Internet Access In Fort Scott

Fort Scott has a reasonable number of choices for internet access.  Here is a list of what is available depending on exactly where you live.

  • AT&T – DSL services provided over phone lines. Your lines can be further than 14,000 feet from the central office and some of the older lines won’t work.
  • Suddenlink – Provided over cable connections. If you can get cable, you can probably gett this.
  • RTS – Local wireless provider.
  • Valnet – A wireless provider from Independence.
  • Alpha Wireless – A new wireless provider in town. It isn’t clear if they are up and running yet or not.

That looks like quite a few options, but they all have one thing in common. They all get their bandwidth to Fort Scott from AT&T. So while there can be a certain amount of competition in how to connect your home, there is no competition in the underlying resource–access to the Internet.

Does this lack of competition drive the price up in Fort Scott? For comparison, I have a server in downtown Kansas City. For $50 per month I can get a 100 Mbps connection to the Internet. This would be enough bandwidth to let a local ISP supply reasonable service to a large number of customers. Now we’d expect that it would cost more to get a connection like that in Fort Scott than in Kansas City, but how much more? If it would cost 20 times more that would be $1,000 per month. Obviously that is more than what you’d want to put in your house, but it wouldn’t be out of reach for a business–particularly an ISP.

When I talked to AT&T about getting a connection like that, the initial price started out at around $39,266 per month. With a long contract and a special they were running, the price would come down to $31,333. After talking with a few different people, it sounded like there might be a way to cut that in half and get down to the $15,000 range. Still that is 300 times what bandwidth costs in downtown Kansas City. Could you imagine if your electric or telephone bill cost 300 times more than it costs in a larger city? Instead of a $90 per month electric bill, it would cost you $27,000 pre month. Instead of a $32 per month phone bill, it would cost $9,600.

If you were starting a business that required a reliable high speed connection to the Internet, would you go to the town where it costs $50 per month or the town where it costs $15,000? The future of small towns like Fort Scott is going to be very closely tied to their ability to tap into reliable inexpensive bandwidth. As long as everything comes through a single provider, there is no competition to drive the price down. Right now, no matter how many new ISPs start up in town, they are are all going to be reselling bandwidth from the same expensive source.

If Fort Scott wants to be competitive in the future, we are going to need to find ways to get competitively priced bandwidth into the city.

6 thoughts on “Internet Access In Fort Scott”

  1. Mark: In general, with my limited knowledge of what you talking about, I understand what you are saying. Do you know what other cities do about this that are off the beaten path?

    1. Best I can tell Arcadia has internet connectivity that is better than Fort Scott. They get internet access through CrawKan and I believe CrawKan has significant fiber runs of their own that go back to other carriers.

  2. Running a “sucessful business” today without internet is like driving a car with 4 flat tires. Sure it will make it to the corner a 1mph, but it’s no better than walking. Infrastructure of a town has ALWAYS been a key to a city’s economic success and Ft Scott is a prime example of it. In the days where the Railroad was king, this town was booming. Now, not so much. Simple things like trash pick-up, phone, water, internet, roads for delivery trucks, hotels and resturants for visitors, they all play a vital part in the sucess of a city. Ft Scott has internet accessabilty, that’s great. Is it the fastest, not by far, but at least it works. Can, and should it be improved. YES. It’s the city leaders that need to get behind these ideas. I know business is what drives America, but if Ft Scott can lead the way, perhaps business will come here……..

    1. Well I am definitely thankful that we have some form of internet access and to be honest there are more options (for the last mile to the home) here than in many towns have. But looking out 5 to 10 years, we are going to need to address the bottleneck of having a single bandwidth provider at some point and I agree with you that this is probably something where the local governments will need to be involved.

      I hope you got your Internet up and working!

  3. To bad their isn’t a provider(other than expensive broadbandq) for users outside the city limits besides dial-up and unreliable satellite networks like Hughes and Wild Blue.

    “Alpha Wireless – A new wireless provider in town. It isn’t clear if they are up and running yet or not.”

    People who live within the city limits will be the only ones to benefit from this company.

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