Author Archives: Alana

Love in the Time of Corona: Part I

It’s been a wild ride these last couple weeks. As I sit here in my bedroom, typing to the rhythm of mellowed out percussion on Death Cab for Cutie’s “Lightness” off the album Transatlanticism, it’s easier to reflect on this journey now that there is some distance between trauma and calm, between past and present.

Leaving our physical office space en masse was surreal, to say the least. But now that I’ve been away for over a week, working out of my room answering billing calls and Cruzioworks emails beneath a canopy of bachelor-esque wall decor, it’s becoming normal. There’s a radical card my dad made me a while ago featuring Rocky and Bullwinkle almost leaping right off the page, gesturing wildly with their arms as if to present the other wall art. There’s a full-sized movie poster for hit anime film Your Name. There’s a really frickin’ cool cardboard standee of Boba Fett, infamous bounty hunter introduced in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (fact check me Brian, but Fett was pretty instrumental in helping the Empire strike back). And every geek token has its place—carefully arrayed to maximize productivity.

Observing Fancy Friday from home.

Inspiration to clean

Working from home offers the same thing owning a virtual reality rig offers: inspiration to clean! Being able to focus on work in a professional office-like environment requires a clean desk, and VR requires two by two meters of tidy floor space. My room has never looked better. But lacking motivation my room quickly becomes as apocalyptic as our current existence. Which brings me to my next point. I can be lazy.

Mostly highs

For the low energy and uninspired, working from home is an incredible thing. There was one day this week when after getting to bed late I hit snooze more times than ever before, and when I finally got up, I had just enough time to walk four feet away to my workstation. I made it to work on time and immediately started answering calls. I groped around on the ground for a breakfast bar until I found something that resembled granola. It’s a lovely existence.

On lunch breaks, I’m able to fire up my gaming computer and play something online with one of my longtime friends. My housemates might be a little confused as to why one moment they hear “Cruzio Billing Department, this is Alex,” and then the next moment they hear “DIE NAZI SCUM! YOU’RE NO MATCH FOR MY COLT .45!”

Work is still work, just subtly different

The most significant change is the unsurprising amount of foot traffic I’m getting now. I had one walk-in yesterday. It was my housemate and he wanted to talk about nerf guns. I had a walk-out. But it was just me going downstairs to tell my housemates I fixed the internet. A large part of this week and last involved meeting the needs of Cruzio’s coworking tenants. The subtle difference is now it’s done via email and all the issues are caused by the crisis our collective conscience wrestles with.

Another one: I was on a conference call with my department and my colleague tells me my sound quality is crackling. I laughed and explained this was probably interference from my decorative steel katana I had been swinging between the wireless headset and the base station. It’s been a wild ride these last couple weeks. ~ Alex

Homeward Bound: A Coronavirus Story

The last couple of weeks have been an utter whirlwind. Providing customer support for our shared coworking space has been a unique challenge. There’s no roadmap for dealing with a crisis like this, so — like billions of citizens around the world — we’ve been figuring it out one day at a time.

This worldwide event sometimes feels like an action movie. We are living through the second most searched-for film on PS4: yes, I am referring to Pandemic.

Taking active and highly visible measures and then communicating those measures to our coworking community has been major in the early stages. Door handles, sink faucets, appliances, and anything frequented by human hands was sanitized twice a day. We have still been operating mostly like normal. Staff’s been taking every precaution, including washing our hands as soon as we set foot in our office. We’ve been taking advice from our community to heart, and did deep cleanings of the restroom walls, particularly around hand dryers.

Our friends at Peachy Kleen made a special visit and professionally cleaned our meeting rooms, the atrium, and every black fabric chair throughout the atrium last Saturday. On Monday I thoroughly wiped down the leather chairs in the Atrium.

Our efforts had two key purposes: to do our part to slow the spread of novel coronavirus to keep our community healthy, and to soothe our tenants in these tense and uncertain times. The optics of witnessing me wiping down a surface were almost as important as the wiping itself!

