Mountain nears end of historic fiber buildout

Mountain Telephone continues cutting residents over to their fiber network. Fiber is faster and more reliable than traditional copper broadband. To take full advantage of the new technology, call 606-743-3121.

Mountain Telephone continues cutting residents over to their fiber network. Fiber is faster and more reliable than traditional copper broadband. To take full advantage of the new technology, call 606-743-3121.

Mountain Telephone has completed all mainline construction in its fiber-to-the-home project and will now direct its focus to getting members cut over to the high-speed network.

Crews completed construction for the Sandy Hook Phase V contract as well as the Sandy Hook Phase IV contract, which was delayed due to a Department of Transportation road-widening project.

Crews will continue cutting residents over to fiber until customers in the service area has access to the fastest and most advanced data network available.

The harsh winter caused some construction delays, but crews still managed to complete construction work to the primary network. Crews finished the final construction contracts in March.

“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as construction goes,” says Rick Pelfrey, plant manager at Mountain Telephone. “Cutover should wrap up in late spring or early summer.”

Pelfrey says some fiber customers may have lost service during some severe winter weather. “An ice storm caused a power outage for six days in some areas and affected fiber customers because their batteries ran down,” he says. Fiber-DSCN1567

The next time an outage like that happens, anyone with a generator can plug the ONT battery into it for a charge in order to maintain service.

Mountain Telephone members who have been cut over to the fiber network but have not yet signed up for the voice, broadband data and HD video services Mountain offers are not getting the full benefits of fiber technology. Members are encouraged to call Mountain’s business office at 606-743-3121 to learn more and place an order today.

 

 

Calling all shutterbugs!

bigstock-Photography-Slr-camera-film--47354377Do you have a knack for capturing great photos? Would you like to see your photos in the 2014 Mountain Telephone Directory or in the Mountain Calendar? Now is your chance.

MRTC is accepting submissions for its 2014 Photo Contest. Digital photos can be emailed to lfannin@mountaintelephone.com, or entries may be mailed or dropped off at the MRTC business office during regular business hours. The deadline to enter is June 1.

  • All photos must be in color and taken in Bath, Elliott, Menifee, Morgan or Wolfe counties.
  • There is a limit of two pictures per customer, and a submission form must be filled out for each photo.
  • Digital photos must be in JPEG/JPG format.
  • Entries must be submitted by the original photographer.
  • People in photos must not be recognizable.
  • Photos must be appropriate for posting publicly. Photos deemed inappropriate will not be eligible.
  • Pictures or prints will not be returned.

For more information or to submit a submission form online, visit www.mrtc.com/Sub/contest.html.

2014 Mountain Telephone scholarships now available

Each year an independent committee typically selects four students from Wolfe, Morgan, Menifee and Elliott counties and one student from Bath County to receive a $3,000 four-year scholarship to offset the cost of tuition and books. The scholarships are awarded based on grade point average and a written essay.

Mountain Telephone has awarded scholarships since 1988, when it first partnered with Morehead State University. Through the partnership, students receiving scholarships must attend MSU. Mountain will pay half of the scholarship funds, and MSU will cover the remainder. Over the past 25 years, Mountain has awarded scholarships to more than 400 students.

Application forms are mailed to every high school senior in all our served counties. If anyone has not received an application, they can print one at www.mrtc.com or they can get one from their school guidance counselor. For more information call 606-743-3121.

Fiber project nears completion

Mountain Telephone is on track to complete its fiber-to-the-home project on time and under budget.

Rick Pelfrey, plant manager at Mountain Telephone, says crews are only a couple of months away from completing the project despite winter weather that delayed work to the main fiber network.

MRTC’s Jerry Hampton cuts residents over to the fiber network in the final step in Mountain’s fiber-to-the-home project.

MRTC’s Jerry Hampton cuts residents over to the fiber network in the final step in Mountain’s fiber-to-the-home project.

“We don’t allow our crews to do work on fiber when the temperature is below freezing,” Pelfrey says. “The fiber can become brittle, and it can be damaged.”

Despite delays, Pelfrey says the project’s estimated completion date has not changed. He expects it will be complete this spring.

