Corey Jensen believes if VisionNet can get it built, the customers will come.
Jensen is president and CEO of VisionNet, a Billings-based telecom company specializing in wiring rural Montana for internet access and telecommunications.
The company's latest project is laying miles of fiber optic cable around Billings to increase the reach of broadband internet access in the region.
"In order for Montana to succeed, broadband is as important a utility as water or electricity," he said.
Steve Arveschoug, executive director of Big Sky Economic Development in Billings, echoed Jensen's sentiments in a statement late last week applauding VisionNet's efforts.
"Fiber is key infrastructure that enables existing businesses to grow and helps to attract new business to our communities," he said.
VisionNet markets to companies that require fast, reliable and plentiful access to the internet in order to conduct business. The fiber optic cable Jensen's company is installing primarily will be used by national or regional companies looking to do business in Montana.
In fact, that's what pushed VisionNet to embark on the project. Jensen said he'd heard from enough companies that had looked at expansion to Montana and wanted internet from reliable fiber optic cable in order to do it.
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"It just makes our state attractive," he said.
VisionNet has already completed a loop in the Heights and is currently digging on the west side of Billings to lay a stretch of cable there that will loop around the South Side, the West End and midtown.
Fiber optic cable already exists in Billings, but it's limited, Jensen said. In most cases the fiber is laid in short stretches often requested by a single customer. His company's project is a whole network of fiber, installed with the hope that various companies, which are looking at Billings as a potential place to set up shop, will seek it out for connection.
While it's a risk, Jensen feels confident that it will happen; if only because there's no other viable fiber optic cable out there.
"We're taking advantage of voids in the market," he said.
The company just finished a similar project in Helena. Between the two cities VisionNet will have laid more than 70 miles of fiber optic cable in the state. He anticipates the fiber in Billings will be completed by the end of the year.
"We're a Montana company investing in Montana," he said.