What Do Tech Companies Know About Me? Turns Out, a Lot.

You’ll often hear us Cruzio folks talking about how important privacy is to us, an ISP. We’ve spoken at length about how we won’t mine or use your data, or how we won’t ever sell your data to third parties. But what exactly does that mean? What data’s being collected, and who exactly is affected? You might’ve seen the much-retweeted post recently from @iamdylancurran outlining all the things tech juggernauts like Google and Facebook were keeping and tracking. Well, we were so blown away by that, we decided to go through the steps ourselves.

Below are 8 links and settings that you can look at on Google and Facebook that will tell you exactly what data they’re getting from you, so you can take a look for yourself.

1. Google Knows Exactly Where You’ve Been:


If you have a Google account, and location services is on (most of Google’s services require location services to be turned on, so you most likely do) then Google can show you exactly where you’ve been since it’s been on. If you click through the above link while logged into your Google account, it’ll show you on a map all of the places you’ve been throughout your account’s/mobile device’s history, and even how long it took for you to get between places.

If you don’t like this timeline, you can turn it off by hitting the “Manage Location History” button and switching the feature off at the bottom of the screen. Note that this means it just stops plotting the data on a map for you to see. It’s not stopping Google from collecting the data through location services however.

As a quick aside, Google Location Services is what allows Google’s apps and apps that use Google’s account services to know where you are. Google Maps’ navigation, for example. Of course, Google can use this data to advertise to you. For example, seeing an ad for a nearby restaurant when you’re close by.

2. Turns Out Deleting Your History Doesn’t Delete Your History On Google:


If you’ve ever deleted your browser history and thought it was over and done with, that’s not quite true. Google stores all of the activity that’s been done on your Google Account, and you can see a record of that on the link above. And this stays around even after you delete your search history. Keep in mind this isn’t just searches, but also stuff like app usage, video history from sites like YouTube, and more. It’s surprisingly thorough.

If you don’t want this data displayed, you can change these settings on your Google Account so that it won’t show this stuff in your timeline. You can find all of these options right here: https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols. This will let you pause the timeline feature, or even delete your entire timeline history from being shown on your account. It will also stop them from being able to use this data to affect your search your results though, so your search results will no longer be personalized based on your previous usage patterns.

3. Google Knows What You Like, and Targets Ads Toward You:


Google’s biggest money maker is its advertising business, so it’s no surprise that Google’s algorithm uses all the information it knows about you to can target ads that you’ll probably want to click on. If you want to see what Google “thinks” about you, you can click through to the link above and it will show you demographics that it thinks you fit into and subjects that it thinks you like.

On this page, Google actually does give you the option to turn this off. It even lets you delete and add topics that you may or may not be interested in, if you want to make the targeting more or less specific.

4. Google Keeps A Record of Every App You’ve Given It Permissions For:


Have you ever opened an app and signed in using your Google account? Or allowed it to access parts of your account, like Location Services or Contacts, when you opened it? Most apps these days require some sort of permissions, so the answer to that is likely yes. At the link above, you’ll find Google’s list of all of the apps you’ve given permissions to, and it lets you edit or delete those permissions. Keep in mind, if you do decide to change these permissions, it could affect the ability to log into or use these apps.

5. Google Keeps Track of Your YouTube Search History:


Google knows every search you’ve made, video you’ve watched, comment you’ve left and community you’re a part of on YouTube, and keeps a record of it. At the link above, you can take a look for yourself and see their history of YouTube videos you’ve seen. You can also delete that history if you wish, and pause/stop the site from showing this history on this page.

6. You Can Get A Copy of ALL of Your Google Data (Spoiler, it’s big):


If you really want to know everything Google has on you all in one place, Google’s takeout feature is what you’re looking for. Google will send you a copy of all of your data from its many services (with some exceptions: they’re not sending you all your emails from Gmail, for example) in a series of folders. In them you’ll find records like your search history, all the YouTube videos you’ve uploaded, your Contacts, and your transaction history on Google Pay, among many, many other things.

7. Facebook Also Lets You Download A Copy of Everything You’ve Done

Moving on to Facebook, this site also lets you download a copy of all of your information, though you’ve got to jump through a couple of hoops to get there. If you want to download it yourself, log in to Facebook, click the down arrow in the upper right of the screen, then click on settings, then find the link on the page marked “Download a copy.”

