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Member Spotlight: Western New Mexico Telephone

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Western New Mexico Telephone CEO and Chairman of the Board Jack Keen discusses his service area in Southwestern New Mexico and his commitment to expanding broadband and telephone services into low density and high cost areas.

Tell us about Western New Mexico Telephone.  

Western New Mexico Telephone is a rural telecommunications company serving 15,000 sq. mi., about the size of Maryland, in Southwestern New Mexico. With more than 400 miles of fiber and several new wireless platforms, we are focused on the expansion of broadband services to all customer locations by leveraging fiber optics, new generation electronics, and wireless alternatives.

What’s your biggest or most recent corporate accomplishment? 

As an RLEC with defined service areas, the most recent developments have been expansion into adjacent market areas making fiber and wireless services available to residential and commercial consumers that do not have competitive broadband available.

When you think about your company’s future, what, if anything, keeps you up at night? 

Restrictive regulation and legislative initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels. Part of our company’s goals and requirements have been to expand broadband and telephone services to areas that are low density and high cost, while also expanding into higher density areas to support the continued increasing operational costs to support the low density areas. Add to that, the lack of financial support from companies like Google, Amazon, Netflix, etc. that are straining our broadband networks. With rural broadband providers doing our level best to stay competitive with far larger competitors, there are no long-term assurances that consumers will continue enjoying the concept of Universal Service to support new technologies, spur competition, and bridge the urban/rural divide.

What unique challenges does your company face while serving rural communities across the state? 

In addition to high cost permitting and/or regulatory roadblocks created by federal, state and municipal agencies, the company’s RLEC density of approximately one customer location per three plus square miles is clearly a challenge. This density factor is exacerbated by the lack of other critical infrastructure, like ready access to commercial power and navigable right of ways.

What are two websites that you can’t get through the day without checking?

USTelecom.org and local news sites. Understanding the advancement of new telecom solutions and always staying in tune to the local aspect of our areas are key to our success!

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