COVID-19: Cruzio Wants You to Get Better Internet

Cruzio Internet headquarters

We’re working hard, keeping the network running

Hello again from Cruzio, where 80% of our staff, including yours truly, is working from home.

It feels like we’re right back where we started 30+ years ago, doing tech support, programming, and admin tasks from the kitchen table.

The other 20% of our staff is in the field, maintaining and improving the connections we know you need — especially right now. Our techs are carefully disinfecting and washing everything frequently, and they’ll stay a safe “social distance” from people. But we are still installing and upgrading equipment — we need our network to keep pace with the recent uptick in bandwidth usage.

Everything is coronavirus-related these days, from the repeated hand-washing and social distancing to the heavier-than-ever use of the internet.

Internet — Who Needs It?

The internet’s a lifeline when we’re sheltering in place. Kids have to have it for school. Grownups need it for work. The internet even helps people connect to important health resources, like pharmacies and doctors.

And everyone goes online to stay occupied and connected with friends and family.

Plus, Netflix, of course.

For some of us, as a matter of survival we leave the Disney Channel on for the kids or binge on YouTube Videos for Pets to amuse the cat while we try to get a little work done.

(Check out this collection of adorable Cruzio pets! Lots of us get the benefit of non-human companionship when we work from home.)

How to Get Better Internet

The quality of your connection depends a lot on us, so Cruzio is always looking for ways to make it better, especially now. But there are things you can do, too.

We’ve been identifying people who have older, copper-based connections (Velocity and DSL) and emailed those folks when we think they could benefit from an upgrade to a wireless connection. You may see an email like that in your mailbox. We’re not charging setup fees to make the change — it’s easy, free, and you’ll end up paying the same per month as you do now, for a better connection. As our network expands, we’re able to offer that to more people, so if we haven’t gotten to you yet, hopefully we will soon.

And part of that expansion — here’s where being part of a local community helps — is finding hubs in your area where we can put gear to better serve your neighborhood.

Sometimes it’s a tall apartment building, or a house up on a hill. People who put access points on their property get free internet from Cruzio.

So that’s a project if your area doesn’t have good internet: find the place in your neighborhood that sees a lot of other places, and have them contact us.

We’ve also been combing through our equipment rental records to see who has older modems or routers. If your equipment is getting long in the tooth, we’ll contact you (we may have already — we do this regularly) to ask if we can replace it. Now might be an especially good time to do that.

If you don’t rent our equipment, have a peek at your modem and/or router, that little box with the blinking lights. Covered with dust? Can’t remember when you bought or inherited it? Might be time to contact us for a better option.

And for our part we will be keeping our network up and running, and sending out our crews to fix any problems that occur on our side of the connection. We can’t avoid all problems, but we promise we’ll get to them quickly.

What Else Are Our Crews Doing? Bringing Internet to Kids in Need

When the schools closed a couple of weeks ago, the “digital divide” immediately became an emergency.

Kids now need to school from home, but some families don’t have an internet connection at their house. And most of the public internet access spots — libraries, coffee shops — are closed.

So Cruzio is working with the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (COE) to identify income-qualified students who need internet, and get it to them.

We’re kitting these students out with our best stuff: high-speed wireless internet with our spiffiest router to supply internet throughout their house. And it’s free for three months. It’s what we thought we could do to help the situation.

The hero of this effort is Jesus Lopez, our Sales & Marketing Manager, and here’s why: many of the people who call us about this program don’t speak English, so Jesus, who’s bilingual, offered to take all the calls. He explains the program to the callers and sets up appointments when they’re qualified. He listens to the parents as they describe their situations, which are sometimes really difficult. His notes in their accounts are inspiring to all of us.

We’re also working with schools and other organizations to install pop-up, drive-in wifi hotspots. We can put up wifi in a parking lot or other open area so that folks with no other option for good internet can drive up, download their assignments, upload their presentation or join their video call, all without leaving the confines of their socially-distanced automobiles.

So that’s a good note to end on: all of us trying to do a little something for each other in these trying times. Shop local. Say a real thank you to the checker at the grocery store — that must be a scary job these days. Wave to your neighbors as you pass by — at a good distance away, of course. It all helps.

