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Archive for Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fiber optic network for rural Kansas to be completed by end of summer

May 19, 2011

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— A 2,600-mile fiber optic network that promises to bring broadband access to large sections of rural Kansas should be completed by the end of summer, according to an official with a company building the network.

Kansas Fiber Network, a consortium of 29 independent, rural telephone companies in the state and based in Wichita, is building the network to provide high-speed Internet and data to rural areas. KFN president Steven Dorf says construction began last July and he expects the project to be completed by the end of summer, with member owners having invested $28 million in the company and network by the time it's finished.

The Wichita Eagle reported Thursday that KFN doubled its staff to eight in the past week and hopes to have 18 to 20 employees by year's end.

"These aren't low-paying (jobs)," Dorf said. "These are high-paying. (Some of) these are engineering positions, people making $75,000, $80,000 a year."

KFN was launched two years ago by the firms, which came together through KFN to build and use their own Internet and data network, instead of paying to use similar networks owned by much larger companies such as AT&T and Verizon.

Dorf said that by pooling their financial resources, those companies were able to build a network that, on their own, they couldn't otherwise afford to build. More importantly, he said, those companies will be able to bring high-speed data and Internet service to rural communities more cheaply than if they were doing it using much-larger competitors' networks.

"If you're a telephone company in the far western area of the state, you're paying $70 a meg for Internet service," Dorf said. "That's wholesale.

"With KFN we can bring down that cost by half, which then makes it much more attractive and available to subscribers in those (rural) areas."

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