The beginning of the summer has seen Cruzio Internet go into full drive delivering high speed Internet distribution in Santa Cruz County. In the last year, Cruzio has introduced a new enterprise-level, 100 Mbps broadband service to multiple locations in Santa Cruz and plans to expand even further. The Cruzio Certified Building Program is designed to provide building owners and their tenants access to the fastest broadband services available.
A Bold Vision for a 21st Century Santa Cruz:
With encouragement from our community, Cruzio Internet and the City of Santa Cruz have formed a public-private partnership to develop a city-wide Gigabit fiber to the premise network.
Under the terms of the partnership, the City will own the network, and Cruzio will act as the developer during engineering and construction and as the operator when the network is complete. Financing for the development of the network will be through City-backed municipal revenue bonds, repaid through the revenue from the sale of network services (and not by the taxpayers). The project will be financially self-sustaining and 100% of the profit generated will stay in the City of Santa Cruz.
The goal of the network is to provide affordable gigabit and multigigabit services to as many of the 22,000 residences and business in the City of Santa Cruz as possible. A locally-owned, next-generation broadband network operated openly and independently and built for Santa Cruz, it is uniquely tailored to fit the diverse needs of the Santa Cruz community.
How did this plan come about?
For most of our 25-year history, Cruzio has leased copper phone lines to carry Internet to homes and businesses, paying millions of dollars per year to non-local companies for increasingly inadequate infrastructure.
When a single fiber cut in 2009 left most of Santa Cruz without telecommunications for a full working day, Cruzio immediately began to build an independent, local, fiber/wireless network.
But growth has been piecemeal, and Cruzio was dissatisfied by the limitations of a standard business plan. So we approached the City of Santa Cruz with the idea of serving the whole city, not just the easiest areas. Building big would provide economies of scale, making it possible to reach places otherwise unaffordable. For example, extending fiber to the Boardwalk area might make it economical to reach Beach Flats. But Cruzio could not do this alone.
So Cruzio went to the City.
At about the same time, the City of Santa Cruz was starting to move forward with recommendations from a 2011 technology task force to develop a Broadband Master Plan (presented to City Council on March 10, 2015).
As construction of our downtown and Westside fiber projects progressed in early 2015, so too did our conversations evolve into an exploration of how to build a gigabit fiber optic network to every parcel in the City.
We worked with the City on a rough design and financial model based on comparable networks in other US cities to get an idea of ballpark costs and see if it made sense to explore further. The City then engaged an Internet network engineering firm to do a high level design for a fiber optic network, and to report on the financial feasibility of such a network.
Over the summer, Cruzio will be surveying the residents and businesses of the City of Santa Cruz, and if the results are favorable, the engineering and construction will begin!
What’s So Big About a Gig?
A gigabit capable digital network means you can move billions of bits of data per second from one place to another. Bits are the ones and zeros, the traffic, being transported over a digital network. Imagine a highway billions of lanes wide.
Most existing telephone or cable company data networks provide megabit service, which measures in the millions of bits per second.
So a gigabit network is 100X or more faster than the Internet service you are connected to today. That’s important, even more so as phone, entertainment and news content are migrating to the Net. Not just increased use, but higher quality requires bandwidth.
But Gigabit Internet isn’t just about smoother streaming of movies and TV. This new broadband infrastructure will fuel economic growth, fill empty real estate and take cars off the road by enabling home businesses and telecommuting. Schools, Libraries and Medical facilities will take advantage of the infinitely faster speeds to connect students to teachers, connect communities and transfer medical CAT and MRI scans and genomic data.
There is also the advent of the so-called Internet of Things. While it is true that thermostats and lamps and refrigerators and washers and dryers will be transmitting much smaller packets of data, they will be doing it frequently, and there will be a vast number of “things” connected to this Internet of Things.
“Big Data” and “More Data” will require ever-faster networks.
In many ways, a fiber optic network is “future proof”.
The physical fiber optic cable and conduit are robust, last through decades of use, and are relatively low cost to service and maintain.
Fiber-optic is also unique in that it can effectively carry unlimited amounts of data, as a physical communications channel. It far surpasses the capabilities supported by current local providers. It can scale: the same fiber can carry 1 gigabit or 10 gigabits or 100 gigabits, and so on, to every home or office.
With a gigabit fiber network, the City of Santa Cruz is future-proofing the infrastructure that will support the economy and essential services for many decades.