Once you have it downloaded, you’ll have a folder that contains logs of all of your Facebook chats, every file you’ve ever been sent on Facebook, all your photos, and even every sticker you’ve ever sent, and much more.

8. You Can See What Facebook Thinks Your Interests Are

By checking Facebook’s settings, you can also see what interests and personality traits Facebook thinks it knows about you, for the purpose of targeting ads on your Facebook feed. To take a look at these, click the down arrow again, and go into Settings. Then, in the left-hand column, click Ads. From there, click Your information, then Your categories.

There, you’ll see a list of traits, such as what Facebook thinks your political leanings are, what devices you use Facebook from, what interests you have, and when your birthday is. Facebook lets you delete these traits if you think they aren’t relevant to you as well.

These 8 things you can look at are just the tip of the iceberg as far as what data about you that’s left on the internet. This is what Google and Facebook are being transparent about, as these are publicly accessible tools on their respective platforms. It’s quite likely that there’s a lot more data out there about you from Google, Facebook, or other websites that isn’t quite as transparently available.

Listen, don’t get us wrong, we love the openness of the internet and we think Google and Facebook are fantastic, innovative companies who have developed world-changing platforms.

But this is why we here at Cruzio Internet and Santa Cruz Fiber don’t mine your data: we believe that what you do on the internet is your business. It’s not our business, and certainly not some other company’s business. We don’t track what you’ve been searching or what pictures you’re messaging your friends, because we don’t think that’s right. We know that you’re an actual human being, and not a collection of data that can be used to sell a car.

By changing your privacy settings, voicing your opinion and supporting companies who share your ethical concerns you’re helping build a better internet for everyone.

Santa Cruz Stands Up for Net Neutrality

David Terrazas, Zach Friend, and Lowell Hurst support Net Neutrality

Mayors David Terrazas and Lowell Hurst and County Supervisor Zach Friend are strong supporters of Net Neutrality

When it comes to Net Neutrality, two local mayors and a county supervisor are among our nation’s leaders.

These Mayors Support Net Neutrality

Santa Cruz Mayor David Terrazas and Watsonville Mayor Lowell Hurst are early signers to a pledge requiring internet providers who do business with their cities to adhere to Net Neutrality principles.

Why’s the pledge needed? Because a protracted fight in Washington has Net Neutrality on the ropes. It looks as though Congress may not muster the needed votes to reverse the FCC’s pro-lobbyist decision repealing Net Neutrality — though we can still try to apply pressure.

Since the repeal of Net Neutrality isn’t fully processed yet, every ISP is presumably net-neutral right now. What this pledge does is to say, if an ISP starts pulling shenanigans, and slowing some websites or apps down in favor of others, there will be a price to pay.

The mayors’ strategy: If we can’t fight the enormous lobbying money of big telecom providers in Washington — and it appears we can’t — we can use local spending to keep the internet honest.

Plus a County Supervisor…

And look who else has signed on — the only non-mayor in the entire list of dozens of mayors nationwide —  Zach Friend, the County Supervisor from Santa Cruz County’s Second District! Congratulations to Aptos, La Selva Beach, Seacliff, Rio Del Mar, and the rest of Zach’s constituents, who are lucky enough to have a supervisor who cares about an open and fair internet for all of you.

Cruzio Internet is a big supporter of Net Neutrality and privacy protection on the internet. Our employees and customers live all over Santa Cruz County.

We hear from friends in government offices that lobbyists from big telecommunications companies call them constantly. It can be tough to stand up. And these folks are. We’re proud of them.

Net Neutrality: Time for Action

FCC Chair Ajit Pai

There’s a chance to save Net Neutrality. Act now.

We know there’s a lot going on. But this is important. It affects the public’s ability to access and publish information.

What’s at Stake

Prospects for a neutral, open, and fair internet have taken a bad turn. In December 2017, the FCC changed its ruling and lifted the requirement for ISPs to be Net Neutral  — which means that ISPs can choose what to speed up or slow down on the internet.

How long do you usually wait for a website to load before you click away? The effect could be devastating for media competition and especially for smaller companies that can’t afford to pay.