This goes straight to the heart of the importance of good communication. The CDC kept local governments informed of developments in the spread of coronavirus and Santa Cruz County followed other local municipalities and ordered a “shelter in place” effective Tuesday, March 17 at midnight. In turn, we did our best to publish the steps we were taking and relaying this information to tenants at every turn. We were figuring it out one day at a time.

I had the most surreal birthday yesterday. Most of our staff, nearly thirty people, packed up their essential belongings, computers, monitors, keyboards, mice — anything they might need to work from home. It felt like the scene in The Empire Strikes Back when the resilient Rebels are evacuating the ice planet Hoth. And we all know that feeling.

Our field operations and sysadmin teams, undaunted by the task at hand, transported and set up remote workstations in bedrooms and on dining room tables of countless employees in countless homes. In less than a day, we had moved an entire company. We had never done this before at such scale.

I type this from my bedroom. I’m optimistic that with these extreme measures, through this bizarre mass social experiment, we’ll come out of this stronger and more resilient than ever. Like Empire this will undoubtedly get worse before it’s over. But ultimately, by the end of the sequel Return of the Jedi our heroes are victorious, evil is pushed back and vanquished, and everyone gets to throw a huge party with the Ewoks.

~ Alex

Ready to Upgrade to Wireless Pro?

Here at Cruzio, we’re always looking to upgrade our network infrastructure and our members always get moved to the newest service as soon as humanly possible. We use best-of-breed technologies to connect as many people as we possibly can to the best possible broadband. Right now, as AT&T continues to pull back from supporting and maintaining the copper lines, we’re aggressively building out our independent, Net Neutral fiber-wireless network and moving as many of our Velocity ADSL users over to that service as quickly as we can.

If you’re upgrading from Velocity to Cruzio’s locally-owned and -operated, independent, open and Net Neutral network, here are a few things you might want to know.

What’s the new service all about?
For most folks, this is going to mean switching you to our ultra-fast high-speed wireless service, Wireless Pro. We call it Pro because it’s professional-grade — perfect for connected homes, home businesses or small to mid-sized businesses of all kinds. And our new low price means anyone can afford it.

How’s this going to work?
First step: a site survey. Site surveys come with no commitment or cost, and typically only take 20-30 minutes for our friendly, professional techs to get on the roof of your building to check line-of-sight to one of Cruzio’s many access points and plan any potential wire-runs from the roof to the building. We don’t need you to be present for the survey but if you’d like to be, no problem.

If you happen to be in one of our Certified Buildings (generally an apartment or office building), or if your house had Cruzio Wireless Pro in the past, things are even easier and we can generally skip the survey step.

Once we’ve confirmed eligibility, we’ll schedule the install. For new installations, we’ll mount a small receiver on your roof or eaves and then run wires into your home or office to connect to your wifi gear. If you’ve been living with older copper wiring, you will love the difference our professional work makes. The install will take a few hours and we’ll need a responsible adult there so we can access inside the property. Our techs carry ID and are great with friendly pets.

Is it good for WiFi?
Absolutely. Your internet will be faster. To take advantage of those speeds, you need a good wifi router. If you’re currently renting hardware from Cruzio, we’ll swap that out at no cost to you for a shiny new Gigacenter. It’s a fantastic piece of hardware that’ll give you great wifi speeds and coverage and allow our techs to best support your service in the future. If you don’t currently rent hardware from us, now’s a great time to start. Just add a Gigacenter on the upgrade order form and we’ll install it when we upgrade your connection. If you’d prefer to keep your own hardware, no worries. We just can’t provide the same level of troubleshooting and don’t always anticipate performance will match the Gigacenter.

What about phone?
With mobile phones in all our pockets, we’ve found that many people aren’t using a home phone anymore. If this is you, great. The new service is internet only and blazing fast for all your cloud-based services. If you do still want to keep your phone, the new service doesn’t come with phone included but, don’t worry, we have options. Our recommendation would be to switch to a Voice over IP (VoIP) phone solution. Your new, faster, super-low latency internet service is perfect for VoIP service. There are many VoIP providers, but our research has found that Ooma is one of the best out there. You can grab an Ooma device at Best Buy or Amazon or, if you prefer, you can purchase the unit from Cruzio. It’s not a Cruzio service — Ooma will provide the phone connection and bill you going forward (it’s around $20/mo, much less than a standard landline), but you can get the hardware from Cruzio for $30. Your current phone will plug right into it, and you can keep your current phone number.

