Action Preserves Rural Internet – for Now

Bonny Doon View

Lack of internet in rural areas is an enormous problem, affecting people all over the USA — even in large parts of tech-savvy California. And despite Santa Cruz County’s part in bringing about the internet we know today, some parts of our county lack decent internet too.

As alert newsletter readers know, Cruzio has been sounding the alarm about inequality of internet access for many years. Then, earlier this year, the issue hit home in a devastating way. Some of the copper lines Cruzio leased from AT&T had degraded so much that we could no longer provide reliable service to a small number of our more rural customers. That left a few dozen customers in a bind. Their service wasn’t good, sure, but what else could they do?

The rural residents didn’t take the situation lying down. Many had been through tough times already last year, when fires destroyed so much of their community. They’d had to deal with rebuilding and many other challenges. And here was another: internet.


2. More Bandwidth

Our fiber connections get the best speeds of all. But WiPro connections are pretty fast – and frequently updated.

Like the rest of the country, Cruzio members have used more internet over the past 18 months. That’s just what happens when you work, study, and watch lots of movies from home.

Luckily, Cruzio’s independent network is either all-fiber (already enormous bandwidth) or fiber-to-wireless (relatively easy to replace components). During the pandemic, we’ve been working extra hard to upgrade all our wireless hubs. Frost, Ali, and their talented team cycle through all our access points, replacing older equipment with the latest, fastest technology. Then around it goes till we get back to the top of the list and start over.

Upgrades on our independent network are free and you may not even notice us working on them. We don’t usually have to visit your location. Downtime is minimal — normally just a few minutes— and we send out a warning beforehand.

3. You Can Help Connect Families

Lopez family

Would you like to help local families who can’t afford internet? Cruzio customers can easily add a nominal amount to the monthly bill and we’ll send it to the Community Foundation’s Equal Access Santa Cruz County fund.

All donations are used for improvements for local families, prioritizing local students who are having trouble doing online school and seniors who are housebound. The County Office of Education and Pajaro Valley School District send us priority candidates for service — based on criteria like school lunch program participation — and we follow their guidelines. These families get free or heavily subsidized internet for as long as they qualify.

And if you know someone who’s looking for an internet connection — maybe they are new in town, or sick of their cable provider? — point them in our direction. For every new signup this year, we commit to connecting a family in need.

4. It’s LONDON Nelson Center Now

London Nelson properly referenced in Parks & Rec Guide

Good work by Santa Cruz Parks & Rec, who changed the name to London throughout their fall 2021 guide

Have you ever glanced at the backstory of what, until this year, was called Louden Nelson Center? If so, you know the man for whom the center was named — or rather, misnamed — in 1979 was London, not Louden, Nelson.

After many decades, the Santa Cruz City Council finally voted to correct the error.

Why did the misspelling persist for so long? The man and the mistake are threaded through our local history.

An early hero of the City of Santa Cruz, London Nelson is memorialized by the eponymous building and several plaques around town, hailed as friend to education. He was a slave included in an expedition from Tennessee to Northern California in search of gold in 1850 — when California was filled with fortune-seekers, many of whom kept their slaves despite the establishment of California that year as a free state. Nelson’s group found gold, and London Nelson used his share to buy his freedom in 1854.

Ill health — and perhaps good sense — kept him from returning to Tennessee. Instead, he moved…


5. Cruzio Brings Internet to Farm Discovery

Farm Discovery connects kids with the environment and agriculture and part of that is learning how
to nourish their bodies with fresh produce and hands-on experience with cooking and
food preparation. They cook with what they harvest and eat what they cook.

For Farm Discovery–a nonprofit that connects our community’s youth to a deeper understanding of agriculture, food, and the environment–2020 was set to be their biggest season yet. They expected to have 3,000 kids at their Live Earth Farm in Pajaro Valley that year between school field trips and their youth camp programs where kids learn farming skills, nutritional skills, and environmental stewardship and how these are delicately intertwined. Then, COVID hit.


6. Can’t Have a Skateboard Event Without Santa Cruz

Misugu Okamoto is a world class skateboarder.

For the first time ever, skateboarding was in this summer’s Olympics. And though we didn’t see any local skateboarders (next time?!), we did spot Santa Cruz.

There’s already a thrill to watching the world’s best slides and grabs, plus Santa Cruzans were able to keep an eye out for our famous local logos from NHS, the oldest skateboard company in the world and still, decades later, the gnarliest.

Watchers weren’t disappointed. Several skaters flashed red dots or screaming hands when their boards caught air.

The skateboarder above, Misugu Okamoto, who clearly shows both dot and hand, had quite a story.

