Making Connections

By Bob McCullough  ::  Photography courtesy of GVTC

Ask about the Cordillera Ranch lifestyle, and residents say they can’t wait to get home to their relaxed, laid-back, tranquil environment. But there’s one aspect of life at the Ranch that’s anything but slow and steady — high-speed Internet service provided by GVTC Communications.

One of the leading fiber-optics communication providers in Texas, GVTC has created a fiber network spanning more than 2,200 miles in the Hill Country, the far northern reaches of San Antonio and the Gonzales County area to the east. In June 2014, the company launched the GVTC GigaRegion® in partnership with the cities of Boerne, Bulverde and Gonzales, and now thousands of those high-speed fiber connections can be found throughout the GVTC service area, including 644 at Cordillera Ranch.

“Fiber-to-the-home is something that is rarely made available outside of large, dense metro areas,” says Mark Gitter, a 14-year Cordillera Ranch resident who also happens to be GVTC’s chief financial officer. “To have fiber available as well as the latest technology offerings for cable-TV, home security and super high-speed broadband is a ‘big city’ benefit we can enjoy in addition to the awesome beauty of Cordillera and the Hill Country. We really get the very best of both worlds.”

Josh Pettiette, another GVTC executive who’s building a new home in Cordillera, has experienced GVTC fiber-to-the-home at his family’s current residence for more than 10 years. “Once you’ve had access to that level of service, it becomes a requirement going forward,” Pettiette says.  “Therefore, fiber-to-the-home access via GVTC was key to our decision to relocate to Cordillera.”

GVTC Communications Manager Bruce Forey says fiber technology “is highly regarded in the industry for building communications networks. Fiber line is not prone to deterioration from the elements, and it lasts at least twice as long as other technologies before having to be replaced.”

An added benefit of fiber-to-the-home is that it can instantly accommodate the latest technological upgrades for years to come, and for cities in the GVTC GigaRegion®, the availability of gigabit Internet speeds enables them to compete with larger cities for business development.

GVTC, headquartered in Smithson Valley with a customer care store at its corporate office and in Boerne, began in 1955 as a telephone cooperative connecting Hill Country residents with plain old telephone service, or POTS, as it’s called in the industry. In the past six decades, the company has grown into a full-service communications provider that offers digital cable-TV with more than 100 high-definition channels, phone service, interactive home-security monitoring and high-speed Internet for both residential and business customers, Forey points out. Details can be found at www.gvtc.com.

In addition to connecting customers to fiber technology and other telecommunications services, GVTC is making connections with the communities it serves through The GVTC Foundation.

In 2006, GVTC CEO Ritchie Sorrels came up with the idea of The Foundation “to set GVTC apart as a company known for its caring and concern about the communities where our customers live,” says Paula White, Foundation president. The mission is “to profoundly enhance the quality of life…through charitable contributions and volunteer service.”

White proudly notes the Foundation thus far has awarded more than $1.7 million to hundreds of non-profit organizations in the 11-county GVTC service territory as well as scholarships to top-notch high school seniors. The support falls into six specific areas — education, youth services, health and human services, volunteer emergency services, cultural endeavors and public charity. In 2014, total grants and scholarships amounted to $303,144.

Meanwhile, GVTC employees last year donated 17,080 community-service hours, White says. More than 60 employees among a work force of 230-strong actively serve the Foundation in some capacity.

Funding comes from an annual employee pledge drive in which the company matches every dollar given at 150 percent. This year, 87 percent of GVTC employees participated, and when the employee and company contributions were tallied, the Foundation wound up more than $250,000 richer. Other financial support comes from the GVTC Charitable Golf Classic each May, non-employee donations from businesses and individuals, the annual Charitable Partnership Campaign (whereby GVTC matches all customer donations) and memorials/honorariums.

“One of our long-term goals is to make members of the public aware that they can make donations to the Foundation,” White says. “We also want individuals to know they can bequeath funds in their wills to be used as they designate or put into general use.”

The Foundation gained additional strength in 2012 with the establishment of the Endowment Fund with seed money from the GVTC Board of Directors. “We decided to start the fund so the Foundation would go on in perpetuity,” White explains. “Thus, funds would always be available to distribute to our communities. Our hope is to award scholarships someday from the interest earned from our Endowment Fund.”

Pettiette, an 11-year GVTC employee, says it’s not surprising the company excels in community service as well as communications technology. “We have some of the best talent in the business — employees who are committed to delivering on our promise of superior customer service,” he declares. “We are local; we live here. And we are all blessed to work for a great company that shares its strong values in our communities. I think that’s why GVTC is such a great partner with Cordillera Ranch, in that we share many values in delivering on the high expectations for the people we serve.”

For GVTC, it’s all about making connections.

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