Of course, the ISP’s customers have already paid for internet. We think ISPs should not be charging both the customer (you) and the vendor (Netflix, or YouTube, or little startup company X).

Cruzio’s view is, if you’re paying for a connection, you should get to watch whatever you choose.

Where We’re At

So back to the beginning of this blog. There’s a chance to save Net Neutrality if we really try.

The FCC’s decision was in December, but it takes a while for such things to be official (“entered into the Federal Register”). That just happened February 22nd.

Once recorded, the Senate can rescind the regulation if they vote to do so within 60 days.

50 senators have already indicated they’d vote to overturn the recent decision. We just need one more senator.

Our California senators are already on board. And California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra has joined 22 other attorneys general to sue the FCC and prevent the change. So in general California is already pro-Net Neutrality, though certainly they’d all appreciate a “thanks!”.

The most effective action: if you know someone in a state with Republican senators, contact your friend and get them to give their senators a nudge! Net Neutrality is very popular with the general public. Reminding senators of that has worked well in the past.

We need just one more senator.

By the way, the NRA awarded a rifle to Trump administration’s FCC Chair Ajit Pai for his work killing Net Neutrality. The award came just about a week after the Parkland shooting.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Great News for UCSC Faculty Housing: Wireless Pro is Now Available

It’s two months into the year, and our big Fiber Project has been at the forefront of our minds over here. But as important as that is – and it is important! – we’ve got another announcement to make: We’re very happy to announce that Wireless Pro service will now be available for the faculty housing area at UCSC.

Map of new Wireless Pro at UCSC Faculty Housing

If you live inside the blue polygon, give us a call or visit our website! We’re ready to get you connected.

If you see your address in the blue shape above, let us know! All you need to do is fill in your address on our Santa Cruz Fiber homepage to get started.

Wireless Pro has average speeds of 75 megabits per second for both uploading and downloading, and in many cases speeds are much faster than that, up to 100 Mbps. That’s not the end though, your speeds will automatically get better as technology improves as well.

So if you live in this UCSC faculty housing area, welcome to the network! We can’t wait to get you connected.

Email Changes Coming Soon — Get Ready!

mailbox for email

Cruzio will soon upgrade our email services. Heads up: Cruzio is raising the monthly price of our service to $5 per mailbox in order to make the change. For people who have previously had free email attached to another service, this can represent a noticeable jump in cost.

(Note: This doesn’t apply to custom domain name email service, just to our core address space ending in @cruzio.com, @baymoon.com, @rattlebrain.com, @calcentral.com, @scshop.com, @elgatito.com, @ebold.com, @skyhighway.com, @cruziolatino.com, and @icogitate.com.)

Here’s an explanation of what we’re doing and why. For tips on how to be prepared and keep costs low, check our FAQ. For a smooth change down the line, we recommend changing settings now — here’s the info you’ll need.

Our first goal is to clear out unused mailboxes before we move to a new platform. We know because of the long-time low cost, many people have addresses they don’t use. The first step if you’re in that boat is to remove unwanted mailboxes. Please contact us to get that done, and we’ll be happy to help with issues like recovering forgotten passwords, forwarding (which we’re providing free of charge), and saving old messages.

Once our mailbox count has stabilized (we expect there will be many fewer of them), Cruzio will shift to the newer interface. Watch this space for announcements of new features in the coming months.

Why the Change

The simple answer is that maintaining and supporting a non-ad-based email service is quite expensive.  Sending and receiving messages might seem simple but the fact of the matter is that maintaining a good email service 24/7/365 is a lot of work, and email is what our customers call or write us about most. Adding better spam protection and a better user interface, which we feel is necessary, adds to the cost and we’ll be charged for those improvements by a third party on a per-mailbox per-month basis.

Then there’s the fact that Cruzio does not sell our customer information, surround your emails with ads, or otherwise subsidize the service as do free email providers such as Yahoo! or Gmail. The bottom line is that those services are free because the companies providing them want as many users as possible in order to monetize their personal data.

Cruzio is different. We work hard to protect our members’ privacy. We strongly believe it makes a difference to have an alternative to big nationwide ISPs — we stand out by offering fast, reliable internet services while being good members of the community and meeting a high bar for service and integrity.