Why use a Private-Public Partnership?
While the network will generate revenue above costs, unlike a wholly-commercial enterprise a public-private partnership will emphasize universal coverage rather than focusing on commercial profit centers.
Cruzio’s interests align closely with those of the City:
The City itself needs fast, low-cost Internet among its many facilities.
High Speed Internet is good for the economy — both the City and Cruzio are deeply dependent on the local economy.
It seems fair and right to get Internet to all areas of the City, rather than just to elite neighborhoods. Cruzio’s owners and staff are committed to this fairness, as are City leaders.
Fiber optic networks are expensive to build, on the same level as municipal water or sewer systems. Using bonds, well-managed municipalities like the City of Santa Cruz are better able to get very good financing large scale utility projects which run into the tens of millions of dollars.
With the encouragement of City leaders, a high-tech ecosystem has developed with many small startups building businesses locally. The Office of Economic Development recognizes that these, as well as more traditional businesses, need good infrastructure to prosper.
Yet despite this recognition, a highly educated population and proximity to Silicon Valley, Internet in Santa Cruz lags behind most California cities. This makes it a good target for an infrastructure upgrade.
The City has an excellent professional staff overseeing public interest in many relevant areas: Public Works, Finance, Information Technology and Economic Development, to name a few. But the City doesn’t have expertise in initiating, provisioning and supporting service for thousands of users on a digital network, Cruzio does.
As the largest independent ISP in Santa Cruz, with a 25-year history of great service and support, Cruzio is uniquely positioned to operate this network.
Cruzio’s existing backhaul fiber connection saves many months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in setup and monthly costs. The backhaul can provide low cost bandwidth to feed the entire network and is expandable as needed. Our billing and customer service software is in place, tested, scalable and transferable to the new project. Lease payments for customer connections totaling a million dollars a year, currently going out of our area, could be shifted to pay the City.
Finally, Cruzio already has thousands of Internet users in the City of Santa Cruz who can be moved onto the new city-wide fiber network, providing immediate revenue to service the bond payments and top-notch service for the customers.
It will take a while for the network to be financed, engineered and built. We need you to go voice your interest so we know where to build the network first.
While you’re waiting for the fiber network to be built, you can take advantage of our other fiber-backed, very high speed broadband services.
Every month Cruzio has the opportunity to attend the Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup, hosted by Doug Erickson and company. These fantastic events showcase a collection of different rising entrepreneurs in the county. It is always exciting to see what new work is happening right here in Santa Cruz!
Here’s a recap of the talks and pitches from Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup’s June installment that we had the privilege to attend.
Hi Santa Cruzians!
Happy Friday! Here are some cool things happening in the area this weekend.
1. Santa Cruz Garage Sale is happening May 30th and 31st
The City of Santa Cruz sponsors Garage Sale Weekend to promote reuse, repair, and resale opportunities in our community. The City of Santa Cruz will publicize the event, encouraging residents to either hold a sale at their home or go garage sale shopping. The spring 2015 Santa Cruz Garage Sale Weekend is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, May 30th and 31st. Visit a garage sale near you and check out the Garage Sale Treasure Map at www.cityofsantacruz.com/garage sales.
Offbeat Santa Cruz Inspires Singular Small Businesses
Santa Cruz made history as the place where in 1885 surfing was introduced to the U.S. mainland. Nowadays, it’s also known as the California coastal city where small businesses make big waves.
Take a company called the Surf Office. That’s a communal-workspace company with an unusual perk. If you need a break from office work, you can — what else? — go surfing. Surfboards are provided. The beach is right outside the front door.
Then there’s Best Baby Rentals, which lets you rent a stroller, a crib or baby toys if you’re visiting Santa Cruz with your family. And if you’re into beer, hop on Brew Cruz, a converted school bus that offers tours of the area’s craft breweries.
“Santa Cruz is a very creative city,” Surf Office co-founder Emmanuel Guisset tells NerdWallet. “It has always been full of artists, hippies and surfers, but now more and more startups are popping up, and this creates a creative and innovative environment with different values than Silicon Valley or San Francisco.”
Jeremy Neuner, chief executive and co-founder of NextSpace, cites residents’ work ethic as well as their love of fun. NextSpace is another successful collaborative-workspace company and has already expanded to cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“People want to live here,” he tells NerdWallet, “because they want to work hard and play hard.”
