By Meg Dickens
Many people in the Johnson County area are aware of the local broadband company Bravado. Local testimonials raved about the service, saying they received much improved connections in areas other providers would not or could not serve. So customers had every reason to panic when their internet and related services stopped working on June 1, seemingly out of the blue.
The Tomahawk received several calls asking for additional contact information once customers realized the advertised phone number was no longer in service. Parties report that the owner’s personal phone numbers were also disconnected. Sources close to the situation report “cut corners” meant to help the community led to vulnerabilities and the eventual shutdown of the company.
Former customers began trying to fill the vacuum left behind with a new company, but many live in low availability areas with few choices. Some customers report receiving a notice from owner Thadd Mitchell saying that Bravado merged with a “much larger company” called Net All Over, which absorbed it. Butler resident and advisor Glenn Ransom explained that Mitchell spent the time before the shutdown transferring everyone who qualified to the new company.
Reportedly, around 20 of the approximately 100 customers qualified and were kept under Net All Over while the rest lost service. Net All Over uses LTE signals through cell phone towers, so those in the more difficult-to-reach areas cannot use these types of signals. These towers are “maxed out” because of the limited numbers available locally, which Ransom reports is three.
Ransom is working with the community to find a new provider to take over and has narrowed it down to four unnamed entities, two of which he
believes are the better options because of pricing. Ransom reports he has spoken to around 42 former customers at the time of this article and is reaching out to the rest.
“I deeply appreciate the tens of thousands of dollars Thadd Mitchell invested into Johnson County and the great service he provided,” Ransom credited Mitchell for being an entrepreneur investing heavily in the community. “ Sure, I wish we all had more notice and am truly sorry we all did not have more time to plan for an alternative.”
Ransom reports that someone has been in touch with state officials to try and facilitate grant money and other help for the community. He believes that Johnson County will have no trouble qualifying as a “low-income community in need of internet.”
Any customers who lost service because of the shutdown can contact Glenn Ransom for assistance. Contact him at (423) 727-7436 or [email protected]