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.

Net Neutrality Alert

internet net neutrality graphic

It’s time to take action.

On December 14th, the FCC will vote on rolling back Net Neutrality rules. The change would hand a huge amount of control over the internet to large corporations.

Before that happens — and in the hopes that it might not — let’s sign petitions, call senators, email the FCC. We won this fight last time because a lot of people raised their voices.

The following instructions are from social media. We’ve tested them at Cruzio and they’re simple to do. Please feel free to copy and paste the steps below!

John Oliver has made it easy to voice your concern re: net neutrality. Here are the steps:
1. Go to gofccyourself.com
(the shortcut John Oliver made to the hard-to-find FCC comment page)
2. Click on the 17-108 link (Restoring Internet Freedom)
3. Click on “+Express”
4. Be sure to hit “ENTER” after you put in your name & info so it registers.
5. In the comment section write, for example, “I strongly support net neutrality backed by Title 2 oversight of ISPs.”
6. Click to submit, done. – Make sure you hit submit at the end!

Click here for more links to pro-Net Neutrality action. It’s easy and fast to make your opinion known. And if you’re a Cruzio customer, thank you. By supporting a competitive independent ISP you’re supporting Net Neutrality, too.

By now, most people know what Net Neutrality means (if you don’t, here’s a brief video explanation).

Basically, losing the requirement for Net Neutrality puts the decision of what you can see on the internet into the hands of internet service providers, or ISPs. Cruzio’s an ISP, but we don’t think we should decide what you see — we are staunchly Net Neutral and will continue to be even if the rules are revoked. Large corporate ISPs feel differently (and, despite rules,  act differently) and have spent a lot of lobbying money fighting Net Neutrality for many years.

When former Verizon lawyer  Ajit Pai became FCC chair under the Trump administration, he immediately began the move to strip Net Neutrality rules. That’s the issue in the December 14th vote.

Up next, corporate ISPs are pushing to prevent states from setting their own Net Neutrality rules.

Don’t let the ever-increasing consolidation of corporate internet companies force a consolidation of media sources, too. Protect the opportunity for startups to flourish — as companies like Google, Reddit, Tinder, Wikipedia and so many others have done not so long ago. We’re still at the beginning of the internet. We have so much more to create.

Open House Extravaganza 7.0 Is Coming 12/1!

Open House Experience 7.0

It’s that time of year again! Santa Cruzans are gathering together to enjoy free drinks, excellent entertainment, fresh local food and fascinating new people. No, we’re not talking about the holidays, we’re talking about Cruzio’s seventh-annual Open House Extravaganza!

We’ve held a rockin’ party in Downtown Santa Cruz every year for the last seven years, and this year is no exception. On First Friday December 1st, from 6PM to 9PM, we welcome you to eat, drink and socialize with some of the finest folks in Santa Cruz County: our coworking members. A highlight from years past has been our creative Cruzioworks members, and the work they do every day right here in downtown Santa Cruz.

And don’t worry, we know it wouldn’t be a party without food and drinks. The award-winning Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery will be pouring up glasses of beer all night for free. And if you’re coming hungry, you can enjoy the food truck parked right outside.

With light-speed Santa Cruz Fiber internet coming to Downtown Santa Cruz very soon, our lovely Cruzio/Santa Cruz Fiber staff will be on hand to answer all of your questions about the fiber project, and even give away some free stuff.

We’ve got a long, storied history of excellent open house parties here, and our Open House Extravaganza 7.0 will certainly keep that history strong. So we’ll hope you’ll join us on December first, right here at our building in Santa Cruz. (It’s got a big “Cruzio” sign on it, you can’t miss it!)

Our New Wireless Pro Access Point is Live In Scotts Valley

It’s been a wild ride these last few months for us, as we’ve announced brand new Wireless Pro access points on the Westside in Santa Cruz, North of Live Oak, and throughout Watsonville. We’re not done yet though, as we’ve added yet another access point. This time, looking toward our neighbors up to the north: Scotts Valley. Take a look at our new access point at the Enterprise Technology Center.

Scotts Valley Wireless Pro

If you live or work inside the blue shapes above, we’re ready to connect you to our fiber-backed wireless network as soon as you are. The first step towards your new Wireless Pro connection is filling out your address on our Santa Cruz Fiber Homepage.

Now, let’s talk speeds. Wireless Pro has speeds up to 100 megabits per second for both uploading and downloading, and average speeds of around 75 megabits per second. It’s especially great for activities like putting videos on YouTube, or watching your favorite movies in glorious 4K. (Netflix recommends connections speeds of around 25 mbps for 4K video, so we’ve got you covered.) In many cases speeds are much faster than that. And as always, your speeds will automatically get better as technology improves as well, with no extra cost to you.

