Floyd County High School is now streaming local high school sports online. Thanks to a partnership with The National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) Network and a Pixellot automated camera system donated and installed by Citizens, your county’s technology company. The camera system and online platform give parents, grandparents, and alumni the opportunity to keep up with the action regardless of where they live or travel.

For 10 years, Citizens has provided an avenue for FCHS sports to be seen on Citizens’ own local channel, CCTV Channel 20, for local subscribers. Citizens has secured videographers and commentators for full-productions of basketball, football, volleyball, and soccer games. This tradition continues and is now expanding to give viewers the opportunity to watch these FCHS sports live and on-demand online.

“The new camera system has helped us streamline our production workflow by deploying an automated multi-camera system in a single fixed rig. I have been impressed with its ability to cover the entire court and field while tracking the flow of play. If you’ve seen a recent game aired on CCTV, then you have seen the automated system in action.” stated Hari Berzins, Citizens Content Strategist.

“We will continue to air the games on Citizens’ CCTV Channel 20, but we’ve been looking for a way to offer people beyond our service area the ability to enjoy the games. Our new partnership with Pixellot and the NFHS provides a well established online platform for us to offer our local content on any device wherever you are; this is a great solution.”

The NFHS Network offers three subscription packages that allow subscribers access to not only Floyd County High School games but also high school sports across the country.

  • Monthly Pass only $9.99
  • Annual Pass only $80

You can subscribe to your all-access pass at
https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/schools/floyd-county-high-school-floyd-va. Pay securely online with a major credit card, and support FCHS with a portion of all sales going back to the school.

Your All-Access Pass to the NFHS Network provides:

  • The ability to watch games on the go via your phone or tablet
  • Full access to Live regular season and postseason sporting events
  • Immediate access to events when they are available On Demand

For more information, visit www.citizens.coop, call 540.745.2111 or 276.637.6485. Citizens is a member-owned Cooperative providing telephone, Internet, and TV to Floyd County, a portion of Wythe County and New Castle. Citizens also offer symmetrical business Ethernet, IT Solutions, Home Security Systems (DCJS #11-9804) as well as Citizens Medical Alert. Citizens is located at 220 Webbs Mill Road in Floyd. Lobby and drive-thru hours are 8am-6pm Monday – Friday; 9 am – 1 pm on Saturday.

Citizens Cablevision is pleased to announce the addition of InfoOne, Channel 19 to their lineup. InfoOne displays much like a bulletin board of local information important to residents, such as power outages, school closings, road information and more.

InfoOne is an automated technology service based out of Wytheville, VA that collects important information from many publicly available sources. InfoOne formats and maps that information, determines to which of our communities the information applies, and then broadcasts that information to our viewers through our custom iPhone and Android apps, Twitter, Facebook, direct text, and now Citizens’ television.

InfoOne divides all information into geographical communities, usually by county. Subscribers of Citizens Cablevision will see information based on your service area: Floyd, Wythe, and Craig counties.

Information carried by InfoOne, channel 19 comes from the following sources:

  • National Weather Service
    • All weather alerts affecting any part of the community
    • Current weather conditions.
    • 5-day weather forecast.
  • Appalachian Power
    • Broadcast power outages affecting 25 or more customers within a given community
  • Virginia Department of Transportation
    • All “major” and “high profile” traffic incidents within the community, and within 5 miles of the geographic perimeter of the community.
  • National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children
    • Runaway children within 30 miles of the community.
    • Amber Alerts occurring within 300 miles of the community.
  • School closings
    • Public and private school closings and delays.
  • United States Geological Survey
    • Earthquakes over 2.0 magnitude occurring within a radius that could potentially affect the community (the radius diameter is determined by the magnitude of the earthquake)

The video stream generated shows active alerts one at a time with the text information scrolling vertically. It cycles through active alerts, local weather conditions/forecasts, and information about the InfoOne service. Music from Wytheville radio station, WXBX, is played in the background on the channel, giving viewers a true local experience.

To become more familiar with InfoOne, download the free app from your Apple or Playstore for your phone or tablet.

For more information, visit www.citizens.coop , call 540.745.2111 or 276.637.6485. Citizens is a member-owned Cooperative providing telephone, Internet, and TV to Floyd County, portion of Wythe County and New Castle. Citizens also offers symmetrical business Ethernet, IT Solutions, Home Security Systems as well as Citizens Medical Alert. Citizens is located at 220 Webbs Mill Road in Floyd. Lobby hours are 8am-6pm Monday – Friday; 9am1pm on Saturday.

Arlington, Va., (October 12, 2019) – Citizens Telephone Cooperative (d.b.a. Citizens) was recognized on October 12, 2018, by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association as a Certified Gig-Capable Provider for delivering gigabit broadband speeds and enabling technological innovation in community the of Floyd County, Virginia. NTCA is the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America.

