The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) awarded a portion of the Remote Access Rural Broadband Grant to Vistabeam in August.
Forty million dollars in the CARES Act Federal Funding was committed to this grant program, and applications were due at the end of July. Vistabeam made nine applications and all were awarded. An aggressive work plan was put together to get all of the updates completed over a four-month timeline.
“We have added eight full-time jobs since the grants were applied for and lined up multiple contractors to help us with the construction,” said Matt Larsen, CEO of Vistabeam. “There are supply chain issues that may ultimately slow our progress, but I have been amazed at how much progress our team has made in such a short period of time.”
The counties to benefit from the grant will be Banner, Chase, Cheyenne, Deuel, Garden, Kimball, Perkins, and Scotts Bluff. The upgrades will deliver up to 100Mbps downloads speeds and will work through trees, where before the company relied on line-of-sight to provide a connection.
Vistabeam had existing infrastructure in these counties and had a three year tplan to upgrade these portions of the network. The terms of the grant require the work to be completed by the end of 2020.
“The deadline has been a huge challenge for us, but we have stepped up to add more capacity. Our goal is to make sure that 25/3 is the minimal package that we will make available, and the speeds will go up from there,” Larsen said.
Upgrades to 20 existing sites and three new tower locations are in progress, with some sites already completed.
Each site will be able to deliver up to 100Mbps download speeds to residents and will have several hours of backup battery capacity. In the event of a power outage, there will be multiple ways to get to the Internet on through other towers and fiber connections on the Vistabeam network.
The Broadband program was one of four grants designed and administered by the Nebraska DED this year to support the state’s economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The broadband grant opportunity was made possible by the federal CARES Act funding, including $1.08 billion of Coronavirus Relief funds allocated to the State of Nebraska and announced by DED last spring. The grants target areas of the state where high-speed internet service is nonexistent or subpar based on the FCC standard of 25/3 Mbps download/upload speeds.
Vistabeam will be performing installation of your internet connection differently during social distancing. This video was created to help describe our new process.
WE WILL KEEP YOU CONNECTED
You will not be disconnected from service for the next 60 days for non-payment. Though keep in mind, our suspension process is automated and will shut off service if arrangements are not made ahead of time. Contact us before your disconnect date. In the event you don’t call ahead of time and you are disconnected, call to let us know and we will reactivate your service.
HOW TO REACH US
In order to prioritize the health and safety of our customers, communities, and team, we are postponing non-essential installs or service calls for the next couple of weeks. We are also closing our lobbies.
For payments, inquiries, and support please reach out to us via phone or email. We are fully staffed and here to help!
Business and Commercial Inquiries
PRICE CHANGES AND PROGRAMS
If you haven’t already, you will receive a printed letter updating you on price changes we have been working to implement since the beginning of the year. Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions or concerns you may have.
In conjunction with those changes, we will be implementing a Lifeline Broadband program that will provide a $9.25/month credit on broadband service for qualifying individuals. We are working to implement this program ASAP and will keep you updated on the qualification process.
IN THE COMMUNITY
We have installed outdoor community wi-fi hotspots at our office locations:
Headquarters: 1225 Sage Street, Gering, NE
Mitchell: 1208 Center Avenue, Mitchell, NE
Torrington: 1839 Main Street, Torrington, WY
Laramie: 1482 Commerce Drive Unit M, Laramie, WY Coming Soon
Yuma: 304 South Main Street, Yuma, CO
And in collaboration with a customer:
Lone Pine Campground: 901 South Elm Street, Lusk, WY
Thank you for being our customer. We’re all in this together.
Matt Larsen, CEO
During this time of social distancing, know that Vistabeam is committed to KEEPING YOU CONNECTED. We are actively making plans to manage the influx in internet traffic that is likely with students and employees working from home.
In order to prioritize the health and safety of our customers, communities, and team, we are postponing non-essential installs or service calls for the next couple of weeks.
We know your internet service is more important than ever, and we plan to keep our customer service, network maintenance, upgrades and service running smoothly and without interruption.
WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. — The Vistabeam Team