News Archives - HCTC

HCTC

Director nominations to open soon

The 2019 nominations for HCTC directors will open July 30, with nominations posted by Aug. 23. Petitions for nominations are due on or before Sept. 6. Qualifications and nominations for directors can be found in the bylaws under section numbers 4.3 and 4.4. Bylaws are available online at hctc.net or in the back of the May 2019 phone book.

Director Nominations

District 1A — Ingram
District 5 — Fredonia, Katemcy, Pontotoc and Streeter District 6B — Comfort and Sisterdale

HCTC salutes rural volunteer fire departments

HCTC recognizes that for many rural communities, the local volunteer fire departments provide the first line of defense. Volunteer firefighters are local people willing to drop their own work to help a neighbor or a family member the second their radio goes off. They even put in hours of volunteer training so they can provide the best assistance possible to their community.

In the state of Texas, volunteer fire departments make up about 76 percent of the fire department services. These local fire departments are significantly dependent on monies received from local fundraisers and donations. Faced with required training and expensive equipment, medical supplies, vehicle fuel and repairs, and even insurance, HCTC recognizes the financial challenges our rural volunteer fire departments are faced with each year.

Simply put, HCTC knows that members of our local rural volunteer departments represent the line between life and death in our rural communities, ready to serve 24/7 for the safety of our family, friends and neighbors. HCTC is honored to annually support 25 community volunteer fire departments within our service territory.

HCTC salutes our first responders and local volunteer fire departments. Thank you for your dedication and relentless service to our communities!

 

Thank you for an opportunity to serve

Greetings, cooperative family! It has been one of the great pleasures of my career to serve as your chief operations officer. As I look ahead to my new role as your CEO, I am excited about the opportunities awaiting our cooperative. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to express my sincere gratitude to our recently retired CEO, Alan Link.

On behalf of the employees of HCTC, I would like to express our appreciation of Alan’s countless contributions. During his tenure, and thanks to the support of your board of directors, the cooperative embarked on a strategy of aggressive investments to deploy fiber optics throughout our regulated network, greatly increasing the availability of high-speed broadband services to even our most remote members.

Likewise, investments were made in our deregulated territories, such as our expansion into new areas of Kerrville, Fredericksburg and Stonewall. Also, our complete fiber overlay of the city of Sonora has been warmly received. Many other fiber deployment projects are underway throughout our territory and will continue through the remainder of 2019.

Now Looking Ahead

HCTC’s mission is “to be the premier provider of modern telecommunications and broad- band services throughout our region.” We will continue our aggressive network expansion, bringing fiber optic services to many more cooperative members and extending the reach of our fiber backbone to improve broadband speeds available to members served with traditional copper lines. As always, we will continue to evaluate, test and implement new network technologies that improve the lives of our cooperative members and further enable our business customers to remain competitive in a global economy.

I also believe that what truly differentiates HCTC as a premier service provider is our dedication to our member-owners. I opened this column by referring to you as family. At HCTC, we not only recognize and appreciate that you, our customer, are an owner of this cooperative, but also think of you as part of our cooperative family. In the coming months, you will see a new commitment to a customer service experience that exceeds your expectations. Improved processes will address our overall efficiency in processing service requests while other improvements will simplify your ability to interact with HCTC online. We will focus on your satisfaction with our service delivery — from providing managed Wi-Fi services to reducing the time necessary to upgrade existing services. And we will always do our best to resolve any service issues you may have, the first time.

I am excited about the tremendous opportunities we have at HCTC. Not only is our service territory in one of the most desirable locations of Texas, but this area has also experienced strong growth in recent years with no anticipated slowdown. HCTC is well positioned to meet the ever-increasing demand for broadband. But, we will not just wait for opportunity and growth to knock on our door. We will continue to seek expansion of our deregulated territory in an effort to provide broadband services to areas historically unserved or underserved with broadband.

I am honored to serve you in this new capacity and look forward to working with our employees and board to find new and innovative ways to improve our services and service delivery while providing you customer service that is second to none!

R. Craig Cook

CEO

Gig Certified

HCTC receives national recognition as Certified Gig-Capable Provider

Because of HCTC’s commitment to building a world-class broadband network, residents and businesses of Comfort, Texas have access to gigabit internet speeds — among the fastest connections in the country. Recently, HCTC was recognized by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association as a Certified Gig-Capable Provider.

NTCA is the premier industry association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America.

As a Certified Gig-Capable Provider, HCTC joins a national campaign to build awareness and industry recognition of community-based telecom providers. These providers have built communication networks capable of delivering internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, which is 100 times faster than those currently available in many U.S. households.

Cooperatives Carry a Remarkable Legacy

Imagine the headlines if this happened today — a group of rural Texas residents raise money to build their own internet network because corporate internet providers determined their area didn’t deserve coverage.

