Telecommunications and technology company Nex-Tech is in the midst of a major upgrade to its infrastructure in Great Bend, a project that has garnered a lot of interest and curiosity from consumers, said Dustin Schlaefli, director of customer engagement for the Lenora-based firm.
“There have been quite a few questions,” he said. They’ve asked about time lines, how the process works and other matters pertaining to the construction.
But, “there have been a lot of positives as well,” he said.
Nex-Tech has had a presence in Great Bend since 2002. Over the years, they’ve gradually increased their investment here, Schlaefli said.
This long-term relationship is in part what led the company to put Great Bend next on its fiber radar. Also, over the past four years, it has installed fiber along Main and 10th streets to meet business needs and won the contract to provide fiber to Unified School District 428.
“That gave us a better opportunity to expand out into other areas of the community,” he said. Now, they are trying to gauge the public support.
This isn’t Nex-Tech’s first foray into the fiber arena, Schlaefli said. The company pioneered fiber to the home in 1996 as the first company in the nation to bring fiber to a residential area (Hill City) and now serves over 60 Kansas communities with this technology.
However, “we are doing Great Bend a little differently,” Schlaefli said. Via an online survey, they are going to start the fiber build in the neighborhoods that show the most interest.
This is a massive undertaking. In addition of hundreds of miles of fiber to be laid, other utilities must be mapped, and engineering and surveying needs to be completed before construction begins.
“It is very costly,” he said. If done in one, fell swoop, the cost would be $40 million.
That is why they want to see if there is enough support in an area before they start. The goal is to do two zones next year.
Great Bend is divided in 13 zones, 12 within the city limits and one including Bissell’s Point.
The questions/answers below explain some of the details of the fiber effort:
• What is Nex-Tech Fiber?
Nex-Tech Fiber is a state-of-the-art fiber optic infrastructure that brings fiber service right to your home or business. It is the most current technology available and is said to be “future proof”. Fiber can deliver ultra-fast Internet connections, up to 1 gig, advanced entertainment and local phone service.
• How does Nex-Tech Fiber benefit Great Bend?
As with any utility, having the most capable and reliable infrastructure provides more value to the community and its residents. It allows the transfer of very large files over the Internet like medical images or multimedia programming. A fiber infrastructure also levels the playing field for small, rural communities to compete with larger, urban areas.
Internet accessibility of speeds up to 1 Gig allow ample bandwidth for running multiple wireless devices at the same time, 4K streaming video, advanced gaming, life-like video chatting and supports a work-from-home lifestyle.
• Is Nex-Tech building fiber everywhere in Great Bend?
The company prepared to provide fiber in every zone that reaches the required commitment level. Actual construction plans will be based on the interest received from each neighborhood zone. Once a neighborhood zone reaches the required sign-up level, the zone will then have fiber built to it. Zones that do not reach the necessary commitment level may be served with a hybrid wireless solution instead.
• How long will the fiber project take?
Nex-Tech intends to complete one to two zones per year. It will build to zones after they reach the required commitment level.
The faster a zone reaches the commitment level, the faster it will be built to. They expect the fiber project to take up to five years. Initial construction will begin in spring 2020.
• What residential services can I get with Nex-Tech Fiber?
A wide variety of rate and service packages are available. These include internet speed, television and telephone options, as well as a la carte possibilities.
• I am already a Nex-Tech internet customer. Do I need to sign up?
Yes. Your current services are delivered via a technology other than fiber. In order to bring fiber to your neighborhood, the required interest level must first be met. This includes interest from current Nex-Tech customers and future customers.
• What is the process to get fiber to my house/neighborhood?
After enough interest in shown for a particular neighborhood zone (through filling out an online form), Nex-tech will start the sign-up phase to determine the level of commitment for a prospective fiber build.
During sign-up, it will contact every potential home to determine how many households are interested in our new fiber optic network and are serious about taking advantage of our services.
After it has reached its commitment requirements for a prospective fiber build, it will begin plans for construction on your fiber network.
If your neighborhood zone does not reach the required interest level, your neighborhood may instead be serviced with a hybrid wireless Internet solution. That’s why it’s important for you and your neighbors to show your interest in fiber.
• What is the Sign-up phase?
This will determine how many households are interested in our new fiber optic network and are serious about taking advantage of our services. During this phase, you will select which packages you will be subscribing to and pay a $25 registration fee. The $25 shows Nex-Tech you are serious about taking our services and are truly committed.
Nex-Tech will refund your $25 payment if we do not proceed with a fiber build in your neighborhood. When you subscribe to services, your $25 fee will be applied towards your first bill.
• What is the difference between different types of Internet connections?
The main difference between DSL, copper, wireless and fiber internet is the connection it is delivered through.
With cable and DSL Internet, distance can be a problem. The longer the wires are, the worse your signal could get. If multiple people are using the Internet at the same time, your speed may be slowed. Wireless Internet delivers your signal via line-of-sight. If the signal is obstructed by structures or trees, the speed you can subscribe to may be reduced or unavailable.
Fiber transfers data at a faster rate than any other connection. That means faster load times, higher-quality streaming and less buffering.
Fiber also offers symmetrical download and upload speeds. That means that you’ll enjoy the same speed whether you are downloading a movie or sending out a large file.
Fiber optic is the fastest and most reliable internet option available. It is not shared and provides far greater speeds to enhance your experience.
• What is gig internet?
A gigabit is one of the fastest broadband Internet connections available and is one gigabit per second (Gbps) or 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps) – which is much faster than the Internet connection most American households have access to today.
• If I switch my telephone service to Nex-Tech, do I get to keep my same phone number?
Absolutely. The company will move your telephone number over and you do not need to do a thing. Once the number is moved, it automatically notifies your current provider and they will stop their billing.