“The state of Kansas has hosted Quantrill’s Raiders, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Carrie Nation (and her modern-day counterpart, a former Kansas attorney general who tried to bar airlines from serving liquor as they flew over the then-dry state) and President Dwight D. Eisenhower,” said Debra Baker, editor of Communications Technology magazine during yesterday’s SCTE Awards Luncheon, part of Cable-Tec Expo in New Orleans.

She continued, “Lawrence, Kansas, also serves as headquarters to Sunflower Broadband, the 2010 recipient of Communications Technology magazine’s “System of the Year" award. This independent operator does it all – cable, wireline, wireless, local television, VoD advertising, enhanced Wi-Fi, high-speed tiered-price Internet service and DOCSIS 3.0. We at CT are recognizing Sunflower Broadband and its team for being the best of the best this year.”

"This is a wonderful recognition to earn at this time in our history," says Rod Kutemeier, general manager at Sunflower Broadband, who accepted the award with Sunflower Broadband alum Patrick Knorr. "Sunflower’s reputation as a technology leader is truly the result of a strong team spirit combined with daily dedication to customer satisfaction."

He adds, "Our customers have come to expect Sunflower to offer them new products and solutions that just aren’t available from other area providers. We now look forward to the future and joining the Knology team, which has a strong track record of taking care of their customers.”

The independent operator has been on the cutting edge of every new technology and service: advanced video-on-demand advertising, deployment of DOCSIS 3.0, RFoG and fiber-to-the-home buildouts in rural areas, and enhanced Wi-Fi, to name just a few. Its nimbleness, coupled with a willingness to tackle new offerings in what has been a challenged economic environment, makes it a worthy example of the best of the best in the cable industry.

Cable-Tec Expo is Sunflower’s swan song as a company, as the Knology deal was finalized four days ago. The name and the logo now go away as the independent operator now becomes part of its new parent.

"This is an exciting transaction for our company," said Rodger L. Johnson, Knology’s chairman and CEO, in statement earlier this week. "Sunflower is a very successful, customer-focused business that will expand Knology’s footprint and add meaningful scale to our existing operations. We welcome the Sunflower team to Knology and are excited about our future together."

Following on this, M. Todd Holt, Knology’s president and CFO, noted, "Sunflower has achieved excellent customer penetration and attractive EBITDA and free cash flow results, and this acquisition complements our continued focus on organic growth, including the high ROI edge-out investments. We were able to successfully access the credit markets to fund the transaction and refinance our debt in a manner that allows us significant flexibility to continue to grow our business and extend our maturities.”

Criteria for the "System of the Year" award are set by the CT editorial team, which evaluates every aspect of how a system adapts to and implements ever-changing technology while continuing to provide excellent customer care and service. An in-depth feature on Sunflower Broadband will appear in the November issue of CT.

Other awards winner honored yesterday include:

  • Roger D. Mathews, director of product standards, PPC (SCTE Excellence in Standards Award)
  • Deane Olmstead, Northeast account manager, Times Fiber Amphenol; Dennis Sartori, national CATV account manager, TVC Communications; and Brenda Hunt, director/field operations, Cox Communications (elevated to Senior Member)
  • Leslie Ellis, independent technology consultant and analyst (Women in Technology Award, co-sponsored by CT)(see the October issue of CT for more information on Leslie Ellis);
  • Markus Kofoid, OSP design engineer, GCI Communications Inc.; and Kelly Doss, regional sales manager, Jumper Shop Communications (SCTE Chapter Member of the Year)
  • Kenneth Hulsey, senior member of technology training, Carolina Region Time Warner Cable (SCTE Excellence in Cable Telecommunications Learning and Development Award)
  • Ron Hranac, technical leader, Cisco Systems and CT’s senior technology editor (SCTE Hall of Fame)
  • Bob Legg, regional vice president/Technical Operations & Engineering, Suddenlink Communications (SCTE Member of the Year)

-Debra Baker 

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