Jetmore woman launches internet company to overcome the digital divide in her rural community
JETMORE, Kan. (KSNW) – It started as a retirement idea in 2016 and has since made a significant difference in the community. Susan Nuss, a lifelong Jetmore resident, has created her own internet company, helping her town stay on the digital map.
Nuss has nearly 30 years of experience in the internet world. Launching her own company to serve those she grew up knowing has been a dream of hers. She created Black Dragon Networks, LLC.
Black Dragon Networks, LLC is a minority, woman-owned engineering company rooted in Hodgeman County. It specializes in bringing high-speed internet to rural, remote areas of the state.
Many of the areas of focus are communities that have been overlooked by other carriers, leaving them with little to no service.
Nuss says her community has struggled with slow internet speeds for years. “We are the edge of everything and the center of nothing,” said Susan Nuss, owner of Black Dragon Networks, LLC.
She says the pandemic further brought to light those challenges as nearly 20 local families lacked the necessary speeds and resources to properly take part in virtual schooling.
Nuss says it was the perfect time to ensure rural communities got the resources needed to live in a virtual world. With the help from CARES Act funding, Nuss was able to invest in the needed infrastructure to fully launch the company’s services. She partnered with Telrad Networks, a global provider of end-to-end wireless telecom solutions.
“I saw a very strong potential with Susan’s project. She was working to deliver internet to her local community. I love those cases,” said Telrad Vice President of Sales, Alex Freylehhman. “Now she is putting the equipment up and showing speeds of upwards of 100 Mbps in areas that before had single-digit Mbps — it is going to enable the community to enjoy all beauties of the internet.”
Nuss says working with the company made her dream possible. “It gives the counties and the rural areas a chance to renew their space as a lifestyle that is a great thing to have,” said Nuss.
The company is working with local towns, businesses, and rural farmsteads to increase internet speeds in and around the area that could virtually benefit up to 1,800 households. “It’s important for rural areas to have high-speed internet so that modern families can come back and have the lifestyles that they enjoy as well as they could enjoy in the cities,” said Nuss.
It’s offering base speeds of 30 megabits per second (Mbps) but is working to gain consistent speeds of up to 100 Mbps.
Across the community, the new high speeds are an exciting change for locals. For DeWayne Craghead, it’s keeping him connected with his family and work. “It just feels good that we are finally getting some internet out here that is high-speed and maybe catches us up with the rest of the world,” said customer, DeWayne Craghead.
For local business owner Zack Schaffer, he’s able to stay up to speed on emails and says it’s exciting to see another locally owned business succeed. “Rural America supports rural America, I mean Susan is very passionate about what she does, it’s obvious — it does the heart good to see people succeed at what they want to do,” said customer, Zack Schaffer.
For Nuss and her work with Telrad, this is just the beginning. “This is extremely comforting and it’s just the beginning, there is more work to be done — the whole process from paper to success, it’s extremely rewarding. It can’t be quantified,” said Freylehhman.
“My goal is to take this and make Hodgeman County blanketed with broadband,” said Nuss.
The company is currently installing wireless networks to help continue to build speeds for numerous customers and is also working on technology installation on various towers located around the town.