On The Information Superhighway, He's A Land Baron
Company: QX Networking & Design Inc. Type: Internet Service Provider & Consulting Owner: Jonathan Barker Established: 1997 Contact: 333 West Vine St., Ste #1210 Lexington, KY 40507 | 859.255.1928 or 877.835.1928 | qx.net
INSTINCT: What is QX.net all about?
JONATHAN BARKER: QX.net is Lexington’s largest independent ISP. I founded QX.net in 1997 while still a student at the University of Kentucky. Our goal was—and still is to this day—to provide high-quality Internet access services throughout the Lexington area. QX.net grew rapidly, and as we did, our service offerings and clientele changed as well. Gradually we added more dedicated Internet access, such as ISDN and DSL. Next came larger circuits, such as T1 and DS3. Now we’ve switched gears again, to fixed wireless Internet.
Today we can deliver Internet connections at speeds up to one gigabit per second—all without using any wires. In the past we made almost all our revenue from residential customers. Now I’d say fully 90 percent of our revenue comes from business clients who need higher speeds and fixed wireless—unlike the wireless router you may have at home, it is highly reliable, secure, and offers dedicated bandwidth. QX.net is also a sponsor of the arts in Lexington. This month we are sponsoring the Lexington Art League’s 2008 QX.net Nude International. It’s an exhibit featuring artwork highlighting the human form. We’re also a sponsor of the Actors’ Guild of Lexington. This month we’re co-sponsoring a play called Boston Marriage.
So you’ve definitely grown quite a bit. That’s gotta be exciting.
We recently became the 18th company in the nation to apply for and receive a license from the FCC for WiMax. Our gear has arrived, and we are currently beta testing this service. With our deployment, it will be possible for QX.net to offer services to residential customers at speeds up to 35 megabits per second—all without having to install an outdoor antenna. This way, nothing but a small device that looks like a cable modem sits next to your computer. I was checking the FCC’s licensing database just the other day, and the nearest licensed gigabit wireless link to us is a single link in Cleveland. A few movie producers use them in L.A., some casinos in Las Vegas, and Trump Towers in New York. We are definitely a company on the forefront of technology.
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Wow! Ever take a vacation? I mean, you’re your own boss…
When I started QX.net, I was 21 and newly out of the closet. It was rough to balance a business and a personal life, but somehow I managed to do it. In the early years, the stress level was really high, and my boyfriend at the time had to be very patient with me. Through the years, as the company has grown, the demands it places on my time have waxed and waned. Some years I take six long vacations, some years only one. I love travel in many different forms. I love the nightlife of Toronto, Chicago, New York. I love the awe-inspiring beauty of Hawaii. It’s got to be my favorite place on Earth. I love Vegas…uhh…sometimes I love it a bit too much. Or I should say Vegas loves me too much. [Laughs]
Is Lexington gay-friendly?
Despite the fact that Kentucky is a very conservative state, Lexington is an island of liberal thought right smack in the middle. Lexington has a fairness law, guaranteeing nondiscrimination in the workplace and housing. I attribute much of this to the local universities, as well as the fact that a lot of kids growing up gay end up leaving their eastern Kentucky homes for the welcoming arms of Lexington. Some make Lexington a stepping-stone to large communities, while others settle down and make it their home for life. Currently Lexington’s vice mayor and state senator are openly gay. This environment of openness has made it possible for me to be open about who I am, as an openly gay business owner.
And are you surfing the Web with anyone at the moment?
Currently I’m in a long-term relationship with a wonderful architect. He definitely brings a touch of style to my life. Though it’s a long-running thing between us: As a tech guy, I like to have wires strewn all about. He, being an architect, likes clean lines. Fortunately, we’ve been able to meet in the middle on that one.
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