Wheatland Electric was founded to accomplish one goal: to connect rural Kansas. Wheatland Broadband represents the modern reflection of that goal. For years, rural communities have been left out of the digital revolution because they had only intermittent internet access, often through a patchwork of satellite, dial-up or wireless service. For many companies, it was just too expensive to bring equipment and service over long distances to so few people.
For more than a decade, Wheatland Electric and other cooperatives around the nation have been working to address the lack of broadband in our communities. Just as electricity was the key to unlocking a better way of life nearly 100 years ago, broadband offers that same promise today by connecting people socially, economically and educationally to a global community.
In 2002, Wheatland Electric created its broadband subsidiary, Wheatland Broadband, to offer internet services to the true “last mile” in rural western Kansas. At a time when large telecommunications companies had seemingly left rural residents and communities behind, Wheatland Broadband made high-speed internet service a reality for its members.
One rural company taking advantage of these broadband services, TRIANGLE H, sees firsthand the benefits of working with Wheatland Broadband.
Triangle H is a family-owned farm, cow/calf and feedlot operation in southwestern Kansas. Established in 1974, Triangle H was formed as an operational partnership with Fielding Hands (retired) and his three sons: Sam, Greg and Cedric. Greg’s son, Tyler, returned to the farm in 2008.
Triangle H farms their own ground in addition to farming for other landlords, which in total, encompasses approximately 10,000 acres. They have two locations, having purchased additional ground south of Deerfield in the winter of 2008. The farming operation normally includes a split between corn, grain sorghum, soybeans, and wheat. Alfalfa is grown as a cash crop as well as a supplement for the cattle operation. Sam heads up the cattle operations at both Plymell and Deerfield locations. These operations consist of cow/calf, stocker, and finishing programs.
Assisting the Hands family in carrying out the objectives of the company are 15 full-time employees. Seasonal help is also employed as the need arises. In addition, Triangle H relies on a number of different specialists to stay on top of emerging technologies and to help them find efficiencies.
One of those specialists, Wheatland Broadband, ensures that Triangle H is connected with the latest technology. Not only does Triangle H rely on Wheatland Broadband’s internet service, but most recently Triangle H started utilizing Wheatland’s myVoice phone service. myVoice uses Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology, or in more common terms phone service over the internet. myVoice makes easy some things that are difficult or impossible with traditional phone networks. For example, myVoice allows incoming calls to be automatically routed to any phone at any location.
"The idea is wonderful, customers can call one number, select who they want to talk to and the call will ring into their office and then to their cell phone. We have been able to eliminate the receptionist role. Leslie, our office manager, has been able to be more efficient and productive. myVoice allows for quicker, more direct communication," said Marisa Kleysteuber, with Triangle H. "It's a huge benefit for us because we have various locations."
As with any technology, issues can arise but Wheatland Broadband employs local service technicians who are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. An on-call service technician is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for connection-related issues.
“If we’re getting ready to process cattle and the internet is down then we have to hand write everything and then manually enter at a later date—it's not ideal,” Kleysteuber said. “We’ve been so fortunate. If we call first thing with a problem, Doug (Heberleee, network administrator at Wheatland Broadband) is always so helpful and usually has the problem fixed within minutes.”
Wheatland Broadband, along with Wheatland Electric, has a commitment to rural Kansas and each community they serve that goes beyond DSL and cable broadband. By utilizing fixed wireless technology, Wheatland Broadband is making high-speed internet and phone service a reality for Triangle H, rural locations, farms, and other agricultural entities in western Kansas. Wheatland Broadband currently offers service in 16 counties. For more information about their coverage area visit www.wbsnet.org.