Ballard Rural Telephone to receive 24 million USDA loan
La Center-State Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Thomas G. Fern announced January 22nd that Ballard Rural Telephone Cooperative (BRTC) would receive a loan in the amount of $24 million to finance its endeavor to provide broadband access to all of its customers.
“Expanding access to improved broadband infrastructure is a critical component in allowing western Kentuckians to be more competitive in our global marketplace,” said USDA state director Thomas Fern in the announcement.
“These investments will help narrow the ‘digital divide’ between rural and metropolitan areas,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said. “With high-speed broadband, rural residents will have improved access to advanced medical care and state-of-the-art technologies that are creating jobs and opportunities in the 21st Century economy.”
According to Harlan Parker, President of BRTC, the $24 million will go toward installing approximately 400 miles of underground fiber optic cable in the areas of Wickliffe, Barlow, Bandana, and Gage. BRTC has already completed installing fiber optic cable in the areas of Heath, La Center, and Kevil at an approximate cost of 17 million. The installation of fiber optic cable to the last section of 400 route miles will complete BRTC’s plans to provide a fiber-to-the-home broadband network in all of Ballard County.
By upgrading to fiber optics, BRTC can offer any amount of Broadband that its customers want, Parker explained. “With copper, you can’t do that,” Parker said. The $24 million loan will be used to purchase equipment and for infrastructure associated with BRTC’s project.