The one-traffic-light town with some of the fastest internet in the U.S.
December 3, 2019 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Subscribers to Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative (P.R.T.C.), which covers all of Jackson County and the adjacent Owsley County, can get speeds of up to one gigabit per second, and the coöperative is planning to upgrade the system to ten gigabits. [SLNYorker]
posted by Chrysostom (41 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
With twenty million dollars borrowed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and twenty-five million dollars in Obama-era stimulus—some of it a grant and some of it a loan—P.R.T.C. pulled a thousand miles of cable, to all seven thousand structures in the county. ... The effort took six years, at a cost of fifty thousand dollars per mile.

Emphasis added.

Anyone want to guess which party they vote for?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:31 PM on December 3, 2019 [9 favorites]


> coöperative

if there's one thing i'm a partisan for, it's the expropriation by any means necessary of the means of production.

if there's two things i'm a partisan for, it's the expropriation by any means necessary of the means of production and the transfer of control of said means of production to democratically elected workers' councils.

if there's three things i'm a partisan for, it's the expropriation by any means necessary of the means of production, the transfer of control of said means of production to democratically elected workers' councils, and the new yorker style guide.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:41 PM on December 3, 2019 [56 favorites]


We live in a rural area where co-ops rule (because none of the companies controlling electricity and phones couldn't be bothered back in the day). Right now the download speed on my Internet is a robust 47.5 mbps. I'm tempted to forward this to the operations manager of our telcom coop (he only lives a few blocks away) just to tease him. Coops freaking rule!
posted by Ber at 1:20 PM on December 3, 2019 [11 favorites]


I <3 Rural Co-ops like
I <3 Libraries and like
I <3 Makerspaces and like
I <3 The Post-Office
posted by symbioid at 1:26 PM on December 3, 2019 [10 favorites]


Ber's comment above is what inspired that - I grew up in the 80s with ties to the local co-op for heating oil, and my dad's attempt to instill responsibility by having me get a "Gas Card" from the co-op to build credit.
posted by symbioid at 1:28 PM on December 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


> coöperative
> [SLNYorker]

Well, clearly.
posted by parm at 1:44 PM on December 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


Gonna use umlauted "o" for my ascii memeing. Perfect stand in for surprised pikachu face.

Me: I don't need images anymore, I have all the ascii memes I need.
Friend: There's no way you can meme well with just ascii.
Me: ö
Friend: ö
posted by avalonian at 1:49 PM on December 3, 2019 [7 favorites]


Anyone want to guess which party they vote for?

The two counties both vote overwhelmingly Republican.

"In Presidential elections Jackson County has been overwhelmingly Republican ever since the Civil War, when it, relative to population, provided more soldiers for the Union Army than any free state, and saw a proportion only exceeded by the nearly equally Republican Owsley County, Clinton County and Clay County, plus Estill County."

"No Democratic Presidential candidate has carried Jackson County since it was created – indeed no Democrat has ever received thirty percent of the county’s vote and only Lyndon Johnson in his national landslide of 1964, and Bill Clinton in 1996, have received so much as twenty percent."

From Wikipedia
posted by bruinfan at 1:58 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


Anyone want to guess which party they vote for?

Incredibly Republican - but, interestingly, Wikipedia claims this has been continuous since the 1860s, and in a county named after Andrew Jackson no less.
posted by atoxyl at 2:03 PM on December 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


It feels like the lack of political context really undermines this article. How can you tell this story without stopping to explain why there aren't more like it?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 2:20 PM on December 3, 2019 [6 favorites]


The story only barely mentions this, but -- of course -- Jackson county and Owsley county are both (per Wikipedia's quotation of census data) 98+% white.

Ctrl-F "socialism" ... nope.
posted by Western Infidels at 2:22 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


Glancing at Wikipedia, their story seems to be "Rural, very white county of small farms in a free state, and only a short history of mining or manufacturing." So you get antislavery Republicans shading into modern conservative Republicans, without the New Deal/union Democratic swing that you see in the mid 20th century in WV coal country.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:23 PM on December 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


If there's four things I'm a-- I'll come in again.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:30 PM on December 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


I have a chicken coöp
posted by Sterros at 2:43 PM on December 3, 2019 [8 favorites]


I have a chicken sedan - it has four doors.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:44 PM on December 3, 2019 [10 favorites]


So you get antislavery Republicans shading into modern conservative Republicans, without the New Deal/union Democratic swing that you see in the mid 20th century in WV coal country.

