MTC Communications Expands Ultra High-Speed Infrastructure in Western Illinois

MTC Communications is part of Broadband Illinois' ongoing "Provider Spotlight" Interview Series. Is a provider of broadband in your region expanding or upgrading? Let us know!

Bill Buchanan leads the Colchester-based MTC Communications team. In addition to providing high-speed internet and other services throughout Western Illinois, MTC is also a Broadband Innovation Fund awardee and Illinois Gigabit Communities Challenge applicant.

Tell us about MTC Communications. What types of anchor institutions or businesses do you serve?

MTC Communications (and parent company McDonough Telephone Cooperative) serve a number of anchor businesses in our region including; Western Illinois University (main campus), WIU School of Agriculture (farm facilities), Macomb School District, West Prairie School District, McDonough District Hospital, Regional Office of Education, and many successful community and farming operations.

What services does your company provide?

MTC Communications and McDonough Telephone Cooperative offer a variety of services including: Fiber Optic Transport services, Local and Long Distance Telephone services, Broadband Internet services, Wireless Internet services, IPTV video services (Cable TV), Offsite Data Storage services, Metropolitan Virtual Local Area Network services (Metro VLAN), and Installation services. 

Are you doing any network upgrades or expansions anywhere? Tell us about your recent Broadband Innovation award

MTC

We are constantly upgrading and expanding our network.  We currently are expanding fiber into new markets as well as building fiber to the home in our existing markets.  One of our most recent expansions has been to the WIU School of Agriculture where we took fiber to the farm locations to allow students to have access to broadband that allows for multiple learning opportunities in and around the area by sharing information with regional producers.

We received a Broadband Innovation Fund award to enhance this Ag-Ed experience.  For example, the students at WIU who are studying swine management can use distance learning applications to learn from swine production facilities around the area.  Distance learning becomes a bridge for learning, not because of distance, but instead to insure the integrity of the animal’s health remains intact. 

Also we can utilize the network to expand the potential “buyer” market of the WIU Bull Sale in the spring.   We will do this by taking a combination of pre-recorded and live video feeds and pushing them out to an internet feed as well as an IPTV feed on our local channel.  This gives livestock producers around the region another option to bidding on bulls from the sale. This will be able to expand to include a variety of information from WIU to the producers and from the producers back to WIU.   

What are some of your greatest challenges or obstacles in getting subscribers and/or upgrading your network?

One of our biggest obstacles in getting subscribers and upgrading our network is the lack of density in our markets.  Metropolitan areas have high concentrations of density to distribute the cost of construction across thousands of customers. We serve all rural communities and in many cases have only a few customers to absorb the costs of constructing the network.  This tends to drive our costs of service up and makes pricing a difficult level to compete on.   

Have you made any recent investments in infrastructure? What are the big “needs” in Western Illinois?

Some of our recent investments include expansion into new communities such as Bushnell, Monmouth, and Carthage. We have fiber facilities extended into these markets and we are currently determining how to best utilize that infrastructure to benefit the broadband needs of these communities. Fortunately Western Illinois as a whole has been very fortunate in terms of investment being made in infrastructure over the years.  McDonough Telephone Cooperative, LaHarpe Telephone Company, Mid Century Telephone Cooperative, Adams Telephone Cooperative, and many of the other locally owned companies and cooperatives have made investments in broadband infrastructure by constructing fiber optic networks for the past 25 years.  

I am proud of the way these companies work as partners to provide reliable and redundant broadband service to our communities. Unfortunately there are some communities in Western Illinois that are not getting access to broadband due to their limited size and their lack of a locally owned telecommunications company. There have been other competitive efforts by regional and national fiber optic companies and even the State of Illinois, but unfortunately they are only constructing to many of the same communities that are already served, still leaving a number of underserved communities.  

My philosophy for doing business, in terms of fiber optic broadband deployment, would be to more efficiently use the resources we (both private and public entities) have by not duplicating facilities but rather build to these remaining unserved and underserved areas. The next step would be for the providers to connect their individual networks and aggregate their broadband needs. This would bring more accessibility, capacity, speed, reliability and redundancy to all of the consumers in Western Illinois at a lower cost.  Today, many of the local providers mentioned above work closely with each other to share resources and networks, which has made a positive impact on the communities we serve. 

What's the best way to learn more about MTC?

Follow us at http://www.facebook.com/followmdtc or give us a call at (309)776-3211. 

Tags: broadband innovation fund, Gigabit challenge, mcdonough telephone, mtc

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