Hardy Telecommunications’ fiber-optic network, now being expanded to individual homes in Hardy County, already enabled cellular service to operate in the area, Hardy’s Youth Advisory Board learned at the first meeting of the 2014-15 year.
Although Hardy is in the middle of constructing a fiber-to-the-home network, the first of its kind in Hardy County, the company already had a fiber-optic backbone network in place that has been carrying voice and data traffic from cell towers in the county.
“Most people don’t realize that without a landline network like Hardy, the cellular network in Hardy County wouldn’t be possible,” said Derek Barr, Hardy director of customer service and sales, marketing and human resources. “When a cellular company wants to build a tower in the area or upgrade their service, they contact Hardy Telecommunications to see if we will carry their traffic over our network. The process is called backhaul.”
Hardy is an authorized retailer of Sprint wireless service, but it has carried data traffic over its fiber network for many of the wireless providers in the area, including AT&T and U.S. Cellular.
“If we can help the expansion or upgrade of wireless service in the county, we’re happy to do it,” Derek said. “Because we don’t offer cell service as Hardy Telecommunications, many people think we’re not involved in the business at all. But the cellular network as it exists now in Hardy County wouldn’t work without Hardy Telecommunications carrying the backhaul.”
Derek explained that a seemingly simple phone call between two cell phones near each other still might travel miles outside of the area and back before being connected.
“It’s not simply the call bouncing off the tower and back. The cell company tracks all of the data, so the call might travel a long way to their nearest mobile switching center before being connected. We make that possible through Hardy’s network,” he said.
The Youth Board students all were unaware of Hardy’s landline network playing a part in their wireless communications.
“One thing I learned is how the cellular network uses Hardy lines,” said East Hardy Junior Ally Dyer.
Derek also told the board about the importance of fiber-optics in the telecommunications industry. A cable the size of a human hair can deliver high-definition television, broadband Internet and telephone service throughout your home.
“The advantages of fiber-optics are just staggering,” Derek said. “We can offer standard fiber speeds that are several times faster than those we can offer with copper cable. With copper, your Internet speed is limited by distance from a Hardy remote unit. That’s just one of the limits of copper. Fiber doesn’t have that problem.”
The board met at Hardy’s Lost River office. Hardy formed its Youth Advisory Board in 2007 to educate students about Hardy Telecommunications and the telecommunications industry, and for the students to share their ideas and thoughts about technology important to them. The group is comprised of students from East Hardy and Moorefield high schools.
In addition to Ally, this year’s Youth Advisory Board members are Emily Shockey, Moorefield junior; Austin Miller, East Hardy sophomore; Katlyn Tompkins, Moorefield sophomore; Holly Williams, East Hardy freshman; and Austin Frederick, Moorefield freshman.