Vince Kropp

Broadband subscriptions surpass telephone lines at PC Telcom

    Despite being Phillips County Telephone Company by name, PC Telcom continues to become more and more a broadband company, CEO/general manager Vince Kropp explained at the cooperative’s April 5 annual meeting at Holyoke High School.
    In 2017, the company’s broadband subscriptions surpassed telephone lines for the first time, and a number of the big achievements were centered on internet services.
    For one, new investments are primarily broadband. Last year, PC Telcom also began offering a broadband only subscription, where previously a telephone line also had to be subscribed to in order to purchase a fiber-based broadband connection.
    A Disturbed Denial of Service attack last June prompted PC Telcom to replace routers even sooner than planned. As a result, the process of replacing all outdated routers is about 30 percent complete. It is a big undertaking because PC Telcom is extending the fiber-optic connection to the router inside each residential premise. The new routers are state of the art, Gigabit capable, facilitate ongoing and on-demand updates, and allow remote and robust troubleshooting.
    The emphasis on broadband was also evident in TV last year. PC Telcom scaled back its video platform to the “lifeline” package as traditional TV is becoming less popular and more people are turning to internet video providers.
    In 2017, PC Telcom also allocated $289,474 in capital credit patronage for 2016 and installed a new billing and operating platform that allowed automating many existing processes.
    PC Telcom members continue to have access to a level of broadband service that is available in very few areas of the country. It is 100 percent Fiber to the Premise within the regulated footprint, and outlying areas are fiber fed Hybrid Fiber Coax. PC Telcom is one of just 80 Gig Certified networks nationwide, meaning that at least 80 percent of members can receive 1 Gb service (1,000 Mbps). That compares to the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband definition of 25 Mbps.
    The cooperative’s total internet usage is now at 1.6 Gb, and it has spare capacity to at least 10 Gb.
    Throughout the evening, members were presented with information about the Internet of Things. IoT refers simply to the network of physical devises that can connect to the internet and exchange data. It includes everything from medical, farming, video and gaming applications.
    The growing IoT emphasizes just how important more bandwidth and a good broadband connection are.
$1.5 million paid on RUS loan
    “We have a good story to tell with the financial report,” controller Jessica Cumming told members at the annual meeting.
    In 2017, PC Telcom paid $1.5 million on the U.S. Rural Utilities Service loan that was taken to build the FTTP system, which was finished in 2016. The $1.5 million included additional payments and affects several of the lines throughout the 2017 balance sheet, including total current assets at $3,109,338 for 2017, down from $4,016,396 the year before.
    Total noncurrent assets were down slightly at $427,916. Net property plant and equipment was $9,811,516, down from $10,409,548 in 2016 due to the retirement of cable TV assets. Total assets for 2017 came in at $13,348,770.
    Total current liabilities were $977,462, down from $1,033,128 in 2016. Long-term liabilities (the RUS loan) are down to $3,101,449 from $4,639,431 the year before. Total members’ equity for 2017 was $9,269,859, bringing total liabilities and members’ equity to $13,348,770.

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