Watch Communications announced connectivity projects in Indiana and Illinois as part of Microsoft’s Airband initiative to expand broadband Internet to rural America. The two projects will bring high-speed Internet to thousands of households through partnerships with rural electric cooperatives throughout the two states and in Ohio and Kentucky – nearly half of whom are in unserved, rural areas.
“The need for reliable, high-speed Internet is so critical, especially now, as many Americans have shifted to working from home,” said Chris Daniels, CEO of Watch Communications. “Telehealth services are providing a crucial link to medical professionals, therapists, and counselors. Students need access to e-Learning platforms, and all of us are looking for more information in these challenging times. For those who live and work in rural areas, that’s a real challenge right now, and one that we’re committed to solving.”
The two initial projects are:
- Henry County Rural Electric Municipal Cooperative, Indiana;
- And Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative, Illinois.
In these partnerships, Watch Communications will deploy a best-of-breed approach, selected from a variety of solutions depending on terrain and customer density. In some cases, Watch will deploy fiber while in others, the company will pursue fixed wireless solutions on towers, cooperative-owned elevators, or community-owned water towers. Watch has engaged with Ericsson in many areas in its service territory to deploy LTE solutions. In areas with challenging terrain, Watch will look to TV white space technology.
In July 2019, Watch Communications announced it had joined Microsoft’s Airband Initiative. which seeks to expand broadband Internet to 3 million people living and working in rural areas in five years. According to the FCC, there are more than 18.3 million Americans who lack broadband access with more than 14.4 million living in rural America.
“The biggest challenges for extending broadband into rural areas are the lack of population density and the terrain, which makes selecting the right approach critical to the success in each area,” said Greg Jarman, Watch’s Chief Development Officer. “The use of 4G/5G solutions, combined with TV white space, gives us an invaluable option to expand broadband without having to build cost-prohibitive physical structures or other infrastructure.”
About Watch Communications
Founded in 1992, Watch Communications is an Internet Service Provider (ISP) using a combination of fixed wireless and fiber technologies to serve residential and business customers throughout Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. Watch Communications began as a wireless cable TV provider and expanded service offerings in 1998 to include the Internet. Since its creation, Watch Communications has focused on unserved and underserved small and rural markets. Watch Communications is a subsidiary of Benton Ridge Telephone. The Benton Ridge family of companies also includes Community Fiber Solutions in Indiana and Q Wireless in Kentucky and Indiana.