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High speed internet on the horizon PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 11:31

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By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a series of stories recapping an event hosted by the Joint Economic Development Council last Thursday to help community members learn about local innovations that can help develop the area’s economy.


Today’s story talks about how Resound Networks of Pampa, Texas, is doing to better connect it and other surrounding communities to the world. 

In the late 19th century, the telephone was invented. The first conversations on the device were merely from nearby locations.

Nearly150 years later, the telephone has developed from a stationary device to billions of portable cell phones carried by people every day. 

Not only can people call out on the modern device, but they can also use Internet, check social media, play games, text and read amongst the other many things a cell phone now be used for in today’s world.

The Internet is still relatively new, only having been around since the late 20th century, and in its early stages, it could only be found in large cities and some more heavily populated rural areas.

Today, even those in heavily rural areas where homes are more scattered can get Internet. A representative from a Pampa, Texas-based networking company was in Liberal last week as part of the Joint Economic Development Council’s event to update community members about innovations in the community, and Belinda Waldrip of Resound Networks said she saw in Liberal a desire to use technology to advance the community.

“You guys are really blessed to have people who are interested in your community, who want to preserve it, want to improve it and want to move along,” she said.

Waldrip said when it comes to retaining youth in the community, Pampa has the same issue as Liberal.

“Our kids are going off to college, and the city was dwindling,” she said. “Things are moving out and going away. It gets a little depressing.”

Waldrip, though, said she and her friends have raised a generation in Pampa who, after leaving for college, returned to the Texas Panhandle community.

“They have chosen to really improve the commerce, the businesses, and one of those things is Resound Networks,” she said. “The three men that currently own this company grew up in Pampa, Texas, and they came back to Pampa and saw niche. They said, ‘You know what these small communities need? They have got to have connectivity.’ One of our owners, he worked with Verizon for more than 17 years.”

Waldrip said that owner went to work for a small cell phone company when he finished college, much to the dismay of his mother.

“His mother was beside herself,” she said. “She said, ‘You just need to get a real job. These cell phones are going to be a fad. You need to get something that you can really hang on to and do.’”

Through experience from Verizon, that owner took care of communication towers and connectivity issues. Waldrip said another owner comes from the electrical industry, working as a master electrician for many years. The last owner is an accountant who came back to start a family-owned oil and gas business.

“They saw a niche and here we go,” Waldrip said.

Waldrip said Resound Networks provides fiber wirelessly, a viable option to traditional fiber lines.

“Ditching fiber to every home and every business is just not economically feasible, plus it takes a lot of time,” she said. “With the new technologies, that’s what we do.”

Waldrip said her company works with small communities that need opportunities for better communication technology.

“We look at it,” she said. “We propagate it. We see where can we get that fiber. How do we build that network to serve those communities? We feel like it’s the next utility. You talk to people. What do they want more than anything? They want internet service.”

Waldrip said better communication devices are a must in today’s world.

“Every business, every school, you have got to be connected just to be able to move into the future like you want and need to,” she said. “Your schools, education, libraries, hospitals, your commerce with your companies, your homes and your federal government believes so much in this. There are grants. They take a lot of time and a lot of energy, but the federal government wants these communities to be connected. There’s opportunity there.”

Waldrip explained how her company in Pampa worked with smaller nearby communities like Shamrock, Texas, and Wheeler, Texas.

“Shamrock’s got 2,000 people,” she said. “However, the county that they’re in, there are a lot more people. They’re bringing internet so they can keep their young people. They can come home. They can be entrepreneurs. They can work there in the community, raise their family in the community that they grew up in if they want to. They have opportunity there, and they can do that.”

Waldrip then talked about an economic development director in Wheeler, who she said is a great example of what Resound Networks is trying to accomplish.

“She grew up in Wheeler,” she said. “She went off to school, to college. She lived in Austin. She lived in Amarillo. She lived in other cities, and you know what she said. ‘I want to raise my family back in Wheeler, Texas.’ It is minute compared to Liberal, but that girl is on fire. She is an EDC, and she is burning it up.”

Modern technology, Waldrip said, also offers ways to fix it that were not possible in the past.

“If you want to be connected, you want commerce, you want your businesses to be able to process their credit cards timely, you want to have connectivity, you want to be able to get your stuff to the Cloud, and you want to be able to get stuff out of the Cloud,” she said. “But it has to be a reliable network that you can depend on. It has to be scaleable equipment, hardware. When technology changes, you don’t have to climb up those towers and change out all that equipment. You need it scaleable so you  can make some changes on the ground.”

Waldrip said communities have to connect, but each community having different needs provides a bit of a challenge in that realm.

“You propagate it,” she said. “You look at what’s available. What are they trying to achieve? What are their needs, and how do you form a partnership and work together with a lot of energy and deploy a scaleable network that gives everybody opportunity?”

Waldrip said better connectivity allows everyone to everyone else, and doing so at a lower cost makes the process even better.

“The future is being able to provide communities with affordable connectivity,” she said. “If you give them opportunity, connectivity, you have just connected them to the world, not just to their cities. You’ve connected them to the world through the internet.”

Waldrip said just a few questions need to be answered before addressing a community’s connectivity problems.

“It’s all about figuring out what your needs are, what you want to achieve and how do you go about it and who do you partner with to make it happen,” she said. “It takes a little bit of time, but you’ve got to spend some time and energy.”

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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