Vergennes pioneer receives award at annual chamber dinner
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
For his relentless and ongoing effort to bring high-speed Internet to Vergennes Township, Ryan Peel, owner of Vergennes Broadband, will receive the Brick Award at the 2014 Annual Chamber Membership Winter Gathering on Feb. 20.
“I was flattered,” said Peel in a recent telephone interview. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Steve Stokes. He is a true ambassador for the business.”
Stokes is the primary installer, a carpenter who knows where to drill the holes.
Peel now works full-time for his company. He is currently focusing on growth, and adding more bandwidth to the network in the spring.
Vergennes Broadband uses 15 silos as access points and a total of 10 towers.
“We’re focusing on getting closer to people, filling the holes and gaps,” said Peel. “After a while I figure out the demand and build there.”
He’s seeing a lot of growth in Keene and Lowell townships, mainly on 36th Street.
“Our biggest demand comes from people who desire unlimited data plan,” he said. “We earn so many customers because we never charge for overages or any other extra charges.”
Every week, Peel adds more and more subscribers.
“People are recognizing how much value we bring and we’re local,” said Peel.
And even though the weather has slowed things down, Vergennes Broadband is now getting more coverage in Grattan and Ada townships.
“We have a healthy backlog of people,” he said.
Two guys usually work together on a tower. Peel is now certified by CITCA in tower rescue and climbing. His wife Stephanie does the sales and accounting.
“I have a vision,” Peel said. “I want to do more than just wireless.”
He has thought about doing a wireless/fiber hybrid in certain areas that cannot be reached by wireless.
“I want to focus my effort internally on Vergennes and Lowell,” he said. “I want Vergennes to be an example what a little bit of vision and a lot of drive can do.”
And as his mom says, Peel has a tankful of drive, but the body can’t keep up.
Peel has worked in corporate America in IT since 1994.
“I love what I do and I enjoy being outside,” he said. “I don’t miss the corporate culture.”
He loves to interact with people and the business development aspect of the job, as well as marketing.
“I thank the chamber for the recognition,” Peel said. “I haven’t been a visible member. The award means a lot to me. The fact that there are so many other businesses, I must have made an impact.”
Peel calls himself a pioneer and a visionary, on top of that he likes being first
When Vergennes Township wasn’t able to get high-speed Internet to its residents, Ryan Peel took the matter in his own hands. He started out by building two towers, one on Vergennes near Boynton and one on Beckwith near Fallasburg.
His first customer receiving Internet was Eric Wold, who signed up on January 6th 2012. The company was funded by the people from the community. Vergennes Township has always had issues with high speed Internet because of the tree cover, and the interference of signals from the airport.
“The trees cause the difficulty,” he said. “I’ve been able to overcome that with localized access points.”
He continues to work on more localized hot spots using silos. The big towers are used to back haul a signal to the silo locations. Peel partners with residents who have silos.
“I find that really cool and give them concession for Internet as they allow me to use the silos for re-transmission,” he said. “We are now backlogged on projects.”
But, most importantly he has a grandeur vision for Vergennes and the surrounding area.
“I would like to see more speed and reliability,” he said. “Wireless is prone to interference from other devices. It lacks the capacity the community will need to what I consider a luxury.”
And Peel wants to bring that level of luxury to the area with fiber optics because it has more capacity to do high definition streaming of videos.
“That is my vision,” he said.
Peel said he would like to emulate the Google Fiber project to deliver fiber optic network to the homes.
“Google picked Kansas City,” he said. “I want to do it on a smaller scale. I am looking for more innovative ways to raise capital. This is an endeavor like a bridge to something better.”
Peel is appreciative of his customers.
“I am driven and motivated by being first,” he said. “Carrying on that same vision will feed the next level.”
One of the challenges of being first are financial risks, and the fact if the community will share the same grand vision.
“Are they willing to support this or are they okay with status quo?” Peel said. “I am not a status quo person. People don’t understand what they’re going to need the Internet for, that’s why I thrive for that vision.”
He considers himself being on the far right of the optimistic scale.
“I surround myself with optimists and realists and a solid plan to make this happen,” he said. “Speed is no longer an issue.”
Great quote from go-getter Ryan Peel
“If there’s a problem, we fix it. If there is a need we fill it. That’s what we do, because we care.”
Vergennes Broadband is running free installation promotion through the Expo on March 22. It is a $199 value.
Copyright © 2014 story by Emma Palova