To everyone who doesn’t like the increase in mailbox prices, Cruzio doesn’t like it either. We held off as long as we could. The current open source software we put together — and held together for many years — just isn’t providing the kind of user experience our customers need. We have to provide a better solution, and we’re going to do just that. The new email will have better spam protection, bigger mailboxes, and a much better user experience. Unfortunately, that’s expensive and we absolutely refuse to offset expenses by selling users’ personal information and browsing data or cutting off phone support as other companies do.

Understanding that some of our customers value free service over privacy and customer care and will elect to move to a different service, perhaps a free service, we have given months of notice to make sure people have time to find and transition to a new provider.

But if you’re inclined to stay, we’ll work to keep your business, so try talking with us first!

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions, we’re always happy to help answer them. Our staff is on hand to assist in any way possible. We value you as customers and as neighbors.

And most of all, thank you for your continued support of local, Net Neutral internet.


Q. My family/business has been using multiple email addresses for years and can’t afford to start paying for all of them. What can I do?
A. The first step is to clean out any email addresses you aren’t using. For the rest, although we’re raising the price, each mailbox is only $60 per year, so consider whether it may be worth the cost. There are no contracts required, you can cancel any time. If that doesn’t make sense, we have many low-cost options which can help, including free email forwarding. Please contact us, we’ll work it out!

Q. I didn’t even know I had these mailboxes. Can you tell me what’s in them?
A. We won’t read your email but we’ll help you do it: Cruzio can reset your passwords if you contact us and provide proper identification. Contact us.

Q. I want to close a mailbox. What happens to all the mail?
A. Before you close an email address, you’ll need to make sure you’ve downloaded any data you want to keep to your computer or other device. Cruzio will keep the email for 21 days past the date the service is closed, so you will have a last chance to restore data if there’s something you have missed.

Q. I have to download all my email? How do I do that?
A. The download happens on the customer side, so Cruzio can’t do it for you. But we do have instructions and advice for you, and the process should be pretty easy. If it’s a complicated case, we’re happy to recommend a consultant. And remember, if it’s taking you a while to figure it out, the cost to keep a mailbox is only $5 per month.

Q. I use the email address as a login for services that are important to me like Facebook and my bank. Or people I’ve lost touch with have that address and might try to contact me someday. What should I do?
A. We kept the per-mailbox cost low so that you can keep an email address or transition from it very slowly. We’re also providing forwarding so that email to one of your addresses can be received in another mailbox — free of charge. Contact us for advice if you need it!

Q. I like the old interface. I’m used to it. Why are you changing?
A. Technology moves forward pretty relentlessly, as everyone working at Cruzio knows. There are just a lot of issues that older email clients don’t handle well. We think you’ll really like the new interface.

Q. New email interface! I’m excited! But does that mean I need to change the settings in my email readers?
A. Yes. There will be new settings, so you’ll need to change them on all the devices you use to send and receive email. Although we haven’t upgraded to the new interface yet, you can enter the new information any time. It’s a great idea to go ahead and do this right now, while there’s plenty of time and both settings will work. It’s not hard to do, and we’re happy to help.

Q. Should I make the changes right now?
A. Sure. It never hurts to get started.

Q. I have a million questions.
A. We’re happy to answer them. If you ask a good one we’ll add it to this FAQ! Contact us.

We’re Launching Free WiFi in Watsonville Plaza – And We Want You To Celebrate With Us

Come join us as we launch free WiFi in Watsonville Plaza

As we build out our excellent new fiber-backed infrastructure in Watsonville, we wanted to make sure we’re also giving back to the community. That’s why we’re launching our initiative to bring free WiFi to Watsonville Plaza, and we want you to come celebrate it’s launch with us.

We’ll be holding A ceremony this Friday, February 16 from 5-7 pm in downtown Watsonville to commemorate the launch of free WiFi in the Watsonville plaza.  and features District 30 Assemblymember Anna Caballero as the primary speaker. The free WiFi service is being brought to you by Santa Cruz Fiber, powered by Cruzio; the City of Watsonville, the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, and the DigitalNEST.

“As our economy continues to shift it’s important that we provide the next generation with the tools they need to be successful in their own communities and careers,” said Assemblymember Anna Caballero. “I am excited that the City of Watsonville is making internet access a priority, especially in the downtown area where local families, high school and college students will be able to use it.”

