Annual Meeting

NHTC 2018 Annual Meeting Recap

Weston Reed licked a drop of ketchup from the corner of his mouth as he ate his hot dog. His brother, Jameson, and sister, Gracyn, shared a box of popcorn, sneaking in a few tosses of the treat at each other.

The 4-year-old triplets sat with their parents, Grant and Nicole Reed, on the bleachers at the middle school gym, enjoying the entertainment at New Hope Telephone Cooperative’s annual meeting.

“It’s a good family outing,” Nicole Reed says.

The Reeds are NHTC internet customers, and they don’t usually miss a meeting. Brandon Elder, a man from Arab who made it to the Top 50 and Hollywood week on the hit television show “American Idol,” provided entertainment.

“I watched ‘American Idol’ this season, so this was exciting,” says Nicole Reed of Elder’s performance. “We would have come anyway, but this made it even better.”

The New Hope High School show choir, “The Pride” also performed.

NHTC members registered for door prizes, including free internet service, TV service, gift packs, tablets, an Apple Watch and TVs.

Member Mike Tipton pumped his arms in the air when his name was called as the winner of the grand prize – a 50-inch TV. “I just had a feeling,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to come, but this was the first year I actually made it. I sure am glad I did.”

Down to Business

Even though it’s a festive atmosphere, the meeting is an important part of operations at the cooperative.

Board members are elected, and the meeting serves as a platform to update members on highlights from the previous year. Place 1 board member Greg Glover and Place 8 board member Randy Morrison were re-elected.

General Manager Jim Cook described the cooperative’s solid 2017 financial performance, which allowed members to benefit with more bang for their buck.

All NHTC subscribers now have digital fiber-to-the-home internet, Cook says. The minimum residential internet speed was once again increased – this year from 25 to 50 Mbps – with no price change. The cooperative also reduced the residential pricing for 100 Mbps and gigabit-speed tiers. In addition, the minimum business internet speed was increased with no price change.

The cooperative’s assets in 2017 totaled $37 million, and there was a $2.7 million investment in the fiber-to-the-home project.

Operating expenses rose by 3.5 percent, driven by significant increases in fees charged by television content providers and the decision by the cooperative’s board to speed the removal of old copper and cable networks.

“Even with the slight reduction in revenues and increases in expenses, our ability to keep controllable expenses relatively flat along with modest growth in nonregulated products and services, such as internet and security solutions, allowed us to post a healthy operating income margin of $1.2 million,” Cook says.

Going Gig

This year marks the one-year anniversary of the cooperative’s certification by NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association as a gigabit broadband internet provider. The cooperative is capable of delivering gigabit broadband speeds and enabling technological innovation throughout New Hope, Grant and Owens Cross Roads, with 100 percent of the membership included in the fiber network.

Only about 10 percent of NTCA member-companies have achieved the designation of gig-certified provider, Cook says.

While about 99 percent of the fiber network is underground, the cable TV and copper networks are aerial lines. Cook says the cooperative plans to focus on removing the aerial lines and recycling the cables. Removing the aerial cables should cut expenses by $200,000 annually.

Cook says the NHTC team can grow the broadband network to serve the influx of new subscribers to the area. “We will expand our boundaries and enhance our product and service offerings,” Cook says.

Robust growth in new home construction, with the majority in the Owens Cross Roads exchange, results in a 3.5 percent increase in residential subscribers. The broadband customer base has grown by 5 percent.

The board approved the expansion of the fiber network near the communities of Horse Cove, McMullen Road and Berkley.

“For years, we have been approached by residents living in the areas adjacent to our boundaries. They have asked us to please extend our fiber network in their areas so they, too, can enjoy the benefits of our state-of-the-art broadband network,” he says. “We are proud to be your technology and communications provider in the areas we have served for many years as well as the areas where we are expanding.”