Such a story would get coverage from coast to coast and go viral on social media. Internet service has become essential to modern life, and recent media trends emphasize grassroots efforts to fill in where investor-controlled corporations fall short.

But that seemingly sensational situation is how Hill Country Telephone Cooperative (HCTC) got started decades ago with the technology of the day. It’s tough to get more grassroots than the story of our founding, and we’re proud to have built on that legacy to continue serving you today.

October is National Cooperative Month, supported by the National Cooperative Business Association and recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That designation always leads me to reflect on our remarkable story. When this company was founded, the ranchers, merchants, teachers, doctors and other community members knew this area needed a telephone network capable of keeping up with the rest of the country. For reasons of safety, economic growth and convenience, they wanted phone service, and they took it upon themselves to make it happen. Meanwhile, the big phone companies wouldn’t build here because it wasn’t profitable enough.

Creating a cooperative wasn’t easy. Each founding member pledged money upfront and then provided continued support in order for the new cooperative to get started. Each individual took a risk — but it was a risk worth taking because they knew they needed a modern communications network.

Today, broadband is the dominant communications need for our area, and HCTC has evolved to deliver that modern connection to meet the sophisticated requirements of the Texas Hill Country.

Our history and structure as a cooperative business make us different from other companies. Like the more than 40,000 other cooperative businesses in the U.S., we are member-owned. That means the people we serve are more than just customers — they are invested in our company in the same way we are invested in the communities we share. While most other telecom and cable providers exist to enrich their corporate investors or owners, we are fundamentally different. Our purpose is to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve — and to ensure we can do that today and in the future.

We’ve built our networks in areas so difficult to reach or so sparsely populated that no other provider would think of connecting. We’re here because we carry the legacy of our founders and our members.

COOPERATIVE FACTS:

  • There are 40,000 cooperative businesses with 343 million members in the United States.
  • Cooperatives generate $514 billion in revenue and more than $25 billion in wages.
  • National Cooperative Month has been a nationally recognized celebration since 1964.
  • Agricultural cooperatives are the most common type of cooperative in the U.S., but there
    are also cooperatives specializing in housing, electrical distribution, retail and, of course,
    Telecommunications.

Internet Connected Devices: Are You Well Connected?

Stop and count with me for a moment. How many internet-connected devices do you have in your home?

For many of us, smartphones and computers are the first internet-connected devices that come to mind, but what other devices are there? How about tablets? Are there any smart TVs or streaming boxes, such as Roku or Amazon Fire TV, in your home? If you have children at home, what about their game systems, computers and other devices? Maybe you’ve gotten into smart home technology and have installed “smart” bulbs, security cameras or outlets.

When you think about all of the things we regularly use that depend on the internet, the numbers can grow quickly. It is projected that the connected home device count will grow from today’s average of ve to 10 to as many as 50 devices in less than five years.

Whatever your number of connected devices happens to be, know this: HCTC is continuing to invest millions of dollars to ensure the broadband capacity and capability needed to serve our membership will be there.

The Cooperative’s more densely populated areas, such as Comfort and Ingram, already have extensive fiber deployment, and our progress continues. While our new investments are focused on bringing fiber optics ever closer to the customer premise, many homes and businesses can be adequately served by our remaining, but upgraded, copper networks – if the customers are equipped with appropriate packages. Allow me to explain.

While we often talk about an internet connection speed, we usually reference the download speed. The bits and bytes arrive at our network at the same speed no matter your connection, but it’s the capacity — how many bits and bytes can pass through each second — that matters.

I often tell people to think of internet service like plumbing. Each file you try to download is like water filling up a bathtub. The bits of data that make up the file flow through your modem and router, just like water into a tub. Filling a tub from the spout is much faster than filling it with a sink sprayer because the spout has more capacity to let more water through. Similarly, a smaller connection is going to limit the amount of data that can pass through quickly when compared to a bigger connection.

To follow that analogy, it’s also important to consider how may faucets, or connected devices, you’re going to use at the same time. If you open all of your faucets, the water pressure is going to dip significantly, and it’s going to take a lot longer to fill each tub or sink. For broadband, the same thing happens when multiple devices are on a network. If you have three tablets, a game system, two computers, four phones and a streaming TV using your connection, each one is going to be slower — unless you have a high-capacity connection.

It might surprise you to know that even though we are working to displace our remaining copper network with fiber, the existing retained copper in most cases can now provide a much larger “pipe” than what most members subscribe to. In fact, over 80 percent of our current subscribers could upgrade their broadband packages right now.

As we continue to improve our network, we’re looking down the road to the future. We see families in our area continuing to add the latest technology to their homes, which drives up the demand for broadband capacity. I assure you that whatever the future requires and whatever mix of technology is needed, HCTC fully intends to be there for you.