As a Certified Gig-Capable Provider, Citizens joins a national campaign to build awareness and industry recognition of community-based telecom providers that have built communications networks capable of delivering Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, which is 100 times faster than those currently available in many U.S. households. Citizens also received tools to promote itself as a Gig-Capable Provider throughout Floyd County and will be recognized in NTCA media, on the NTCA website, and during association conferences and events.

“I applaud Citizens for its commitment to delivering the Internet’s fastest speeds—an accomplishment worthy of much praise considering the unique and challenging circumstances small, community-based telecommunications providers operate under every day in serving some of our country’s most rural and remote communities,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield. “By building a gigabit-capable network, Citizens has not only overcome these challenges, but also shattered conventional benchmarks for broadband speed to enable cutting-edge technologies that drive innovation and promote economic development in their community.”

To achieve certification, telecommunications companies must show that gigabit technology is currently commercially available within 95% of one or more exchanges or census blocks within its serving territory and that such service can be provided without new trenching or stringing new aerial facilities. This statement must be confirmed by a letter from an engineering firm or other independent source involved in the company’s network planning, deployment or operation.

“Citizens is proud to deploy Residential Gigabit Internet to our fiber customers.  In 2017, we began a multi-year fiber overbuild of our copper network in Floyd County, as we complete sections of this network, we will contact customers regarding the new Residential Gigabit Internet packages available to them as well as our CitiZip Business packages.  The construction of this project is scheduled through the end of 2023. By the end of the project over 80% of our customers in Floyd County will be able to switch to our fiber packages.” stated Dennis Reece, Chief Operating Officer of Citizens.

More information about the NTCA Gig-Capable Provider certification program is available at www.ntca.org/gigcertified.

To learn about Citizens’ fiber build-out plan, visit https://stage.myswva.com/fiberexpansion/.   At the bottom of this webpage, you will see several useful links like how to estimate the amount of data your home needs and determine if your home and devices are gigabit ready, learn what uses data with your home and how to manage that, and a link to Citizens’ Gigabit data packages.

Citizens is a member-owned Cooperative providing telephone, Internet, and TV to Floyd County and surrounding communities. Citizens also offers symmetrical business Ethernet, IT Solutions, Home Security Systems as well as Citizens Medical Alert. Citizens is located at 220 Webbs Mill Road in Floyd. Lobby hours are 8am-6pm Monday – Friday; 9am – 1pm on Saturday.  For more information, visitwww.citizens.coop or call 540.745.2111.

About NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in the legislative and regulatory arenas, and it provides training and development; publications and industry events; and an array of employee benefit programs. In an era of transformative technological advancements, regulatory challenges and marketplace competition, NTCA members are leading the technological evolution for rural consumers, delivering robust and high-quality services over future-proof networks that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. Because of their efforts, rural America is fertile ground for innovation in economic development, e-commerce, healthcare, agriculture, and education and contributes billions of dollars to the U.S. economy each year. Visit us at www.ntca.org.

2018 Annual Meeting of Citizens Telephone Cooperative was held on Saturday, October 20th, in the Floyd County High School Auditorium. Members of the Cooperative were greeted by Citizens employees and walked through the process of Co-op’s newest undertaking; the deployment of fiber optic technology.  A brightly colored map showed the fiber construction plan for the next few years. A professionally produced video detailed the phases of the fiber project; showing the installtion of the drop to the home and installation within the home and attendees were able to see the external and internal equipment for the fiber to the home project. In addition, employees were on-site to demonstrate and answer questions about products and services including Citizens Home Security and Automation.  Prior to the meeting, members filled the auditorium to enjoy entertainment by bluegrass band, Gate 10.

Board President Wesley Goff opened the meeting. The minutes from the last meeting were read by Secretary, Shelby Quesenberry and approved by the membership prior to the meeting being turned over to General Manager, Greg Sapp.  

Sapp recognized several long-time employees who had retired since the last meeting: Paula Harris retired with 29 years of service, Keith Bowman retired with 30 years of service, Dennis Whitlock retired with 37 years of service, and Ralph Beran retired with 44 years of service.  

General Manager, Sapp highlighted the company’s accomplishments for 2017 and shared visions of product and service enhancements for 2018, focusing on the company’s recent GIG Certification by the NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association.  Sapp stated that the upgrade in the network translates to providing speeds up to 600 times faster than existing service. “We believe that our 1 gig fiber broadband service to the home is like electric service. There is more than enough bandwidth to power as many simultaneous devices as you want. You don’t buy a new electric appliance and wonder if you have enough electriciity to power it. The same thought process should occur with internet connected devices,” stated Sapp. “We have customers today with over 25 internet devices in the home, which means they will probably have greater internet usage than the home with one or two devices. We could offer watered down speeds over fiber, but that would just postpone the inevitable. It is inevitable that with 4K or Ultra HD video, live  gaming, video conferencing and chatting, that a 50 Meg or even a 100 Meg service would not be sufficient in a few years. We are bringing you a newtork that will be the envy of everyone around.”

