Connected Nation

"This is a once in a lifetime thing." A look into Arizona's fastest growing fiber to home and fixed wireless provider

November 27, 2023 Jessica Denson Season 4 Episode 34
"This is a once in a lifetime thing." A look into Arizona's fastest growing fiber to home and fixed wireless provider
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Connected Nation
"This is a once in a lifetime thing." A look into Arizona's fastest growing fiber to home and fixed wireless provider
Nov 27, 2023 Season 4 Episode 34
Jessica Denson

On this episode of Connectede Nation, we are joined by Ben Elkins, CEO of AireBeam Internet.  He shares his mission to bring fiber to the rural communities of Arizona with the capabilities of a massive ISP and the personality of a small-town organization.

Ben speaks with our host, Jessica Denson, about the wide range of groups AireBeam serves, the unique challenges of focusing on rural communities, and the importance of serving the modular home market (RV parks).

Recommended Links:
Website -
Twitter (X) -
LinkedIn -
Ben's LinkedIn -

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

On this episode of Connectede Nation, we are joined by Ben Elkins, CEO of AireBeam Internet.  He shares his mission to bring fiber to the rural communities of Arizona with the capabilities of a massive ISP and the personality of a small-town organization.

Ben speaks with our host, Jessica Denson, about the wide range of groups AireBeam serves, the unique challenges of focusing on rural communities, and the importance of serving the modular home market (RV parks).

Recommended Links:
Website -
Twitter (X) -
LinkedIn -
Ben's LinkedIn -

Jessica Denson (00:07):

This is Connected Nation, an award-winning podcast focused on all things broadband from closing the digital divide to improving your internet speeds. We talk technology topics that impact all of us, our families, and our neighborhoods. On today's podcast, we talk with the CEO of air beam fiber, one of the fastest growing ISPs in Arizona that has a mission to bring fiber to rural areas, learn how the company tackles getting lightning fast internet to remote regions, why it's having so much success and what it takes to serve the unique needs of not only home and business customers, but also, and this is a first for our podcast, the RV Community. I'm Jessica Sen, and this is Connected Nation. I'm Jessica Sen, and today my guest is Ben Elkins, the CEO of AirBeam Fiber, which is a focused on expanding broadband to rural areas across Arizona. Welcome, Ben. 

Ben Elkins (01:00):

Hey Jessica. Thank you for having me. It's a real pleasure. 

Jessica Denson (01:03):

It's really great to have you. Where are you in Arizona right now? 

Ben Elkins (01:07):

So right now today I'm at my house in Mesa, Arizona. So we have our footprints all over rural Arizona, but we're primarily in Pinnell County. But we're so spread out, it's tough to have an office in every area. So what we do is we have our headquarters in Arizona City, Arizona, but today I'm actually at my house in Mesa, Arizona for this 

Jessica Denson (01:32):

And anybody who's listened to our podcast at all knows that I'm an animal lover. And I heard your dog barking earlier when we were talking in the background. What kind of dog? 

Ben Elkins (01:40):

I have a little miniature schnauzer named Gypsy and she's the queen of this house. My wife would definitely throw Gypsy out of the way of the bus before me, but 

Jessica Denson (01:54):

I understand my boyfriend's always like, you love those cats? Sort of me. I have cats, but I love dogs. Alright, so let's move on. Before we get into what AirBeam is doing and its approach to connecting more people, I really like to share a little bit about the background of each of our guests and whatever you feel comfortable. If you could share a little bit about where you grew up, did you grow up out west, and then some of your actual professional background that led you to air being? 

Ben Elkins (02:22):

Sure. So I grew up in rural California in a small town called Apple Valley. We grew up there and then I ended up going to college in Arizona State University and I really fell in love with Arizona at that point. I came back to California after college for about a year and a half because my mom was sick. But then after she passed I did move back to Arizona and I've been back since. Even though I'm from California, I feel like I'm from Arizona, if that makes sense. I've been out here now for 27 years and Arizona's home. I've always been a rural growing up in a rural town and I love rural Arizona and that's what kind of attracted me to AirBeam. But before I got to AirBeam, my history really was with GP, voice, Boce Telecom, and that was really amazing start to my career and I actually thought I'd retire there. 