There’s a considerable reserve of creativity and talent in Santa Cruz, says Brent Haddad, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
You need “a whole bunch of things in place” for that environment to flourish, he tells NerdWallet. Among them, the city “has to have smart, creative people. And Santa Cruz has that in spades.”
Some of the city’s entrepreneurs are people who just came to visit but “ended up falling in love with Santa Cruz and not wanting to go home,” says Rebecca Unitt, economic development coordinator with the city.
That’s what happened to Zach Davis. “Santa Cruz was a place we fell in love with as residents,” he tells NerdWallet.
A few years ago, he and veteran pastry chef Kendra Baker started the Penny Ice Creamery, which makes ice cream from scratch. They eventually expanded the venture into other restaurants now collectively known as The Glass Jar. Their company stresses sustainable food and community, and it became such a shining example of a successful small business following the financial crisis that Baker and Davis were invited to be guests at President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address.
Willing to take a risk
Davis cites the Santa Cruz environment as one of the keys to their success. “There’s a tremendous amount of … people who are willing to take a bit of a risk,” he says.
Bud Colligan, CEO of the investment firm South Swell Ventures and the former chief executive of Macromedia, pointed to “a broad range of very educated and qualified people” whom small companies can easily tap and a “supportive political environment.”
In some ways, Santa Cruz, a city of 63,400 tucked away in a corner of the Central California coast known for its colorful surfer scene and hippie communities, is an unlikely haven for innovative small-business pioneers.
But that diversity and location drew bold-thinking entrepreneurs, says Peggy Dolgenos, co-founder of the local Internet service company Cruzio.
“Santa Cruz has attracted a motley group because it’s off the beaten track and such a beautiful place,” she tells NerdWallet.
“We have a top-notch university, UC Santa Cruz, so we have the movie theaters, coffee houses and bookshops that intellectuals love. At the same time, we’re surrounded by jagged mountains, towering redwoods and some of the best surf breaks in the world. Who would choose to live in a place like that? Turns out, a lot of creative people do.”
Teresa Thomae, director of the Cabrillo College Small Business Development Center, tells NerdWallet, “Santa Cruz has always been a pretty entrepreneurial community.”
A small-business owner, even someone just starting out, can expect support from local government and organizations and the community itself, says Krista Bordner, who quit her Silicon Valley job to start Best Baby Rentals.
“It’s overwhelming how supportive people have been,” she tells NerdWallet. “It just felt so good to feel supported by our local community and local businesses, to know that they want me to succeed as a small business.”
Christina Glynn, communications director for the Santa Cruz County Conference & Visitors Council, echoed this sentiment, calling Santa Cruz “a perfect environment” for business leaders and innovators. “We are so open to new ideas and thinking outside the box,” she tells NerdWallet.
That openness is shared by city and business leaders. Davis of The Glass Jar praises Santa Cruz for offering “some really valuable resources for business.” You can see what he’s talking about on the Santa Cruz city government website, under “Business Support.”
Great tool for startups in Santa Cruz
A central feature of the website is Open Counter, the online system the city developed with Code for America, a nonprofit focused on transparency in government. It was set up a few years ago to help entrepreneurs hoping to set up shop in Santa Cruz.
It’s a critical tool for anyone thinking of opening a small business in the city. With Open Counter, you can go through the step-by-step process of setting up your small business in Santa Cruz. Included are a checklist of permits and licenses you’ll need to apply for and a schedule of the fees you will need to pay.
“Our role is to be the advocate for businesses in the community. We focus on providing resources at the early stages, when the business is just starting out,” says Unitt of the Santa Cruz Economic Development department.
In fact, it’s not just for businesses starting out. Davis of The Glass Jar said his company used it when opening his latest restaurant. “It definitely got things moving a lot quicker, which was pretty cool,” he says.
You can expect help beyond cool online tools, says Bill Tysseling, executive director of the Santa Cruz Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We have lots of experienced people here to help,” he tells NerdWallet.
One of them is Dolgenos of Cruzio, which started in 1989, even before the World Wide Web went live. It’s no surprise that small companies such as Cruzio have managed not only to survive, but also to thrive despite facing stiff competition from giants including Comcast and AT&T, she says.
“Santa Cruz welcomes new and different ideas, so small businesses here have an advantage,” says Dolgenos, who is also the chair of the Santa Cruz County Business Council.
“People here think that something unique is a good thing. For a company like Cruzio, an independent Internet provider, that allows us to survive,” he says. “We compete with Comcast and AT&T, who have zillion-dollar ad budgets, and yet we have thrived. Our community is willing to support a local alternative to a national corporation.”
