Local partnership expands broadbandSep 14, 2017 By Kelli Ameling, Staff Wrier
The next step in high-speed internet went live last month in Lander, representing the culmination of a project that was four years in the making.
The Lander Economic Development Association partnered with Union Wireless to bring fiber optic cables to Lander in order to advance the technology within the city.
When LEDA was developed, the group wanted to find ways to strengthen and advance the infrastructure in Lander to not only keep current residents in town, but also to attract new people and businesses to the area.
As part of that effort, Lander's assistant mayor RaJean Strube Fossen said LEDA leased state-owned land across from the Central Wyoming College building on Leedy Boulevard, where there is a space for Union Wireless, the company that helped provide the fiber optic cable.
Other areas have been plotted out to give room for businesses wanting to move to Lander - or for already established Lander businesses looking to expand.
Strube Fossen explained this is the first time state-owned land has been leased for commercial purposes.
Cade Maestas, who was co-founder of LEDA, said Union Wireless had been working on a plan to bring fiber optic cables to Fremont County by routing a line from Jeffrey City to Riverton. However, because of the partnership between LEDA and Union Wireless, the route was reconfigured and routed through Lander instead.
Maestas, who is the vice president of sales and operations for Maven Outdoor Equipment Company and co-owner of Bridge Outdoors, stressed the importance of having reliable internet for a business. For example, he said his business relies a lot on internet sales, so when the internet connection is not stable, it affects his profits.
With the new fiber optic cable, he said his business will be able to perform better.
"It helps make Lander connected to the modern world," Maestas said Aug. 30 during the Fiber Optic Festival.
"This is huge for this community."
Maestas also pointed out that this new advancement, on top of the fact that Lander is the location of an overlap for a power grid, makes the town "one of the most connected cities in the state."
LEDA president Rick Rollino told an audience at the Fiber Optic Festival that none of the advancements would have been possible without Union Wireless.
Union Wireless CEO John Woody said the company's plan to bring the line to the area was created to provide better service for cell towers.
Brian Woody, chief customer relations officer for Union Wireless, explained that the company was started because no one would provide phone service to the area.
Over time, the company began focusing more on the wireless side of the business, and with this project, Union Wireless is now able to provide a service other companies haven't offered yet.
"People deserve and need this service," Brian Woody said. "I am glad to see it finally come to fruition."
Now that the fiber optic line is up and running in Lander, Rollino told the audience at the festival, it is up to residents who want the service to contact their internet provider and ask for it.
"We encourage you to contact your service providers," Rollino said, noting that, if a person's service provider does not take advantage of the advanced technology now in Lander, another service provider will.