“The City of Watsonville is thrilled to partner with Cruzio and continue expanding high-speed internet access in our community,” said Watsonville Mayor Lowell Hurst. “Internet access is a critical ingredient for our community’s youth, and will help insure they can successfully compete in the growing digital economy.  

Other speakers will include Watsonville Mayor Lowell Hurst,  Pajaro Valley Unified School District Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez and Santa Cruz County Deputy Superintendent Faris Sabbah. Our CEO, Peggy Dolgenos, will also be addressing the crowd about the importance of serving all of Santa Cruz County, and Jacob Martinez from DigitalNEST will be speaking about why equitable internet access is important for communities to remain competitive.

“When Cruzio launched the Santa Cruz Fiber brand and service suite last year we had always envisioned it to serve Santa Cruz County,” said Peggy Dolgenos of Cruzio. “While our first major fiber project was in downtown Santa Cruz, our goal is to bring fiber to every part of the community, which is why this moment is so important.”

The event also marks the launch of Cruzio’s expanded, fiber-backed Watsonville service, which will be available to most of the City of Watsonville through distributed wireless hubs. These access points are connected to a larger fiber backbone that connects to Cruzio’s headquarters in downtown Santa Cruz.

Also featured at the event will be complimentary beer and wine, and light snacks. If you’re ready to come on down and try the new WiFi network yourself, you’re encouraged to RSVP via the Santa Cruz Fiber Facebook Page.

We also want to give a big thank you to our co-sponsors: The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership and the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce, for helping us make this event a reality.

Operation Cupcake

Cruzio Internet has recently embarked on our community’s most ambitious communication project in over half a century — ever since cable companies with monopoly franchise agreements installed coaxial copper cables. Who’d ever have expected cupcakes to be part of the process?

Cupcakes from Buttercup Cakes. How's that related to internet?

We’re building Santa Cruz Fiber. This project will bring unprecedented internet speeds at low prices to downtown Santa Cruz. As with any ambitious project, there have been a few hiccups.

Building Fiber is “Boring”

Cruzio chose a minimally invasive method of construction: underground directional boring.

This method requires only small, occasional openings in the street. A drill then bores a narrow tunnel underground for as much as thousands of feet before re-emerging to pull conduit and fiber optic cables through.

It’s very important to watch for existing underground infrastructure while drilling, and several methods are used: all utilities mark their assets with bright spray paint; small round potholes are dug near the markings for visual confirmation; and a monitor attached to the drill head itself sends video to the operators standing above.

But Occasionally There’s a Surprise

Drilling is done slowly and carefully, with the monitor constantly checked.

We’ve encountered the usual problems: pouring rain for a couple of days, forcing us to leave up our parking signs longer than expected. Some of the buildings we’d like to extend fiber to didn’t get us permission in a timely manner (there’s still time, downtowners, sign up now!). And most seriously, three weeks after the start of construction, at nearly closing time one day, our drill hit a water pipe that had an odd, unmarked bend.

Our construction engineers were watching carefully. They saw the problem right away, but the older pipes tear easily and damage was done. We immediately shut down our drilling, notified the Water Department, and set about making repairs. Kudos to the City of Santa Cruz and to MP Construction, our contractors, for their quick action. Everyone worked together and capped the damage, prevented much water from escaping, and got the street back in working order that night.

That’s right: that night. The crew stayed at work till the job was done at about 4 am.

We’re not happy with mistakes. But we’re happy with the way our team deals with them.

Now for the Internet-Cupcake Connection:

We’ve set out traffic cones and sawhorses, slowing things down and causing some disruption in the neighborhood. So Cruzio has arranged with our local provider of excellent cupcakes, Buttercup Cakes, to provide a free cupcake to every affected household.

We feel that in the long run, our world-class (and inexpensive) internet will make up for the temporary inconvenience. But for someone feeling a bit peeved today, a cupcake might just hit the (sweet) spot.

No matter where you live in Santa Cruz County, we’d love to serve you. Sign up for fiber or fiber-backed internet, go to SantaCruzFiber.com.