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

Who’s Working from Home? The Pet Edition

Now that Cruzio’s staff is mostly working from home, we get to meet each other’s pets as we videoconference. Here’s a sampling of pet photos from our non-human-wfh-officemates channel:

 

Sometimes we barely realize they’re there

Cam's spherical cat

Cam’s spherical cat

Peggy's spherical cat

Peggy’s spherical cat

Jesus's pup is tuckered out

Jesus’s pup is tuckered out

 

Though they might cop an attitude

 

Do not mess with Ocean

Do not mess with Ocean

 

 

Because cats and cabbages

Because cats and cabbages

 

My office mate refuses to talk to me

My office mate refuses to talk to me

 

Aw man, almost Monday

Aw man, almost Monday

 

What are you doing here?

What are you doing here?

 

Other times they seem to think they could be doing the job better, frankly,  than we seem to. And maybe they’re right…

 

Taxidermist monitors the power tools

Taxidermist monitors the power tools

 

If Mark forgets to close the door, Jasper wants equal time

If Mark forgets to close the door, Jasper wants equal time

 

Milton & Molly notinterested in discussing James using the kitchen table today

Milton & Molly not interested in discussing James using the kitchen table today

 

Oh you think you're gonna use the computer?

Oh you think you’re gonna use the computer?

 

Well so will I. TO TAKE A BATH.

Well so will I. TO TAKE A BATH.

 

Ziggy is stoked to videoconference

Ziggy is stoked to videoconference

Fulton enjoys working from home

Fulton enjoys working from home

 

Bent to tie my shoe and I am now Milton's ergonomic workstation

Bent to tie my shoe and I am now Milton’s ergonomic workstation

 

Iasha's cat plays fetch and keeps bringing her toys

Iasha’s cat plays fetch and keeps bringing her toys

 

But you know, when we look up from a long day’s work at home, it’s nice to see that friendly non-human officemate’s face…

 

Something special about walking down the hall and seeing your dog sitting there dressed in a Hawaiian shirt

Something special about walking down the hall and seeing your dog sitting there dressed in a Hawaiian shirt

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

COVID-19 — Cruzio is Preparing, not Panicking

To Our Customers & Community:

 

We’re living through an unusual time. Although the COVID-19 virus has only just started to visibly hit Santa Cruz County, we are expecting and preparing for more. 

Local schools and universities are shutting down. Many companies are asking employees to work from home. Many local people are staying home voluntarily, creating “social distance” that will help to slow the progress of the virus.

Our community has to come together to deal with this, medically and economically. 

In any crisis, communication is vital.

This is obviously true for social distancing and telecommuting — whether it’s an employee working at her kitchen table or a grandfather stuck at home Netflixing, people need internet. And there’s an enhanced call for getting information, for telemedicine, and generally feeling less isolated.

We’re very aware that Cruzio is a lifeline utility, especially now, and reliable, fast service to our current customers is our top priority. Luckily, Cruzio has a robust, redundant network. We already have no data caps or limits. But we have to do more.

Here are the measures Cruzio is taking to maintain reliable service and keep our community healthy: 

  1. We’re following guidelines and limiting face-to-face contact
    Normally, we love to see folks in our storefront. But for now, to reduce possible infection vectors, we’re asking that you contact us over the internet wherever possible.

    If you need to pay a bill, please use your online account portal. If you have a question (like “how do I use my account portal?”), try contacting us through our contact page — or give us a call at 831459-6301 extension 2.

  2. Special care for repairs, new equipment, surveys, and installs
    Even Cruzio can’t use the internet for everything. But we’ll be careful when we need to deal with you in person. Our employees are following guidelines by reducing close contact, wiping down equipment, and washing hands before and after working at customer locations. Please extend the same courtesy to them!

  3. Our coworking is open, but we’re taking extra measures to stay safe
    Coworkers are still using our space, and we’re working hard to keep everything clean and virus-free.

  4. Cruzio needs to stay healthy
    It’s important for Cruzio’s staff to remain healthy and prevent infection, both inside and outside our office — for our work’s sake as well as our own. We need healthy staff to take care of our customers and our network.

    Employees who don’t have to be on site will be working from home. Frequent hand-washing is required. We’re wiping down counters, doorknobs, and surfaces frequently throughout the day. Cruzio employees are instructed not to come to work if they are ill.

