Member Profile: West Kentucky And Tennessee Telecommunications Cooperative
Trevor R. Bonnstetter
Number of Employees:
About 70 full-time
Number of Access Lines (Tennessee and Kentucky):
Tennessee Exchanges Served:
Cottage Grove, TN, Eaton/Brazil, TN, Mason Hall, TN, Puryear, TN, Trimble, TN, Yorkville, TN
West Kentucky and Tennessee Telecommunications Cooperative (WK&T) is a company focused on progress. After celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2016, the cooperative is poised for a year of significant growth in 2017.
This year, WK&T will expand its service area to include Martin, Tennessee, a town of about 11,000 residents. The city is home to the University of Tennessee at Martin, which has nearly 7,000 students enrolled.
WK&T has served pockets of West Tennessee for years from its headquarters in Mayfield, Kentucky. Martin, about 40 minutes south of Mayfield, is a logical area for the cooperative to expand its fiber optic network.
The city of Martin initially approached WK&T asking for help to manage its water meter monitoring system, a service that the cooperative will support with fiber. As an additional bonus to the city of Martin, WK&T will also provide area residents and businesses with fiber optic connections, which will give citizens access to ultra-high-speed internet, crystal-clear television and digital voice technology.
“We’re incredibly excited to begin this project and offer our state-of-the-art telecommunications services to Martin,” says Trevor Bonnstetter, CEO of WK&T. “This technology helps give rural areas like Martin the same access to technology as people would normally find in much larger cities like Nashville or St. Louis. We’re helping connect rural America to the rest of the world through fiber.”
Engineering and mapping work is currently underway for the Martin project with construction expected to start later this year.
WK&T begins its expansion work in Martin after recently completing its 100 percent fiber-to-the-home build throughout its existing service area. WK&T was awarded a $123.8 million grant to equip WK&T members with fiber optics in 2010.
Since the completion of the project, WK&T has seen growth in many local economic sectors, including education, economic development, government services and quality of life for local residents.
WK&T has recently completed the process of buying the former site of Mid-Continent University, about 10 miles north of downtown Mayfield. The cooperative will begin moving its offices and warehouses to the campus in 2018 after purchasing the site when the university fell into bankruptcy in 2014. WK&T will create a new technology park on the former college campus, hoping to entice high-tech organizations to locate to rural western Kentucky while taking advantage of the cooperative’s high-speed fiber services. The cooperative also plans to build a large solar farm on the campus, which, depending on the final size, could generate between 2 and 7 megawatts.
“We’re excited to build upon the incredible history of our cooperative with this exciting new project,” says Bonnstetter. “As WK&T continues to grow at our new technology park, we’re confident the community and local members will see continued growth from the amazing new opportunities this venture presents.”
In addition to extending the reach of its fiber network, and moving its offices outside of downtown Mayfield, WK&T has recently rolled out several new products and services.
WK&T has begun offering a ViewLocal television product that is available over the cooperative’s fiber network. ViewLocal gives area residents access to local television affiliates and WK&T’s local channels. Among the cooperative’s most popular channels is WK&T Sports, which regularly broadcasts more than 80 local high school games as well as replays of college sports and many other local sporting events.
Additionally, WK&T will soon add the order management feature to its already-popular SmartHub service. Order management will allow members to make changes to their account, as well as add or remove features and even register as a new cooperative member, at any time of day. Members will no longer have to wait for normal business hours.
“Looking ahead and knowing of the impressive changes coming for WK&T and thinking about the new products we’ll be offering, I’m thrilled about the future for our members and our whole community,” says Bonnstetter.