Community Feature Fixed Wireless Internet Helping Rural Clearwater Family Work & Learn From Home
Rural Clearwater resident Aaron Tobias and his family have lived north of Clearwater, Kan., on an old crop duster airfield since 2008. Most of SKT’s rural Clearwater and Viola service area, including the Tobias family’s home, can access up to 20/1 Mbps (listed as download/upload speed) DSL internet service. While this service meets the needs of many families, some need additional bandwidth for all their online activities and devices.
Three years ago, SKT began offering Fixed Wireless Internet Service in the area to meet that increased need, with speeds ranging from up to 50/10 Mbps to up to 100/20 Mbps. New monthly rates of $77.95 to $97.95 were recently launched as a part of SKT’s pledge to provide a better value for broadband service.
Fixed wireless technology is more reliable than satellite and has no data caps, offers faster speeds than DSL, and increases the availability of internet service to more remote locations. With SKT, Aaron and his family upgraded from up to 20/1 Mbps DSL service to up to 50/10 Mbps with SKT’s Fixed Wireless service, but the road to get there wasn’t linear.
Challenges For Rural Families
For the Tobias family and millions of others across the country, everything went remote at the beginning of the pandemic. Aaron is an engineering test pilot at Textron Aviation and Kim is a former teacher at Clearwater Intermediate School. They have a daughter, Morgan, and a son, Caleb. Since Caleb lost his vision in a serious car accident in 2019, utilizing technology for education and entertainment posed some unique challenges for him.
They experienced an increase in teleconferencing and video conferencing. Then Morgan enrolled in some online college courses, which required significant bandwidth to stay connected. Aaron shares, “That ended up being really kind of a catalyst.” Meanwhile, as a great addition to his entertainment value, Caleb enjoyed listening to audio-descriptive videos and movies on Disney+. These online activities require significant download and upload bandwidth to work properly.
To meet all of their needs, they began using a couple of hotspots in addition to their DSL service. Aaron adds, “So we’d been kind of using band aids all along.” When he called SKT to say that their DSL wasn’t meeting their needs, Customer Service Representative Michelle Snell sent out a technician twice to troubleshoot. It was recommended that new lines be installed, with the construction and updates made at SKT’s expense, but Aaron declined the updates.
When another company offered service in the area, touting three times the speed for two-thirds the price he was paying, Aaron says, “It was a no-brainer for me.” He signed up. But he explained with a laugh, the day he got set up with the other service, Michelle called to let him know about SKT’s new pricing for its fixed wireless service. “I was like, ‘Ahhh man! I hate that I just signed up with this outfit!’”
Reliable Broadband with Hometown Customer Service
It turns out the grass was not greener on the other side, as they say. From the moment it was activated, the competitor’s internet never worked with any consistency. Aaron called them within hours and was told it had been fixed remotely. When it did work, it was lightning-fast – fantastic even, but unfortunately, over half the time it didn’t work. Four days into it, Aaron called to ask the company to “just come take this thing away.”
Since they hadn’t yet disconnected their SKT DSL service, Aaron says, “It was an easy choice because I had a fallback option – knowing that SKT was here.” The difference between the customer service of SKT and the competitor was night-and-day, Aaron said. From the other company, he got no call-backs, nobody coming out to the house, not even an email response to an online form; he was on hold for extended periods of time trying to get through to their customer service, and no one ever responded – that is, until he sent them notification that he was cancelling the service.
Conversely, he said, “You guys are on the ball – you’re interested in taking care of things … there was never any doubt about your attentiveness to customers – making sure you’re providing the best service possible.”
SKT scheduled Service Technician Cole Richardson to install service at 1:30 on a Thursday afternoon. Their house sits in a bit of a hole, and Aaron was nervous that they’d have trouble getting line-of-sight with the SKT tower. Cole helped find and set up a location for the antenna. “We pull up at like 10 after 1 and he’s already here with the truck, ready to go, wondering where we are. My only complaint is the guy showed up 30 minutes early,” Aaron laughs.
He’s so happy, he even told his neighbors about it the day after his SKT Fixed Wireless Internet was installed. Aaron adds, “I drove by their house the other day and I see the little, tiny antenna stuck on the side of their house,” he said. He hasn’t asked how it’s going for them, but he’s confident the higher speeds will be a big improvement.
Along with the hometown customer service, Aaron appreciates the faster internet at an economical price. “It feels like we’re in the new millennium now. To the urban world – with their gigabits – that’s probably a snail’s pace but it feels awesome for us.” They’re enjoying the ability to do more than one thing at a time and to do it successfully. “Our son can be listening to a movie streaming and I can pop my computer open and take care of some work stuff, and, you know, even do a video call – or my daughter can be doing her college class and I can be doing work stuff or somebody can be streaming a movie or something like that – so just the ability to do more than one thing, when before, just one thing was kind of sketchy at best.”
If you are a rural Clearwater or Viola resident interested in Fixed Wireless internet service with SKT, contact us online or at 888.758.8976.