MCKEE, Ky.—It’s hard to believe that a small rural Appalachian county with only one stoplight, has internet as fast as somewhere like New York City.
That was the goal Keith Gabbard, CEO of Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative, had in mind when he brought fiber optic internet to the small city of McKee, Ky.
In this a population of fewer than 1,000 people, community means everything. It’s why Gabbard worked to bring hope to his neighbors.
In 2014, Gabbard’s rural part of the Bluegrass State went from barely having any internet connection to now having some of the fastest internet in the country with fiber optic internet being some of the fastest you can find.
“Fine glass the size of a human hair that you send a light through,” Gabbard explained.
More than half of Americans say internet access has been essential during the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, according to 2016 figures, 39 percent of rural Americans lack access to broadband internet.
The cost of bringing broadband to the Jackson County area wasn’t cheap. Gabbard says grants and loans covered most of the broadband network’s $50-million cost.
But one of the biggest payoffs of the light-speed connection is opportunity.
Gabbard says the network has helped bring hundreds of jobs to the area.
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