News

Changes to Affordable Connectivity Program – ACP
February 7, 2024 is the last day to apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program. Enrollments will not be accepted after midnight tonight. An enrollment includes applying with the FCC, being accepted, AND notifying your provider so they can confirm the enrollment. If you are currently receiving ACP credit on your Hamilton County Telephone Co-op or Communications bill, you will continue to receive credit until the funding is diminished. Currently, they expect the last fully funded month to be April 2024. After that, you may receive a partial credit until the fund is depleted. If you have questions about your ACP credit or enrollment, please do not hesitate to contact us – 618-736-2242. You can also visit https://www.fcc.gov/acp.

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The New 730 Area Code is Coming to the Illinois 618 Area Code Region

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Springfield, IL (June 30, 2023) – With new telephone numbers in southern Illinois in high demand, the Illinois Commerce Commission approved the implementation of the new 730 area code to overlay the existing 618 area code region. The 618 area code serves all or part of 37 counties, and includes communities such as Alton, Belleville, Cairo, Carbondale, Centralia, Collinsville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Effingham, Granite City, Edwardsville, and Marion, as well as many other smaller communities.

Starting on July 7, 2023, customers in the 618 area code overlay region may be assigned a number in the new 730 area code when they request new service or an additional line. The 730 area code will co-exist everywhere in this region with the 618 area code. Customers receiving the 730 area code will be required to dial 10 digits (the area code and phone number) for all local calls, just as customers with telephone numbers from the 618 area code do today.

Telephone customers should know the following key facts about the 618/730 area code overlay:

  • Telephone numbers, including current area code, will not change.
  • The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay.
  • What is a local call now will remain a local call.
  • Customers in the overlay region will continue to dial 10 digits for local calls within and between the overlay area codes, and 1+10 digits for long distance calls.
  • Customers can still dial just three digits to reach 911 and 988, as well as 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711 or 811 if those are currently available in their community.

Customers should continue to identify their telephone number as a 10-digit number (3-digit area code + 7-digit telephone number), and include the area code when giving the number to friends, family, business associates and customers, etc.

Customers should ensure that all services, automatic dialing equipment, or other types of equipment recognize the new 730 area code as a valid area code and should continue to store or program telephone numbers as 10-digit numbers.  Some examples include but are not limited to: stored telephone numbers in contact lists in wireless and cordless phones, PBXs, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, speed dialers, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, medical alert devices, safety alarm security systems and gates, ankle monitors, and or other similar equipment.  Customers should also ensure their websites, personal and business stationery and printed checks, advertising materials, contact information, and personal or pet ID tags include the area code.

For more information, please contact your local telephone service provider or visit the Illinois Commission website at https://www.icc.illinois.gov/programs/Area-Codes

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In October of 2022, the USDA announced that Hamilton County Telephone Co-op would be a recipient of Round 3 of the Reconnect Awards. This award includes $12,413,362 in loan and $12,413,362 in grant. The serving area will include areas in the Hamilton County Telephone Co-op serving area in Hamilton, Franklin, Jefferson, Saline, Wayne and White counties. This Rural Development investment will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 3,202 people, 248 farms and 52 businesses to high-speed internet. The telephone co-op will continue to make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs.

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For the last several years, Hamilton County Telephone Co-op has been working diligently to serve the underserved in our region of Southern Illinois with high speed internet service. We made it our mission five years ago to expand our network, through our subsidiary Futiva, into five neighboring counties of Franklin, Jefferson, Saline, White, and Williamson. Although many that live within the main towns in these counties have options, many of those living outside city limits or on the border of the towns do not have options when it comes to high speed internet. Today we are very excited and humbled to announce that with the USDA’s grant and loan program, we will be able to serve just under 8,000 locations in portions of the rural areas of Franklin, Saline, White, and Williamson counties in the coming years. Some of these areas include Lake Benton area, Orient, Whiteash, Spillertown, Pittsburg, Paulton, Crab Orchard, Harco, Ledford, Pankeyville, Muddy, Wasson, Raleigh, Brownsville, Colony West, as well as many other rural unnamed areas. These areas were all determined and qualified as underserved, meaning that at least 90% of the locations in these areas do not have access to 10/1 internet service. This multi-year project will allow us to serve our region with services that they might not otherwise ever have access to. Once this project is completed, it will give us close proximity to many other underserved areas within these five counties. We look forward to bringing fast and affordable high speed internet to this serving area and growing our network for the foreseable future.

For additional information on this award, visit: USDA Invests $46.4 Million in High-Speed Broadband in Rural Illinois

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Do you own a Roku Smart TV or older version Roku Stick? Have you been seeing issues lately when trying to stream your favorite shows or movies? According to the newest update, your Roku TV or Roku 3 Stick could be causing its own issues. Roku has added a feature called “Device Connect” on TV’s which broadcasts a constant WPS signal. This causes Wi-Fi interference resulting in lower signals not only for your TV, but all other wireless devices as well. On Roku 3 Sticks, the Roku will grab the same Wi-Fi channel as the nearest Wi-Fi access point (e.g. yours).  It will broadcast a Wi-Fi Direct SSID DIRECT-roku-123-A2 or “Hidden” on the same channel.  It will increase its power to stay above your access point if you up the transit power. The Roku has interference mitigation enabled by default.  This is technology which deliberately disrupts traffic to nearby Access Points to attempt to improve local traffic. Check out the link  below for instructions on how to turn off and disable these features.

Roku – Instructions on disabling “Device Connect” features.

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Visit us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/hamiltoncountycommunications/  for up to date information on Hamilton County Communications.

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Click the following links to view recent issues of Co-op Connection, the official newsletter of Hamilton County Telephone Co-op:

January 2024 Newsletter

February 2024 Newsletter

March 2024 Newsletter