The map of Citizens’ fiber deployment plan is available at www.citizens.coop/fiberexpansion. The color-coded map shows the localities and the projected year that fiber will be constructed. Visitors to the site can enter their street address and scroll to street level to see an estimate of when fiber service will be deployed to their area. At the bottom of the webpage there are several useful links including how to estimate the amount of data your home needs and information to help determine if your home and devices are gigabite ready, and a link to Citizens’ Gigabit data packages.

Sapp complimented the Board of Directors (Wesley Goff, President, Lynwood Allen, Vice President, Shelby Quesenberry, Secretary, Daniel Grim, Kevin Hubbard, Russell Stump, Rhonda Turpin, Jonathan Vest, and Attorney, James Shortt) for their leadership in this project. Furthermore, he thanked the employees for their tireless work and dedication to help bring the next generation fiber network to the members.

Following Sapp’s comments, board member, Jonathan Vest, presented the election of directors Wesley Goff, Locust Grove exchange and Lynwood Allen, Floyd exchange. With no competition for the seats, the vote was carried. With no old or new business, the meeting continued with a random drawing for door prizes that included a 65 piece tool set, 4 tickets to the VT vs UVA football game, a programmable Instant Pot, LG Bluetooth speaker headset, Kwickset keyless entry lock, an Amazon Echo with Smart Bulb, a set of fire extinguishers, a laptop with carrying case, a Skybell video door bell, and a 55” 4K TV which was won by Kim Whitlock.

In closing, President Goff thanked the membership for their confidence and support and for being loyal customers. The meeting was adjourned and the members enjoyed a traditional fried chicken lunch served by the Floyd Presbyterian Ladies Group.

Recent fires in California tugged at the heartstrings of Floyd County natives, Jeff Belshan and Keith Bowman. So much so that the Belshan requested VTO (Volunteer Time Off) from his employer, Citizens Telephone Cooperative. Keith Bowman, a recently retired Citizens’ employee, also made the trip to with his former teammate and Jeff’s son, Matt.

Seven people lost their lives and over 1,000 homes were destroyed in the Carr fire. Belshan and Bowman were able to assist 10 families during the week that they were in Redding/Shasta County in California.  The relief efforts were organized by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian international organization.

“I appreciate the opportunity given by Citizens to allow me to make this trip and assist those devastated by fire in California. It was a life changing experience for me and having 16 hours of VTO (Volunteer Time Off) is a huge benefit. It allowed me to help those in need and share an experience with my son that truly enriched my life.” stated Jeff Belshan. The groups helped remove rubble, debris, and sift through fire torched items to try to salvage memories of the victims.

Samaritans Purse has videos of the Carr fire on YouTube and shows how faith was strengthened through the fire and volunteerism.

To learn more about Samaritans Purse and how to get involved can visit the website at samaritanspurse.org.

Last week marked a monumental time in the technology of Floyd County.  Citizens Telephone Cooperative launched ultra-high-speed internet into outlying areas of the County. “Residents in  Phase 1 along 221 North and in the town of Floyd are now eligible for the 1 Gbps connection offering more speed than most devices can handle.” stated Greg Sapp, Citizens General Manager.  “This is just Phase 1 of an aggressive 7-year construction plan. Residents in the Topeco community are sited for eligibility this week.” Sapp continued.

“Citizens is bringing fiber to the home but are resident’s devices ready for gigabit service?” stated Dennis Reece, Assistant General Manager. “There is some important information people need to understand about 1 Gbps service. The point of having a Gigabit connection is not superfast speeds for ONE computer or device; the purpose is to provide fast speeds for DOZENS of devices on a typical home network so that no matter what you are doing online, no one in the home experiences slow speed issues.”  Citizens is here to prepare you for Gigabit Internet service by offering a few tips to help you achieve the Speedtest results you dream of.  We have set up some Frequently Asked Questions and a section entitled “Are You Gigabit Ready?” at citizens.coop/are-you-gigabit-ready/.   Some of these tips will help you maximize your potential internet speeds even if gigabit is not available to your home at this time.

As construction is complete and the fiber tested, eligible residents are receiving emails, letters, and phone calls. “We know from the very early requests when fiber was launched in the Town of Floyd, that people in our community are in need of more broadband to handle the numerous devices in their home. We are happy to expand this offering beyond the Town.” said Lori Saltus, EVP of Customer Relations. “As soon as the fiber is tested and is approved to deploy to your home, you can expect a Sales Agent to contact you.”