Of course, as with any city or region, expect to encounter challenges as a small-business owner in Santa Cruz. “I often sit down with people who are trying to figure out whether they want to jump in,” Tysseling says. “Starting a business anywhere is a daunting process.”
Housing costs a challenge
One challenge he cites is the high cost of housing. The median home price in Santa Cruz is $666,300, according to city data. A low-end one-bedroom apartment in Santa Cruz rents for roughly $1,300 to $1,500, Tysseling says. City and business leaders are looking to build higher-density units, he says, but housing costs are definitely a challenge for companies looking to locate here.
For one thing, it makes recruiting young workers more challenging. “We have a strong base of workers,” he says. “But in general, it is difficult to bring in skilled workers because of the cost of housing.”
Unitt, of the Santa Cruz Economic Development department, also cautions that despite “amazing” ideas for services and products, there can be bumps in the road. “Even having an MBA doesn’t always prepare them for how to get their small business established and growing.”
“Your business plan may be flawless, but your small business will encounter opportunities and adjust to the market,” Unitt says. “Small businesses are at their most precarious when fast growth pounces and vision, values, and strategy struggle to remain balanced.”
This is where city and business leaders can help, she says. “We can connect you with free, confidential, expert business consulting through the Central Coast Small Business Development Center to ensure your fast-growing business has the long game in mind as well.”
The good news is, according to those we talked with, meeting these challenges is more engaging and fun in a place like Santa Cruz.
If you’re thinking of starting a small business in the city, here are some good places to start:
- City of Santa Cruz Economic Development
- Cabrillo College Small Business Development Center (also known as the Central Coast Small Business Development Center)
- Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce
- Santa Cruz County Conference & Visitors Council
- Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of California, Santa Cruz
For more information about how to start and run a business, visit NerdWallet’s Small Business Guide. For free, personalized answers to questions about starting and financing your business, visit the Small Business section of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.
April Ink, a showcase of local tattoo art in the Santa Cruz County was held by Cruzio in our building last Friday night. Many people came to see the gallery displayed on the walls of CruzioWorks while enjoying food, beverages and live music!
A special thanks to our valued partners for helping make this event as awesome as it could be:
Santa Cruz Shakespeare, Allterra Solar and Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery.
And a special thanks to the band, Full Moon Rooster, the stand up base player in the band is one of Cruzio’s own, Ariel Carter. Great job, the music was absolutely fantastic!
In case you missed the event, here’s a slideshow!
You can also read more about the event on Santa Cruz Wave’s website at:
Cruzio Internet’s First Friday Event
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
877 Cedar St, Suite 150
Come by our location on Cedar street for this upcoming First Friday event! We are showcasing tattoo art from a variety of local shops in the area! Featuring incredible talent from O’Reilly’s Tattoo, Goodluck Tattoo, Mission Street Tattoo and Henna tattoos from Sacred Mud Henna Blessings.
Our partners, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, will be there serving beer, Santa Cruz Shakespeare and Allterra Solar will be there serving wine and other beverages and we will be featuring live music by Full Moon Rooster!
Event will be held at the Cruzio building, 877 Cedar Street. 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Come by for our April First Friday and celebrate some amazing art in our community!
You can also find our event on the First Friday webpage.
Santa Cruz, CA, March 24, 2015 —
The grand opening of the new Riverwalk Apartments took place on March 24th, at 110 Lindberg Street and residents were buzzing about their fantastic broadband connection. Cruzio Internet has partnered with For the Future Housing and the Santa Cruz Economic Development Department to supply the new apartment complex with 100Mbps of high-speed, fiber-grade, broadband for all its residents. That strategic partnership made this incredible opportunity possible by arranging to implement a network distribution-friendly infrastructure while the building was under construction. Future tenants will now have access to high-quality Internet for very low prices — free for the first two years.
Last night Cruzio employees and coworking members had fun winding down from a busy day in the workplace, it was also a great excuse to have a little be-lated St. Patricks Day celebration!
Here’s a few pictures of our Cruzio comrades, all in a good day’s work!
Just recently, Cruzio Internet has had the opportunity to house workshops for Etsy, a worldwide interactive marketplace, hosting their new “Craft Entrepreneurship Program.” This remarkable program was brought to Santa Cruz in Cruzio’s coworking facility, CruzioWorks!