Cruzio Tours New Long-Haul Fiber

Cruzio Fiber Vault

Cruzio fiber vault on California St.

Last week, Cruzio joined an excited group on a very special tour. It was an in-depth look at one of the biggest and most important projects we’ve ever been involved in: the long-awaited and newly completed long-haul fiber path going all the way from Santa Cruz down to Soledad.

Though the Cruzio “vault” you see above seems unassuming, it actually represents a huge leap forward for broadband infrastructure along the central coast. This vault, along with dozens more like it and miles and miles of conduit and fiber-optic cable, is the result of  a years-long project to build out this broadband freeway through three counties. This means several significant things:

  1. Right away it gives Cruzio the ability to serve homes and businesses in Watsonville with the same level of service we offer in Santa Cruz.
  2. It provides us a second fiber path so, if something affects our primary fiber (like a backhoe or a squirrel) no one will even notice. It will automatically switch over to our redundant fiber.
  3. It means we can tap into this fiber anywhere along the route to serve neighborhoods, cities, towns and other large institutions. Because the fiber is already connected to our HQ in downtown Santa Cruz, the new “dark fiber” can immediately be accessed and put to use.

We toured a length of the fiber path last week with a posse of the people who made this whole project possible. The group included the California Public Utilities Commission–who helped fund the project, UCSC and the Central Coast Broadband Consortium–who were both instrumental in getting it built, and Sunesys — the construction company that built it.

With a great asset like this now available, of course we wasted no time putting it to use. Cruzio immediately “lit” the fiber from Santa Cruz to Watsonville and we were keen to show off our connection at the Watsonville civic data center.

This is a momentous occasion for us; this backbone’s completion means our services are now stronger and more stable than ever.

“Cruzio is a long-time, trusted Sunesys partner. Their investment in connecting their data center to the backbone fiber, and their long-standing in the local community, makes them an excellent choice for any organization wishing to connect to this infrastructure.” says Sunesys’ Steve DeFranco, Western Region Director of Sales, commending the project.

Now that you know a little bit more about how big this project was, stick around to take a look at some pictures from the highlights of our tour:

A look inside a “vault” along the new fiber path.

Steve Blum of the Central Coast Broadband Consortium speaks to the group about the ins and outs of the project

 

The Sentinel Missed the Mark: Santa Cruz Fiber Project Still Very Much On Track

We all make mistakes, and no one is perfect, even our normally steadfast local paper. However, the Sentinel missed the mark in their recent article lamenting the loss of a deal between Cruzio and the City of Santa Cruz to build a city-wide fiber network. Not only is the Santa Cruz Fiber project not “dead” as the article incorrectly stated, this week City Council approved two measures that will greatly improve the project’s chances of success.

First, one thing the article did get right: Cruzio is already building the first “fiberhood” serving businesses and residences in downtown Santa Cruz. This is the first phase of the much larger network providing low-cost fiber internet service to all City residents.

This week city council also approved a plan that will connect City-owned facilities with fiber — an excellent idea and one we’ve urged the City to develop for years. Since both the City and Cruzio are now building fiber, we can leverage each other’s investment and coverage capacity to do more at a lower cost.

City council also approved a “dig once” policy which means anytime someone needs to open up the street to do construction, other interested parties are given the opportunity to join the project, saving money and minimizing the impact on the community. This is the kind of sensible and practical public policy that is critical to building out open and independent internet infrastructure.

So yes, the Sentinel got this one wrong. Cruzio is committed to working with the City in providing broadband access to the whole community and the City remains committed to working with a trusted local partner to achieve this shared goal. Our first neighborhood is scheduled to be completed by this fall and then we will come back to the City with a larger plan for success. Our hope is that they will be receptive, and we can move forward with gigabit fiber to the rest of the city.  Now that’ll be something worth writing about.

The Fight for Net Neutrality, and How You Can Help

When someone who’s supposed to be an industry’s watchdog says they want to “cut red tape,” it’s time to look out. Watchdogs, after all, are supposed to keep an eye on things. And “red tape” is what’s often used to prevent abuses. It’s like saying “I don’t want my dog to leave the yard, so I’m taking down the fence.”

“Meet the new FCC chairman, harbinger of doom for net neutrality.”
Mashable, 1/25/2017

Ajit Pai, the new FCC chairman appointed by Donald Trump, is anti-regulation. He says he wants to “take a weed whacker” to FCC rules like the ones that protect net neutrality. One of Pai’s hallmarks is a sturdy anti-net neutrality voting record. Under a Democratic administration he was in the minority. Now he’s chairman, and the FCC is 3 to 1 Republican.