Citizens is not disconnecting existing copper facilities at this time but giving early adopters an incentive to connect to gigabit service by offering qualified customers a low, limited time, promotional price of $199 on the Connection Fee. The standard fee is $399. This fee is minimal compared to other localities that charge upwards of a thousand dollars to plow a drop and install new equipment. The project will ultimately cost in excess of $30 million . Over a 10 year period, Citizens will receive approximately $10 million in Universal Service Funds to assist with approximately ⅓ of the project but these funds end in 10 years.  The Connection Fee helps offset the cost of the new fiber drop and splicing the fiber at two points, in addition to the equipment that has to be installed at the home, for access to the 1 Gbps connection to the home.

Connecting to CitiZip Fiber is more involved than connecting to copper facilities but requires construction just like establishing service to a new home. A new drop to the home must be plowed, a new ONT (Optical Network Terminal)  will replace the NID (Network Interface Device) on the outside of home, and new equipment inside the home are all a part of the installation.

Residents will also enjoy migrating away from traditional internet speed packages and fixed television programming to Data Plans with No Data Caps that are measured to meet the needs of each individual home. “You buy the plan that meets the usage need of your home.” explained Saltus. The best part, Citizens will not throttle, slow down, or interrupt Internet service if the usage goes over their subscribed data plan. A minimal $5 per 50GB increment for usage exceeding your subscribed plan will be added to your monthly invoice. “We don’t want people to be in the middle of a movie, or an online test and have their service stop. That’s not the customer experience we want. We want to maintain our high level of customer satisfaction, and we believe offering gigabit service will do that as more and more devices demand more data.” added Sapp.

Citizens is dedicated to customer service and committed to technology. Citizens has set up email and will soon have text notifications so customers are informed of their data consumption during the billing cycle. Notifications are sent at 50%, 75%, 90% and 100% of data use. Customers enrolled in Citizens E-Care can also track data consumption online.     

The Cooperative has a map on their website at https://stage.myswva.com/fiberexpansion allowing inquiring residents to input their street address for an estimated year of construction, typically deployment will happen the following calendar year. You will also find links to a Data Calculator to estimate the amount of data you will need for your home.  FAQs and “Are You Gigabit Ready” information is available at https://stage.myswva.com/citizip-fiber-pricing/.

Our collective backyard is pretty fantastic. With the Blue Ridge Parkway, The Crooked Road and all of the hiking and natural wonders within a two-hour drive, there’s plenty of adventure waiting right in our own backyard.

Beginning Friday, May 4, Citizens would like to encourage residents to explore these close-to-home areas and report back to us. Capture your day-trips with your smartphone or digital camera and share your footage with us. We will enter you into a random drawing for the chance to win an Amazon Dot, QVC gift certificates, and more.

Whether it’s a hike up Buffalo Mountain, a bike ride down the Virginia Creeper Trail, or a tour of a local farm or potter’s studio, we’d like to see what you see and hear what you think.

Submit 5-10 photos including at least one picture of you enjoying your day trip, up to 3 minutes of video, and a 100-300 word paragraph sharing the highlights of your adventure, and we’ll edit it into a 1-2 minute video. With your permission, we’ll share these videos on Citizens CCTV Channel 20. Inspire your neighbors to get out and explore!

Visit citizens.coop/backyard-adventures to upload your photos and/or video, and your short paragraph about the location or adventure. You might win a nice prize for your efforts. Best of all, you can give viewers ideas of where they should visit on their own next adventure.

Start uploading May 4. Contest deadline is Sept. 15th.

CCTV Channel 20 is an exclusive local channel available only on Citizens Cablevision. Catch local sports, church programming and “The Community Show” produced by Hari Berzins. The following programs will air on “The Community Show” throughout the month of May. “The Community Show” airs 7 am, 1:30 pm, and 7 pm daily. Set your PVR so you don’t miss an episode.

  • Indian Valley Kindergartners learn about Floyd History with Janet Keith and Alice Slusher
  • From the Front Porch to the Front Lines, DVD Release Presentation with Dr. Melinda Wagner, Radford University. Featuring stories from local WWII Veterans.
  • What Can I Do About Lyme Disease? Panel Discussion from Floyd Health & Wellness Fair
  • Blue Ridge Story Space, Celebrating the Mountain Tradition of Storytelling
  • Curtis Turner Birthplace Marker Unveiling
  • Walk a Mile With Healthy Floyd
  • Gentle Yoga with Studio 221

The mission of CCTV is to capture what matters to you. If you have an interest in showcasing your business, civic group, or community project, contact Hari Berzins, Video Production Editor by calling 745.9552 or email marketing@citizens.coop. Sponsorship opportunities are available to advertise your business during local programming. For more information, contact Citizens at 540-745-2111 or 276-637-6485.

Floyd County High School’s graduating Class of 2018 will be held on Friday, May 25. The ceremony will take place inside the school’s gym with overflow seating in the school auditorium. For those unable to attend the ceremony, Citizens Cablevision will stream the festivities live on CCTV, Channel 20 and on Citizens Telephone Coop Facebook. Rebroadcast of the ceremony will be played throughout the month of June.

