By Meg Dickens
Locals were shocked when the broadband company Bravado closed seemingly without notice on June 1, leaving approximately 80 of 100 customers without internet or related services. Butler resident and advisor Glenn Ransom has been trying to find a provider to take over the formerly used towers and provide service once again. Ransom’s status reports show
that at least one of the three towers has regained access at the time of this article. The others are in the process under a company that wishes not to be named until it can guarantee the plan will work. It seems like at least a portion of these customers should be back in business.
“Say your prayers and let’s continue to make progress and build going forward,” Ransom encouraged the public. “Those still without service, my optimistic estimate is two weeks, and the pessimist guess is 30 days. The bottom line is that I, nor the company, do not want to promise and not deliver. They are taking no shortcuts and will bring us back much stronger.”
Internet access can be difficult in rural areas. According to recent statistics, only around 35 percent of locals have access to reliable internet. That is part of why the United States government has been designating funds for expanding broadband in rural communities. Near the beginning of 2021, government sources allocated $1.2 million in funding, and the county government added $10,000 in COVID-19 relief funds to help Skybest expand fiber optics in the community.
In a public hearing earlier this month, the Johnson County Commission approved Skybest’s contract renewal in the area but included an unexpected twist. The county commissioners sent a letter with the contract renewal strongly encouraging Skybest to expand to offer services in less populated parts of Johnson County.
In its most recent survey, Skybest saw responses to expand to the following areas: all of Airport Road (minus the actual airport), Crackers Neck Road (addresses through 1000), Noah Snyder Road (addresses through 663), all of Old Noah Snyder Road, Cabbage Patch Lane (addresses through 239), Roan Creek Road (addresses from 1995 through 3124), and all of Mining Town Road. Groups such as those who had service with Bravado reportedly did not show interest at that time because they were content with their service.
Keep an eye out for more information on possible broadband updates in The Tomahawk.