Author Archives: Alana

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!

example of phishing email

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.

One Idea: Just Don’t Answer Your Email

Last month The Atlantic Magazine proposed an unusual solution to email overload. They call it “Inbox Infinity.”

This one’s the complete opposite of another recently popular idea, “Inbox Zero,” where you always empty your mailbox, every day. By contrast, Inbox Infinity means never answer your email at all.

“In 2019, I suggest you let it all go,” opines author Taylor Lorenz.

We’ll let you decide which result to aim for, but It seems like a good thing that people are working on this issue.

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.

When the Weather’s Bad…

In sunny weather, Cruzio’s all-pro field team installs fast new connections to our independent network. We also spend a lot of time and investment upgrading the parts of the network nobody sees, making it more robust and redundant.

We do a lot of preparation when the weather’s good because sometimes the weather is challenging, as it has been the last few weeks.

When it’s rainy, dark and cold — even snowy in some spots! — Cruzio is out there making sure all our equipment is working properly. That can mean sudden calls, late nights, and cold, wet conditions.

We take our responsibility as a lifeline service very seriously. And we’re proud to have a crew committed to making things work, even when the going is tough. Special thanks to Ali, Dan, Jay, Frost, and the rest of the team. That’s a 24/7, all-weather group.

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.