A professionally produced, high-quality video and audio, keepsake DVD is available for purchase at https://stage.myswva.com/graduation/​ or by calling Citizens at 540.745.2111.

The mission of CCTV is to capture what matters to you. If you have an interest in showcasing your business, civic group, or community project, contact Hari Berzins, Video Production Editor by calling 745.9552 or email
marketing@citizens.coop . Sponsorship opportunities are available to advertise your business during local programming. For more information, contact Citizens at 540-745-2111 or 276-637-6485.

Citizens is proud to announce the following Scholarship opportunities:

Foundation for Rural Service Scholarship:

The Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) offers an annual college scholarship program to help further higher education among rural youth. FRS awards a one-time $2,500 scholarships to students from rural America for their first year of college, university or vocational-technical school. Each student is sponsored by an NTCA member company. FRS funds $2,000 of each scholarship, and the sponsoring company awards the remaining $500. The FRS College Scholarship Program seeks to encourage students to return to their rural communities upon completing their education.

Sponsoring a student for the annual FRS College Scholarship Program is a one-time investment that will last a lifetime. The program empowers rural youth by giving them opportunities for higher education. Our hope is that these students return to rural America to enhance and enrich their rural community with education and experience.

The application for the FRS College Scholarship Program is available each October for the following year’s program. Applications must be postmarked to FRS by March 1st of each year and winners will be announced by May 1st of that year.

Download the application here and more information about the Foundation for Rural Services Youth Program Scholarship can be found here

Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association Scholarship:

The VCTA and the Donald A. Perry Foundation are very excited to announce the launch of our 2017 Virginia’s Future Leaders Scholarship Program. This year we will be awarding $100,000 to Virginia students in partnership with you, our members. Please find attached the 2017 Application and Rules, as well as our press release. These materials can also be found on our website at www.vcta.com.

The deadline for this year’s program is April 24, 2017. The Virginia’s Future Leader’s Scholarship is open to Virginia residents only, attending an undergraduate 2 or 4 year program at a Virginia institution of higher learning for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Download the Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association Scholarship application here.

 

Customers of Citizens Cablevision now have the opportunity to view local church services. According to Hari Berzins, Video Production Editor of Citizens, four local churches have committed to supplying pre-recorded church services to be uploaded to the company’s CCTV Channel 20.  

Citizens posts the weekly programming schedule online at https://stage.myswva.com/cctv/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/citizenstelephone/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel.  Current programming is as follows:

  • Saturdays: 9:00am: Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren, Pastor Marvin Wade
  • 9:30am: The Seventh Day: Revelations From the Lost Pages of History
  • Sundays: 8:30am: Beaver Creek Church of the Brethren, Pastor Marvin Wade
  • 9:00am: Faith Baptist Church, Pastor Warren Brown
  • 5:30pm: The Seventh Day: Revelations From the Lost Pages of History
  • 6:30pm: Shawsville Congregational Holiness Church, Pastor Wes Conner

The new programming is available to viewers of Citizens Cablevision in Floyd, Ft. Chiswell, and New Castle.   For more information about the new Citizens TV service visit www.citizens.coop, stop by the office located at 220 Webbs Mill Road in Floyd, or call 540.745.2111/276.637.6485. Any church interested in submitting services should contact Emily Gruver at 540.745.9552 or hariberzins@citizens.coop for instructions on how to upload services.

Citizens is a locally-owned Cooperative located in Floyd, VA, providing quality service, excellent support and advanced technology. Citizens offers voice, video, data, and security solutions to residents and businesses in Floyd, Ft. Chiswell and New Castle.

Donations Accepted At: 

  • Dollar General
  • Citizens
  • Floyd Pharmacy
  • Slaughters Supermarket

STUFF THE BUS EVENT 9am – 6pm on
Saturday, July 30th at Walmart, Christiansburg

NEEDS LIST:

Backpack, Lunchbox, Binder, Folders with pockets, Spiral notebooks,
Notebook paper, Erasable ballpoint pens, No. 2 pencils, Highlighters, Pens,
Pink erasers, Safety scissors, Washable markers, Colored pencils/Crayons, Glue
sticks, Pointed scissors, Ruler, 3” x 5” Index cards, 5-tab index dividers, 3 or
5-subject spiral notebooks, Protractor, Compass, Graph paper, Calculator

If you or someone you know needs assistance in Floyd County,
please contact Floyd County Emergency Assistance Program
at (540) 745-2102.

floyd-seal

Citizens is proud to announce the following Scholarship opportunities:

Foundation for Rural Service Scholarship:

The Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) offers an annual college scholarship program to help further higher education among rural youth. FRS awards a one-time $2,500 scholarships to students from rural America for their first year of college, university or vocational-technical school. Each student is sponsored by an NTCA member company.

