Report from the CEO
Hill Country Telephone Cooperative, Inc. has had another busy and successful year. Our staff has continued to focus on our outside plant upgrades for broadband deployment. We have placed another 47.5 miles of fiber, continued to develop other new services offerings, all in our effort to provide our subscribers with the best possible array of services.
Our efforts are not without challenge. Many areas of Hill Country’s service area are extremely high cost to serve and we continue to look for alternative, economical technologies to provide access to broadband in these areas. We all have faced an economic turndown this year which we contend has contributed to our telephone line/member loss. We have seen our line of credit tighten up, also a reflection of the financial condition of our Country.
Serving rural America is a very capital intensive endeavor as we see on the average $50,000 to $65,000 per mile to bury fiber cable. As members, you may also be interested to know that Hill Country has an average investment of approximately $9,000 per member to provide service across its 2,900 square mile service area.
In regard to challenges, earlier this year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revealed the “National Broadband Plan”. This Plan, released on March 17 of this year, is a result of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act where the President and Congress mandated the FCC to devise a plan to provide broadband access to all Americans which is an admirable goal. The Plan took one year to compose, cost $20 million and is 376 pages long.
Our rural telephone industry has thoroughly analyzed this “Plan” and has determined that in its current proposed form is extremely detrimental for rural America. Where the intent is to provide broadband access to all Americans, we find the Plan very contrary to these goals with significant implications on Hill Country Telephone Cooperative.
In closing, our cooperative has not only been aggressive in the deployment of new technologies, but we are also very involved in the regulatory/legislative process as our rural telephone industry faces mounting challenges in both the State and Federal arenas. We must be vigilant in protecting the right and interest of rural America! Our future and the economic viability of rural America hangs in the balance.
We look forward to seeing you at this year’s Annual Meeting. As always, it is our privilege to serve you!