Ya'know, off topic a bit and all, but if anyone has a writeup/blog/book/whatever that talks me through a thorough and complete, yet parseable, rundown of how our current two political parties (with an emphasis on curveballs like the southern strategyTM and maybe more that I'm ignorant of) ideologies/voting blocs have morphed/evolved/shifted that'd be great. Something along the lines of those videos where some concept is explained to K, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, grad, then Leonardo da Vinci level participants.

That'd help me, I mean I went straight from rural Alabama public schools to technical oriented bachelor's degree so I feel like I'm always two steps behind on the nuance of our national political ideological history outside of major events, wars, what have you.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:01 PM on December 3, 2019


Note that the two dots that the New Yorker uses is not an umlaut, but a diaeresis. They are homoglyphic but mean different things. An umlaut means the sound changes while the diaeresis means two adjacent vowels are pronounced separately.
posted by adzm at 3:03 PM on December 3, 2019 [46 favorites]


the diaeresis means two adjacent vowels are pronounced separately.

I love MiFi
posted by sammyo at 3:07 PM on December 3, 2019 [10 favorites]


its nice to see municipalism grow, from here in America to Barcelona to Rojava, carrying on a long history that not only includes Murray Bookchin’s municipalist concepts but also those of communes from the distant past in various locations and cultures around the world.
posted by gucci mane at 3:32 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


I kind of dig that the coop had the nards to call itself “Peoples...” given the political leanings of the area they serve.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:40 PM on December 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


Tightening the focus on the P.R.T.C. makes for a much more flattering take, compared to ProPublica's "Kentucky’s $1.5 Billion Information Highway to Nowhere" May 2019 piece.

"Despite spending hundreds of millions of state and federal dollars, Kentucky still lags behind other states in providing high-speed internet access to its residents. The state’s signature effort to catch up — an ambitious statewide broadband project known as KentuckyWired that was launched with bipartisan support five years ago — is well behind schedule and more than $100 million over budget, a joint investigation by the Courier Journal and ProPublica reveals. So far, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has offered no solution to the boondoggle he inherited.

"State officials estimate that a little over one-third of KentuckyWired’s more than 3,000 miles of fiber-optic cable has been installed. The state’s private sector partners don’t give the precise location of much of that cable. State Auditor Mike Harmon conservatively estimates that Kentucky taxpayers over the next 30 years will be on the hook for $1.5 billion — 50 times what they were originally told the project would cost them."

Scroll down to the "Creating 'Silicon Holler'" section to see the paragraphs on Jackson County.

(If you're interested in this topic, a June 2019 Patriot Act episode, "Why Your Internet Sucks," highlights some small cities and towns, like Fort Collins, Colorado, with swift municipal internet access.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:49 PM on December 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


Note that the two dots that the New Yorker uses is not an umlaut, but a diaeresis. They are homoglyphic but mean different things. An umlaut means the sound changes while the diaeresis means two adjacent vowels are pronounced separately.

Why can't we just accept the standard established by fantasy and sci-fi literature and make it co'operative? The Apostrophe Protection Society gave up, after all.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:50 PM on December 3, 2019 [5 favorites]


>"The effort took six years, at a cost of fifty thousand dollars per mile."

>"In the most rugged terrain around McKee, the crews relied on a mule named Old Bub to haul the cable two or three miles a day."


That mule was pulling down a pretty damn good wage.
posted by JackFlash at 4:01 PM on December 3, 2019 [14 favorites]


make it co'operative

Or the more common "co-operative".
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:32 PM on December 3, 2019 [4 favorites]



With twenty million dollars borrowed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and twenty-five million dollars in Obama-era stimulus—some of it a grant and some of it a loan—P.R.T.C. pulled a thousand miles of cable, to all seven thousand structures in the county. ... The effort took six years, at a cost of fifty thousand dollars per mile.

So white folk get their porn super fast but Flint still doesn't have clean water. Hmmmmm.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 4:57 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


or the totally balls-out co\operative
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:19 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


It feels like the lack of political context really undermines this article. How can you tell this story without stopping to explain why there aren't more like it?

There isn't much political context here. Red state, blue state, the coops, telephone and electric, are still running fiber. They've been doing it since the 90s and never stopped. There are literally hundreds like it, even if this one is the first to offer 10Gb as standard.
posted by wierdo at 5:32 PM on December 3, 2019


>>> make it co'operative

>> Or the more common "co-operative".

> or the totally balls-out co\operative


splitters!
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 5:35 PM on December 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


That mule was pulling down a pretty damn good wage.

Teamster.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:56 PM on December 3, 2019 [8 favorites]


ErisLordFreedom: "Anyone want to guess which party they vote for?"