I was the chief sales officer and the chief operating officer there, and we were really twofolds. We provided wholesale minutes to all the big carriers like Verizon at t T-Mobile on the mobility sector. One of our bigger customers also was Cellular One, but we did it in the rural areas for the mobility. And then we also sold wholesale on the international front. And then the second half of our line of business was our hosted BroadSoft platform. So we provided the hosted via the VoIP phones that you see on your desk. So we provided those to the small to medium sized businesses all over the US actually. And not only did we do all that stuff, we also got involved in AI chatbot. I was very intrigued with ai, so I brought AI to the company as well. 

Jessica Denson (04:08):

And talk a little bit about AI chatbot. That's really a trend right now that everybody's into ai. What's going on with ai? How long ago was that for you, your experience with that? 

Ben Elkins (04:20):

So we started about four years ago and I was really upset because it was GP Chat and it's so close to us hitting gazillionaire, right? So we should have trademarked that better, but we were, so it was very, very close to hitting the home run. But what we did was we were one of the first to come to market with the AI based chatbot where you actually weren't sure, Hey, am I talking to a person or am I talking to a bot? So we kind of made it to where the relationship when you're on a chatbot was very relational in the sense that we could program the bot to ask and probe certain questions and get certain information for the customer that came to the bot. So we were one of the first to do that. So it was a really cool product. We partnered with a company in Phoenix that really was the brains behind the operation. I was more of the sales vehicle. So it was a great partnership and I was super excited about it and it still goes on today. 

Jessica Denson (05:22):

Yeah, AI is the talk of what is it going to be and everything it seems like, how's it going to affect medicine, how's it going to affect us as people? How's it going to affect customer service? All kinds of things. So that had to be pretty exciting to see that being developed and worked out in the system. What are your thoughts on it? Just curious, 

Ben Elkins (05:41):

Exciting and scary, right? 

Jessica Denson (05:42):


Ben Elkins (05:44):

So there's exciting because there's so many things AI could do to enhance society and enhance business and really make things more productive and just make life. And at the end of the day, that's what you're trying to do with ai. The scary part is where you want things to become easier and you want things to be more efficient and more convenient for the end user or customer. What you don't want from my perspective is AI taking jobs away from people. I think it's really good to have, for instance, in a call center to have AI in your call center to where if a customer doesn't prefer to call in or they prefer to communicate with, for instance, AirBeam, right? Or whoever they say they want to prefer what the chat or, and so we have a chat bot that can communicate with them, whether it's three in the morning or three in the afternoon, that's great, as long as it's not taking away a job of a customer service rep or someone else. So I think there's a real fine line there between the two. 

Jessica Denson (06:44):

Yeah, I'm sure you're still going to have people that go customer service rep please, customer service rep. That's me. Whenever I'm on the phone, I just imagine myself, that's all I want. I just want to talk to you human. So I will definitely fund some of those jobs. So you mentioned that you love Arizona and you did go to Arizona State University, right? Sun Devils. I looked it up to make sure I have the mascot correct. 

Ben Elkins (07:10):


Jessica Denson (07:12):

What's it like living in Arizona for somebody who's never been there? I have been to Phoenix before. It's a beautiful state, a beautiful city, but for those people who've never been to Arizona, what makes Arizona a unique place to live and why do you enjoy it so much? 

Ben Elkins (07:30):

I think Arizona is very unique because you think of Arizona, you think, oh my gosh, how hot is it? And yes, June, July, August and September absolutely suck. Those are not the fun times to live in Arizona those four months. But Arizona is one of the unique states that I've ever been to that is so flat in the valley and it's very deserty, but two hours away you're in Flagstaff and you're in the mountains that look like you're in the middle of an absolute forest in a different planet almost. And that's just two hours away from the desert. And I think there's so many unique things about the beauty of Arizona from the Grand Canyon to the White Mountains in the show of Pinett Tap region to the beauty of Sedona. I mean, how many tourists come to Sedona and you really do marvel at it? 

