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Salina-based company looking to tap into rural Douglas County, Eudora market for Internet service

In recent weeks, we’ve written about how you might want to keep your eyes open for a future shake-up in the Lawrence Internet service provider market. City officials recently agreed to hire a consultant to study whether the city can use the miles of city-owned fiber optic cable to create more competition in the Internet service provider field in Lawrence.

If anything happens on that front, it will take awhile to develop. But maybe the first shake-up will come in Eudora and parts of rural Douglas County.

Salina-based Kansas Broadband Internet is making a new push to enter the Eudora market and the parts of rural Douglas County that are south and east of Lawrence.

The company provides wireless broadband service using the 1,000-foot tall tower that is kind of near Mt. Blue between Eudora and Lawrence. Or for those of you not up on your topographical points of interest, it is that big tall tower that is off in the distance behind the little ski lake that is adjacent to Kansas Highway 10. (Don’t tell me you don’t know where the ski lake is. I know you crane your neck all summer long to see the latest in swimsuit fashions, while geographical scholars like myself admire the beauty of Mt. Blue.)

Kansas Broadband has offered some service in the area for awhile, but in late 2012 it installed new equipment on the tower — which is one of the tallest in the county — to increase its service capabilities.

Dave Gleason, Kansas Broadband’s director of marketing and sales, told me recently that the company plans to offer service within a 12-mile radius of the tower. But there is one big exception to that rule: The company isn’t planning on offering the service in any parts of Lawrence.

“With our wireless service, it works better if we stay out of the larger towns,” Gleason said. “We don’t want our frequency getting interfered with.”

But Gleason said the company does plan on offering service to most of Eudora, and certainly to the rural households in the county that may not have good access to landline-based Internet systems.

Now on the technical part of this, I may not be the best person to relay the detail. (I keep telling myself that I’m going to really dig in and understand all these bits and bytes and other Internet terms as soon as I finish up my other technological project — mastering the recording process on my VHS.)

But I’ll give this a shot. Gleason said the slowest service the company offers is 1 megabit of service but it also offers service levels of 2 megabits and 3 megabits. He also said something about those speeds being for both uploading and downloading, and that the service had no data caps. (In case you are wondering, though, he was no help in how to set a delayed recording on a Zenith VHS player.)

Prices, he said, range from $39.99 per month to $69.99 per month.

Gleason didn’t rule out expanding to other parts of the county, although, he didn’t say anything that makes me believe the company is going to become a major player inside of Lawrence.

“We’re going to see how things go for a bit,” Gleason said. “We have done some research and it looks like this is the area that is in most need right now. But the thing about us is that we’re always growing.”

The company has been in business since 2009, and currently serves about 70 different communities in 30 Kansas counties, mainly from Salina eastward.

I think it will be interesting to watch whether other companies like this pop up in the area, and also just how aggressive community leaders become in promoting the idea that the area’s broadband infrastructure needs to go to another level. My impression is that there are some city commissioners who feel like broadband infrastructure is going to become a more critical part of economic development in the future.

But, I may be wrong. After all, I just got done watching 90 minutes of PBS’ "Knitting with Minnie Pearl." That’s definitely not what I thought I taped.

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