They also voted overwhelmingly for Bevin in 2015 despite Bevin's pledge to dismantle the Medicaid expansion saving their lives.

Did they learn anything from Bevin's four years? Possibly, given those two counties shifted Democratic in 2019, but it was also less than 5% and they still voted Bevin by staggering margins, so no, probably not.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:48 PM on December 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


Did they learn anything from Bevin's four years?

The article claims they vote Republican because Lincoln was a Republican. So you could argue they haven't learned anything in 150 years.

I have no idea how these people think, but I don't think it is very pretty.
posted by JackFlash at 7:16 PM on December 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


Most people don't think about most things most of the time. It is the human condition. If we put as much thought as we sometimes like to believe into our actions, we'd never get anything done. Even active resistance won't prevent the brain from creating "helpful" shortcuts so as to avoid future thought. It's an energy saving strategy.
posted by wierdo at 7:32 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


Even active resistance won't prevent the brain from creating "helpful" shortcuts so as to avoid future thought. It's an energy saving strategy.

Oh, I agree. And normally those shortcuts are very useful. For example, if your parents have impressed on you that Democrats have done good things to improve people's lives, a good shortcut is to always vote for the Democrat. But if your parents have taught you that white people are better than colored people, that shortcut leads you to a very bad place.
posted by JackFlash at 7:36 PM on December 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


Note that the two dots that the New Yorker uses is not an umlaut, but a diaeresis.

Just as frustrating and confusing when you're often reading languages that use ö as a letter regardless.

I do not like the New Yorker style guide.
posted by Dysk at 1:04 AM on December 4, 2019


I ate a bowl of umlaut that had been left out too long, and it gave me a terrible case of diaresis.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:47 AM on December 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


One of my dogs likes to eat umlaut, but that has never made it seem any more appealing to me. After all, he considers toxoplasmosis to be a tasty snack. Once a dog has learned to fish, it's hard to get them to stop. Maybe they'd listen if they were the ones that had to clean up the not-coincidentally-related diaresis.

(Too far?)
posted by wierdo at 4:24 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


the coöperative is planning to upgrade the system to ten gigabits

Ten gigabits! They'd need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity that requires.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:57 AM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


I wonder if we up here in Jackson County, Ohio could borrow Old Bub to haul some fiber around the county and get wired up like the folks in KY. I've been stuck with satellite DSL since I moved out into the boonies in 2005.
posted by e1c at 10:20 AM on December 4, 2019


> I do not like the New Yorker style guide.

be careful, comrade! that sort of talk could get you sent to the reëducation camps!
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:30 PM on December 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


...the diaeresis means two adjacent vowels are pronounced separately.

Oh, you do ?
posted by y2karl at 2:23 PM on December 5, 2019


They'd need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity that requires.

What luck, Kentucky [pop. 4.5 million / 87% White] is swimming in electrical-grid-upgrade funding -- $300 million+ in the last few months alone! In November, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives honored Sen. Mitch McConnell (of Lexington, KY and Wash., DC) as the Distinguished Rural Kentuckian of the year. Excerpted from press release at KEC site, bolding mine:
“Senator McConnell is a champion for rural Kentucky,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “Time and time again, he has been there for co-ops when it matters most. And, what’s striking is how responsive he is to the issues of rural Kentucky and America.”

Perry said McConnell’s leadership securing access to sensible financing and USDA funding has helped Kentucky co-ops deliver safe, reliable and affordable electricity, and McConnell’s advocacy for sensible environmental regulations has protected the consumer-members of Kentucky co-ops.

“We know that Leader McConnell’s clout means good things for Kentucky and we appreciate his hard work and dedication to fight for rural priorities,” Perry continued. “As Majority Leader, he gets to set the agenda and because of that, rural Kentuckians have a lot to be grateful for. Our agenda is his agenda.”

First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984, Senator McConnell is Kentucky’s longest serving senator and the longest serving Republican Senate Leader in U.S. history. In addition to serving on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senate Rules and Administration, he also serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee – the committee which holds jurisdiction over discretionary spending.

Through the years, Senator McConnell has fought for many priorities important to rural Kentucky, including major tax reform, regulatory relief, infrastructure, rural broadband development and healthcare. Senator McConnell is well-known as a champion for rural Kentuckians – their jobs, families and futures. He has secured vital funding for our communities and been the voice for all Kentuckians in Washington.
I think he could've worn a tie to the award ceremony, but what do I know about bein' folksy.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:00 PM on December 5, 2019


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