Earlier today, NRTC was happy to announce that Ken Johnson will be working out of our Herndon, VA, offices beginning this week. Johnson has an extensive background and success in extending broadband internet service in to unserved rural areas. He will continue those efforts on behalf of NRTC’s telco and electric members in his new role as senior VP, Broadband Programs.
Last spring, Johnson was the administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) as the agency kicked off its “E-Connectivity” project to promote broadband public/private partnerships. He came to RUS after several years as CEO of Co-Mo Electric Cooperative in Tipton, MO.
Johnson led the construction of an early fiber-to-the-home project by a rural cooperative. Co-Mo began serving its first fiber customer on Dec. 24, 2011. By 2014 it had begun offering gigabit service to some of its members.
Before beginning the Co-Mo project, “a day wouldn’t go by when I would be in a coffee shop or somewhere within the community and many times it was, “Is there anything the local electric co-op can do to help us with our broadband?’” Johnson said during an E-Connectivity conference earlier this year. “After you get into so many of these conversations, you realize it’s a huge problem.”
“Ken brings a unique perspective to fellow cooperative management teams and their boards as they consider the best way to deliver broadband to their rural members and communities,” said NRTC CEO Tim Bryan said in a press release. “Importantly, Ken will also work with NRTC’s telephone members on ways to leverage their networks while working with electric and telephone utilities to partner where possible to maximize the rate of return on rural investments.”
“I’m thankful that Ken’s wisdom and common sense are available to all NRTC members,” said Eric Freesmeier, CEO of NRTC subsidiary Pulse Broadband. Freesmeier worked with Johnson during the Co-Mo fiber project.