BUHLER, KAN. — Thousands of underserved Reno County residents in over 2,850 homes and businesses have found relief from poor internet connections.
Thanks to internet pioneer IdeaTek and a Kansas Connectivity Emergency Response Grant (CERG), IdeaTek recently completed $2.5 million in infrastructure investment in Reno County and the surrounding area, including $2 million in CERG funding.
“Crews have been working tirelessly throughout the fall and winter to provide high-speed internet to underserved, rural homes and businesses,” said Daniel Friesen, IdeaTek Founder and Chief Innovation Officer. “Many living in these areas rely on home internet for school, work and healthcare. Our goal was to fill in those connectivity gaps.”
Underserved areas, as identified by the Federal Communications Commission, have download speeds of less than 25 megabytes per second and upload speeds of 3 Mbps.
IdeaTek was able to stretch the grant funding as far as possible by leveraging its existing large fiber network then infilling all other underserved rural areas with 100 Mbps fixed wireless internet. The project included adding 25 miles of gigabit fiber to homes and businesses in Arlington, Abbyville, Langdon, Pretty Prairie and Willowbrook. The company also upgraded and installed more than 20 towers through the region, which provides ultra-fast unmetered wireless internet to rural areas of Reno County and parts of Harvey, Kingman, Rice, McPherson and Pratt counties.
“Bridging the digital divide in Kansas wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Kansas Department of Commerce’s Office of Broadband Development,” Friesen said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated challenges in these communities, and Kansas Commerce allowed us to help scores of families who needed an affordable, reliable core utility during this time.”
Friesen also thanked public works officials in each community, plus community partners and local legislators for their support. This includes the Reno County Commission, Hutchinson Community Foundation, the United Way of Reno County and the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce.
“The combined effort of community partners and dedicated contractors and vendors helped make this massive construction project happen in a short timeframe,” he said.
Rural Reno County had long suffered from slow or spotty broadband access, but the situation became urgent when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March and everyone was trying to work and study from home, said Aubrey Abbott Patterson, president and chief executive officer of the Hutchinson Community Foundation.
“Peoples’ lives in Reno County will be changed for the better because of this project,” she said. “We’re thankful multiple funding partners in the community believed in the importance of broadband expansion in Reno County and in the mission of IdeaTek, a locally owned internet service provider.”
How to Connect
Individuals interested in IdeaTek internet can check future availability and sign up now for service at https://ideatek.com/ by clicking “Check Availability” and filling out the form. IdeaTek’s service plans include unlimited usage, and contracts are not required. Premium WiFi and landline phones with unlimited long distance are also available.
Headquartered in Buhler, Kan., Ideatek is a broadband service provider with the mission of “fighting for internet freedom.” IdeaTek uses a unique and innovative approach to deploy scalable, long-term fiber optic infrastructures, bridging the broadband gap in rural communities. IdeaTek has long been a state and national advocate for broadband equity policy and has built nearly 3,000 miles of fiber throughout Kansas. They were recently named to Inc. 5000’s list of fastest-growing companies for the seventh time.
Contact: Jade Piros de Carvalho