inside tools such as Basecamp or Trello. Having all related conversations in the same place with related notes and action items will help you track progress.

Is email an important part of your business? Do you have any tips for managing email to work more efficiently? Tell us your story at www.BroadbandBuildsBusiness.com.