So if you live in this zone, we’d love to hear from you! We can’t wait to get you connected. And if you don’t live in this area, keep a weather eye on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages for even more announcements very soon about our constantly expanding network. Maybe we’ll be in your neighborhood sooner than you think.

We’re Expanding Fiber-Backed Wireless Pro Service to Even More of Watsonville

Last month, we made a huge expansion to our Wireless Pro services in Santa Cruz. We added a brand new Alta Vista access point, that’s brought internet services to dozens of new people in the area, and has given them speeds at least 10 times faster than before. Now, we’re making even bigger additions to our network through two new access points that we’ve just completed in Watsonville. Thanks to these new access points, we’re able to bring fiber-backed wireless internet to more people than ever before.

If you can see your home or business inside any of these colorful shapes above, you’re now in a great area for our excellent fiber-backed Wireless Pro service. That means if you have direct line-of-sight to our access points at the Watsonville Airport, Watsonville Community Hospital, or the Watsonville Civic Center; you’re able to connect to average speeds up to 100 megabits per second., with average speeds of more than 75 megabits per second. Just fill out the inquiry form in the link above to get started.

Even better, Cruzio is looking for office and apartment buildings, neighborhood groups and HOAs in these areas, to bring them even faster speeds — we’re talking 1 Gigabit per second, or 1,000 Mbps — to as many areas as we possibly can. So if you’re ready for some of the fastest speeds in the nation, we’re ready to hear from you!

In our last post about Wireless Pro, we said we’ve got even more big news about our growing Wireless Pro network on the horizon. Well, we’re not done yet. Our network is constantly growing, and we’ll have even more to share about our growing Wireless Pro network very soon.

Cruzio Is Hiring A Customer Service Associate!

Cruzio’s hiring once again, so if you’re looking for a new career at an excellent local company, we’re looking for you too! (We’re still looking for Field Ops Apprentices too, by the way!)

Right now, we’re looking for customer service specialists to join our award-winning team. That means we need smart, energized people with a variety of technical and non-technical skill sets to: 

• Support our members in getting the most out of Cruzio’s cutting-edge technologies 
• Grow Gigabit broadband throughout Santa Cruz County 
• Geek out on Cruzio’s network infrastructure, build outs and technical applications 
• Imagine and develop new products and services to help our customers get the most out of their excellent internet connections. 

Sound good? Great! If all of this looks like the perfect job to you, we’d love to hear from you! Especially if you’ve got:

• A strong sense of customer service 
• A passion for technology and communication 
• The ability to work independently and thrive within a team 
• Exceptional communication skills and strong interpersonal skills 
• A positive, solution-oriented attitude 

Prior experience in technology, customer service or sales & marketing is a plus, but absolutely not required. If you’re excited about technology, communications and the Internet, looking for new challenges or ready to kick-start a new career, or have a penchant for office NERF-standoffs, this could be the opportunity you’ve been looking for. 

Here’s a few more bullet points about the job:

  • Excellent advancement opportunities for the right people 
  • Base annual salary starts at $13/hr 
  • Vacation time, medical and dental benefits after 90 days. 
  • No phone calls please. Cover letter required.

Please email your resume/work experience to resume@cruzio.com if you’re interested. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Worried about Security? Time to Pick a New Password

password security

Maybe you’ve used the same password for a dozen years: your dog’s name, or a bunch of letters you put together at some point and just remember now. Hopefully your password of choice is not “password” or “123456”, two of the still-most-popular passwords in the USA.

But even with an unusual password, if it’s A) old and/or B) used for lots of different sites, it’s probably time for a change.

A lot of password-holding services—like Yahoo, or Target, or many more—have been hacked, and criminals know they can often succeed by trying the same login and password combinations on other sites: for example, they’ll try using your Yahoo login at every banking site, hoping to find your account.

Wondering if your information has been compromised? Haveibeenpwned.com looks to see if your password or other personally identifying information has been gathered in one of the many hacking incidents over the years. “Pwned,” by the way, is short for being “perfectly owned” —gamer lingo for someone completely getting the better of you.

When info is stolen, it goes out onto the so-called Dark Web for sale. Someone might want to buy your name, address and birthdate—and passwords, social security numbers and answers to security questions (like “what was your first car?”) are worth even more. Haveibeenpwned.com works by checking for your name or login on the Dark Web and telling you whether your information has been released.

If you see you’ve been compromised, think of the other places you may have used that same login and password, and change your passwords!

Or, just change your passwords anyway. It’s time, right?

More on how to choose a password (this is a fun idea) and how to remember passwords here.