You might want to take a moment to watch John Oliver’s hilarious but accurate description of the threat to an open internet. At the end of the video, he describes how to circumvent the labyrinthian comment process and register your opinion with the FCC.

Oliver and his show even created a link to make commenting on Net Neutrality as easy as possible. Just go to (apologies) gofccyourself.com. If that doesn’t work, TechCrunch has a good guide to commenting — which really shouldn’t be as hard as it is.

The last time Oliver did this, in 2014, commenters actually overwhelmed the FCC site–and it’s happening again. In 2014, it made a difference! The FCC chair at that time, Tom Wheeler, became active in defense of Net Neutrality.

Let’s do it again!

By the way, the corporate telecom companies are fighting back. In an expensive ad campaign, Comcast is making the absurd claim that internet providers aren’t telecommunications companies. They’re trying to convince people that net neutrality has nothing to do with the government’s ability to regulate it; it’s an ability that comes with the obscure name “Title II classification.” FCC Chairman Pai suggests making compliance voluntary, after which he expects companies to act counter to their own profit motives.

But all is not lost. Here are just a few ways you can help:

Congratulations to Cruzio’s Chris Frost, The New President of CISPA

Chris Frost, President of CISPA

We’re proud to announce that Chris Frost, our long-time Director of Technology and Infrastructure, has been named the new President of the California Internet Solution Provider Association (CISPA).  

CISPA is actually the largest state ISP association in the entire country.  It was formed to give a unified voice to independent internet service providers like us throughout the state, and includes members from ISPs throughout California. As the new President, Frost says he’s hoping to unify these companies even further with the goal of creating an open, and secure internet for everyone in the state.

We’re looking forward to a strong year for CISPA,” Frost says, “We’ll be growing the organization, and building even stronger ISPs throughout California.

Cruzio is very proud of Chris Frost, an acknowledged expert and mentor to other internet providers,” says our CEO Peggy Dolgenos. “This position gives him an opportunity to champion the causes of internet privacy, competition, and net neutrality.

During his tenure as President, Frost says he plans on growing and strengthening the organization even further. So we wanted to send out a big congratulations to Chris Frost, best of luck at your new position!

 

Santa Cruz Fiber and the Mini Maker Faire

mini maker faire

Makers are an important piece of Santa Cruz’s identity. From companies like Inboard, who’re building the future of personalized transportation, to the many artists and creators creating new works every single day in places like Idea Fab Labs, making is engrained into our community’s DNA. That’s why Santa Cruz Fiber is proud to sponsor, and be featured at, this year’s Mini Maker Faire!

So who exactly are makers, and why are they having a faire? To answer the first question, according to Make magazine, everyone is a maker in some way. Basically, if you’ve ever taken pride creating something, then guess what?–you’re a maker! Concerning makers, former MythBusters host Adam Savage said: “Humans do two things that make us unique from all other animals; we use tools and we tell stories. And when you make something, you’re doing both at once.”

To answer the second question, the Santa Cruz Mini Maker Faire is a celebration of our local makers, all of the things they create, and all of the unique ways in which they create them. In an interview with Santa Cruz Tech Beat, Mini Maker Faire creator Zaq Roberts described this year’s event as “Part science fair, part county fair, part electronics show.” Last year’s event had 45 different exhibitors showing off their projects, such as Virtual Reality rollercoasters and 3D printing demonstrations.

This year’s lineup is already shaping up to be excellent as well. UCSC-based Formula Slug will be showing off their FS-0, a completely electric vehicle they built to compete in in last year’s Formula SAE Electric competition. And representatives from Prunedale’s Manzanita Park will let visitors begin their bike racing careers by setting up an actual BMX track starting gate (so be forewarned, parents).

Of course Santa Cruz Fiber will be on hand to show off what we’re making as well: our brand new citywide fiber network! We’ll be giving visitors a hands-on look at the technology that’s going to bring gigabit internet to Santa Cruz, and how it all works. And if you have questions about what the build is going to look like, this is the perfect place to talk to us in person, and learn more about our big project.

If you want to get in on the fun, you can buy tickets right now on their website. The fair opens its doors at 10AM and runs until 5PM this Saturday, April 29th.

#fiberforall Spotlight: MBEP Part 1

MBEP Economic Summit

Our last #fiberforall spotlight featured local nonprofit Digital Nest, highlighting their expansion into Salinas from Watsonville and demonstrating the importance of thinking regionally. This week we want to showcase the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, otherwise known as MBEP. They’re a nonprofit economic development organization that is leading the charge in fostering a regional perspective for the Central Coast.

