Blog: Kentucky Fi's John Gill Exemplifies Industry's Can-Do SpiritIf you attended WISPAPALOOZA, you may remember Nathan Stooke tell the story of a WISPA member who, after being laid off due to COVID, took his COVID relief money and used it to build his first WISP. Well, that guy – John Gill – operates Kentucky Fi, a small but growing WISP in Jessamine County, KY, and here’s his story in his own words:
“I worked in IT for many years and have done many wireless projects – from interconnecting townhouses, to doing wireless for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway back in 2012-2013. Fast forward to 2020, and I am the RF engineer for a group of 12 radio stations.” But then along came the pandemic, and like many others in the U.S., he was eventually let go from his job. Undaunted, Gill says “I saw how much we needed the internet around where I live, so I used my unemployment money to get a Lite AP GPS and connected my neighbors. I made sure I could service and support them.”
But it didn’t stop there. More work was to be done. He went to the next street over, and then got a tower a few miles out into the county and kept going. “Before too long, I went from square feet of coverage to square miles,” Gill notes, adding proudly, “When I first started, my wife would catch me looking at the neighborhood and ask me ‘Are you looking at your kingdom?’ And I would say ‘Yes, it may be small now, but soon it will be miles.’ Now with more than 16 square miles, covering more than 900 households, I have 50 customers and growing daily.”
Gill approached Stooke at WISPAPALOOZA to recount his tale. Stooke was impressed, but not surprised. This is why WISPs are so great for the communities they serve. “It exemplifies the WISP tenacity, like, ‘OK, I got laid off, smacked in the face, and what I'm going to figure out is how I can help others,” said Stooke. “We’ve done that all of our history and are doing it even more now with COVID,” he continued. “The rest of the world has woken up to how important internet is and we're like, ‘Alright we're here! We're doing it!’”
Yes, we are. For decades. Taking risk. Rolling out new service. Innovating. Helping others.
When Washington wonks talk about “future proof,” they focus on technology. But they miss the point. John Gill and Kentucky Fi show what future proof truly is – something a whole lot more than fiber optics, and certainly more lasting. Something the WISP industry knows well because it’s what drives our success for our customers and the communities in which we live.