Save the date! November 1st, 2019

Cruzio’s Annual Open House Extravaganza and 30th Anniversary

Come celebrate with Cruzio! We’re having our annual open house the night after Halloween, and you’re invited! We’ll have all the usual, like awesome food trucks, craft beer provided by Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, music (more on that in a little), and beautiful art. Free admission, free booze, all conveniently on First Friday November and at our downtown headquarters.

This year is especially important to us here at Cruzio, because we’ve officially been in business for a mind-blowing 30 years! We are very excited to commemorate that with all of our customers, city leaders, friends, neighbors, and more, and hope you can make it.

We mentioned music before, but this won’t just be a playlist of rockin’ 80’s music (though we are excited to have a curated playlist by our very own rockin’ James Hackett). We are having our first ever jingle contest! What’s that you say? Glad you asked. We’re offering a load of prizes (totaling out at $1,500) for writing and performing your take on a good jingle for us! Internet fame, cash, and the change to perform at our party! You can find more information at
jingle.cruzio.com.

We hope you can come and join us for this unforgettable night, and can’t wait to party!

Do You Want to Screw Over Your ISP?

“Internet providers are real bastards…”
So begins a recently published TechCrunch article charmingly titled 13 Ways to Screw Over Your Internet Provider

As you can imagine, since Cruzio is an internet provider, that raised an eyebrow over here and we figured we’d take a look. Wow. Amazing what some folks have to go through — it’s like they’re at war with the company who supposedly serves them!

A lot of the measures suggested by the deeply disgruntled author aren’t necessary when you have an independent, Net-Neutral ISP like Cruzio. So we thought we’d set the record straight by responding to their “advice.”

Our comments might surprise you. Or, if you’re a Cruzio customer, maybe not. Read on…

1. “Buy a modem and router instead of renting”
Sure. Unless the equipment is specifically required by the technology (for instance, with fiber connections) any Cruzio customer can feel free to buy their own and we’re totally up front about that. We don’t rent hardware to gouge our peeps. But, we’re also up front about being experts when it comes to modems. Our hardware is top-of-the-line and gives us much more ability to support the connection, and we’ll swap it out for free if it ever breaks or anytime there’s a better model available. It’s just like leasing a car over buying — but obviously much cheaper.

2. “Avoid service calls, or if you can’t, insist they’re free”
Believe us, a service call is a last resort. It’s expensive and time consuming for everyone. But, if we need to come out to fix the service, the call is always free unless the issue turns out to be with your home wiring.

3. “Get deals from the installer”
No need to try to wheedle deals from our field techs. We don’t have hidden pricing or special offers. We just have one upfront price with no hidden fees. You don’t need these tricks with us like you do with the big guys.

4. “Complain, complain, complain”
Again, not necessary. We get this a lot from new customers coming over from other ISPs. They’ve learned over time, poor things, that they need to yell and complain to get what they need. Not with Cruzio. Our whole deal is getting your service as good as we can get it. That’s our job. That’s why we’re here.

5. “Choose your service level wisely”
Cruzio has one price and for that price you get the best connection we can provide in your neighborhood. Then, as we expand and improve the network, we don’t use that as a reason to bump your price. We just upgrade everyone to the better speeds automatically and for free. We’re doing that all the time. You might get an email from us saying it’s your turn any day.

6. “Stream everything because broadcast TV is a joke”
Well this one we don’t have much to say about other than: yes, yes, 100% yes. Everything is streaming these days and we can help you set that up. #CutTheCord.

7. “Watch your bill like a hawk”
If you want to, please feel free, but there’s no need. If we ever raise our price, we’ll email you and let you know. We don’t do contracts so you can quit anytime. We don’t do hidden fees so there’s nothing for us to sneak in there.

8. “Go to your account and opt out of everything”
Nothing really to opt out of. We don’t do a bunch of add-on fees. We just try to do one thing great — internet. And we don’t want you paying for anything you don’t want.

