Building Broadband From Afghanistan to Michigan

ElevateNet1flagAfter building broadband systems for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, building systems in rural Michigan didn’t pose much of a challenge for Kristopher Shafer, founder and CEO of Elevate Net in Traverse City, Michigan. Building off experience gained from connecting networks during his three tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, Shafer now works to connect unserved and underserved areas surrounding Traverse City. Elevate Net also constructs mobile WiFi and surveillance networks for local events and engineer surveillance, communication, and monitoring networks for farms and businesses across the Midwest.

Working with limited supplies in one of the most hostile areas in the world, Shafer built sophisticated online networks at each of his bases during his free time. Beginning with a Local Area Network during his first tour of Iraq in 2005, Shafer helped soldiers get online, check e-mail, social media, and even Skype with family members over a reliable satellite connection. In 2008, a second tour brought Shafer to Ramadi, Iraq, where limited Internet access again prevented communication with friends and family back home. Shafer’s solution became more sophisticated, this time using a dual satellite system to acquire Internet access, then installing network equipment to disperse connectivity throughout the base. During a third tour at Kunduz, Afghanistan in 2012, Shafer built his most sophisticated network, a system later dubbed “Shafer Net” by fellow soldiers. The Kunduz system began with an abandoned Russian signal tower and evolved into a gigabit fiber network supplying the fastest Internet speeds available.

ElevateNet3IraqEventually someone suggested that Shafer do the same thing back home.  “So, from there I started looking into that as an option,” said Shafer. “I love northern Michigan. I have been to many communities and talked to many governmental representatives and business owners and heard non-stop issues relating to the lack of access. I formed Elevate Net LLC shortly thereafter and started the process of building the company as a WISP, as well as a business communications consulting company.”

Experience in extending networks across wide distances and creating the fastest, most efficient system across challenging terrain allows Shafer to engineer unique online applications. Working with farming enterprises in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio, Shafer designs internal networks that allow farm managers to monitor every aspect of the farm.

Elevate Net has been working with Delaval to bring cutting edge technology to farms of any size.  “With the right systems installed, a farmer could operate the farm, feed the herd, and monitor them entirely from the home or remotely,” said Shafer. “Even robotic milkers can be set up to monitor individual health statuses, document this over time, and report to any entity.”

This technology saves time and money, allowing farm managers to execute automated functions through a phone or tablet, like monitoring the health of calves and cattle to minimize loss. They can even monitor climate and soil temperatures, along with other variables, to maximize agricultural output and ensure the highest care and attention possible to the livestock.

“The goal is optimization,” said Shafer. “Using the different technology that we have available, we can optimize crop output, dairy output, and the overall health of the herd and crops.”

To learn more about Elevate Net, visit ElevateNet.net.

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