Fiber from HTC improves economically distressed community

Serving an area regularly listed among the poorest in Tennessee and Kentucky, Highland Telephone Cooperative achieves success through visionary leadership, strong public-private partnerships and resilient community members.

Large telecommunications companies passed by the three counties served by HTC decades ago: Morgan and Scott counties in Tennessee and McCreary County, Kentucky. With an average of only 2.5 customers per mile, most companies would have scoffed at the idea of a state-of-the-art fiber optic network.

“We decided to build fiber because if we didn’t, it may never happen for our members,” said Mark Patterson, HTC general manager.

Thanks to a $67 million stimulus grant and loan package, HTC rebuilt its entire network with fiber. Now, broadband speeds of 10 Gbps are available in one of the most economically distressed regions in the United States.

Today, HTC hopes to ignite even more big ideas and continue to improve the community.

“Before the interstate system was built, U.S. Highway 27 was the main North-South route, and it passed right through our service area,” says Patterson. “But, when I-75 was designed, the traffic moved 25 miles east. It basically took all that traffic out of our area. With fiber, we made sure the information superhighway passed through and we wouldn’t be left behind.”

Hear more of the conversation with Mark Patterson on the StoryConnect Podcast.