9. “Share your passwords”
We don’t do TV so, no comment. We would never advise you to share your streaming passwords. Shocking.

10. “Encrypt everything and block trackers”
We’re all for security and we’re massive on privacy, so we don’t disagree. But we’re one of the only ISPs that do not track and sell your data. Maybe it’s a Santa Cruz thing, but we’ve never seen our customers’ data as a potential profit center. We will never give away or sell your private data. Ever.

11. “Use a different DNS”
No need. As we said, we’re not tracking you. And our DNS will be faster than any of the other options. See how there’s just less to worry about with an honest ISP?

12. “Run a home server”
There are better ways to do this. It’s a lot of trouble to set up a server and keep it going 24/7. People must hate the big ISPs! But if you want to run a server just give us a call. Let’s chat.

13. “Talk to your local government”
Yes! Please do. Local, independent ISPs like Cruzio are up against some big, deep-pocketed competitors who (see above) are not always out for your best interests. Without partnerships with local municipalities, it’ll be hard for independent ISPs to expand availability and service long term. And without us, you’re stuck with, well, them.

That was fun! I guess when you’re not out there trying to screw over your customers, you’re less likely to get screwed yourself. Huh. We knew that of course. It’s what we built Cruzio on. But it’s always good to be reminded.

Cruzio Jingle Contest

$1,500+ in prizes! Live performance! Internet Fame!

Can you believe Cruzio has been around for 30 years and made it this far without a catchy jingle!? Neither can we!

That’s why, for our 30-year anniversary party, we are holding a jingle competition and we’re seeking submissions. If you’re musically inclined (or just musically aspirational) we want to hear what you can create for us!

Presentation:
Finalists will perform their jingle at our annual Open House Extravaganza (OHE) in November. It’s due to be an enormous party as it’s our big 3-0. We encourage costumes, dancing, and dramatic performances to accompany the jingle presentation. If contestants aren’t available to perform at the OHE, we will play video or audio recordings.

Prizes:
The winner of the competition will be awarded $1,500 and a free year of 9-5, M-F coworking membership (or one year of free internet on our Wireless Pro service). The winner will also receive 2 free passes to the 2020 Santa Cruz Music Festival, as well as the opportunity to have an interview with Santa Cruz Work’s Matthew Swinnerton on the Think Local First Radio Show. More announcements on prizes to be announced! Everyone who makes it to the finals and performs at OHE will win something!

Along with prizes, we will make a big deal out of your songs, whether you win or not. Cruzio will look for opportunities to promote contestants and play their submissions. Everyone who enters the competition and attends OHE, even if they didn’t make it to the finals, will get a prize at the door!

Qualifications:
•Write an original jingle for Cruzio

•Must be at least 15 seconds long

•Must use “Cruzio” or “Cruzio Internet” in the lyrics, if there are lyrics. Instrumentals are also acceptable but we may add lyrics later

•We’ll give extra consideration to entries that include the words: internet, fiber, fiber-optics, home or business, friendly, fast, local, net neutral, privacy, or other positive attributes of Cruzio

•Extra consideration also is given to contestants who perform on November 1, 2019, at Cruzio headquarters in downtown Santa Cruz. In-person performance is preferred, but video or audio files are also acceptable

•There must be a family-friendly version available

•There are no age requirements, we’ll listen to your jingle if you’re 5 years old or 95 years old

How to make your submission:
Upload your jingle to Google Drive and share it with JingleContest@cruzio.com. The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2019. We’ll review your submission internally and announce our finalists on October 15th, 2019.

If you need help uploading and sharing your file, here is a link to Google’s support page.

Format:
We will accept video or audio files: mp3, mp4, wav

Good luck and happy jingle crafting! We can’t wait to see what you create!

-The Folks at Cruzio

By submitting your jingle to the competition, you have agreed to the following terms and conditions:

•Sponsor’s Rights to Entries: You do not transfer ownership of your entry by entering the Contest. However, by entering, you grant to The Internet Store, Inc dba Cruzio (“Sponsor”), its agents, licensees, and assigns an irrevocable, perpetual (non-exclusive) right and permission to reproduce, encode, store, copy, transmit, publish, post, broadcast, display, publicly perform, adapt, modify, create derivative works of, exhibit, and otherwise use your entry as-is or as-edited (with or without using your name) in any media throughout the world for any purpose, without limitation, and without additional review, compensation, or approval from you.

