Our Story

Our story begins in 2013, when Mike’s software development firm outgrew the internet capacity in Baldwin City. At the time, the fastest internet in Baldwin was 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. He spoke with other business leaders in the community in hopes of finding an already existing solution. Instead, what he found was there was no hope for a better solution. In fact, leaders were already expanding their operations outside of Baldwin City because the town lacked the infrastructure needed to enable these businesses to grow locally.

Despite his love for that small-town community feel, Mike considered moving to the Big City, where there’s more opportunity for geeks like him. As he was explaining the possible move and how better internet means better opportunities for him and his family, one of his daughters asked, “What about my friends?” Mike began to explain that she’ll be able to keep those friends and she’ll make new ones, but his daughter interrupted, “No, who’s going to bring them better internet?” Those words cut deep. Mike realized he couldn’t turn a blind eye.

Mike’s initial thought was “Don’t Reinvent the Wheel.” So he spent well over a year studying what other providers did and decided to simply duplicate that solution for his hometown. Unfortunately, he learned that the economics of the traditional model didn’t work for small towns. The model required significant financial support from a very wealthy investor that could wait decades for any kind of return (taxpayers) or you needed to deploy a cheaper, second-rate solution that is only marginally better than what’s available. Neither option set well with Mike, but he now understood exactly why the digital divide exists.

With no solution in sight, Mike hit a low point. One of Mike’s advisors pointed out that solving the problem for Baldwin City wasn’t enough, the solution had to scale to the other 160 Million Americans who are being left behind, unable to reach their full potential. That spurred Mike on to challenge every part and every process of the traditional model in search of a more efficient design for small towns; one that would enable access to a reliable all-fiber network without requiring taxpayers to be on the hook. After another year’s worth of work, Mike had finally arrived on the initial version of RG FIBER’s model.

In 2015, RG FIBER brought Gigabit internet to Baldwin City and connected it’s first customer, Baker University, to 1 Gbps symmetrical 100% fiber connectivity. With Baldwin City’s solution underway, Mike continued to tweak the design for something that could scale across the country. RG FIBER installed µNode v3 (pronounced ‘micro-node’) in De Soto, KS in 2018. µNode v3 delivers the same reliability, speed, and affordability that RG FIBER has become known and deploys in as little as 6-8 weeks.

There are still many challenges we’ll continue to face on our journey to bring equal access to the rest of America, but rest assured – there’s no one who cares more about solving it the right way than the RG FIBER crew.

 

Major Milestones

 

  • 2013.
    • Mike’s software company outgrew the local internet capacity.
    • Mike decides to build a fiber network.
    • Mike finds out the traditional model only works in big cities.
    • Don’t be like Mike.
  • 2014.
    • Mike designs a new model that works for small towns.
    • Or at least the spreadsheets said so.
  • 2015.
    • Mike raises investment capital and brings 10 Gig internet to Baldwin City.
    • Connects 1st customer, Baker University.
    • Andrea joins Mike. We’re now a crew. Woot! Woot!
  • 2016.
    • Mike figures out Gig internet isn’t as cool when WiFi sucks. Built better WiFi.
    • Connected more neighbors in Baldwin City.
    • Partnered with Corning Optical Communications explored Public-Private Partnerships (P3) in 40 cities in 9 states.
  • 2017.
    • Connected more neighbors in Baldwin.
    • Figured out what P3 models worked and what was a waste of time and money.
    • Learned that no matter how much we wanted to bring fiber to Eudora, if city leadership is not on board, it’s not worth the time and money.
  • 2018.
    • Redesigned the network and relocated Eudora facilities to De Soto.
    • Launched in-house construction crew.
    • Built conduit infrastructure in and lit up De Soto, the fastest city in Kansas with 10 Gig internet! 10x faster than Google Fiber in the big city.
  • 2019.
    • Figured out underground construction is pretty hard when it floods for months; we tried anyway.
    • Started construction of a second route from KC, Mo to Baldwin City to make our network even more reliable.
  • 2020.
    • Wrapping up our expansion project.
    • Covid happened; manufacturers shut down. Supplies are hard to come by. Demand for internet spikes; work from home, remote learning, telehealth, etc.
    • Despite the challenges, RG FIBER doubles down and expands to Lawrence, Wellsville, Edgerton, Gardner, and Spring Hill.
  • 2021.
    • Connects 1st customer in Lawrence, Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority – residents in public housing get 1 Gig all-fiber internet.

 

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