NCKCN is short for the North Central Kansas Community Network Co. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit affiliate of the North Central Regional Planning Commission (NCRPC) and is a broadband internet service network covering North Central Kansas. It is one of the earliest examples of how a wireless network can connect communities that are underserved by cable or fiber.
In 1995, the NCRPC created a regional Internet Service Provider (ISP) to confront the digital divide and the growing competitive disadvantage presented by the absence of affordable Internet access for area businesses and educational institutions. This action was taken only after multiple conversations with area service providers revealed no immediate future plans on their part to do the same. Known as the North Central Kansas Community Network Co., a 501(c)3 corporation, the effort established a single Wide Area Network (WAN) that aggregated area-wide demand for Internet service and thereby introduced cost efficiencies associated with economies of scale. The initiative won the 1998 HUD John J. Gunther “Best Practices” Award for the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing, which partially funded the effort, and a 1999 Computerworld-Smithsonian Medal for the NCRPC in the government category for innovative use of technology.
The NCRPC has developed a working alliance with Cunningham Telephone and Cable Company, a local independent service provider, selling that company wholesale access to the Internet. Cunningham not only offers dial-up access via its telephone system, but also broadband, full-duplex Internet service through its modern cable system. That system is directly connected to the NCRPC wireless network, further extending broadband service possibilities to very small communities of North Central Kansas not otherwise directly served by NCKCN.
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