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Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY —
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DuoCounty Telecom tells of improvements, plans
In May 29-June 4 issue
By Derek Aaron
Times Journal Reporter

JAMESTOWN - Duo County Telecom Vice President and CEO Bill Magruder said he expects a large turnout of around 500 people or more for the cooperative's annual membership meeting on June 10 at Russell County High School.

The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., is for registered members of the cooperative but spouses are encouraged to attend also, according to Marketing Director Eric West. The doors will open at 6 p.m. for registration.

At the short business meeting, Magruder will tell co-op members about many of the new services and features Duo County now offers.

"We have put a an enhanced broadband network in place and we're completing parts of it," Magruder said. "We have completed that network in Russell County and we are in the process of completing an enhanced broadband network in Cumberland and Adair Counties."

Magruder said that should be completed by late next month.

"That new enhanced broadband network is going to give us the ability to offer faster broadband speeds to all our members without any congestion and will also be one of the final pieces to the network to be able to deploy video service over our telephone facilities," he said.

By this fall, Magruder said the company's video service would be extended further out than it ever has been.

Columbia is also a relatively new territory for the company, where services were extended in 2005.

"We're very pleased with the progress that's being made in Adair County," Magruder said. "We have added a lot of not only video customers but broadband and telephone customers in the Columbia area as well."

He said the company already provided broadband service to more than 1,500 customers in southern Adair County.

"We certainly have enlarged our customer base significantly in Adair County," he said. Magruder said Duo County now had around 3,500 customers in Adair County. "That's been a significant expansion for us."

Duo County also has a location in Columbia for customers to pay their bills, as well as one in Cumberland County. Later this summer, the company will break ground on a new customer service facility in Columbia near where the new Super Wal-Mart is being built.

In all, Duo County serves nearly 15,000 customers in Russell, Cumberland and Adair Counties.

"I think that growth slows on the traditional telephone land line business but the good news is our wireless business, Bluegrass Cellular, continues to have excellent growth," he said.

Magruder said he believed the reason for that growth on the wireless side is the company's adding of new cellular communication sites throughout the Lake Cumberland area.

"We clearly have the most comprehensive coverage pf any wireless carrier in the region," he said. "I think customers have responded to that and we have had excellent growth in our wireless and broadband businesses."

He said customers were very interested in high-speed Internet capabilities and that his company was poised to deliver that to them.

This isn't the only way his company is growing, though.

"As customers buy new television sets, they're buying more and more HD (high definition) sets and when they do we have high definition services available for them," he said. "We will be in the process of adding more HD channels on a continuing basis.

And for the 21st straight year, Duo County has sent out dividend checks to its members.

"This year, we printed over 12,000 dividend checks and we declared dividends of over $670,000, which is about a 5 percent increase in the dividends over what we paid last year."

These checks are calculated based upon longevity of service and how much business the member does with the cooperative.

The total for the dividend checks mailed to Duo County members is at nearly $14 million since the cooperative began paying dividends 21 years ago.

Magruder said, Duo County's 2007 profits exceeded $6 million with a large part of these profits from wireless service.

"I think we're most interested in how we can deliver the most up-to-date technology," Magruder said. "We provide traditional land-line service, broadband service, video service and wireless services so customers can come to us for a complete range of telecommunication services and I think we can deliver it with solid local, customer service."

Magruder said his local expert technicians want to provide good service to their neighbors and customers in the area.

"We have constant training going on with all of the new technologies we produce," Magruder said of his staff's expertise. "We have probably 54 employees, but it is a constant issue, keeping everyone updated and trained .... we have an excellent staff in that regard."

Duo County's Board of Directors consists of President Dr. James E. Monin and Secretary Sharon Hill

of the Jamestown exchange, Vice President David Davenport and Jerry D. Roy of the Russell Springs exchange, Joe Sparks of the Adair County exchange and Bill Norris and Douglas Butler of the Cumberland County exchange. The Board of Directors is advised by Duo County Legal Counsel H.K. Cooper of Jamestown.

"We are very fortunate to have such an experienced group of community and business leaders that serve on our board and they're primary responsibility is to ensure that we have the right strategic plan in place to bring the technology that customers want but to also back that up with solid customer service," Magruder said.

He said the board also helps keep the company financially strong through their planning efforts, something customers may not realize.

"To be able to return dividends to our customers is very important but it is just an added benefit to a cooperative," he said. Magruder said Duo County now offers a "triple bundle" to their customers in land-line telephone service, high-speed broadband and video service.

"Later this fall we'll be able to offer this in a much larger geographic region of our service are because we can move beyond where our existing company is today," he said. He said 85 percent of the customer base would have the "triple bundle" availability offered to them by fall.

At the June 10 meeting, Magruder said all members will receive a meeting gift and several other door prizes will be given away with the two grand prizes being a 32" flat panel HD television and a Dell Computer.

Light refreshments will also be distributed as well.
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