“You can make one phone call and talk to a doer,” says Clint Carter Director | Technology and New Service Introduction of Tennessee broadband service provider North Central Telephone Cooperative. Carter explains what differentiates NCTC from the behemoth data centers and cloud services is accessibility to the NCTC people. The NCTC staff live in the communities it serves and are able to provide an extra level of service, as compared to traditional cloud-based companies that typically have a chat box for a human interface.
Being local, NCTC knew the importance of constructing a purpose-built data center that would survive earthquakes (Category D) and tornadoes (EF5). In 2010, they found out that it would also survive a thousand-year flood. Carter indicates that their data center and processes are SSAE 16, Soc 2 Type 2 compliant. They create a secure location for local customers to store their content. Through virtualization, they are able to turn up servers for customers in their data centers within minutes, while occupying relatively little rack space and providing redundant and backed-up power.
Going beyond the data center, their fiber to the premise network allows them to provide low-latency cloud services to local businesses. Working with IRIS Networks (they are a founding member of this mid-mile provider), they have been able to help local businesses connect branch offices that lie beyond NCTC’s service territory. They are also able to provide their customers geographic diversity beyond their data center. Because these connections stay off the Internet in a private network configuration, NCTC is able to provide extremely secure connections.
The telemedicine applications they have enabled have allowed their rural community to have almost instant access to doctors that would otherwise be inaccessible. As Carter tells it, their initial telemedicine application started from a concern that NCTC’s CEO had about a local general contractor who had fallen from a roof. In talking with the hospital, she found out that bandwidth limited what the hospital could do with MRIs captured on-site. It was NCTC’s subsequent deployment of fiber to the hospital and the associated improvements in health care that were among the reasons that led to their recent NTCA Smart Rural Community Award.
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