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Bringing broadband to Wyoming

Bringing broadband to Wyoming
By Kim Phagan-Hansel

November 9, 2012 --
In its infancy in the early 1990s, the Internet was new and exciting territory for many. For three Gillette friends, the desire to have quick, affordable and reliable access to the Internet for themselves prompted the creation of Visionary Communications in late 1994.

"They pretty much wanted free Internet for themselves," said Brian Worthen, President and CEO of Visionary Communications. "But they realized they hit on something right away."

Since that time, Visionary Communications has expanded to serve more than 20,000 customers with Internet access via dial-up, wireless, DSL, T1 and fiber optics. Mostly serving rural residents in Wyoming, Visionary has grown to provide service to almost 100 communities via 30 fiber hubs in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.

"Our capabilities are off the chart because we know what to do with it," Worthen said. "We look at the network totally agnostically."

In the industry since the Internet's early beginnings, Visionary has worked to stay on top of the latest technology starting with dial-up and moving into broadband, wireless and other services. Most of the areas Visionary provides service to are in rural areas that do not get served by larger Internet service providers.

With offices in Gillette, Buffalo and Sheridan, as well as six remote employees in the Rocky Mountain region who operate on the same network Visionary offers to its customers, Visionary has a large regional outreach providing services to both residential and business customers.

"They use the same network we sell to our clients," Worth said. "It's a cool selling point."

In 2004, Visionary created a spin-off company called Mammoth Networks that now is a wholesale data aggregator, providing services to multi-site businesses.

"We came up with the idea of setting up our own network outside of the state and selling it to others," Worthen said. "When we started Mammoth we realized we could move beyond those borders."

By leasing the capacity from other service providers, Mammoth Networks does not have to own and maintain the connection lines.

"We don't own anything in the ground — we lease everything," Worthen said.

Visionary Communications and Mammoth Networks are unique in that the companies work together to create solutions for businesses. Many times Worthen said that means working with companies that have multiple sites around the country. For those companies, often they have to secure Internet services with multiple providers in those specific site locations. But Visionary and Mammoth lease lines and create a private, multi-site system for customers.

"All the technologies we use to make private networks expand farther came from Mammoth," Worth said. "We want to be more business-focused because we have a unique skill set."

From small-office networking to larger multi-location networks, Visionary and Mammoth are able to provide specialized services to meet the customer's needs. For Worthen, that's the biggest success of the business.

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