Cooperative between multiple organizations leads to better connectivity

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Courtesy photo Members of the Kellogg School District Transportation Department hosted a “We’re Connected” party for everyone who helped them get faster, more reliable internet to their bus garage up Government Gulch.

SMELTERVILLE — A cooperative agreement between the Kellogg School District and local business SVL Analytical has allowed for the school district to address a glaring issue at one of their most important facilities.

The Kellogg School District has been pioneering different types of internet service for several years now and while nearly all of their buildings have boasted terrific service, their bus garage up Government Gulch has been operating on a near dial-up connection.

Kellogg School District Technology Director Simon Miller had been theorizing different ways to get a more reliable service up to the garage.

“We have been struggling on two independent Suddenlink cable internet connections,” Miller said. “They had become barely functional or adequate. We researched high and wide. Fixed wireless, microwave, Frontier DSL, wired or wireless. Nothing.”

A chance phone call from SVL Analytical’s systems manager Brandan Borgias changed Miller’s thought process.

“Brandan reached out a little over a year ago asking what we were doing and did we want to possibly co-op to get fiber up Government Gulch. We did, however they were able to secure a fiber connection from Frontier relatively quickly,” Miller said. “We got a quote from Frontier to extend the fiber from SVL at a price tag of about $20,000, which would greatly impact the monthly cost.”

With local schools being on tight budgets, the possibility of finding an extra $20,000 was nothing more than a pipe dream, but Miller had another idea, one that required cooperation between the school district, SVL and Frontier Communications.

“I had an idea from an article I read about augmenting an ISP (internet service provider) with fixed wireless,” Miller said. “I pitched it to Frontier sales representative Natalie Chiles, and said, ‘you might laugh at this, but what if we purchased bandwidth to the SVL location, and we built our own fixed wireless bridge to the transportation garage?”

Chiles, taken back by the question, sent it on to her engineering group, who really got the ball rolling.

Miller took his idea from his family’s lake property internet connection, where they use a fixed wireless connection to ensure they had internet at the property.

Just recently they completed the final phase of the project, which was to light up the private fiber between the KSD Bus Garage and the Maintenance Shop, which was buried when the two facilities were built.

“So now we have a fast, reliable internet connection and all those users are on the same network,” Miller said. “This allows us to do so many things, too many to name. It is a new world up there.”

Miller was quick to extend a thanks to the folks at SVL, including Borgias who made this project possible.

“Nan (Wilson), Brandan (Borgias), Kale (Swainston) and Mike (Peterson) were exceptionally gracious and embraced the project and helped us every step along the way,” Miller said. “Dozens of trips to the rooftop, in and out, back and forth, dozens of emails. This wouldn’t have worked without such a great collaborative effort. It was a fantastic synergy.”

Borgias was thrilled that SVL could help out the school district, especially during a time when they were looking to upgrade their own service.

“SVL and the Kellogg School District actually began collaborating on this project in September of 2017,” Borgias said. “At that time, SVL was in the exploratory phase of updating our own internet and we shared our experience and talked about possible options. Mostly just tossing ideas around. But the door was opened.”

It took nearly two years for the project to reach its completion, but Borgias was pleased to see it culminate in success and enjoyed working with Miller and his crew.

“In October 2018, we agreed in principle to the school district setting up a wireless communications link if they could work out service from Frontier terminating at our location,” Borgias said. “Things started snowballing at that point. Simon and crew ran feasibility tests in early November, and they got the green light to proceed after Thanksgiving. A few more tests, and Frontier completed their circuit to our server room in mid-January and the final wireless connection was completed. Simon has always been great to work with and SVL was happy to open our doors to enable making the project a reality.”

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