  5. It’s going to be tough financially, for our company and our customers
    Recognizing that people may be in less of a position to make prompt payments, while their situation may mean they need the internet, Cruzio will not be suspending service when a payment is late.

  6. We’ll keep the network running
    Almost goes without saying but through all of this our top priority will be keeping our network up and running. We’ve come through in emergencies before. This is where we prove our mettle.

All of us need to keep up with the best advice from authorities. And as we see local businesses suffering, let’s be supportive of them — Casey Coonerty Protti wrote an excellent letter on how to do that. 

We also strongly encourage donating to the Second Harvest Food Bank and to local clinics — Dominican and Watsonville Community Hospital, and other medical centers — to assist those who may need help in coming weeks.

Let’s look out for one another. Let’s take the measures we need to reduce harm and promote well-being in Santa Cruz County, and make our community a safe and sound place.

Stay well,

 —Chris Neklason, Peggy Dolgenos, and all the folks at Cruzio Internet and Santa Cruz Fiber

This Might be the Most Beautiful Building in Santa Cruz

Piedmont Court, Santa Cruz

We like surprises — like gigabit internet in Victorian-era buildings

There’s a beautiful, historic apartment building where High and Highland Streets meet on Santa Cruz’s West Side, called the Piedmont Court. We think it ranks with the prettiest in town.

Now every resident of that building can get gigabit internet for just $30 per month. And $30 is not a temporary price — it’s the real price! It’s extra low because their apartment management did a group buy of Cruzio Internet.

Putting new communications infrastructure in hundred-plus-year-old-buildings is challenging, but when you aim to serve everyone in Santa Cruz it’s a necessity. Cruzio has installed new wiring in every style of house from Spanish to Craftsman to Victorian to tilt-up concrete, working with attention and care.

We’re Always Upgrading Elderly Buildings

Some other historic buildings Cruzio has wired include the Santa Cruz Civic Center, Loudon Nelson, the Museum of Art and History, the Leonard Building, and little Victorian houses all over town. We’ve even brought wireless internet to the Wharf and the Lighthouse. With Cruzio’s fiber construction, some of the oldest, funkiest buildings in town get some of the fastest internet in the USA.

In our list of Victorian-era construction sites, we’ll include the streets of Santa Cruz, under which our fiber optic cables are laid. Beneath the streets is a maze of vital, in-use infrastructure along with ancient, long-abandoned, unmarked pipes — some of them made of redwood! Like working in a fragile Victorian house, when we drill underground we run into a lot of maze- and puzzle-like situations.

Even Cruzio’s own headquarters, in downtown Santa Cruz, is old. Our building once housed the local newspaper — The Sentinel — with its hard-bitten reporters shouting into rotary phones as they took slugs of bourbon from bottles stashed in desk drawers. That was state-of-the-art communications in the mid-20th century. The building’s a dinosaur: a “tilt-up” with 10-inch-thick concrete walls lightly decorated with crushed rock. It’s bulky and old-fashioned, but we equipped it with the best internet in the county: 10 gigabits per second, straight from the internet backbone. That’s the firehose of bandwidth we distribute around Santa Cruz County. We get tremendous speed here.

Cruzio building

Try to install internet throughout this cast-concrete sucker! Cruzio did it.

And if your multi-tenant site works with us, we can help you as well. Your building — or your condo or community HOA — could have premier service and discounted prices like sweet old-fashioned hyper-fast Piedmont Court.

Ready For Anything: How Cruzio Planned, Built, and Tested a 10 Gigabit Connection in Less Than 8 Hours

A photo of our completed backup link as the sun sets in Watsonville.

Over here at Cruzio, we’re familiar with challenges. When trouble strikes, in the internet infrastructure biz, it strikes hard. We’re always prepared for any eventuality, and we do our best to make sure all of our friends and customers don’t even realize a crisis is happening at all. Case in point: a major fiber cut in Watsonville yesterday afternoon.

Working with fiber can be incredibly rewarding, as it lets us get previously unimaginable internet speeds throughout the county. That said, fiber cable is made of glass, and glass can be broken with enough force. Yesterday, a construction crew’s backhoe used a lot of force to break the 288 separate strands of fiber that form our backbone into Watsonville while taking out a water main in the process. At around noon, we saw the effects of the fiber cut suddenly pop up on our network, and our infrastructure team sprang into action.