The application for the FRS College Scholarship Program is available each October for the following year’s program. Applications must be postmarked to FRS by March 3rd of each year and winners will be announced by May 1st of that year.

Foundation for Rural Services Youth Program frs.org

Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association Scholarship:

 

The VCTA and the Donald A. Perry Foundation are launching the 2016 Virginia’s Future Leaders Scholarship Program. This year they will be awarding $100,000 to Virginia students. Please find the 2016 Application and Rules, as well as their press release at vcta.com.

The deadline for this year’s program is April 24, 2016. The Virginia’s Future Leader’s Scholarship is open to Virginia residents only, attending an undergraduate 2 or 4 year program at a Virginia institution of higher learning for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Virginia’s Future Leaders Scholarship Program ​vcta.com

AMC Networks is Demanding Significant Rate Increase and Carriage of Low-Rated Channels in Latest Contract Renewal.
Floyd, VA – December 28, 2015 – Contract negotiations between media giant AMC Networks and Citizens  could lead to an interruption of service. If an agreement is not reached by December 31, 2015, AMC Networks could force Citizens to remove AMC, WE and IFC from the line-up.
Citizens, along with over 700 other small cable operators across the nation, is currently in negotiations with AMC Networks, owner of AMC, WE, Sundance, BBC, and IFC, to continue offering AMC’s channels to their customers. The current contract expires December 31, which means all existing networks and programming will remain available throughout the rest of 2015. Additional information and updates are available at www.TVOnMySide.com, a web site that helps educate members on how these type negotiations directly impact cable rates.
“Under the current proposal from AMC Networks, carriage beyond December 31 includes a significant cost increase that ultimately results in increased rates for our members. Customers do not like to see their TV bill go up and we, as the provider, do  not like increasing fees” stated Greg Sapp, Citizens CEO & General Manager.
“We are fully prepared to pay a fair price for the AMC programming our members want, but when huge companies such as AMC Networks demand an unprecedented increase in its monthly fees, we believe it’s our responsibility to take a stand,” added Sapp.
Citizens is a member of the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) which represents over 850 independent cable companies across the United States. Members can opt in to have the NCTC negotiate with program providers and others on their behalf, which is currently the case with AMC Networks. By aggregating volume discounts, local TV providers can pass cost savings on to their customer allowing them to compete with larger national competitors.
For more information call 540.745.2111. Citizens Cablevision is a subsidiary of Citizens Telephone Cooperative providing telephone, Internet, and TV to Floyd County and surrounding communities. Citizens is located at 220 Webbs Mill Road in Floyd. Lobby hours are 8am-6pm Monday – Friday; 9am – 1pm on Saturday.

During the printing of our recent billing cycle, we experienced a Printing Error. Mistakenly, EVERY invoice was printed with a “PAST DUE” notice on the payment stub. If your bill is in good standing, please disregard the message. We apologize for any confusion it may have caused. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 540-745-2111. Again we apologize for this printing error.

On Thursday, Feb. 26, the Federal Communications Commission voted to apply Net Neutrality rules to the nation’s broadband networks.

In layman’s terms, this means the government has issued some requirements to internet service providers.  Internet providers are not allowed to “block”, “throttle”, or give “paid prioritization” to internet traffic.

To flush this out further, internet providers cannot block lawful content from users; nor can providers throttle, or intentionally slow down, internet speeds in order to balance out traffic or minimize bandwidth congestion.  Additionally, internet providers cannot give ‘fast lane’ speed priority to companies with the deep pockets willing to pay top dollar for faster speeds.

While Thursday’s ruling will remain in effect, it will likely be challenged in the courts.  Those issuing the challenges are concerned that government involvement ultimately means a lack of privacy.  They also fear that government involvement will lead to higher costs and inefficiencies as arguably evidenced in other federally regulated programs.

Citizens does not have an official position on this matter at this time.  As always, our ultimate goal is to offer smart, sensible, quality services to you, our customers.  Doing so will ensure that your locally owned provider can continue serving, supporting and enhancing Southwest Virginia for decades to come.

Citizens is proud to announce the following Scholarship opportunities:

Foundation for Rural Service Scholarship:

The Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) offers an annual college scholarship program to help further higher education among rural youth. FRS awards a one-time $2,500 scholarships to students from rural America for their first year of college, university or vocational-technical school. Each student is sponsored by an NTCA member company.

The application for the FRS College Scholarship Program is available each October for the following year’s program. Applications must be postmarked to FRS by March 3rd of each year and winners will be announced by May 1st of that year.

Foundation for Rural Services Youth Program frs.org

Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association Scholarship:

 

The VCTA and the Donald A. Perry Foundation are launching the 2015 Virginia’s Future Leaders Scholarship Program. This year they will be awarding $100,000 to Virginia students. Please find the 2015 Application and Rules, as well as their press release at vcta.com.