•Winners will be notified by email and must sign and return an affidavit of eligibility/recording rights/publicity release within 14 days of notification date. The affidavit will state that the winner’s song is original work and he/she holds all rights to song. Failure to sign and return such affidavit within 14 days or provision of false/inaccurate information therein will result in immediate disqualification and an alternate winner will be selected. Affidavits for winners under 18 years of age at time of award must be countersigned by a parent or legal guardian. Affidavits subject to verification by The Internet Store Inc. and its agents. Entry constitutes permission to use winner’s names, likenesses, and voices for future advertising and publicity purposes without additional compensation.

•All songs, music and lyrics must be original compositions and be credited solely as the work of the creator listed in the entry form. Entries in violation of any copyright laws, trademarks, intellectual property rights or basic ethical standards of amateur or professional songwriting will be disqualified immediately and without notice. In all cases, The Internet Store, Inc. shall in no way be held liable for any such legal action that results from the submission of unlawful or stolen submissions.

•A selection of finalists will be chosen to perform in the live performance finals of the Cruzio Jingle Competition at the 30th Anniversary Open House Extravaganza, November 1st at Cruzio’s downtown headquarters. Finalists will be required to confirm their performance at the Open House party no later than 10/20/19

•The finalists will be selected from their video or audio submissions by a panel of judges.

Berdels & Santa Cruz Fiber

Berdels is a relatively new, but well recognized and widely known local surf and skate apparel shop in downtown Santa Cruz. They work with artists local to California and especially local to the Santa Cruz area to supply the store with unique finds and stay true the beach culture we all know Santa Cruz so well for.

Back in winter, we connected Berdels to our lightning-fast, fiber-optic network and they noticed the change in speeds! We talked to Berdels founder, Bubb Rader, who became the star of our latest video. Here’s Bubb himself on how fiber and Cruzio Internet have been helpful for his day to day transactions and interactions with customers, and the value of local businesses working with fellow local businesses:

“Your daily life is just so tied up here…. The community and the support that we get from everyone and the support that we try to give back by taking risks on locals …. To have it be so good is so rewarding.”

Santa Cruz Fiber is helping local business owners in downtown do what they do best – seamlessly run their business! Without any hiccups, lagging, or arbitrary data caps, our fiber network is helping sales run smoothly and add a whole new, relaxed meaning to “business as usual”.

Learn more about Santa Cruz Fiber, all of its benefits, and how our services and awesome local customer support can help your business here.

Oliver’s Internship at Cruzio

By Oliver Bielak

As a senior in college, I receive a fair number of questions from family and friends that never fail to stress me out at least a little bit regarding my post-grad plans. “What do you want to do with your major?” and “Any idea what kind of work you want to do after graduating?” are particularly common and anxiety-inducing inquiries that I still worry about from time to time. At the start of this school year, I was feeling pretty lost about what the answers to those questions were since I was still trying to work it out for myself. But now with just a couple weeks until I complete my undergraduate degree at UC Santa Cruz, I am feeling more excitement than anything else and am finally able to answer those once-daunting questions about my post-graduation plans.

I can confidently say that everything changed when I started my internship with Cruzio Internet in September of last year. As an economics major, a challenge I faced until recently involved considering the focus of economics in which I was most interested both in terms of studies and career path. After considering my options, academic interests, and frankly, Google searches of what one can do with an economics degree, I decided that I wanted to explore marketing, and following a brief search, I secured a marketing internship at Cruzio Internet.

Aside from my coursework from UC Santa Cruz, my experience and knowledge of the world of marketing was limited. Furthermore, I had never worked for a company in the technology sector, nor had I ever worked for a company of Cruzio’s size. Needless to say, this was going to be a very new experience to me, which was both exhilarating and slightly nerve-racking. Fortunately, due largely to a passionate yet welcoming staff and an energizing work environment I was able to adapt to my new position smoothly. In the end, I’ve found that working with Cruzio has not only been a pleasurable time but also a tremendously valuable learning experience.