According to the Salmon Valley Business Journal: (which surprisingly had the best definition we could find) “Economic development [is] defined as efforts that seek to improve the well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs, and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base.

On a local level this means channelling investment into defined areas of need, like workforce development, entrepreneurship, infrastructure (*cough* Fiber *cough*), and quality of life metrics like access to education and housing. Specifically, MBEP is a membership organization of local governments and companies who all have a vested interest in improving our region. To do this, they build relationships, gather data, and advocate for industry best practices–like defining the best way to build a local broadband network (Go Sunesys Go!).

Central Coast leaders gather

Business leaders from across the central coast gather for an MBEP event

MBEP believes in the power of convening leaders from all over the tri-county region to share best practices, identify innovative solutions, and make important new connections for future collaboration” says MBEP President Kate Roberts.

We couldn’t agree more. Often sharing ideas across boundaries that don’t normally cross can lead to fantastic outcomes. If you believe in what MBEP is doing and want to learn more visit their website, and stay tuned as we highlight one of their big projects projects in part 2 of our #fiberforall spotlight next week.

And one more thing…MBEP is hosting a region wide economic summit for the entire Monterey Bay on May 4th, and we will definitely be there. Maybe we will see you too!

#fiberforall Spotlight: Digital NEST Part 2

NEST Members get a preview of the Salinas space

In Santa Cruz Fiber’s #fiberforall Spotlight last week we took a look at some of the excellent work being done by Digital NEST in Watsonville. They’ve been bringing new technology to young adults that normally wouldn’t have the same access to that tech, and offering new opportunities to youth in Santa Cruz County. Today, we’re setting our sights on Digital NEST’s future, as they expand outside of Watsonville, this time to the neighboring city of Salinas.

This Thursday, April 13th from 6 to 8PM, the NEST will hold a “sneak peak” of their brand new program in Salinas at the Cesar Chavez Library. Anyone who’s interested in their work is welcome to come see the new space and learn about the work the organization has already done, as well as what they will add to the Salinas tech landscape before the new program opens its doors on Monday April 17th.

“We’re excited about getting started in Salinas, and being a place where members come to work together, help each other, and explore opportunities for futures in tech,” says Ximena Ireta-Lopez, Digital NEST’s Operations Manager.

There’s already excitement building, as some Salinas students have already talked to existing NEST members in the new space to learn how the program has already helped them find a love of technology, and a future in the tech industry.

All of us at Santa Cruz Fiber continue to be amazed by the work and approach of the NEST and their mission, as well as how quickly they have blossomed into a staple Santa Cruz County nonprofit. Now, we wish them all of the best as they expand beyond their home County to help even more young people along the central coast cross the digital divide, and find a future in technology.

And if you happen to know (or be) a 12-24 year old who wants to get involved with the Digital NEST, you can find out more on their website.

#fiberforall Spotlight: Digital NEST Part 1

Digital NEST Group Shot

Here at Santa Cruz Fiber, we believe that high-speed, affordable internet should be available to everyone. So it always makes us happy to hear when local organizations and businesses in the community are using these services to do great things. That’s why we want to take the time to recognize some of these achievements in our community in what we’re calling the #fiberforall Spotlight. For our first feature, we want to recognize the excellent work being done at Digital NEST.

Located in Watsonville right now, Digital NEST acts as a place for young adults 18-24 years old to have free access to computers, wi-fi, state of the art digital tools and classes–all for free. Their goal is to help young minds flourish, and to help them gain technical skills to find careers in the tech industry when they’re ready.

The Infosys Foundation recently gave Digital NEST founder Jacob Martinez the opportunity to tell them his thoughts on helping a team of NEST members get into the CSin3 accelerated Computer Science degree program at Hartnell College and CSU Monterey Bay. It’s a very compelling story, and it shows just how important Digital NEST’s work is. It’s giving the tools to succeed to a group of highly-motivated people that wouldn’t have the same opportunities otherwise.

Four of the students who were recently accepted into the acclaimed CSin3 program

High speed internet is an integral piece of helping them succeed in their mission. “High speed internet is no longer a privilege but a fundamental necessity, to ensure every individual has equal access to information and a voice in today’s global economy,” says Jacob. We totally agree.

We want to thank Digital NEST for their excellent mission to empower the next generation of tech leaders. Santa Cruz Fiber stands behind you 100% of the way.

