Hardy Welcomes New Youth Board

Hardy Telecommunications welcomed a new Youth Advisory Board for 2011-12 when six local high school students met October 10 at the company’s Lost River office.

“We’re excited to start a new year with our Youth Advisory Board,” said Hardy Marketing/Human Resource Director Derek Barr.  “It’s a great group of students.”

East Hardy Sophomore Miranda Cook is a member of this year’s board.  Her brother, Jesse Cook, served on Hardy’s inaugural Youth Advisory Board in 2007.  Miranda said she enjoyed the October 10 meeting.

“I thought it was a pretty good experience for all of us, and I can’t wait for the other meetings to see what we learn,” she said.

Hardy’s 2011-12 Youth Advisory Board: (Front row, left to right): EHHS Freshman Brandon Benjamin, MHS Freshman Rebecca Merrill, EHHS Sophomore Miranda Cook; (Back row, left to right): Hardy Public Relations/Business Development Representative Heather Robbins, MHS Junior Brooke Shockey, EHHS Junior Parker Baranowski, MHS Sophomore Jared Beard, Hardy Marketing/Human Resource Director Derek Barr

The purpose of the Youth Board is to educate the students about Hardy Telecommunications and its operations as well as to get information from the students as to what uses of technology are most important to them. The group discusses different Hardy services, including telephone and Internet, with the goal of offering services that today’s youth most value.  Students do not have to receive services from Hardy Telecommunications to participate.

The six students on the board will serve one-year terms. The board has one student each from 9th, 10th, and 11th grades from both high schools in the county.

Besides Miranda, the other members of Hardy’s 2011-12 Youth Advisory Board are EHHS Junior Parker Baranowski, Moorefield High Junior Brooke Shockey, MHS Sophomore Jared Beard, EHHS Freshman Brandon Benjamin, and MHS Freshman Rebecca Merrill.

Derek described to the students how the wireless system and mobile phones rely on the landline telecommunications network in order to operate.  It’s common for mobile telephone calls to travel over wirelines built and maintained by companies like Hardy that do offer their own cellular service, he said.  Hardy Telecommunications is an authorized retailer of Sprint wireless service but does not have its own mobile phone service.

“When mobile phone companies want to build a tower, they make sure that they can connect to a fiber network to carry their traffic and data, which is called backhaul,” Derek said.  “If the landline system disappeared and couldn’t provide backhaul for mobile phones, the cellular network wouldn’t operate either.”

The students also learned about the history of Hardy Telecommunications and its operations as a non-profit cooperative.  The company was created to serve Hardy County residents because other telephone providers did not want to build in the rural areas, he said.

Derek also told the students about Hardy AnchorRing and Hardy OneNet, two projects that will result in a fiber-optic network with connections directly to customers’ homes in Hardy County.  Hardy Telecommunications was awarded funding from the federal National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the federal Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service to build the network, which will take two to three years to complete.  With OneNet, Hardy Telecommunications for the first time will offer high-definition digital television, much faster Internet speeds and enhanced digital voice services.

“Hardy County will have a telecommunications network that is as advanced as anything you’d find in a big city,” Derek said.

In subsequent meetings, the board will learn more about telecommunications, such as how the Internet works and how a telephone call can be connected anywhere in the world in just seconds.

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