2017 At Cruzio: Fiber Construction, Faster Connections, and Full Redundancy

2017 has been another amazing year for us here at Cruzio. Whether it’s growing our fiber-backed wireless network, or taking the massive first steps toward building our Santa Cruz Fiber network in the city of Santa Cruz, we’ve been busy building broadband throughout the year. Let’s take a look back at the highlights of the last year, and what we’re looking forward to in the next.

We Began Construction of Santa Cruz FiberFiber Construction is Underway

Throughout the entire year, the biggest project on our mind here was our fiber project. It’s a gigantic step forward for internet infrastructure in Santa Cruz. In August, we held a big party at our offices in downtown Santa Cruz celebrating the fact that we got permits to begin construction in the city. Congressman Jimmy Panetta and others gave rousing speeches (which you can find right here!) and we flipped the switch signifying the beginning of the project.

Now, as you can see in the picture above, Construction is underway! We’re now aiming to have the first neighborhood in Downtown Santa Cruz lit up and bringing sweet, sweet gigabit internet to customers by March of this year. If you can see your address in this map, there’s still time to sign up right now and get gigabit internet for $49.95 a month with no installation cost!

Santacruzfiber.com is Alive

santacruzfiber.com website

And with great new infrastructure, a great new website is needed to show it off! Early this year, we worked with the awesomely talented local design company Cosmic to launch our brand new santacruzfiber.com website. There, we’ve made it easy to find out where your address stands in the fiber project, how you can get your address on the list for future build-outs, and find the services you’re already eligible for. If you haven’t gone over to take a look yet, we strongly recommend checking it out.

Wireless Pro is now even faster

Graph of Wireless Pro speeds

In 2016’s  wrap up, we proudly touted that our Wireless Pro network was faster than ever before, with speeds averaging around 50 megabits per second (mbps) and as high as 90 mbps. Last year, as you can see in the graph above, our average speed from installations is much closer to 75 mbps for uploading and downloading. In many cases, speeds have been much higher than that in the 100 Mbps+ range! Our technicians improve these speeds by constantly monitoring the network and upgrading wherever possible to the newest and fastest tech. As we get faster, we upgrade all our customers for free. So if you’re in an area that we don’t have fiber in yet, this fiber-backed option is easily the best option to go with.

We Built A Whole Bunch of New Access Points

Our New Access Point on the WestsideOur New Access Point in Scotts ValleyOur New Access Point Along Soquel Dr.

Speaking of Wireless Pro, it’s now available in more areas than ever before as well. In the last year, we’ve built new access points across the entire county: from Scotts Valley, to two brand new points in Santa Cruz, all the way down to Watsonville (see below). That means that not only is Wireless Pro faster than ever before, it’s also more widely available than ever before as well.

So take a look at the maps right above this blurb. If you see your address in any of the colored shapes, you’re in a very good area to get connected to the newest points in our Wireless Pro network. You can enter your address right here to find out if you’re eligible for this service. Even if you’re not in any of the polygons above, let us know you’re interested. We’ve got dozens more access points across the county that you could be in range for, and we’re more than happy to help you find the best internet connection you can possibly get.

We Expanded our services in Watsonville

Our new expanded Wireless Pro service area in Watsonville

This year we really expanded in South County. Through a long-term partnership with the City of Watsonville and the County of Santa Cruz, we extended our fiber optic path fiber optic internet path to Watsonville and are now offering much faster internet services. As our CEO Peggy Dolgenos said at the time, “for all practical purposes we now have infinite broadband capacity in downtown Watsonville and we’re looking to get as many people as possible connected to it!”

We’re also working with our friends at the City of Watsonville, Digital Nest and the Pajaro Valley Unified School District to bring free, high-speed wifi to the Plaza which we expect to launch in January.

Cruzio Remains Dedicated to Net Neutrality

Not all news was good in the world of the internet this year; it wasn’t all fast speeds and fiber. On December 14th, the FCC voted to gut current net neutrality rules, and all but erase a free and open internet. That means ISPs could throttle connections to some websites, and create paid “fast lanes” to others without any repercussions.

Being an ISP ourselves, we’ve been asked a lot this year what our thoughts on this subject are, and what we would do if net neutrality was obliterated. In short, we’ve been dedicated to the tenants of a free and open internet since the very beginning and that’s never going to change. Throughout the year, we’ve made it readily apparent that we’re not giving up on net neutrality without a fight, and that it’s not time yet to give up; there’s still lots of ways to fight back and make your voice heard.