Cruzio’s Stand on Privacy, Security, and Net Neutrality

 

privacy, security and net neutrality iconRecently, the US Congress repealed important internet privacy protections. The repeal allows internet providers to gather and sell personal data — like location and browsing histories — without the user’s permission.

People have been asking Cruzio if we sell personal data.

The answer: No. Cruzio and Santa Cruz Fiber do not use or share your data for any purpose other than carrying out the internet service we’re providing you. And we don’t sell your data at all. Never have, never will. It’s that simple.

Whether or not it’s illegal, Cruzio and Santa Cruz Fiber believe it’s unethical to collect and sell your personal data without your permission.

Cruzio’s owners and staff are all deeply committed to keeping your personal information private and secure at every level of our company.

If you are concerned about privacy on the Internet, we urge you to take action. Let your representatives know that it is a concern. Support the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU.

The next big issue on the internet front may be Net Neutrality.

Cruzio and Santa Cruz Fiber practice Net Neutrality — we can get pretty passionate about it, just like privacy. Keep your eye on this issue too. We’ll be sharing updates on these issues in our newsletter, blog and on social media.

(Note: let your elected representatives know what you think about internet rules! To find contact information for all your representatives, we recommend the Needful News Network. If you enter your full address, you’ll get a list of all elected officials who serve you. )

Privacy on the Internet: Cruzio’s Take

On March 23rd, the US Senate voted to revoke privacy provisions put in place by the Obama administration. On March 28th, the House passed the bill as well. Now it’s just waiting for President Trump’s signature, and he’s indicated he will sign it.

Before getting into an explanation of the effect this will have on our privacy, we should mention that Cruzio Internet and Santa Cruz Fiber are strongly opposed to this action. In our 28-year history we have scrupulously protected customer privacy and we always will. With other independent ISPs, we’ve signed on to a letter from the Electronic Freedom Foundation protesting the recent vote.

What’s this loss of privacy about?

The new rules will allow internet service providers (ISPs) — the companies who connect home and business computers to the internet — to collect a wide variety of data from customers and use or sell it.

For example, your ISP can see when and from where you connect to the internet, and what sites you visit. Collecting this data and selling it without your permission is an invasion of your privacy.

If companies don’t have to ask permission, they also do not have to make sure you know they’re scooping up your data, or specifics about what or when they’re collecting and to whom it’s being sold. So likely most consumers will not even be aware of what they are revealing.

Why would anyone want to remove privacy protections?

The claim from Congress was that removing the regulations will “increase competition and cut costs for internet providers.”

The competition they’re talking about isn’t helpful to consumers, only advertisers. Rather than adding entrants to the ISP market, removing this regulation just allows complicit ISPs to compete with social media companies like Facebook and Google for advertising dollars.  But since those sectors don’t much overlap, we can’t expect increased competition in either of them. Big companies, with big ad revenue, will get bigger.

That’s why the biggest ISPs, phone and cable behemoths who control nearly all the market, pushed hard — and paid a lot — for this legislation.

More competition among ISPs is much needed. Right now, the vast majority of people in America have access to only one or two internet providers — their local cable or phone company. Deregulation hasn’t created a competitive environment as promised, it just hardened monopolies. Allowing the sale of private information is just another hollow claim.

Since big ISPs don’t have to be competitive, they don’t have to avoid unpopular practices. People might like a choice of privacy or other options, but the choice for most people will be, basically, internet without privacy or no internet at all.

In Santa Cruz we do have a choice. Cruzio is a local ISP with a strong commitment to customer privacy and security, as well as net neutrality. Cruzio has not, does not and will not sell your data. This is true throughout our organization. And every household or business that uses our service helps us stay in the game, enabling us to continue our commitment to principles our customers care about.

Can we just wait, and then re-establish privacy rules later?

Unfortunately, the resolution rescinding privacy rules prevents the FCC from reinstating the same or similar measures in the future. It’s one of the Congressional Review Acts (CRAs) that the 2017 Congress has used to turn over regulations enacted by the Obama-era agencies. The FCC under President Obama was able to simply create a regulation protecting internet users. Next time, because it’s been rescinded by a CRA, protection will require a vote by Congress.

Is there a silver lining to this situation?

We hope so: that the public will be more aware of internet privacy, as well as net neutrality. Cruzio and Santa Cruz Fiber regularly report about this issue in our newsletter, blog, and social media, pointing out ways to get your voice heard. Stay tuned!

(Note: let your elected representatives know what you think about internet rules! To find contact information for all your representatives, we recommend the Needful News Network. Enter your full address to get a list of all of the elected officials who serve you.)