In the Olympic finals, 15-year-old Okamoto was a top contender for a gold medal. But she fell in her last run and came in fourth, missing any spot on the podium. 15 years old! She was clearly heartbroken and cried as she climbed up out of the bowl. But the other skateboarders surrounded her, hugging her, and even picked her up on their shoulders, bringing a huge smile to her face. Here’s a video of the scene (sorry NBC for all the ads on the video).

Or watch Okamoto’s fantastic performance earlier in 2021, in Des Moines.

A little history of Santa Cruz Skateboards/NHS here.

7. Just When We Thought We Were Out of the Woods

Casual cat in car

Note from Cruzio’s CEO

Recap: on March 17th, 2020, Cruzio sent employees home and closed our coworking doors to all but essential workers. Those among us who were pessimistic spoke darkly of months of closure. Even the most negative didn’t foresee over a year of distancing, masks, and lost shops and restaurants.

Internet is an essential business, so Cruzio stayed mostly open while taking many safety measures. Our onsite technicians followed a strict set of protocols when working at people’s homes and offices. We expanded our Equal Access Santa Cruz (EASC) program to get internet to hard-to-reach places around the Central Coast, with added urgency as we saw schoolkids having trouble participating in their suddenly online classes. We were able to extend internet to low income housing and migrant farm camps and, with our community’s help, we’ve made a difference to many families — and we’re reaching more each month.

Cruzioworks, our coworking space, protected members and staff by keeping occupancy to a minimum, putting strong HEPA filters on our air conditioning units, and sanitizing obsessively. We put tables and chairs outside so folks could meet in the fresh air — an amenity so pleasant we’ll keep it in the future. Our onsite cafe closed — for a few weeks, then a month, then indefinitely. We’re still waiting for it to open, it’s the best little cafe in town. Our busy meeting rooms were limited to just a few occupants at a time.

Our neighbors in the building, the cheerful folks from Ecology Action, went home to work as well. The building has felt kind of empty. Not completely shut down but quieter and darker.

Last August/September, as fires raced down the Santa Cruz Mountains, several Cruzio employees were forced from their homes. We put a few up in the office. Colleagues lent air mattresses and they camped out, waiting for days for the signal to go back home. A long-time coworker’s house burned to the ground. The air itself choked us. Those days were shocking and sad.


8. Live or Work Downtown? Sign Up for Fiber

There’s still plenty of room on our downtown fiber network. If you live or work in downtown Santa Cruz, chances are you’re eligible for a fantastic internet connection.

That’s an actual speed test pictured above. Extremely fast, symmetrical internet. $74.95 per month. Unbeatable!

Start the process: just enter your address here.

And, if you’re not downtown, and you enter your address, we’ll tell you the best option we have available for you. So it’s still a great idea to try it. Click on the “check what’s available” button and fill in any service — we’ll contact you.

9. Help Us Expand, Get Free Internet

Want free Internet? Have a sweeping view?
Cruzio is always looking for well-situated buildings to join our broadband network. If we use your location we’ll give you free high-speed service.

We’ve had some great success lately, not just with taller buildings like offices and apartments, but with houses that just happen to see lots of other houses and buildings.

Not only will you save on great internet — you’ll also help other people in the community who need a better connection. If you wish your neighborhood had better internet, and your house doesn’t fit the “sweeping view” description, bug your neighbor up on the ridge!

Interested? Contact us.

10. Handy Cruzio Information

If you’re moving, Cruzio can save you from an interruption in Internet service and prevent costly fees. Call us at 459-6301 or contact us online (several weeks ahead, if possible!).

Get Cruzio Credit with Buddy Bucks
Recommend us! Each time a new customer gives us your email address, account number, or full name when they sign up you’ll get a $10 credit — or more — to your account.

Feed the Hungry
If you’re late on a payment to Cruzio, bring 3 cans of food into our office and we will waive late fees up to $5. Donations go to Second Harvest Food Bank.

Chris, Peggy, Mark, James, Frost, Sandi, Colin, Adia, Jesus, Alison, Justin, Andrew, David, Alex, Ani, Max, Iasha, Alana, Brian, Cameron, Jay, Jason, another David, Sonya, Tony, John, Jason, Carlos, Ean, Robert, Pily, Tyler, Noah, Adam, Alexander, Dizaree;

Jake, Annika & Carly (the grown “kids”)

The first time Dad brought Annika to a soccer practice, she was six years old. He said coaches on the sidelines were yelling things to the girls that were utterly meaningless to them like “bring it up on the sides!” while some of the girls were in a tight scrum all trying to kick the ball at once. Others stood off to the side, completely apathetic.

“Can Annika kick the ball with her foot?” Mom asked, since Annika had displayed her technique a few days before and it looked more like a karate attack than a kick.

“We’re going to work on it this weekend,” said Dad.