Rural Missouri - February 2021 - 36
Andrew Kaiser connects rural
residents to the world
by Jim McCarty | email@example.com
Ironically, about the time he got it all ﬁgured out he
moved to Mansﬁeld where he did have access to a broadband connection.
ike a lot of rural people, Andrew Kaiser found himself
" I got it all tested, got it working and moved into town
in need of high-speed internet service but living in
and no longer needed it myself, but my neighbors did. I
an area without it. His computer repair business reslightly shifted what I was doing from it being designed to
quired constant downloads to upgrade software. Slow
serve one person and opened it up to a number of people in
speeds made that frustrating.
a several-mile radius. I've just grown it from there. "
" I grew up in the era of dial-up and early satellite providInitially the service just served a few miles around
ers, " Andrew relates. " In the cities, and even small towns,
Mansﬁeld, with Se-Ma-No Electric Cooperative providing
other people had broadband access at that point. It felt like
power for the equipment. Over the years it grew slowly but
there was this whole other world out there that I wasn't
steadily. In December 2020 Andrew installed antennas on
able to fully participate in. "
one of the Hartville water towers. That allowed him to sigHe ﬁgured he had two choices: Move or build it himself.
niﬁcantly increase the area he can now serve.
He chose the latter and today he and his neighbors have
Wireless internet service providers, or WISPs, are comfound a bridge that leads across the digital divide.
mon across rural areas says Sho-Me Technologies Senior
Andrew's Ridgetop Networks serves a small cluster of ruAccount Representative Becky Allen. " We've had neighral homes in an area extending from Hartville to Mansﬁeld.
borhoods contact us that want to serve just their neighIt uses line-of-sight antennas to relay a wireless signal
borhood. People are ﬁnding ways to get what they need.
along a series of ridges - hence the name - and down to
Because it's almost impossible to get by without the
homes and businesses. It's all possible thanks to a
ﬁber optic " middle mile " backbone hosted by
internet today. "
Sho-Me Technologies, the telecommunications
Sho-Me Technologies launched in 1997 when cell
subsidiary owned by electric transmission coopphones took off. In order to allow the inﬂux of cell
erative Sho-Me Power.
phones, the Federal Communications Commis " I never intended to turn it into a business, "
sion auctioned the radio frequency then in use
by electric utilities to communicate with their
Andrew admits. " It was for my own need. Really a
substations. The utilities had a choice: move to
lot of these businesses are started that way. There
a different frequency or install ﬁber optic lines.
is such a need out there that people ﬁgure out how
" Thankfully, our board decided ﬁber optics
to do it themselves. "
was the way to go, " Becky says. " At that time these areas
Andrew started researching solutions and discovered
were being completely overlooked. We are able to offer
others were using ﬁxed wireless technology to connect in
something to level that playing ﬁeld a little bit and give
rural areas. He ﬁgured it might meet his needs as well.
them the service they needed to keep up with the rest of
" I spent a few years trying that equipment, making deals
the world. "
with neighbors to put up antennas on their houses and
With extra capacity on its ﬁber backbone, Sho-Me
run cables around where it was needed to get a connection
Technologies helped connect rural schools, banks, medical
working, " says Andrew, a member of Laclede Electric Coopclinics and other businesses to broadband. It also made
erative. " I spent years developing it. "
possible WISPs like Ridgetop Networks that now serve some
That early equipment wasn't reliable, especially in
rural areas. Those companies are taking Sho-Me's middle
thunderstorms. As the technology improved, so too did
mile network to the end users.
Andrew's knowledge of grounding, lightning protection and
Andrew's efforts have allowed many people to live in
RURAL MISSOURI | FEBRUARY 2021
Rural Missouri - February 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2021
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - February 2021 - Contents
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