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Charter blames WRECC for rural broadband expansion delay

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 3:52 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - A major internet company says they’re trying to expand broadband internet to thousands of customers in southcentral Kentucky.

“If anything that last couple of years showed us how important it is for people that work from home, who do schooling from home, who need medical attention, and they can connect via internet,” said Mike Pedelty, Southern Ohio Region Senior Director of Communications with Charter Spectrum.

Earlier this year, Charter Spectrum was awarded millions of dollars through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) in order to bring broadband internet to over 6,000 homes in southcentral Kentucky.

“We received that money to provide service in rural parts of Simpson, Warren, Butler and Ohio counties to unserved customers who’ve really wanted service for a long time,” expressed Pedelty.

The map below shows the grey area which is where WRECC is located and the blue is where Charter aims to extend our network.

Map that aims to extend Spectrum network
Map that aims to extend Spectrum network(Charter)

However, the internet provider says there’s a hold-up regarding that expanded access, and they’re pointing the finger at Warren RECC.

“So, WRECC recently introduced new stringent, and we think arbitrary limitations on the number of pole attachment applications that will accept,” said Pedelty. “We are a tenant of one of those poles that are owned in this case by WRECC. So we’re subject to the rules.”

Charter says Warren RECC will process 120 pole applications each month and claims that’s not enough as the limited number of pole access impacts the processing timeline.

“That will take a process that should only take a couple of years, for beginning.... to every customer in the area to get service two years to 14 years. We just think that’s unreasonable,” said Pedelty.

“So a child starts kindergarten this year, by the time they graduate high school, this process won’t be completed in just those four counties. We think that’s unacceptable,” said Pedelty.

Meanwhile, Warren RECC has responded to these allegations with a statement provided to WBKO News.

“Warren RECC is supportive of Charter’s efforts to finally expand broadband to our members. We do not have a current pole attachment agreement with Charter. Charter refuses to sign Warren RECC’s standard agreement, so we are working to execute one that still protects the safety and reliability of the electric system.”

Charter, with materials in a nearby warehouse, says they’re ready to start the rollout at any time.

“We have purchased materials, we have crews on standby. We have done the design, we’re ready to go,” expressed Pedelty.

Charter has filed a complaint with the FCC.

“It can be done much, much faster. That’s what we’re actually asking the FCC.”

Warren RECC goes on to say they are confused by the claims made by Charter.

“We are puzzled by these latest claims as Warren RECC has agreed to allow a faster pace as long as Charter meets its obligations. We are disappointed to see that once again Charter has chosen to rely on inaccuracies. We sincerely hope that we can come to agreement soon, but we will not put the safety and reliability of our members’ electric system in jeopardy.”

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