“We hope to finish all cutover this spring,” he says. “We feel we can do this because our cutover crews are keeping up with construction crews.”

Construction is finished on the Sandy Hook Phase V contract, Pelfrey says. Crews are in the process of cutting residents over to the new network.

Fiber buildout continues for the Sandy Hook Phase IV project, which was delayed due to a Department of Transportation road-widening project. The DOT project is complete and fiber work is underway.

In the Frenchburg Phase V project, crews are about 80 percent complete.

Mountain’s fiber-to-the-home project appears to be on budget.

“We might have enough money left over to build some additional fiber,” Pelfrey says. “Our in-house crews continue building fiber, and any new customers, video (television) customers and DSL customers are all going to fiber.”

Mountain Telephone members who have been cut over to the fiber network but do not have all the voice, broadband data and HD video services Mountain offers are not getting the full benefits of fiber technology. Members are encouraged to call Mountain’s business office at 606 743-3121 to learn more and place an order today.

Local headend operation improves TV service

Are you enjoying television programming from Mountain Telephone TV in high definition?

If not, there are almost twice as many reasons to start. If you are, your enjoyment just doubled.

For more information about Mountain’s television services, visit www.mrtc.com or call 607-743-3121.

For more information about Mountain’s television services, visit www.mrtc.com or call 607-743-3121.

Because MTTV is relocating its video headend — the point where a television service’s signals originate — members will see an increase in channels in crystal clear HD.

Under a previous contract, MTTV’s headend was at a remote site run by a separate company in California. When that contract ended, MTTV was able to set up similar equipment locally, giving managers more control over the programming and channel lineup.

“This gives us the ability to offer more HD channels right away,” says Travis Keaton, network engineer at MTTV. “We can offer channels now that we couldn’t offer before because our previous provider didn’t carry them.”

The locally controlled headend will allow MTTV to offer a more robust lineup of high-definition channels and a better signal.

“It gives us the control to repair something without having to wait on someone in California to fix it,” Keaton says.

And in the long run, the new operation will cost less.

“It is expensive right up front, but in the long run it will save us money,” Keaton says. “We built it with what we feel is enough capacity to add channels in the future without adding more equipment.”

In touch with business

Businesses have special needs. Of course, they often have special Internet and broadband requirements, but they also have special telephone needs. Mountain Telephone is meeting those needs and making sure businesses are operating as efficiently as possible.

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Ollie Riggsby, left, and Steven Gullett are dedicated to finding the right communication system for your business.

Ollie Riggsby and Steven Gullett are dedicated to making sure Mountain Telephone’s business customers have the telephone system that is best for them and ensuring that it is working as it should.

Riggsby says they talk to the business managers to determine what system best meets their needs. “We try to stay as current as possible with the latest technology,” he says.

Almost all businesses need voice mail. But the newest thing businesses want is a voice over Internet protocol system, commonly referred to as voice over IP.

Voice over IP is technology that allows telephone systems to operate over a broadband Internet connection like the one MRTC provides. The advanced telephone system operates more efficiently.

The IP phone system allows office staff to transfer calls more seamlessly between offices or branch locations, immediately tell if someone is on another line and use an interoffice one-button calling system. It also allows technicians to access the system remotely to make any needed repairs without being on site.

Other features of the system allow employees to stay connected no matter where they are. For instance, users can set their phone to automatically forward calls to their mobile phone or they can take a phone set home and plug it into a broadband connection; the phone will then work remotely just as if it is in the office.

To find out if a voice over IP phone system is right for your business, call MRTC at 606-743-3121 or 800-939-3121 and ask for Ollie or Steven.

Understanding your bill

Mountain Telephone tries to make your bill clear and easy to understand, but questions still arise. Mountain Telephone is required by law to include a number of taxes and fees, and the terminology for some of them can be confusing. Maria Motley, a Mountain Telephone customer service representative, explains some of the frequently misunderstood terms.

Maria Motley, a customer service representative at Mountain Telephone, fields numerous questions from members about the terminology in their telephone bills.

Maria Motley, a customer service representative at Mountain Telephone, fields numerous questions from members about the terminology in their telephone bills.

