Author Archives: Alana

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

The Actual Email that Hacked Hillary

Remember when Hillary Clinton’s campaign email was hacked? It wasn’t a brainiac code-cracking algorithm. It was simple human deception.

The hackers sent an email which led her campaign chair, John Podesta — after asking advice from his IT professional! — to enter his login and password into a phony website. That’s called a phishing scheme and it depends on sounding like an authority when you’re really a cheat.

Here’s that actual email below:

John Podesta isn’t stupid, and wasn’t without resources. There was a slight mixup when his IT advisor recommended he change his password directly on Google, but unfortunately Podesta, or someone on his staff, used the link in the email instead.

A whole lot of trouble could have been avoided if they’d been familiar with this rule of thumb: when there’s a password or other personal information involved, go to a company’s website directly rather than clicking on a link in email.

And another rule of thumb: the more urgent the email sounds, the more likely it’s a scam.

A version of that same email fooled Colin Powell and the Democratic National Committee. And in the years since, schemes have gotten more sophisticated.

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.

The Internet is Unfair. Let’s Fix It

Areas with poor interent service are orange – is the map accurate?

We’re proud that the first neighborhood Cruzio connected to our Santa Cruz Fiber network was the El Rio Mobile Home Park on North Pacific Avenue. Building devastatingly fast internet to areas that tend to get overlooked — that’s part of Cruzio’s mission.

So our next step is to get financing for replicating that success, building to other places around the county that have suffered from corporate neglect.

Although parts of our county have excellent, competitive internet right now — and we’re trying to keep it competitive! — there are other areas where expensive satellite service and aging telephone lines are the only, increasingly inadequate, options. By the way, income levels are part of the disparity, but not all of it. Some of the most expensive properties in the county, estates up in the mountains, get low-quality internet.

Cruzio has been pushing our local representatives to take action to get fair access to everyone.

The California Public Utilities Commission maintains a map defining what areas have poor service — making them eligible for grants. We’re looking at the map closely.

We know our community wants two things, internet-wise:
•to get fast, reliable internet at low prices to their own homes and businesses, and
•to make sure everyone else gets it too — regardless of low income or difficult terrain.

Rest assured that Cruzio is working on both fronts as fast as we can.

We’re working on a big project, more on that in the next newsletter!

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.

Don’t Swim in the Toilet Bowl

There are a lot of places to swim in Santa Cruz. There are some places where you just really, really should not swim. The Toilet Bowl is one of them.

Next to world-class surf break Steamer Lane, this is a spot where people from all over the world are tempted to jump into a wide round area carved out of the soft rock. But the surf gets trapped in there, and the rocks are slippery. Watch the video and be warned.

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.

What’s Happening With Fiber

1,200 downtown Santa Cruz homes and businesses can now connect to blazingly speedy internet — fiber cables which will scale to their needs for decades to come. Cruzio just installed it a few months ago. And now, that network is underused. Local columnist Nuz called it a Fiber Fumble!

We had some delays — not unusual in construction, right? — but the future is here.

Now it’s time to see what folks do with this bountiful internet offering.

(One idea: sign up now.)

With such a surplus of broadband, how quickly will people take advantage? Nuz notes that we’re behind in signups despite better service, higher speeds, and, well, the local-ness of it all. (The article didn’t mention lower price, but that’s true too: $49.95/mo for gigabit internet).

It’s true that Cruzio took on high upfront costs to build the network and we need a 30 – 50 percent “take rate” to make it all pencil out — that is, over 30 percent of locations that can connect to Cruzio’s Santa Cruz Fiber need to sign up. We’re still behind that total. Maybe it’s the rain?

Hey, downtown folks, your neighbors all around the county are asking when they’re gonna get their fiber. It’s a killer deal on a great service, so please sign up so we can afford to build more!

We know you’ll like it.

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.

We’ve Got Your Back – How Cruzio Handles Phishing Schemes

privacy logo

Like all ISPs, once in a while, our email users get hit with a phishing scheme. Generally, they’re poorly done and obviously fake, at first glance. This weekend we got hit by a particularly nasty one.

As you can see, it looks pretty sophisticated: not too many obvious typos or grammatical errors. And they stole our logo and header!

This email started hitting our mail users at around 9:30am last Sunday. As it happens, one of the first people to notice was our Chief Technical Officer, Chris Neklason, who right away saw it was a potential security threat to our users and alerted our support team. We immediately contacted the company hosting the rogue site, as well as our email filter provider. Within a couple of hours, the rogue site was taken down and the email had been blocked and deleted from our users’ inboxes. But not before about 100 of our eagle-eyed and responsible customers had notified us of the email and, sadly, a few folks had clicked through.

A couple of things to take away from this:

1. Cruzio has your back
We identify these threats quickly and we have tools to quickly neutralize them. If you do get fooled — and it happens to everyone — change your password and contact us immediately.

2. There are always tell-tale signs
Even though it was a relatively good phishing attempt, there are a few obvious clues in this that reveal it to be spam pretty quickly. First, the actual sender was not an @cruzio mailbox, it was a totally different domain. Secondly, none of the clickable links in the email pointed to the Cruzio site. Pro tip: you can always see where a link is pointing before you click it by hovering your mouse cursor over it — depending what mail tool or browser you’re using, the destination URL will show as a pop-up or in the lower part of the window you’re in. If you do happen to click on the link, most web browsers catch scams fast and almost immediately flash a warning on the page.

As a reminder:
* Don’t enter personal information into any site you’ve reached via email unless you’re 100% sure it’s legitimate. If you have even the slightest doubt, contact the company
* The more information an email asks for, the more suspicious you should be. For example, no one should ever want your Social Security number from an email message
* The more urgent the message, the more suspicious you should be
* There are so many scams, we can’t report every one. But if you see one you feel is serious, or if it’s for a small company, report it to the FBI https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx

Bottom line: if you ever have any doubts about an email that purports to be from Cruzio, play it safe and contact us at cruzio.com/contact or call us at 459-6301 x2. Cruzio is keeping an eye out 24/7, 365 days a year to ensure your security.

Be safe out there!

Turning 30

This year, Cruzio turns 30. So we’ll spend some time throughout 2019 remembering what we built in the past and how it’s helped us build toward a better internet future.

Were you a part of the 1980’s tech scene in Santa Cruz? We’d love to talk to you. Just contact us and we’ll get back to you. If you talked to us for our 25th anniversary 5 years ago (has it been that long?), we’ll be trying to get in touch again. We don’t want to lose track of Santa Cruz’s place in the history of the internet.

We’ll be sure to have a party towards the end of the year. Watch this space, it’ll be a doozy!

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.