A Week’s Worth of Work in a Matter of Hours

Within one hour, our team had developed a plan to build a new 10 gigabit connection to bring the network back online using Aviat Networks’ millimeter wave radio platform. This isn’t a quick fix, by the way, infrastructure at this level would normally take weeks of planning and at least a few full days of work to build. Our team planned it out in less than an hour and was rolling out to get it built very shortly after that. All told, we were able to complete the initial build of our backup infrastructure in around 4 hours, and we were up and running in less than 6. That’s at least 3 full days of work for a normal infrastructure team, completed in less than 8 hours. Do they have superpowers? Perhaps.

By the time the fiber was restored at around midnight, many of the people in our field operations team had worked well over 12 hours that day to make sure our customers were affected as little as possible. Now, a day later, everything is restored, and all is normal again. In fact, better: we now have a permanent backup in place to avoid even small disruptions.

So maybe today we’re a bit sleepy. But we’re proud of the quick, efficient and responsive work we did in making sure as few people as humanly possible felt the wrath of The Great Watsonville Fiber Cut of 2020. Kudos to the team who’s capable of such extraordinary work: Frost, Ali, Mark, Colin, Cam, Jay, Spencer, Hans, and Luis.

How Cruzio Got a Jingle

Cruzio Internet jingle contest winner

Jingle contest winner Tim Hartnett with esteemed Cruzioworks manager Andrew DiMarzio

The day after last year’s crazy-as-usual Santa Cruz Halloween, Cruzio got a whole new party going for our friends, customers, and community. 

giant inflatable aliens

Cruzio staffers Tony and Cam placing giant inflatable aliens on our awning

We made this — our 30th(!!) anniversary bash — ultra-special with giant inflatable aliens on the roof, a fantastic 80s throwback playlist, and… a jingle contest.

Why a Jingle?

Why a jingle? Maybe we were feeling the need for a song.

Until November 1st, 2019, Cruzio was a company without a jingle. We had a beloved kitty logo, a well-functioning website, a big sign on our building. All those things make you feel like a real company. But we were missing that elusive element and it haunted us. We’d listen to Kars4Kids, and think, okay, that’s them. But who are we? What’s our melody?

Sure, we are exaggerating, and maybe a company can exist without a jingle. But we really did think a contest would be fun, and it would give our community the chance to write the song. We have a lot of talented musicians in Santa Cruz and it was a way to give amateurs a chance (in fact, the ultimate winner was an artist who’d never been paid for his music). So we offered a big prize and sent out notices to all the music stores in town. And we got 21 entries over the course of four weeks.

Not All Jingles Sound Alike. At All.

What kinds of songs did people submit? We loved the variety:

  • Reggae
  • Head-banging metal
  • Electronic
  • Cowboy
  • Instrumental
  • Yodeling (we had some arguments about the definition of yodeling, but it sounded yodel-y)
  • Rap
  • …and some that were undefinable

Surprising lyrics, too. A lot more “baby” and “bro” and “yeah yeah yeah” than we expected. One of our favorite jingles started out, “Today is a happy day.” That’s so Santa Cruz!

How’d We Decide?

We spent a few weeks with headphones on, listening over and over to how our musically talented community defined their home-town ISP. By the time of the party, we’d memorized most of the songs — the ones that we could make out the lyrics to, anyway. (Somehow, our perceptive marketing staffer Brian was able to decipher *all* the lyrics, Even the fuzziest ones. So we asked him for help a lot.) We sat at a meeting and sang along with all the songs to see how they felt. We had a lot of fun. You might say, fun was the point.

And we were right about the talented people in our community. We had some amazing songs, and some folks came and performed at our big party. We’ll never forget the tremendous air-guitar lip-sync one of the contestants did to the head-banger metal song. Another group did a little skit about a computer. All that enthusiasm made it hard to choose.

