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News SKT Breaks Ground on 130-Home Rural Wichita Fiber Project with 2 Gbps Symmetrical Speeds

SKT has served rural Kansas for more than 80 years and is making significant investments to provide state-of-the art broadband connections at the best value.

SKT is breaking ground on a 130-home fiber expansion project just north of its current Clearwater exchange boundary, located near 151st Street and MacArthur Road. Residents in the rural Wichita, Goddard and Clearwater build zone, which is currently underserved, will have access to 2 Gbps symmetrical speeds – up to 2,000 Mbps for both download and upload. The anticipated timeline is to have the first customers in service this fall and the project completed by early 2023.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel recently proposed that the new national broadband standard be set to 100 Mbps for download and 20 Mbps for upload. The current broadband standard is 25/3 Mbps, which was last updated in 2015.

“The needs of internet users long ago surpassed the FCC’s 25/3 speed metric, especially during a global health pandemic that moved so much of life online,” Rosenworcel said.

She went on to explain that low internet speeds negatively affect low-income and rural residents the most. She also proposed setting a separate national goal of 1 Gbps/500 Mbps for the future. SKT’S 2 gigabit symmetrical speeds will offer double the download and four times the upload than this future goal.

This project is part of a greater initiative by both SKT and Twin Valley – together the largest family-owned broadband provider in the state – to improve connectivity for rural Kansans. The companies will offer fiber broadband service to 10,000 homes and businesses by the end of 2022, with plans to more than double that in coming years.

Last year, SKT and Twin Valley made a pledge to their communities and customers to provide the most reliable network with internet options at the best value, hometown customer service, and meaningful outreach initiatives.

“When it comes to advocating for cutting-edge communications and connectivity for rural Kansans, SKT and Twin Valley have been industry leaders for more than 80 years,” SKT & Twin Valley President & CEO Ben Foster said. “We have made intentional infrastructure investments to help rural families, businesses, and communities thrive for generations, and this project along with the changes to our speed packages reflects our commitment to offering the most reliable network at the best value.”

SKT offers financial assistance for internet service, including the federal Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity programs and the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance program. With qualifying Lifeline and ACP application, SKT residential fiber customers in the build zone can get free internet service. Information about these programs is available at SKTC.net/assistance.

Multi-gigabit symmetrical speeds give individuals and families the bandwidth to handle all their online activities without any slowdowns, including working from home, completing online coursework, streaming TV, online gaming, accessing telehealth, and more. Fiber gives businesses the bandwidth to quickly store and access information in the cloud, connect with remote employees and clients through video calls, maintain their online presence through websites and social media, and more.

The increased demand for broadband and unprecedented federal funding for fiber expansion has led to supply chain issues in the industry. The timeline is subject to change based upon the availability of equipment and fiber optic cable. Updates will be provided online at SKTC.net/wichitafiber.