We go to Sedona quite a bit because I guess I'll give a teaser. We're working on a big project, but the city hopefully to get it. And so we've spent a lot of time in Sedona over the last nine months and it's truly one of the prettiest things is breathtaking and then all the way to Prescott to some of the southern areas too are beautiful to snoring, desert and Tucson to some of the other, gosh, Payson Payson's, another one sneaky Payson's, an hour away from Scottsdale. And you go from a thousand feet elevation all the way to 45, 5,000. So you get a huge elevation jump, mountainy, rock terrain. So if you're an avid hiker, you like waterfalls, you like lakes, Arizona's really a great place for you. 

Jessica Denson (09:11):

Well, let's get to air being because I do want to talk some about how the differences in the topography and the environment, how that also affects what you guys do. You are working in some rural areas, but how long have you been with the company and talk a little bit about its approach to internet service. 

Ben Elkins (09:31):

Sure, absolutely. So like I said before, I was with GP Voice Voce for 20 years and I really thought I would be there for there 15, 20 and Retire just happened to be that I had a very close friend who was ACEO of one of our sister companies that approached me about an opportunity with AirBeam to be their new CEO. And they recruited me and I had an interview and it just happened really quick and it was just a perfect fit. They were looking to grow and expand it, not only in Pinal County and Pinal County is that county right in between Tucson and Phoenix. For your listeners that aren't familiar with Pinal County is and it is rural, it has cities like Casa Grande and Florence and Arizona City and Eloy all the way to Pcio Peak. There's parts of Pinal County, Florence, which is a big city for us. And then there's some unincorporated areas like San Tan, a portion of Buckeye is Pinal County. So there's lots of different areas in PIN County, a superior Apache Junction. So it's a huge county with a lot of great folks. 

One of the things about Pinal County and AirBeam that is really exciting to me was the opportunity that a lot of folks were stuck on fixed wireless or really bad DSL or areas where Cox just didn't really care about them as the cable provider. So I thought that was a great opportunity for us and AIR to come in and provide internet service. And we're the first company, I don't want to boast too much, but we're the first ISP to provide five gig service in Pinal County. So for places that we are laying fiber, we can go all the way up to five gigs. Now, do you need five gigs to your house? Probably not, but it's kind of cool to say, and that's one of the things we're excited about doing, providing service to the rural parts of Arizona. And in Pinal County in particular, 

Jessica Denson (11:33):

What kind of challenges do you face? I know that there's a lot of focus on the rural, but are you also focusing on any of the urban areas or you generally leave that for the larger competition and just move to those areas that are really in need right now? 

Ben Elkins (11:48):

Well, yeah, I mean you kind of hit the nail on the head there. So I mean, one of the reasons why AirBeam is successful is we like the roll parts. You don't have six competitors, you may have two or three and maybe one of those two aren't the best. So your competition, your odds of getting that customer are a lot better. But that being said, I think the reason why we are successful in Pinnell County is because of our customer service. Like you said before, you like customer service, you like talking to someone. We actually have a 24 by seven call center where you actually call in and talk to someone. So that was something that I implemented that I thought was really important. Folks do talking to people and they don't like to get stuck in that robot area where you're just pressing buttons and the robot's trying to talk to you again, back to AI or customer service. 

So that's one of the things that I think is a little different. Another thing that we do I think is really cool, our own teams do the installations and we also take the extra time to hook up your devices. So let's say we put in a new router, obviously you put in a new router and we get fiber at your home, you're going to have new IP addresses, so you might need help setting up your thermostat at your house. You might need help setting up your tablet or your streaming service. These are all services that our installation team does for free and we don't charge you for that. So that kind of makes us unique in the sense of going that extra mile on the customer service. I think that's really important. And then to your point on the urban stuff, there are numerous competitors in Maricopa County, and that's Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert. Not that I don't think, we don't do extremely well. We go head to head and the cost for doing business is way cheaper in the urban areas than it is in rural. Just for us. We can't be all things to everyone. And I think the rural areas really fits me as an Airbnb kind of hand in hand. It just fits us better and I think we do a really good job in the rural area. 