Thanks to a New Fiber Backhaul, Our Services Became Fully Redundant

Fiber cuts can be a real pain. In 2016, when pounding rain and bad weather brought mudslides to the area, there were times where a cut created major headaches for users throughout our network. This was unacceptable to us, so we took massive steps to beef up our secondary connections.

Last year, we completed our redundant backhaul fiber connection. That means system-wide problems like the ones we saw before are now a thing of the past. In fact, last year we actually had multiple fiber cuts like the ones from 2016 — some that lasted for as long as two days — but not a single user was actually affected by them because the redundant backhaul kicked in and took over for the broken fiber line, like a relay runner passing a baton.

In the words of our Director of Technology and Infrastructure, Chris Frost: “Our network is healthier than it’s ever been before,” largely because of this redundant fiber backhaul.

Looking Toward 2018

2017 saw a lot of big improvements coming to Cruzio and Santa Cruz Fiber, and you can be sure we’ll be carrying all of this momentum into 2018. Now that construction has begun on Santa Cruz Fiber, we’re looking forward to taking it outside of Downtown Santa Cruz, and farther into the city and beyond.

At the same time we’ll be building new wireless access points and continuing to hook up multi-tenant buildings to our certified building program. We’re  planning big improvements on our email services early this year that include bigger mailboxes (15GB!), better webmail and much better spam filtering. And we’ll be lighting up the aforementioned wifi in Watsonville plaza and having a kickoff event to celebrate on Jan 31st.

And with that, we say goodbye to a stellar 2017 and look toward an even better 2018!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From,

Chris, Peggy, Mark, James, another Chris, Sandi, Ralph, Colin, Adia, Jesus, Alison, Dan, Ariel, Justin, Andrew, David, another David, Alex, Brooke, Parker, Ani, Max, Josephine, Iasha, Laurie, Alana, Brian, Cameron, Rafferty, Dillon, and another Cameron;

Our fantastic apprentice Jay

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

Construction has Begun on Santa Cruz Fiber

Fiber Construction is Underway

This week Cruzio Internet begins construction of its independent, net neutral, high-speed Santa Cruz Fiber network in downtown Santa Cruz. We’ve worked with leading design, engineering and construction companies to build a new network, which will bring affordable gigabit (1,000 Mbps) broadband service to downtown homes and businesses early next year.

The construction technique being we’re using, called directional boring, allows the build team to install cables underground without costly and invasive open trenching. Instead, by making small potholes at opposite ends of a segment, and through use of special, electronically-guided equipment, crews are able to bore safely and quickly underground in between the points. As is the case with all underground construction, this process required that other utilities locate their underground assets for safety reasons. Hence the paint marks on the streets downtown that will soon be gone.

While the preparation for construction has been a lengthy process, Cruzio believes the final product, Gigabit speed internet, will be well worth the wait. “Any time you build new infrastructure it takes a lot of planning and preparation” says Chris Frost, Cruzio’s Director of Technology and Infrastructure. “Our goal first and foremost was to make sure we did it right the first time, and that we didn’t inconvenience our downtown neighbors.”

“In keeping with their history of supporting the local business community, Cruzio/Santa Cruz Fiber, has been quite thorough in reaching out and educating the community about the benefits of Fiber, and more importantly has been very responsive to the needs and concerns pertaining to installation,” says Chip, Executive Director of the Downtown Association. “We’re very much looking forward to the value that this project will bring to the business district.”

This new fiber optic infrastructure is a huge step forward for Santa Cruz broadband and will immediately increase the value of any building that is connected. We encourage any local residents or business with questions or concerns about the project to contact them directly at www.cruzio.com/contact.

The Santa Cruz Fiber network will start in downtown Santa Cruz, but we’ve already got plans to take it to other parts of the County such as downtown Watsonville. The new network also allows Cruzio the ability to upgrade many of its existing services, which will now be classified as “fiber-backed.” These services, which include point-to-point wireless distribution, make Gigabit speeds outside of the initial build area possible, increasing coverage throughout Cruzio’s existing customer base. Fiber-backed Gigabit services are already available at a number of locations, and interested people can check availability at SantaCruzFiber.com. Those interested in getting fiber service at their downtown home or business should visit Cruzio’s website at www.santacruzfiber.com/downtown. We encourage anyone in Santa Cruz County interested in high-speed internet service to reach us at Cruzio.com/contact.

