LOST RIVER, W.Va. — Hardy Telecommunications Inc. has been awarded $31.6 million in federal funding to build a fiber-to-the-home network in Hardy County, designed to provide the latest in affordable, reliable high-speed Internet access and video services.

“It goes without saying that broadband — high-speed Internet — is changing the way Americans live their lives,” said Bobby Lewis, director of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development programs in West Virginia.

“Simply put, building a broadband infrastructure is critical to creating jobs and economic opportunity in rural America.”

Hardy Telecommunications was the only company in the state to receive federal funding in the latest round of awards. The combination of a $9.49 million loan and $22.15 million grant is part of the federal government’s broadband stimulus funding package.

Hardy’s project, dubbed Hardy OneNet Fiber-to-the-Home, will provide fiber-optic connections directly to consumers in Hardy County. Fiber-optic technology is the most modern technology in the telecommunications field, capable of providing high-definition digital television, ultra-high-speed Internet access and digital telephone service through a single connection.

With broadband access in rural communities, farmer and ranchers have up-to-the-minute commodity and weather information to make the best decisions for their operations; schools can expand limited course offerings through distance learning; first-responders have information needed to keep their communities safer; and rural health care improves as medical specialists are able to use telemedicine to provide advanced diagnosis for patients or to consult with colleagues at other hospitals, Lewis said.

“We want every parent and grandparent in rural America to be able to look their child or grandchild in the eye and tell them that their hometown has the economic opportunities necessary to offer them a bright future,” he said.

Derek Barr, marketing/human resource director for Hardy Telecommunications, said a substantial number of Hardy members have asked the company to offer a television package.

“It was one of the most requested new services in a recent member survey,” he said. “This funding award will enable us to give our members what they want at an affordable price, and they’ll also have the convenience of having all of these services on one bill.”

General Manager Scott Sherman said Hardy will start initial planning work immediately on the project. The design calls for critical community institutions, such as medical facilities, schools and government offices, to be connected first. Overall, the project should be substantially completed in about three years, he said.

Hardy Telecommunications Inc., a member of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, is a nonprofit cooperative dedicated to bringing affordable telephone service and Internet service to the citizens of Hardy County. It was incorporated in 1953. The company offers local telephone service, long-distance service, high-speed Internet service, and personal computer sales, and is an authorized dealer of Sprint wireless services.

Lewis presented  Sherman with a plaque congratulating the company for receiving the award.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito also sent their congratulations to Hardy.

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