Jessica Denson (13:47):

And your customers, it's a pretty wide base. It's residential and business, correct? It's not just one or the other? 

Ben Elkins (13:55):

It is. We have both. I would say we're heavily geared towards residents, but we do have big customers as well. Like Boeing is a customer of ours in Pinal County and we have a lot of the different chambers and we just did a deal with the city of Florence. So we're going street by street, house by house to every street in Florence providing fiber internet to every home. And part of that deal is we're servicing every business in town and the city hall and everything in between. So we'll be doing that. We just kicked off project off about three or four months ago, so it's just getting started. But we'll be providing service to everyone and kind of like we did in Arizona City. So the cities that have more businesses obviously get to take advantage of our fiber optic network and the faster speeds and the more reliability than the say the cable companies have. 

Jessica Denson (14:43):

You mentioned all the different places in Arizona, including Sedona and places like that, grand Canyon that are really places that could attract tourists. How critical is it for them to have this access in those places? 

Ben Elkins (14:59):

So the city of Sedona is looking for a fiber provider for the city, and one of their big requirements was on the tourism. And when folks come to visit, are they able to go in their hotel room and actually open up a laptop and connect to the internet? And the city of Sedonas internet right now currently is horrific. So they did a big RFI of nine different companies applied to it, and we are one of the two finalists for the thing we'll find out in next month or so if we actually won that opportunity to provide fiber to the city of Sedona, which I want so very badly. I think we could do a great job for the city and there's such great folks up there. So looking forward to that. But to your point, tourism is a huge issue there. When I drive there, a lot of times I'd want to call in to check on with my team, so I try to get on the cell and I couldn't do it, so I'd have to drive about a mile and go to the Safeway parking lot and then it worked there. 

So it was just one of those things. And then a couple of times I wanted to hop onto a teams call, couldn't do it here, couldn't do it there very bad. And then we did a lot of research too with the business community in Sedona. They have a ton of hotels and a ton of different areas, restaurants and different cultural things that are big. And for that community, every single one said, we just want someone up here that can provide higher speed internet than it feels like dial up and someone that's actually reliable and every single one at the end of it said, oh yeah, and actually someone that has customer service to your point. 

Jessica Denson (16:37):

Yeah, I can 

Ben Elkins (16:37):

Imagine. Hopefully we get your eye on that. So 

Jessica Denson (16:42):

I mentioned this in my open, I teased it. I'm really interested in how the RV sector operates since it's traditionally mobile. And I know that that's one market that you guys do service. So share a little bit about how that even works and how AirBeam got into working with RV groups to, or I guess RV parks, is that what they call it? I don't know much about the RV culture, so please forgive me. RV enthusiasts. 

Ben Elkins (17:08):

It's funny, I got in trouble with my board. I was calling them RV parks as well. I now call them modular home parks. There 

Is a difference I was told, but I definitely, it's a big play for AirBeam. We've been doing modular home or RV parks for a number of years now in Pinal County. It's been one of our sweet spots that we've done. So we provide fiber, fiber optics to these modular home parks and RV parks. So we'll go in and trench in just like we're doing a home and drop conduit in the ground and then lay fiber in there. And then we're giving these residents who are the most forgotten folks all time, the cable companies, the local exchange carriers, they do not care about the modular home parks. They look at 'em as transit because they come and go or they live there half the year. So that being said, we've got involved with this a number of years ago and it's been a real niche for AirBeam. 

And when I came on and after the board recruited me coming on, I looked around and in Arizona in general, there is a huge modular home RV park community. It's a great place to visit one, and it's a great place for people who have second homes and heck for retirees. A lot of folks that maybe are on fixed income will come here and live in the modular home parks year round. I've done it's kind one of those things where I was like, okay, we need to get on this and grow this thing even bigger. I saw a huge opportunity there and we're trying to expand that and I think we're starting in the right direction. And I think for AirBeam with our business with the modular home parks, what you look at it today, November 9th, 2023, a year from now is going to look totally different. We've had Ink, some contracts with some really, really large players in that industry and we're looking to expand them and bottom line help that community that has gotten horrible internet, whether it be for the modular homes that are already there full-time year round, or for the polling folks, we're going to be there to provide some really, really cool things for them and give them the experience I think they deserve. 