The deadline for this year’s program is April 24, 2015. The Virginia’s Future Leader’s Scholarship is open to Virginia residents only, attending an undergraduate 2 or 4 year program at a Virginia institution of higher learning for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Virginia’s Future Leaders Scholarship Program ​vcta.com

FLOYD, VA – Citizens Telephone Cooperative (Citizens) recently announced plans to upgrade facilities to increase broadband speeds in its service areas. “It’s been in our plans for several years now and we have recently started the construction phase. Increasing broadband speeds in our service area is necessary to meet our customer demands for faster Internet connections and increases opportunities for economic development. Increased speeds will be achieved through a variety of technologies with the new top download speed of 100Mbps for residential customers. The current top speed available to our Business Ethernet customers is 10Gbps (10,000Mbps) symmetrical and we are working to increase that to 100Gbps (100,000Mbps). The deployment of these technologies provides flexibility for future products and services requested by customers” stated Greg Sapp, CEO & General Manager of the Cooperative.

 
The investment in upgrades is costly for Citizens, but is necessary to continue our cooperative mission. Eligible subscribers will see their speeds increase, but will not see rate increases unless they opt for even higher speed services.

 
“Citizens continually monitors technology and innovation to determine the viability of future offerings for our subscribers. This project will be handled in phases and will be marketed as a CitiZip branded service to highlight the greater speeds. The first phase will occur in and around the Town of Floyd with available download speeds of 10Mbps, 25Mbps, 50Mbps, and 100Mbps. Upgrade plans within the town limits will be shared at an upcoming Town Council Meeting with deployment set to begin in September 2014 stated Dennis Reece, COO and Assistant General Manager.”

 
Citizens Telephone Cooperative is a full service provider of residential and business landline and cellular telephone service, high speed Internet services and digital video services. Analog cable is also provided in portions of its service area. PC Repair, virus protection, web design and hosting services are also available. Systematical Business Ethernet is also available as well as Home Security and Citizens Medical Alert.

Citizens, the local digital and analog television provider is in negotiations with Viacom, owner of MTV Networks, to continue offering their channels, but believes the current proposal from Viacom would have costly repercussions for the company’s customers. While we are restricted from talking about specific rates, Viacom demanded a rate increase that’s 40 times the rate of inflation*. Imagine pulling up to the gas pump and finding that gas has gone from $3.50 a gallon to $6.00 – overnight. That’s the scale of some of these large increases. In addition, Viacom may demand we drop their networks if we don’t agree to their proposal.

Citizens is an independent business located in Floyd County, offering programming and broadband services throughout Floyd, Ft. Chiswell and New Castle and employing just under 60 people.

“Citizens has added a new web page, TVOnMySide.com to educate our customers on rising programming costs.” Across the country, networks are substantially increasing their fees to cable companies, which affect customers directly.

“Viacom owns popular networks such as MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. But in order to offer these, the cable networks require us to carry networks that are not as well-known, networks such as, but not limited to, MTV2, MTV Hits and VH1 Classic.” explained Greg Sapp, General Manager.

We want our customers to know that fees from these networks account for the bulk of monthly cable bills. Today’s entertainment marketplace is changing rapidly, and we have seen consolidation among major media companies. These mergers allow large programming companies significant leverage over independent cable companies such as Citizens.

Our goal is to protect our customers from significant programming fee increases. We pay programmers such as Viacom a fee per channel per month per customer for their programming. When these contracts conclude, we negotiate new agreements and that concludes that business deal. But when a multibillion dollar company such as Viacom demands an unprecedented increase in its monthly fees, we believe it’s our responsibility to take a stand.

These large increases impact all of us throughout Floyd County and the communities we serve. We want to make sure our customers know that we are working on their behalf.

We urge our customers to get the facts and be informed by visiting TVOnMySide.com.

For more information, contact Citizens at 540-745-2111, 276-637-6485

Over the last several weeks, we have noticed an increase of robo-calls within our service area. While robo-calls are not a new phenomenon, this latest surge in calls has proven both annoying and frustrating. In addition, there appears to be two different scenarios affecting customers of Citizens Telephone Cooperative at this time.

In the first scenario, the offending call appears to be placed from a 473 area code from someone who seems to be in distress. This area code is international for Grenada. Those who call the number back are charged for each minute they are on the line and costs can add up into the thousands of dollars.

The second scenario is more widespread and involves calls from multiple telephone numbers from California to Iowa to Florida and is often times accompanied by various names in the caller ID field. Upon answering the call, the following message is heard: “Hello, this is an automated fax delivery system. If this is not a fax, press 2.”

In most cases the numbers and names are “spoofed” (see below) which complicates the process used to identify and prosecute those responsible for placing the unwanted calls.

Caller ID spoofing

Caller ID Spoofing is the practice of deliberately falsifying the telephone number and/or name relayed as the Caller ID information to disguise the identity of the calling party.