Net Neutrality: Where It Stands

protect access, protect innovation, protect net neutrality

There’s been bad news lately about the internet. As expected after last year’s election, the FCC has rescinded its Net Neutrality rules.

The arguments against Net Neutrality are, frankly, disingenuous. They range from the idea that companies won’t invest without guaranteed results (what about every other industry?) to assurances that consumers don’t really need protection and will barely notice any difference: “Nothing to see here, folks.”

Cruzio disagrees. We’re skeptical that those arguments are simply political cover for allowing the biggest ISPs to make a lot more money by making the internet less open and free. The tragedy of the commons.

There are plenty of places to read arguments for Net Neutrality, like these at Ars Technica and from the ACLU. And Cruzio has been sounding the alarm for some time. We’re happy to discuss it at length, from the point of view of an ISP — it’s often argued that ISPs are unilaterally in favor of dropping the rule. But that’s not true.

Cruzio tried very hard to preserve the Net Neutrality rule. We worked with the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF).  We joined other independent ISPs in a letter to the FCC defending it. Ajit Pai kept claiming that “ISPs” needed the rule removed. We’re an ISP. “Nope, not us, no,” we protested. Deaf ears.

But now that we’ve gotten outvoted at the FCC, what can we do next?

It isn’t over.

Next steps:

First: Congress can, by a simple majority vote, review and reverse a federal regulation if it acts within 60 days of the rule’s publication. This would be a simple fix. Chuck Schumer, the Minority Leader, has promised to bring this to the Senate floor. Net Neutrality polls extremely well. If Congress voted with popular opinion this could happen quickly. But lobbying money is a strong counter-incentive to public interest, and large ISPs and their parent companies are some of the top donors in Washington (check the charts below, from OpenSecrets.org).  Even supportive representatives will have a strong incentive to lose the fight. So this is the area where public support is important right now — we have to speak louder than money. Action steps are right here.

Second: States are looking at imposing their own regulations. A state like California, with its economic clout, can strongly influence the market. We see that in other industries. For example, California air quality regulations have caused car manufacturers to meet higher standards than what’s federally required. Perhaps the same could go for Net Neutrality. Or at least we’d enjoy it in our state. We support State Senator Scott Weiner’s bill for Net Neutrality in California.

Third: Lawsuits. There is good evidence that the FCC did not do its required due diligence in accepting public input: it appears that millions of “public comments” were entered by hackers, many of them from, of course, Russia. With such a muddled data set, how can the Commission say it has had a clear view on public opinion? The claim is also being made that the FCC did not make a fact-based study to back up its decision, which has merit but seems harder to prove.

Fourth: the most basic part of the discussion, for us, is that Cruzio is committed to Net Neutral practices and we’re not going to change that. To almost quote Arlo Guthrie, “You can get anything you want, at Cruzio’s restaurant ISP.”

By the way, we’ve had some questions from our customers about Net Neutrality.

Here are some of the questions, and our best answers right now:

Q: Can people avoid paying for content by using a VPN?

A: It doesn’t seem like Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) would help. Corporate ISPs which charge more for data from “out of network” sources would surely just classify all VPN traffic as “outside of network.”

Q: What about upstream providers? Will they charge more?

A: This question recognizes that the internet is a network, and that data travels not just inside one ISP, but is handed off from one company to another. But there is a difference between the ISP who serves individual customers and “NSPs,” or network service providers. Right now, the “backbone” of the internet is still fairly competitive. ISPs like Cruzio can choose from a number of NSPs. We should keep an eye out for over-consolidation of the internet backbone, but this is less of an immediate issue so far as we can see. If Cruzio found that an upstream provider violated Net Neutrality, we’d stop sending traffic through that company.

Q: Are Cruzio’s upstream providers fighting for Net Neutrality?

A: Many of our fellow ISPs, including a company called Sonic from which we rent circuits, are active in the pro-Net Neutrality cause. But NSPs aren’t generally involved in the discussion — see above.