Jessica Denson (19:23):

So I'm guessing here a little bit, but I imagine it's those people that are part-time, some of those are tourists and some of those are snowbirds that the idea that they come further south during the winter. Is that right? Yes. Is it 

Ben Elkins (19:37):

A combination? You get a lot of folks from the Iowas and Minnesotas and the Dakotas and the Wisconsins that will come down here and live November, December, January, February, March, April. They live here for six months. They lived there for six months. And you'll get some that buy a modular home. You'll get others that drive the RV down here and they'll do the pull Poland and they're going to pay that fee and that's their way of living here for six months. And they're out of the freezing cold of Iowa in January. So it makes a lot of sense. You can live both spots and you do it in an economical way. And those communities are huge as far as they're tight knit and they're actually beautiful too. Some of these clubs, they have golf courses, the amenities have gone from maybe average to now. Really some of these parks are luxurious, so they've really upped their game and it's a great opportunity for folks that're looking to see a different part of the country to be able to do that in an affordable way. 

Jessica Denson (20:41):

I'm going to have to come visit one soon. I was fascinated when I read that on your website that you guys serve that. Okay. At Connect Nation, one thing we talk about is affordable access and how that's an important piece. And I know there's a lot of broadband legislation out there that has created some funding for that with the Affordable Connectivity Program and with bead, which is the broadband equity access and deployment program, which is meant to help rural America, a lot of the areas that you serve. What are your thoughts on programs like that and the importance of them for helping connect millions of people across rural areas? 

Ben Elkins (21:21):

So first off, I'm a big fan of the Jobs Act as far as the the piece of it for the 65 billion for the internet infrastructure. I think it's desperately needed and I think that it's going to be a great asset to this country. Every state was able to carve out their own little niche of it. So each state had a broadband director and they went around to the communities and figured out, Hey, what part of your community is underserved or unserved? They did this whole thing and you had ISPs challenging saying, Hey, no, this area is not served or this area is served. And you had some of them that might have been lying or fibbing about it a little bit. And then it was kind of the wild west of creating this FCC broadband map, but when it all kind of shook out, everyone each day got certain amounts of money. 

So for Arizona, we got about 900 million or close to a billion dollars. We have an incredible broadband director, San Depu has done just a marvelous job going through and navigating through all these communities and working with all the ISPs from me to the small big ones and everyone in between. And he's taken his time and really gone through and looked at every county and he's really positioned Arizona well to receive these funds. And his goal, and he says it in every conference he's in, is to provide high speed internet via fiber or fixed wireless to every single resident in the state of Arizona. And I think he's going to accomplish it. I really do. He has the amount of money and he has the companies here that are willing to do it and the partners, and we're really looking forward to it. The process on bead will be starting. People have already started planning it and you have your grant writers, all that stuff, but it'll really start to get going the second, third quarter of this year and then of 2024, I'm sorry. And then the awards happen in 2025 first quarter, so everyone's kind of getting geared up for it. 

Jessica Denson (23:32):

Yeah, it's an exciting time. I mean, it's once in a lifetime amount of money that's out there to finally do some of this. What would you like to see? Would you like to see more of this moving forward? You're happy with how things are rolling in the state of Arizona with this? 

Ben Elkins (23:50):

Well, so a couple ways to look at this. I agree with you a hundred percent. This is a once in a lifetime thing. I can't imagine something like this ever happening again. So this is kind of like your one shot to do it, right? The funds are there and I think it will be done very smartly. I think they're doing a lot of things differently than they did with RDO. So I think that BE'S going to be successful. Some of the things, and also we're jumping from bead to ACP, but when I look at some of the things I think they could do differently, and for the most part I'm really happy and maybe when I think about things they could do differently, a lot of it might have an ACP type of thing. So I'll just kind of think about that for a second. 

