We started providing electric services way back in the early 1900’s with a DC generator. Later we started offering water and then sewer as things built up. We brought cable TV to our area in 1984.
City close, country quiet is the theme for Williamstown, Kentucky, a rural Northern Kentucky bedroom community known for its quiet neighborhoods and proximity to major metropolitan cities. The city of Williamstown comprises a total area of 16.5 square miles. The city is home to one of Northern Kentucky’s largest lakes and has been named a Playful City USA for the past three years.
Williamstown was founded on June 12, 1820 by Captain William Arnold. A Revolutionary War soldier, Arnold donated two and one half acres of land to Grant County to establish the public buildings. The city was named Williamstown in honor of Captain Arnold.
By December of 1821, Grant County had a courthouse, a jail, and a stray animal pen. The first newspaper was published on October 10, 1872. In 1877, the Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railroad (now known as Southern Railway) laid tracks through Williamstown. There was a depot constructed to serve the needs of the Williamstown citizens and Williamstown was on the map!
From a land filled with history and beautiful scenery, utilities provided by the City of Williamstown have been a part of the area’s history for nearly one hundred years. They provide cable television and high speed internet to local communities in and around Grant County, Kentucky.
Roy Osborne, the Assistant Superintendent at Williamstown Kentucky Broadband, has been instrumental in supporting the local residents and supplying them with cable tv and faster internet services. Roy agreed to sit down with us and give us a little insight on how things are going in Williamstown.
ZCorum: Let’s start with a little background about Williamstown Cable. When did you guys get started?
Osborne: We started providing electric services way back in the early 1900’s with a DC generator. Later we started offering water and then sewer as things built up. We brought cable TV to our area in 1984.
ZCorum: So you guys have been around for a long time! What can you tell us about Grant County?
Osborne: Well, we are largely a rural community, which we love. In terms of geography, we are halfway between Cincinnati, Ohio and Lexington Kentucky.
ZCorum: When did you start providing high speed internet? What factored into that decision?
Osborne: The City built a 300MHz Cable TV System because cable providers had not built out to Grant County. In 2004, we again were seeing that high speed internet providers such as the local phone company, were not building out to our community so we began a complete overbuild of the existing network to bring high speed internet to the area.
ZCorum: How did ZCorum play into that for you?
Osborne: I was actually overseas in the reserves when we first started searching for companies that would help manage our network. When I got back, ZCorum’s information was on my desk and we signed with your company shortly after that.
ZCorum: What were some of the major obstacles you faced in launching those broadband services?
Osborne: Actually, the launch went very well. In fact , the service was working so well that our main issue was how we could reach areas outside our cable footprint that were asking for high speed internet. We had schools and kids who were becoming more dependent on the internet, as well as folks working from home that were really driving the demand for us outside our service area at that point.
ZCorum: How did you handle that opportunity?
Osborne: The mayor at the time had us investigate alternative types of internet. We researched fixed wireless broadband and found that there was a definite market for that type of solution in our area. Implementing a fixed wireless solution allowed us to provide more coverage without the cost of running lines to individual homes. We chose the Motorola Canopy 900 MHz, which gave us speeds of 1M-3M. In 2007, that was pretty good.
ZCorum: How is the solution working today with the significant increase in bandwidth that we have seen, particularly in the past few years?
Osborne: Great question. With the increase in bandwidth use and the need for more speed, our 1-3M doesn’t always cut it. So, while we will continue to use the Canopy system, we’re also upgrading to Cambium Networks 450 series equipment. With that equipment we can offer speeds of 5-20 Mbps. It operates in the 2.4 GHz spectrum. It’s near line-of-sight, which means that some users on the fringes of the network may not be able to use it, just due to the topography of the land. But, we’re going to move as many subscribers as possible to the new network, which will free up bandwidth on the 900MHz system and provide a better experience for users on that network.
ZCorum: Do you offer any bundles with your other services?
Osborne: As a matter of fact, we do offer a bundle for customers with our television and internet services. We package high speed internet and TiVo to offer our cable customers a discount on the TiVo as it requires a high speed connection. We don’t offer any bundles on the wireless side of things because we don’t offer cable television outside city limits today.
ZCorum: Speaking of city limits, do you provide internet services to any neighboring counties?
Osborne: Yes, we offer Internet to Harrison, Pendleton, Owen, and Scott County as well.
ZCorum: It sounds like you have some great new services to offer your customers. How are you getting the word out about the faster speeds?
Osborne: As far as marketing goes, we insert flyers into existing customers’ bills. We also advertise to electric or sewerage customers who don’t use us for internet yet. We use the local newspaper, our local access channel, and we also have a Facebook page and Twitter account for the city. Really though, word of mouth is one of our biggest tools for advertising.
ZCorum: What do you have planned next for your network?
Osborne: Well, I have my hands full with the wireless upgrade, and we are also switching to an all-digital system so that’s next for the foreseeable future. Beyond that, of course, we are always concerned with maintaining our quality of service. We brought high speed internet to Grant County for the sole purpose of bettering the community. We will always make it our priority to be sure that the community’s needs are being met, with education and business at the forefront.
ZCorum: And are you going to be providing Internet access for Noah’s Ark?
Osborne: Yes, we are. The City is extremely excited to see the Ark Encounter coming to Williamstown, and we’re already working closely with them in meeting their bandwidth and Internet needs. We’re establishing Internet connectivity throughout the park area during the construction phases utilizing our wireless network and have set up dedicated access points for them. We’ll also be working with them on meeting their needs post construction with dedicated fiber and metro Ethernet services.
ZCorum: Roy, you mentioned earlier that you were in the reserves back in 2004. Tell us about that.
Osborne: I signed up for the reserves in 1998 and served two tours in two years in Iraq with the Marines. In fact, when I returned home from my first tour I only had been home about two weeks before I found out I was going back.
ZCorum: Thank you for your service Roy and we’re glad you made it back safe and sound! After Iraq and all this nonstop technology building, do you have time for other activities, hobbies, sports?
Osborne: I am a big outdoors enthusiast. I enjoy hunting, fishing, backpacking, and camping. I am also a troop leader for the Boy Scouts.
ZCorum: Since you’re a tech savvy guy, what devices do you take with you on your excursions?
Osborne: Well, as a rule I generally like to unplug when I am out in the woods. Also, when I am on a trip with the Scouts, the only devices with a battery we allow are flashlights, cameras, and GPS devices. But if I am out fishing or hiking I will have my phone to keep in touch—and for the occasional bragging rights of posting a picture of something that I’ve caught!
ZCorum: Those are pictures we’d like to see! Well good hunting Roy and keep up the good work in Williamstown. I know the community relies heavily on you to keep them connected to the internet and the world. And ZCorum is proud to stand with you as you keep moving your community into the 21st century.
For more information about Williamstown Kentucky Broadband, visit http://www.wkybb.net