High-speed internet coming to campus

Story by Sarah Baker, Editor

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Baker University will have super-fast Internet service campus-wide starting this semester. RG Fiber, a local tech company, is bringing gigabit broadband service to Baldwin City, with Baker being its first official customer.

According to Jared Culbertson, director of information management, the new system should allow bandwidth to reach speeds of 1,000 megabits per second, compared to the old system’s 350 megabits per second. Baker will still keep the old system running as a backup, so if anything happens to either connection Baker will still be online.

Eventually, the high-speed Internet will be available in the dorms and all around campus.

“In conjunction with the proposed increase in bandwidth speeds, we plan to upgrade the access points and other networking equipment in the dorms and around campus to utilize these faster speeds,” Culbertson said. “Wireless connectivity is one of the areas where students will see substantial benefits.”

Senior Director of Admissions Kevin Kropf believes that since students are always connected to the Internet and bring multiple devices with them, having high speed Internet would solve problems that have popped up in the past and potentially help future student recruitment.

“I am pretty optimistic that it is going to be a selling point for us,” Kropf said. “Students complain about buffering Netflix and slow speeds on the Internet, and that is not going to be an issue anymore. I am really excited about promoting this and moving forward. It may be the thing that tips the balance our way, so I am very excited about this.”

Baker students are also looking forward to the Internet upgrade.

“I think it is great that we are making improvements on our technology,” junior Olivia Beins said. “We do use the Internet for a lot of things, and speeding it up will make our lives much easier. Fast Internet is also just extremely convenient, so in general I think that it will make students happier and more satisfied with Baker’s technology.”

Last year, Mike Bosch, who is the co-founder of RG Fiber, and his associates began plans to provide a high-speed broadband service to Baldwin City and Baker University. An expensive venture, fiber optics cables are made of glass tubes that send light instead of electricity and have been around for 40-50 years.

“[Through fiber, we are] figuring out a way to help Baker students, staff and administration,” Bosch said. “We think Baker is a special place. We want to make sure that we are a good community partner and help honor that.”

According to Bosch, standard wireless Internet is stronger when it is used to consume content and is “painfully slow” when uploading content. Fiber will make consuming and creating content easier and faster on both sides.

Bosch hopes that bringing higher speed Internet will provide new opportunities for Baldwin City residents, Baker University included, to create, generate, produce and consume content.

“[In Baldwin City], you still get that peace and quiet, you can still see the stars, but is it, as some people say, a bedroom community, just a place to sleep? Can this be a place where you can dream, create, build and just be you?” Bosch said. Smiling, he added, “I am hopelessly optimistic, I guess.”