February 2019

Sean Vanslyke with GoSEMO Fiber Pen

GoSEMO Fiber: “It’s really fast!”

By Sean J. Vanslyke


Less than one year ago, SEMO Electric Cooperative started connecting homes, farms and businesses with GoSEMO Fiber – fiber-fast Internet. Today, we have more than 1,000 members connected via substations in Advance, Bloomfield, Idalia and Miner. That’s four substations down, 12 substations to go. The reaction from first-time fiber-fast Internet users has been overwhelmingly positive. “It’s really fast!”

Fiber-optic Internet is the fastest residential Internet technology available. Fiber Internet networks require providers to install new wires because fiber technology isn’t compatible with existing cable lines. There are only few areas in the United States that offer fiber-fast Internet because it costs about $20,000 per mile to build (for SEMO Electric that’s a $40 million, 2,000-mile project).

Fiber Internet uses light pulses to transfer data over a very fine and flexible glass wire (about the same size as a human hair). Fiber Internet transmits data so fast because light signals transfer data more efficiently than traditional copper cable. Copper cable lines use electric stop and start signals to communicate data, but electric signals tend to deteriorate and weaken over distances. A weaker signal is more difficult to read and takes more time to process, making cable Internet slower. SEMO Electric’s GoSEMO Fiber lines go directly into houses and businesses.

Did you know, according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 34 million Americans lack access to service at download speeds of 25 megabits per second and upload speeds of 3 megabits per second (25/3 Mbps)? Did you know SEMO Electric’s GoSEMO Fiber speeds start at 100/100 Mbps? Think about it this way: 25 miles-per-hour on a two-lane highway with traffic versus 100 miles-per-hour on a four-lane highway with no traffic. “It’s really fast!”

SEMO Electric’s GoSEMO Fiber network will 1) connect us to the world, 2) retain current businesses and attract new companies, 3) provide connectivity for distance working, 4) enhance educational efforts at all levels, especially for adult learners who are utilizing online learning to retrain for new jobs, 5) increase the value of homes since fiber is installed, and 6) accelerate entrepreneurial activity.

In The Wall Street Journal, writer Daniel Lee wrote: “Geographically remote communities are now on a level playing field when it comes to shopping. It’s one of the paradoxes of the Internet age—the social isolation of outlying rural communities from their nearby metropolitan centers, even as they connect digitally with the entire world. Meanwhile, the decline of the mall is creating new opportunities as entrepreneurs refashion abandoned retail space into parks, apartments, walk-in health clinics and even bowling alleys. The Mall’s owners demolished the wing that had housed a now defunct department store, replacing it with a line of Main Street-style shops and several midmarket restaurants. They put in a fountain, and there’s live music in the summer. At Christmas, shoppers bustle out of the winter wind into the haven of warm, candle-scented shops. Sometimes it looks and feels a little like that grainy 1953 film.

“Now that small-town shoppers are finding their way home again—online and in faux small-town scenes—it would be poetic if the trend rebounded back to America’s actual small towns. People won’t travel an hour to buy a sweater when they can do it on their laptop at home, but they’ll drive 20 minutes to eat at a nice bistro in a pleasantly rustic, county-seat storefront—perhaps with a fountain and some live music.

“Small towns need to recognize the opportunity and gear up for the effort, or watch it slip away. There’s work to be done. Rome wasn’t rebuilt in a day.”

Mr. Lee’s column made me wonder what it would be like to see downtown Advance and downtown Bloomfield full of activity with small, entrepreneurial shops that could promote items to the world and be open for a cup of coffee or a scarf? Could fiber-fast Internet be the catalyst for our area? Who’s up for the challenge? 

Book of the Month

“These four extended examples (Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson) show how their leadership fit the historical moment as a key fits a lock. No key is exactly the same; each has a different line of ridges and notches along its blade. While there is neither a master key to leadership nor a common lock of historical circumstance, we can detect a certain family resemblance of leadership traits as we trace the alignment of leadership capacity within its historical context.” Doris Kearns Goodwin – Leadership in Turbulent Times

Be smart. Act safe.


Vanslyke is general manager and chief executive officer of SEMO Electric Cooperative.