Regulated charges – Services that are regulated by the government. Fees for regulated services are set by state or federal agencies. Typical regulated services include connection to the Central Office and local usage fees, service features such as call waiting or caller ID, 911 service fees, and associated state and federal taxes.

Unregulated charges – Unregulated charges are price schedules and fees applied to services not regulated by the government. Fees for unregulated services are set by the local service provider. Unregulated services typically include inside wiring, telephone rental, equipment maintenance fees and associated state and federal taxes.

Proration – Mountain Telephone bills customers for basic services a month in advance. Therefore, a customer’s initial bill is often higher because customers are billed from the day the service is installed up to the bill date, plus one month in advance. Bills for subsequent months will include only fees for the current month.

Subscriber line charge – A regulated charge that allows a local telephone service provider to collect a portion of the costs for operating and maintaining the facilities necessary to provide dial tone for all customers.

Access line charge – A regulated fee charged to access a telephone provider’s local telecommunications network

Payments the way you want it

Mountain Telephone understands that everyone is busy in this hectic and fast-paced world. That is why we want to make our services as easy and convenient for you as possible. To do this, Mountain Telephone offers multiple ways to pay, so you can choose the best option to fit your lifestyle.

Auto Debit

The most convenient method of payment is our Auto Debit method, which automatically deducts your payment from your checking account. You can still receive a bill, but your payment will be automatically deducted on the 10th of every month.

eBill

You can pay your bill online through our eBill service on our website. Visit www.mrtc.com and click “Pay Your Bill.” You will be directed to a login screen that will walk you through how to securely pay your bill without having to leave your home. You will be given a confirmation number to show that your payment has been received.

Mail, phone or in person

If you prefer to mail your payment to Mountain Telephone, we can accommodate that, too. You can also make your payment on the phone by calling 606-743-3121, and we will gladly accept payments in person at our West Liberty office. Payments can also be made through the 10th of each month at Citizens Bank in West Liberty, First National Bank and Kentucky Bank in Sandy Hook and all Bank of the Mountains locations.

Building our future’s foundation

By Shayne Ison
General Manager

Can you imagine life without electricity? Of course not. It helps you take care of your home and family, earn a living, get your news, enjoy entertainment and experience a better quality of life. Wait … can’t the same be said for broadband?

Shayne Ison

Shayne Ison

I draw that parallel to drive home an important point — the broadband network we are building today is as foundational to modern society as the electricity distribution system that began powering rural America in the 1930s and 1940s.

Do you remember the first time you logged on to the Internet? Maybe it was through a Mountain Telephone Internet account. Perhaps you dialed a toll-free number, or even paid long-distance charges, to connect to EarthLink or AOL (how many CDs did you receive in the mail over the years offering 10 free hours of service to try AOL?). As you listened to the whistles and pops of your modem making a dial-up connection, you could not have imagined a day when such a network connection would impact practically every part of your life.

But that day is here. As dial-up access gave way to broadband connections, technology drove innovations that go far beyond simply browsing the Internet. And just like in the early days of electrification, rural America is benefiting greatly.

Consider these examples of how people are using their broadband connections:

  • Students are staying current with their studies when they miss class, and turning in their homework online.
  • Teachers and professors are bringing advanced studies into their classrooms through distance learning.
  • Clinics and hospitals are managing records and expediting test results in ways that help them control costs while improving patient care and convenience.
  • Businesses are selling products and services, buying supplies and communicating in ways that help them compete with companies in larger markets.
  • Local governments, fire departments, police forces, water providers and other agencies are saving money on training while offering greater access and improved services to citizens.

Our network is making stories like these possible. And it’s not just Mountain Telephone. Providers like us across rural America are creating real solutions as we lead the way for a more advanced telecommunications network in our country.

If these stories are not enough to convince you that we truly are building the foundation for our future, look at the story “Wireless Needs Wires” on Page 6. With so many people connected by cell phone these days and the use of traditional landlines on the decline, you might be tempted to think of your local telecommunications company as a provider whose most relevant days are behind them. But as you see from this article, even the cell phone service people are so attached to depends heavily on the wired network that we continue to improve. It wouldn’t work without us.

Broadband is indeed the infrastructure of the future – one we are building for you today.