But on the a CCP side, and I would like to see them expanded, I think they can. And I think there's funds to do this. For instance, right now on the ACP couples that make $39,000 a year on the means are qualified. I think you should expand that to 45,000 at least. I think with the inflation that we've had the last two or three years, I mean, I don't think making 39,000, I think it should be up to 45 at least. I also think that all Social security recipients should be eligible for this. I just think that people that are on social security, they're on fixed income. I think the ACP, which, and I think the A CCP and BEAT are kind linked, and I'll explain that in a second too. But I think that, and maybe there's a means test to that where if you make less than 60 or 70,000 with all your pensions and everything, you should qualify. 

I don't know the exact number there. I also think there should be some coverage to a router. I think one of the big, I dunno problems that we have is when people try to bring their own router, because you know what? They have this router, they don't want to buy a new one. They don't want to pay for a router or rental or whatever. I get it. But at the same time, that's when you have some latency issues. We have some problems. They're like, why is the broadband not working? Why is our fiber not as quick as we thought it was going to be? Well, if you would've had the router that we wanted you to have, it could have been a lot better. So I think through the ACP, if the government could include some of the costs or some one-time, router fee chargeback, that'd be wonderful. And then the last one is I think the outreach. I still think there's a lot of people in this country that don't know about ACP and don't know about bead. So I think if they did a little bit better job out with the outreach, that could be really helpful. 

Jessica Denson (26:26):

Yeah, connect Nation actually did some research in the last two months about that, and one of the issues was people didn't know about it or if they've heard about it, they just figured they weren't qualified. So you hit the nail on the head there. Why do you think it matters that people have access? In your opinion? Why is it important? 

Ben Elkins (26:48):

Oh gosh. Okay. So I mean there's a huge importance on this, and it's just in the environment that we live in now with internet. I mean, there's so many more people that work from home. So if you don't have quality internet, it's really, really tough to work from home. And I think the number one reason though would be telemedicine for me. And if you think about rural healthcare, it doesn't have the best name and for good reason, a lot of the rural communities don't have the best access to healthcare. So telemedicine is a huge supplement in those rural areas, but you have to have good internet to provide that. I also think in rural America, there's so many more devices being hooked up now to your internet, just like it is in urban America. But in the rural, if you only have 30 megs or 40 megs, well, I mean, after you hook up your ring doorbell and you do your thermostat and you have your streaming and you have your three kids that all have devices, and it just goes on and on and on, how much of that bandwidth is left? You're going to have all kinds of problems with your devices. And I think for a quality of life purpose in rural America, that's why there's importance on the fiber internet coming to it. And I think that's probably one of the biggest importances of why we need it on those. 

Jessica Denson (28:16):

Yeah, I would agree. Especially when you see hospitals closing in rural areas or just even getting access to specialists that may not be at your local hospital. So I can't keep you all day, although I've enjoyed talking with you. So just a few more questions just to wrap us up. One, you have a lot of experience in the broadband space. Are there any lessons learned or mistakes made, words of wisdom that you would say that we really need to think about in this once in a lifetime moment that we really should be considering? 

Ben Elkins (28:54):

Yeah, I think it's really important that ISPs, I'll look at it from an ISP perspective, that we should really take our time and work with the broadband directors and for the BEAT opportunity, because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and there's plenty of money to go around. And I think that if you work with your broadband director and you put a plan together, you can't be everything to everyone. If you pick the areas where you think you're good in and apply for the bead, and I think it'll go well for the companies that are in that space. And I think that a lot of times lessons learned is you'll have some of the bigger companies that will just throw money at it and just say, oh, okay. But they don't have the actual resident of that community heart and place. And I think that if you take your time, get to know the communities, get to know the mayors. 

I've been to 19 counties and met with 16 mayors over the past 12 months, trying to figure out which communities are the best fit for AirBeam and which of the best community fits for vice versa, the community for air being. And I've been really taking my time and going through it. I don't know every company does that. And with that, obviously I'm not like, Hey, every 19 counties a great fit for us. There are some counties that truly weren't great fits for us in our business model. So I think that just taking the time and really looking yourself in the mirror and saying, Hey, what's a good fit for them and what's a good fit? Vice versa. I think that would be a huge lesson that maybe we don't learn from previous mistakes. 