We were looking for a song that was catchy but not annoying, that was performed well, and that spoke to our Cruzio ethos: not just fast internet, but fair treatment of our customers, staff, and community. That’s a lot to fit into 15 seconds.

jingle contest judges

Our judges, conferring in chambers

But we had help. We didn’t just call on our creative community of Santa Cruz for jingle writers. We also got the best of the best to judge. Here were our esteemed judges:

  • Andrew Smith from experimental music promoter and record label Indexical
  • Jon Luini  from music, web, and video producer Chime Interactive
  • Alana Matthews, music fan from Cruzio
  • Ani Zickuhr, artist and brand specialist from Cruzio
  • Thea Luini, teen judge, representing the youth of America

Because they were judges, they wore curly white wigs. Each provided expert commentary, and helped us pick the prizes.

And here are the results:

Overall winner: Tim Hartnett, “Get Connected with Cruzio”

Judges’ favorite: The Jingleberries, Surfing with Cruzio”

Crowd favorite (from applause at the party): DreamTonic, “Today is a Happy Day”
(by the way, DreamTonic just released a single called I Take to You)

People’s Choice (received most online votes): Jon Benson and band, “At the Speed of a Click”

Want to hear all the jingle entries and see if we made the right choice? Here’s every entry we got. (It doesn’t take long to listen to all of them, they only last seconds, not minutes.)

Want to know what local artists wrote about Cruzio in their jingles? Here are all the lyrics.

And here’s a video of our 30th year party!

The Rolling Stones Wrote a Rice Crispies Jingle?

Now that we have a jingle, we’re looking into the jingle universe and we’ve found some amazing things.

Cruzio’s Jingle Champ Tim Hartnett is in good company. Another jingle writer was Brian Jones, who wrote a Rice Crispies tune performed by his little band, the Rolling Stones, with Mick Jagger singing the lyrics.

60s Dad

60s Dad winces — ugh, The Rolling Stones! Where’s Frank Sinatra?

And there’s more. Maybe the most famous jingle writer was none other than 80s pop idol Barry Manilow. Brian Jones’s ditty didn’t crack the ear-worm barrier into a tune you find yourself incessantly humming, but Manilow was more effective: among his successes: “Stuck on Bandaid” and “Like a Good Neighbor” (Statefarm) and McDonalds’ “You Deserve a Break Today”. Yup, that was Barry Manilow, of “Copacabana” and “I Write the Songs” pop ballad success in the 70’s.

Barry Manilow

Why didn’t Barry Manilow stick to jingles?

Not Ashamed

We haven’t seen the Rolling Stones promoting their former jingle creations, but Manilow’s not ashamed. All the Manilow jingles are listed on his website and he sings them in his concerts. You’ve probably heard a lot of them, because a good jingle is forever. But Manilow didn’t write the Nationwide song that Manning and Brad Paisley hum on countless commercials. Who wrote that one?

That would be Steve Karmen, “King of the Jingle,” who’s much better known for jingles than for his non-commercial songwriting. The Nationwide jingle was the fourth one he wrote and no, he doesn’t get paid every time it’s aired. He was paid up front and probably regrets that deal. Manilow, too: he got paid $500 for the McDonalds jingle that’s on the air constantly to this day.

Did anyone else become famous writing a jingle for a contest, like the one Cruzio just had? Why, yes!

Do you ever “wish you had an Oscar Meyer Weiner?” If so, you can thank Richard Trentlage. In 1962, he entered a contest and produced one of the most epic jingles of all time. He got famous, the Weiners sold like hotcakes (tbh how fast do hotcakes sell these days?), the jingle lives on and on. As it was with so many jingles.

oscar meyer jingle

This jingle won a contest too

So What Happened to Jingles?

Somehow, the jingle tradition seems to have died away, with some notable, usually unbearable, exceptions. Maybe people just aren’t as hokey as they used to be — we’re more cynical these days, and we have more choices to listen to.

If feels like the drift started with “I’d like to Teach the World to Sing” from 1971. Was this the first non-jingle jingle? The lyrics were written by an advertising executive, but it fit the groovy mood of the day. It even became a hit song after the writers added a few more verses. (Will Cruzio’s jingle take off in this way?)

Coke jingle

I’d like to teach the world to sing — in other words, buy more soda

Then jingles dwindled, at least for big corporations. In the 80s, they started paying pop stars like Michael Jackson, rather than bland B actors, to drink soda and drive cars. Musicians started seeing the benefit of airplay, and got over the bad taste of commercialization. Companies that own musicians’ catalogs saw even less downside. At first, companies tried to commission existing popular songs. Then, flipping the tables, now many songs get popular after they’re in commercials, rather than before.

