One of the enduring lessons of COVID-19 is sure to be a fuller understanding of just how important internet services are to our everyday lives.

As more events and meetings moved online, as did our schools and workplaces, we saw just how important internet infrastructure is, not just for entertainment purposes, but for survival.

Like many communities in Central Appalachia, Prestonsburg was faced with an incredibly difficult shift from in-person to online, a shift made all the more difficult by the continued negligence of the city’s cable provider — Suddenlink — in failing to improve or even keep operational its internet architecture.

Recently, the city voted to hand over Suddenlink’s franchise agreement — which applies to the cable television service, not internet — to Floyd County-based InterMountain, which will also allow InterMountain to move its internet business more readily into Prestonsburg.

InterMountain has its work cut out for it, even in providing just basic television service. Suddenlink simply hasn’t kept up with the times in providing the infrastructure the city’s residents deserve and need. Their questionable — at best — customer service, coupled with a hands-off approach to its Eastern Kentucky and Central Appalachia franchises, have led to a system sorely in need of upgrade, as well as just general improvement and repair.

The people of Prestonsburg,  the people of Eastern Kentucky deserve better. Suddenlink is currently in the process of losing other franchises in the region, as well. And it’s no surprise. After all, despite the continued complaints by individuals, businesses and government officials, it seems that Suddenlink couldn’t care less about not only the people’s needs for quality basic services, much less better services.

And it’s a hindrance. It’s a hindrance as we continue to navigate COVID and beyond. We cannot establish new businesses or recruit new industry without high-quality internet service. It’s a deal-killer for most businesses.

InterMountain has a lot of work ahead of it, but as a local company with local management, more beholden to the people it serves, perhaps it can not just adequately operate, but improve, the various telecommunications abilities for the City of Prestonsburg.

It’s going to take time. We didn’t get here overnight and won’t get out of it overnight, but maybe this agreement is the starting point for better telecommunications and a brighter future for our community.

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