Caller ID Spoofing is only prohibited for the purposes of intentionally defrauding or otherwise causing harm, or wrongfully obtaining anything of value.

More information about Caller ID Spoofing is available on the FCC’s website at the following web address:  fcc.gov/guides/caller-id-and-spoofing

Unfortunately, there is no fail-safe tool for stopping these calls, primarily because it is so easy for scammers to fake the location from which they are calling by using the “spoofing” method. In addition, criminals here or abroad do not care that they are breaking the law-they just care about collecting cash without getting caught.

The Federal Trade Commission has offered the following tips to help cut down on the number of unwanted calls:

  1.  Never respond to a robo-call.  The FTC suggests that you do not answer the calls. They also warn not to “press 1” or “press 2”.  If you respond by pressing any number it will probably just lead to more robo-calls because the company calling will now know it has reached a working number or a “live” prospect.
  2. Don’t give out personal information.  If you do receive an unsolicited call from a company you do business with and the person on the other end of the line starts to ask for personal information, tell the caller that you will call them back on their number of record.
  3. Report these calls.  The FTC encourages you to report your experience to them on-line via the agency’s National Do Not Call Registry or by calling 888-382-1222.

Keep in mind that when a legitimate telemarketer calls you, the caller must promptly provide the following:  company name, the purpose of the call, a description of what they are selling and any restrictions to the goods being sold.  The Do Not Call Registry does not prohibit calls from political groups, charities and telephone surveyors.

What can citizens do to help?

As mentioned previously, there is nothing that will prevent all of the unwanted calls, but the following calling features are available through Citizens as options that might help:

Anonymous Call Rejection

Allows you to reject calls from numbers that have activated the privacy feature and prevents the delivery of their number or name to your phone. When ACR is active any privacy marked calls are directed to an announcement and your telephone does not ring. This feature automatically comes with caller ID.The feature will remain ON until you turn it off. If you have Select Call Acceptance and/or Priority Ringing, calls from numbers included in your list will be connected through to your telephone, even when the call is marked for privacy.

Telemarketing Screening Advanced* & Basic

Telemarketer Call Screening (TCS) allows you to stop being bothered by calls from telemarketers. Most telemarketing organizations “block” their calling number, so they are identified as “unknown”. TCS intercepts these“ unknown” callers. Your phone won’t even ring. Instead, the TCS system tells them that the person that they are calling does not accept calls from telemarketers. The TCS system will not disturb callers who provide their calling number, or have their number listed as “private”. Since not all “unknown” calls are from telemarketers, the TCS system informs these callers that if they wish to complete the call to please dial “1”. Any friends or family with “unknown” listings can still ring through to you. * Telemarketing Screening Advanced will screen unknown or out-of-area numbers. Requires Caller ID.** Telemarketing Screening Basic will screen all incoming calls.

For additional information, contact Citizens at 540-745-2111 or join the National Do Not Call Registry by calling 888-382-1222 or online at donotcall.gov.

Citizens, a full-service communications, and entertainment provider headquartered in Floyd, Virginia announced today that the veteran, rural, landline telephone company will once again provide cellular phone service to Floyd County and surrounding communities. The locally-owned Cooperative will be a carrier on the largest national cellular network and will offer a variety of cell phones and calling plans for individuals and businesses.

“Our former wireless agent agreement was dissolved over a year and a half ago. Since that time, we have had numerous requests to offer cellular service again.” stated Lori Saltus, Citizens’ EVP of Customer Relations. “One of the many benefits of being a member of a Cooperative is that we are local and we LISTEN to our customers. We are happy to announce that Citizens is once again serving cellular phone service.”

Citizens Cellular calling plans range from a $9.99 Talk Any Time “pay as you go” to Unlimited Talk, Text & Data for Individual and Share Plans. The company will have plans suited for all levels of use and complexity. Majority of calling plans include “Anytime” minutes and offer Unlimited Nights and Weekend minutes. In fact, Citizens Wireless provides customers with additional 120 minutes per day of night calling by extended calling times from 7 p.m. – 5:59 a.m. (most national night and weekend call provider’s hours are 9:00 p.m. to 6 a.m.).

Most call plans offered by Citizens include free Mobile-to-Mobile minutes to ANYONE on the nation-wide network; not just between Citizens cellular customers. “We realize wireless is becoming a way of life.” stated Greg Sapp, Citizens General Manager. “We want to offer affordable means to have communication services when and where you need it. It’s not a big profit maker, but it’s the matter of bringing it all together for our customers on one convenient monthly invoice with discounts for multiple services. It’s not necessary to deal with the national companies any longer, when you can receive the same nationwide coverage, competitive calling plans, calling features, and customer support locally,” says Sapp.

For more information, contact Citizens at 540.745.2111 in Floyd; in Ft. Chiswell call 276.637.6485.