Kars4Kids — Not Just Annoying

There are still jingles, but the quality has declined. Some companies resurrect old jingles to be funny (like Nationwide), and the old favorites come up from time to time nostalgically, but new ones are rare. And those that do make it onto TV are pretty awful.

A candidate for “worst jingle ever” these days is Kars4Kids, which is played incessantly nationwide. Nearly every jingle Cruzio received in our contest was more listenable than this one. Most people probably do not like this jingle. But according to Charity Navigator, Kars4Kids took in over $77 million in contributions in 2018!

According to Charity Watch, Kars4Kids is at best misleading and, to some critics, a downright scam. A lot of jingle-generated donations go to a very small number of “kids.” Which somehow fits in with their awful jingle.

Cruzio’s Jingle: A Force for Good

Cruzio’s jingle, of course, will only be used for good. We like that it urges people to “get connected.” It’s a little like standing on a mountaintop, hand in hand, teaching the world to sing.

Equal Access Santa Cruz Wins Big

Let us know if you live in one of these neighborhoods! We’ll include you in our plans.

Cruzio Wins a Grant

On December 5th Cruzio was awarded a $2.45 Million broadband grant from the California Advanced Services Fund to build high-speed fiber optic internet connectivity to seven under-served mobile home parks in the Capitola area.

Why Santa Cruz County Needs Equal Access

When Cruzio started building our Santa Cruz Fiber network, Santa Cruz County was rated 446th of 501 California metropolitan areas for internet speeds. Too small to attract investment from big ISPs, and too populated for rural subsidy programs, our county wallowed in neglected infrastructure.

Until the early 2000s, Cruzio relied on leased AT&T lines. Those lines were built in an earlier, highly-regulated and subsidized era. With less regulation from the FCC, the big ISPs took advantage of their existing infrastructure and a lack of competition to save costs. Saving costs usually results in lower quality of service.

To our dismay, they started letting local wires age and fray. We realized we had to free ourselves from that aging network and we started building independent infrastructure. Now Cruzio has a considerable — and growing — network serving thousands of local residents. Wherever we build, we bring better options to the community.

We want to get that infrastructure where it’s needed most. So we’ve started an effort we call Equal Access Santa Cruz (EASC). And in early December, EASC won a substantial grant from the State of California.

We Know How Important Internet Is

For years, Cruzio Director James Hackett has said, “Internet is a utility that’s become as vital as gas, electricity, or even water.”

Something so vital to modern life needs to be available equally to all, no matter what their location or economic circumstances.

The just-announced grant takes a big step towards that goal. After a year of seemingly endless documentation (and many prior years accumulating expertise and experience), on December 5th, 2019 James and fellow Director Chris Frost drove up to Sacramento to receive the grant award for Cruzio’s Equal Access Santa Cruz project. Hooray!

Fiber optic internet installed at El Rio Mobile Home Park

Cruzio brought fiber internet to El Rio mobile home park in 2018

Equal Access Santa Cruz

We’re honored to get the grant, and it’s for a great project. There are several communications “deserts” around Santa Cruz County which have sub-standard internet, as defined by the FCC. Many of these areas are in mobile home parks, where incomes are lower, on average, than the communities around them. They’ve been ignored by big ISPs — big corporations have a habit of ignoring consumers. Especially lower-income ones.

Cruzio identified seven such communities in mid-County that we can reach with the best internet anyone can build: fiber optic connections direct to each home. Residents of these parks have, till now, experienced some of the worst connectivity in Santa Cruz County. With this project, they can look forward to the best in the USA.

We weren’t the only ones who recognized the need for better internet in mid-county neighborhoods. Member of Congress Jimmy Panetta, State Assembly Member Mark Stone, County Supervisors Zach Friend and John Leopold, and many other elected and appointed officials helped move the project forward.

This is All About Infrastructure, and That Can Get Complex. Any Chance You’re Still Reading?

Building infrastructure is tough work. Construction is expensive, time-consuming, and rife with licenses and regulations. We don’t doubt it’s boring to read about — a lot of our job is literally boring holes and feeding cable through them.

But Cruzio builds fiber to last a lifetime. And we know our work will change lives and livelihoods well into the future. It’s tough work, but it’s work worth doing.