Like many other people, I’ve always been a naturally curious person and working with Cruzio provided me with the opportunity to explore many of my curiosities. Even before I started studying economics, I had always been interested in the ways in which businesses choose to present themselves and their products to the public. I wondered how, say, Apple chose to offer a mini version of the iPad, how they chose to price that product, and what they did to sell as many units as possible. With Cruzio, I had the good fortune of being a part of the team that actually thinks these questions over and makes those kinds of judgment calls, which in and of itself has been immensely enriching. One of my first projects as the marketing intern was to research the internet service providers with which we compete to find out what services they offer, the details and terms of the services, and how much each service costs. This information is vital to us so that we can be aware of what we are going up against, while also helping us decide whether or not we should change our own price points or alter our products in order to remain as competitive as possible. When your main competition is massive corporations like Comcast and AT&T, this process is not an option but a necessity. As you can imagine, it was quite enjoyable to perform such an important task that also allowed me to get a better understanding as to how businesses present and price their products, which is something I had always been curious about. Learning about these concepts in my classes on campus was great, but getting that first-hand experience was much more gratifying.

A second major project I worked on was planning and coordinating our weekly Cruzio Coffee Hour. Since Cruzio is a coworking facility as well as an internet service provider, we try to make our office space as fun and appealing as possible to make sure all our coworking members are content and cheerful. As such, I took the responsibility of organizing Cruzio Coffee Hour, in which I would find a guest speaker from a local organization or business to talk about their experience in their field and engage in discussions with our coworking members, all while we enjoy coffee and snacks together. Over the past few months, we’ve hosted representatives from Bike Santa Cruz County, Idea Fab Labs, the Bird School Project among other organizations. While I’ve definitely had a great time hearing these amazing people talk about the things that they are passionate about, the biggest takeaway from this project has been engaging in a task designed to make people happy. Our Coffee Hours exists to give coworking members the chance to get away from their work for a little bit and stimulate their minds in ways that may not happen in their daily work lives. From an academic or marketing standpoint, this project is great for customer retention and satisfaction, but the aspect I’ve enjoyed most about it has been providing the people here with a chance to further enlighten themselves and to continue to educate themselves even when the academic, studious part of their lives may be well behind them.

Another great set of experiences from the internship is our weekly marketing meetings. During these meetings, we talk about advertising, brand graphics, social media metric, and more; everyone on the marketing team (including CEO and co-founder Peggy Dolgenos) has the chance to bounce ideas off one another, talk about current and future projects, and think of creative ways to make Cruzio as appealing as possible. In these times, I am able to become more aware of the various channels of marketing in which Cruzio is engaged while also having the opportunity to make my voice heard and present my own ideas to the rest of the team. Overall, these meetings provide me with precious insight as to how team members collectively brainstorm, refine ideas, and ultimately, take action. It has been awesome to get a better understanding of the inner workings of a business, particularly one with so many different departments and operations.

One more highlight of my time with Cruzio was helping to organize and execute our annual Open House Extravaganza, or OHE. This event is a First Friday party in which we open the doors of our facility to the public for a night of fun; we have food and drinks, trivia with prizes, local art, games, free gifts, and inform guests about Santa Cruz Fiber, Cruzio’s state-of-the-art fiber broadband network. While this party is a great time for all of our guests, it was genuinely fulfilling to plan something for so long and to see so many people have such a great night. I also loved seeing how excited guests were when I was able to talk with them about Santa Cruz Fiber or other amazing Cruzio projects. OHE is very much a way for Cruzio to give back to the community and getting to be a part of the planning and execution of the party was a truly rewarding experience.

