Telecom/tech industry in Kentucky’s future?

Jack Latta jlatta@civitasmedia.com

September 12, 2013

PRESTONSBURG — Prepping for an unknown technological future is the goal of new AT&T Kentucky president.

Newly installed AT&T Kentucky president Hood Harris visited with The Floyd County Times Thursday and said he is unsure of what the future might bring, but wants Eastern Kentucky to be prepared.

“Our world has changed more than people realize,” says Harris. “The world has changed a lot in the last six years, and its going to change a lot more in the next six years.”

Harris says he is excited about the opportunities that AT&T hopes to realize for Eastern Kentucky, as well as the whole state.

“It’s about investment, about putting Kentucky in a place not just for jobs, but for opportunities.”

AT&T announced just last month that it has invested nearly $110 million in its wireless and wired networks in Kentucky through the first half of 2013. The investments included deployment of new macro cell sites, small cells and Distributed Antenna Systems across the state as a part of AT&T’s Project Velocity IP, a three-year investment plan announced last fall to expand and enhance its IP broadband networks. The company also expanded and enhanced its 4G LTE network, which provides ultra-fast mobile Internet speeds, and deployed new Wi-Fi hot spots.

Harris says that these investments help to ensure that Kentucky residents continue to receive the best possible experience over the AT&T network, whether at home, at work or on the go. “We enable opportunities,” says Harris.

The opportunities, says Harris, may not translate into creating a divergent technological industry in Eastern Kentucky immediately, but that new infrastructure gives small business and entrepreneurs the ability to compete in a global markets.

“A person that starts a business in his garage here can reach a world wide audience,” says Harris. “Mom and pop businesses might have access to the same computing power as Wal-Mart. That empowers local entrepreneurs to do the things that they couldn’t do six years ago.”

Following AT&T’s investment, State Senate President Robert Stivers called telecommunications one of the state’s leading investors.

“The employers we rely on and the friends and family we interact with every day are demanding new technology to stay connected. If we want to continue to say that ‘Kentucky is open for business,’ then we need to take the necessary steps to ensure that substantial investment like this continues to flow here instead of other states,” said Stivers.

Harris did say that AT&T continues work with community colleges and other institution of higher learning to help prepare the workforce for the increased telecommunications job offerings in the state.

“We look to community colleges to make sure the curriculum trains the employees we need,” says Harris. “It’s good for the communities, but its also good for us because we need that workforce.”

Highlights of network upgrades completed so far this year in Kentucky include completing the installation of a new 4G LTE capable Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) at Churchill Downs. Across Kentucky, AT&T’s 2013 investments have resulted in expansion and enhancement of our 4G LTE network, which provides ultra-fast speeds. AT&T 4G LTE is now available in multiple areas of the state, including Ashland, Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, Lexington and Louisville. Nationwide, more than 225 million Americans have access to AT&T 4G LTE service. By year-end 2013, AT&T expects to cover nearly 270 million people and 400 markets with its 4G LTE network.

The 2013 year-to-date network investment builds on the nearly $650 million that AT&T has invested in its Kentucky wireless and wired networks from 2010 through 2012.

Hood Harris, an Auburn University graduate, was named president of AT&T Kentucky in August. Harris had previously served as the companies deputy regional vice president of public affairs. Harris now oversees the company’s local, state and federal government relations efforts in the Commonwealth in addition to working closely with community and business leaders, elected officials.

For more information about AT&T’s coverage in Kentucky or anywhere in the United States, consumers can visit the AT&T Coverage Viewer. For updates on the AT&T wireless network, please visit the AT&T network news page.