Hardy Telecommunications hosted two visitors October 17 from the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, introducing them to the challenges of providing modern services in such a rural area.
Laura Withers and Barbara Fitzpatrick traveled from NTCA’s Arlington, Va., headquarters to Hardy’s Lost River office. The two were recently hired at NTCA and came to Hardy to learn the inner workings of rural telecommunications. Laura is NTCA’s communications manager, and Barbara is the organization’s legal administrator.
Hardy Marketing/Human Resource Director Derek Barr and Hardy Public Relations/Business Development Representative Heather Robbins showed the two visitors how Hardy Telecommunications provides services in a rugged geographical and sparsely populated setting.
“We often host new hires from NTCA, because we are the closest member cooperative to the Arlington headquarters,” Derek said. “In many cases, new employees at the national level might know about the big issues affecting telecommunications, but they’ve never been to an actual rural company that is dealing with those issues. We give them a better understanding of who they’re representing in D.C.”
Derek and Heather gave the NTCA employees a tour of Hardy’s Lost River and Moorefield offices, then showed them the equipment that will deliver OneNet, its upcoming service offering high-definition digital television, faster Internet speeds and digital telephone. Becky Kimble, Hardy’s fiber-to-the-home project coordinator, explained how all three services will be delivered via fiber-optic cable connections directly to county residents’ homes.
After seeing the company’s South Fork remote office, Withers and Fitzpatrick saw first-hand the challenges of serving a rural area when Barr drove them over Lost River State Park and Helmick Rock roads.
“That’s when they can really see the difference between serving a rural vs. an urban area,” Derek said. “When you see poles and lines stretching along a path up and down mountains, with relatively few homes in sight, you realize the extra effort and expense involved. At the same time, they see how beautiful our state and county are and understand why we love to live here.”
Barbara, who has worked for decades in the industry, said the time was well spent.
“It was a wonderful and educational experience,” she said. “I have worked as a paralegal in the telecommunications field for over 30 years, but visiting Hardy was my first opportunity to actually see how a telecommunications company operates.”