Jessica Denson (30:32):

I also think that's one of the benefits of smaller ISPs and really part of their role with helping connect rural neighborhoods, rural towns, farmers, ranchers, all of that. RV parks, wait, modular communities. Modular communities. Okay. Well then let's talk a little bit about the future. In your mind, what is the future for broadband connectivity? Five years, 10 years down the road, and where do you see AirBeam in that space? 

Ben Elkins (31:03):

Well, luckily for us, AirBeam is owned by Boston, Omaha, and Boston Oma publicly trade company is an incredible company to work for. So we're positioned really well financially with our backing of Boston, Omaha and our sister companies are as well. So I think that piece right there is one, you have to have really solid footing as a financial, I guess, endeavor. But I think going forward, you're going to see a couple battles. You already see it right now. You see the cable companies are in a battle against the fiber companies. So you'll have that clash going. And I think that the cable companies and the old telecom companies are a little bit of trouble in that sense. But then over time, I think the wireless, the star links of the world, the satellite providers, that will be the next great battle. Five, 10 years from now, you'll have your, I think the fiber companies will end up winning the fiber cable battle, and then you'll have the starlink and starlink two or whoever the next one is. 

So you'll have that versus the fiber. And I think at the end of the day, fiber will end out, but I think for 10 years from now, you'll see the star links of the world will be the main competition providing great internet service. And at the end of the day, who wins on this? It's going to be the residents because they're going to have choices. And that's what it's all about getting, it doesn't matter if you live in 10 buck two or if you live in downtown Phoenix, you should be able a choice, Hey, do I want to have this fiber provider, or do I have a cable provider? Or do I want to have the starlink from the Mars shooting me down internet? Whatever works for that person. I think that's great. So I think that's, hopefully that's the end goal, and hopefully that's what shakes out of this. 

Jessica Denson (32:50):

So competition means that the best rises up is the way you see it. 

Ben Elkins (32:54):

That's the way I see it. Hopefully we're the one that rises, but I'm a big fan of competition and a big fan of let the consumer choose and give them choices instead of them being forced into picking one person. 

Jessica Denson (33:11):

All right. Well, any final thoughts? Anything you'd like to leave us with that you hope that people really take away about AirBeam? 

Ben Elkins (33:19):

Yeah, I just hope that people understand, and I think I know this, I know the residents of Pinal County, from Arizona City to Florence to some of the folks in Casa Grande and some of our modular home parks around Pinal County and Maricopa County know what kind of customer service we provide and know the kind of bandwidth and know we go the extra mile. And I think that we have that, even though we have the Boston Omaha backing, we have that small town feel and we really know our customers, and we take our time doing that, and we have, we're growing, and I never want to lose that. And you have my word as CEO, that I'm going to try every fiber in my bones to keep that small town feel and that even though we're growing and to the moon, right, we're, we're going to try to take over rural Arizona. But at the same time, I always want to have that small town feel that they feel like they can call in, and they're not just an account number when they call in the cable companies right now, there's no genuine affection for that. And we always strive to do that every single day. So that's one of the things I think makes us a little bit special. 

Jessica Denson (34:27):

I would agree. That sounds wonderful, and I think that's part of what attracts people to small town or rural life. Ben, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it. 

Ben Elkins (34:37):

Oh, Jessica, pleasure being here. And thank you for having me 

Jessica Denson (34:47):

Again. We've been talking with Ben Elkins, the CEO of AirBeam Fiber. I'll including link to the company's website in the description of this podcast. I'm Jessica Denson. Thanks for listening to Connect to Nation. If you like our show and want to know more about us, head to connect to or look for the latest episodes on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Google Podcast, Pandora, or Spotify.

Meeting Ben Elkins
AI's Role in Broadband
Living and Working in Arizona
Working in Rural Areas
Importance of Tourism in Arizona
Modular Home Sector
Thoughts on BEAD and the ACP
The Importance of Universal Access
The Future for AireBeam