| 2014 Q4 | story by SCOTT SHULTZ |
Launching a gigabit Internet service was not part of the original plan for Baldwin City-based software engineering firm, Reflective Group. Founded in 2011, the primary reason behind the startup was the founders’ love for the “moral competitive advantage” of small town America, combined with the lack of jobs for “geeks like them.”
This startup quickly made headlines. In more than two years, their story went viral, appearing on the front page of Yahoo! News for reversing the trend of young people leaving small towns.
“It was an awesome feeling, until we outgrew the Internet. Then, it became a very real nightmare. Simple website updates took hours to complete instead of a few minutes,” said Mike Bosch, co-founder and CEO.
The company immediately sent requests to the incumbent providers desperate for additional capacity. One provider proposed a two-year contract to simply research options, while another provider didn’t respond for 15 months. The late proposal offered the same capacity as the other provider for nine times the current cost. At that point, Reflective Group’s choices were clear: stay a small company, re-locate to another town with better Internet, or build the 21st century communications infrastructure.
Bosch began talking to others throughout the community to better understand what impact the quality of Internet has on the various segments in the community.
One of the hallmarks of the digital age is the increasing number of ways to find, organize and share data. These new methods seem to take fast, reliable Internet for granted. Unfortunately, the existing communications infrastructure throughout much of America was engineered for something other than moving massive amounts of data. Therein lies the challenge for Lawrence and many other smaller communities. The incumbent service providers must upgrade their legacy infrastructure to keep up the demand for data before someone else comes along and installs today’s gold standard of communication: 100 percent fiber optic network.
Incumbents have often been slow to respond to the needs of their consumers, mostly because the threat of new competition is so unlikely. Infrastructure projects require massive amounts of public-private collaboration, engineering and financial resources to be successful. Communications infrastructure adds the complexity of implementing and maintaining technology.
According to the American Planning Association, 70 million Millennials, the generation of young people ages 16 to 36, make up one-third of the workforce. As such, the choices these Millennials make will greatly shape our communities for the next 50 years. Also, Millennials rate quality of life as more important than job prospects when choosing a community to call home.
RG Fiber has stepped up to answer the speed of light demand in Baldwin City, bringing gigabit Internet to small town America.
The official launch of RG Fiber happened on the lawn of Mabee Memorial Hall at Baker University on October 8, with an impressive turnout of support. Local dignitaries spoke about the positive impact RG Fiber will have on Baldwin City.
“It means that not only the people who live here now, but people in the future will have the opportunity to live in this great city and work wherever they want because of Gigabit Fiber,” said Mayor Marilyn Pearse.
Superintendent, Paul Dorathy, added that digital learning is critical in preparation for children’s success in the 21st century. He mentioned such benefits as digital textbooks, online libraries, 3D printing & modeling, virtual labs and video conferencing to connect students with guest speakers along with other students from around the world.
“[RG Fiber] bringing healthcare to you wherever you are on any device you currently have in your purse, pocket or backpack. With high speed gigabit networks we will be able to remotely connect ourselves and loved ones to the desired healthcare providers without leaving work, school or home. This improves attendance records and standard of living for everybody in a family,” said Telemedicine Manager at Children’s Mercy Hospital, Lisa Large.
RG Fiber is advancing Baldwin City into the future. It’s making Baker University, the local school district and the community a more attractive place for Millennials to plant their roots, raise their families and care for their baby boomer parents. RG Fiber is creating a more reliable economic future in Baldwin City and any community utilizing the most advanced communications technology available in the market today.