With any internship, the least one can expect is that the work is educational in some way and provides them with real workplace experience. With Cruzio, I had the fortune of not only obtaining valuable experience in the field but also getting to do work for a company that is exciting and relevant. Cruzio is doing so many awe-inspiring things throughout Santa Cruz County, like installing fiber-optic cables to eventually serve the entire county with reliable, lightning-fast internet. It feels good to be a part of the team that is in the vanguard of pushing Santa Cruz’s technological capacity forward and know that I have gotten a lot out of this experience. At the end of the day, work is still work and there are definitely times when I’d rather stay home, get comfy, and watch some Netflix. But when I am here at Cruzio and am focused on a task, chatting with my co-workers, or just walking around the office, it actually feels beneficial to my life. I enjoy myself when I’m working and know that I am getting a lot out of my time here and that what I am doing is valuable. As my internship comes to an end, the only thing I regret is not being able to do more in the time that I have. On the bright side though, I know that I’ll be able to take the skills and experiences I have gained here and use them to my advantage as I graduate from college this June and enter the real world. While I’m still nervous about what is to come next, I am feeling more prepared than ever and welcome the challenge openly.

Don’t Let Independent ISPs Die: You Can Help

Save the Internet

There’s still time to comment on an FCC decision that will likely leave a lot people stranded without good internet options.

Read more here. Or just go straight to the FCC comments area where thousands of opinions against this move have been logged — you can read what people are saying, and the internet would love it if you entered your own views, too. Use this easy form to contribute your own opinion. We can make a difference!

Here’s an example of what one Californian said:

Dear FCC,

We need competitive alternatives to the geographic monopolies of Telecom like Comcast and AT&T. Without alternative providers, consumers are stuck paying exorbitant prices for crucial telecommunications! Give small businesses a chance to compete and give consumers a chance to choose a better service!

Julie Arnold

This article was featured in our newsletter. To read more content from our newsletter, visit our archive page and sign up for our email list.

A Micro-ISP In The Mountains

If anyone in the world is qualified to run an ISP, it’s Kenneth Adelman. How many people, when asked by tech support staff if they know how to run a traceroute, can answer, “Look at the traceroute source code – it has my name in it”? Adelman co-founded two internet software companies in the 1990s, sold them and retired in his 30s to devote himself to artistic, athletic and environmental pursuits. Now, in addition, he runs a small ISP in his spare time.

Nearly 20 years ago, when he moved up into the mountains near Santa Cruz, Adelman had a T1 line connected to his house to communicate with Cisco, which had bought his first company, TGV. His neighbors, who were struggling to find internet service, pleaded to share his connection, and he obliged. Then their neighbors started asking. As time went on, he incorporated the business, acquired six more T1 lines and shared service wirelessly with 12 households.

As he began to serve farther-away customers, the load grew, and so did his payments to the telephone company. By 2017, putting up a wireless tower made sense. Cruzio was willing to provide 500 Mbps of wireless backhaul to the tower for less than the cost of T1 service, and Adelman now distributes this bandwidth to 35 customers, using primarily Ubiquiti wireless gear. (One customer actually has a fiber optic connection from the tower.) He charges customers between $130 and $300 per month, depending on speeds. Several customers get discounts for relaying services to others.

Connecting each customer takes a lot of work – way more than what a “real ISP” would do, according to Adelman. For liability reasons, he doesn’t install wireless dishes, but he goes up onto rooftops with his neighbors or their contractors and shows them how to do it, and he often adjusts their Wi-Fi for them. He estimates that this upfront work pays off after a year – and keeps on paying. (He has essentially zero churn.)

“Cruzio was interested in supporting people with my business model,” Adelman says. Cruzio offers not only backhaul but also expertise, helping him select hardware, wiring and so forth. “It’s beneficial for both of us because if I sell to them, they get a network built to spec,” he points out. The other benefit Cruzio would get is a group of happy customers it could acquire without marketing costs.

With 35 customers, Adelman is still able to work in an informal, neighborly way. There are no written contracts. One customer pays him in fresh fish. Another helped him with tower work when he broke his leg. For now, he has plenty of bandwidth, and Cruzio could easily double what it supplies him.

So when will he give up his ISP hobby? Not until it starts to seem like real work, Adelman says. If the business keeps growing, he will eventually have to put in a real billing system and hire someone to help with installation – and then it won’t be fun anymore. At that point, it will be time to start talking with Cruzio about selling the system.

Excepted from Broadband Communities Magazine March/April 2019, By Masha Zager
https://www.bbcmag.com/rural-broadband/cruzio-launches-ftth-in-santa-cruz