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.