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?
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 toSantaCruzFiber.com.
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!
Internet infrastructure can be boring, like broccoli. We get that, but it’s also tremendously important. Think of how much of your life is absolutely dependent on the internet. Having consistent, fast, and reliable access to the digital world is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. That’s where Santa Cruz Fiber comes in.
Given its utter indispensability, you would think more people would take the time to actually learn how it works, but nope. In fact, we’ve found that when we talk about “fiber”, most people think we’re talking about vegetables, or whole-wheat cereal or something. But what if I told you that you need a healthy diet of both types of fiber to be successful?
That’s why we’ve taken it upon ourselves to start a new education campaign about the benefits of a good internet connection, and no, it’s not about vegetables. While a heaping dose of food-based fiber can help keep your insides healthy, our fiber is aimed at helping your business, your productivity, and your HD Netflix stream instead. So you can keep going to the farmer’s market to keep your doctor happy by eating artichokes and broccoli, but we’re not about that kind of fiber here. We just want to make your internet as fast and affordable as possible.
With only a few weeks left before we begin working on our brand-new fiber infrastructure, we wanted to make sure you know exactly why Santa Cruz Fiber is as great as we say it is. Here’s what you can expect to see when Santa Cruz Fiber comes to your neighborhood in our project overview:
There’s a lot of hype about fiber optic internet. Is it really that much better?
The short answer? Yes. Fiber will make a huge difference for everyone in our community. Think back to the days when people went from radio to TV — or oil lamps to candles. It’s that much of a generational change in technology, and it will lead to further changes in the services we can all use and enjoy.
The difference fiber makes is capacity. Right now the “information highway” is clogged because it’s not big enough for all the data — movies, photos, music, games — to flow through. The result is predictable: high demand when there’s limited capacity leads to high prices and strained service.
Fiber increases the capacity of internet connections by a factor of at least ten (to even a hundred) right from the start.
And that’s just the first stage. With upgraded equipment, internet connections can be thousands or even millions of times faster, and surely will be in years to come.
While it’s a leap forward, fiber is not a new or risky technology. It’s tried and tested. Big corporations and institutions have had fiber connections for decades, and fiber is already used as the backbone of communications networks. But now home users are now demanding as much throughput as a whole office building did ten years ago!
Another one of the main benefits of fiber is that it’s future-proof — we expect fiber laid today to last as long or longer than the copper network we’re still using, most of which was installed over half a century ago. Fiber is a great investment in your home or office building, and a fiber-to-every-home network is a great investment in our community.
Fiber internet is on its way to you.
Cruzio recognized that Santa Cruz needs better internet infrastructure many years ago. Remember the fiber cut of 2009? That, plus generally unreliable service and inadequate investment from existing infrastructure owners, gave us a sense of urgency for our big build — and for becoming independent of national corporate networks. Enter Santa Cruz Fiber.
Since then we’ve been hard at work. Cruzio has “lit” fiber in several spots in Santa Cruz County over the last several years, most notably at our headquarters in downtown Santa Cruz. Our building is a showcase for what 10 gigabits of fiber can do — just ask our coworkers! We expect to light up our first full neighborhood, covering most of downtown Santa Cruz, in the summer of 2017.
And we’re just getting started.
There have been some bumps along the road. Our first plan was to connect the entire City of Santa Cruz in a two-year construction timeline. That proved too ambitious, and we’ve found it better to do a phased build, which we will accelerate as as more people get excited and sign up. The participation of our community is vital to the network’s growth.
We’ve done our homework. Cruzio has been researching fiber optic construction for so long that we’ve met the best and most reliable specialists from around the country, and we’ve hired them to design our network and train our 100% local employees in how to run it. We’re going first class, built to last.
Our first neighborhood will provide low-cost (aiming for around $50/mo!), extremely high-speed internet to residents and businesses, and we need uptake to make it successful. For Cruzio’s part, we will build the network right. It will create a long-term competitive environment for an important utility that benefits homes and businesses. And for your part:
If you’re in the first fiber neighborhood, you can help us by being a customer.
Get really involved — become a fiber champion! It’s a team of local citizens who are working to get this done. We have meetups, events and generally have a lot of fun while spreading the word.
And if you’re currently a customer, thanks! You’re already helping build the future of internet in Santa Cruz County and you’re first on our priority list as we grow.
After our first phase, our plan maps for moving ahead to up to half a dozen neighborhoods. As the first build begins to pay off, the surrounding neighborhoods will follow. The more popular we are, the faster our network will grow.
What’s Fiber Like?
3d rendering of an optic fiber cable
Fiber optic cables contain strands of pure spun glass that can be miles long. Data travels along the glass in the form of light, and amazingly the cable can be bent up to 90 degrees or wrapped around columns and still carry the light. Hundreds of these glass strands are bundled together and placed in flexible but environment-protective sheaths.
One thing we love about fiber optics is that it’s a benefit environmentally. Power usage is lower than with other technologies. Electromagnetism and heat are reduced. Crystal-clear telecommuting will reduce the number of people commuting by car.
On each end of the fiber, lasers send and transceivers read the light, converting it into data that computers can read and display.
Some differences between fiber optics and other infrastructure:
Attenuation and interference are less of an issue with fiber than with copper phone and cable lines.
Fiber doesn’t heat up when it’s in use, and isn’t a fire hazard.
Fiber doesn’t carry an electric charge, so it is much less dangerous than power lines if cut.
Fiber optic cables are each thinner than a human hair, so a cable supplying hundreds or thousands of buildings is far less of a disruption to install than common construction projects like water or sewer lines.
How It Gets to You
Ah, construction. How will it affect the neighborhood, and your home, apartment or office building?
Cruzio plans to install the first neighborhood’s cable almost completely underground. We expect to use a technique called “trenchless installation” which uses a directional drill to push conduit up to hundreds of feet underground from relatively small holes dug at intervals along a street. When needed, we may also string cable on utility poles. We don’t expect to be digging long trenches like water and power lines often do. We are working closely with the Department of Public Works of the City of Santa Cruz to minimize disturbance to streets or traffic. We live here, and we don’t want to inconvenience our neighbors!
From the fiber main lines in streets, like other utilities we will extend branches to each building along a street that wants service. Usually, for residences, a box measuring about 1’ by 18” by 5” deep will be attached to the side of the house closest to the cable run. The box is weatherproof. It should not be opened by anyone other than Cruzio staff, but it can be painted or decorated — like the phone and cable boxes most people have today.
Normally, we will make two visits to a house for the outside connection. The first will be to assess the best route from the street to the building, and the next to actually install the connection. Residents don’t need to be present for those visits, though we are always glad to see you.
After the outside box is placed on the house, our technicians will schedule a house call. This time, the resident will need to be present as we’ll do the required inside wiring for the main connection, hook up the router which will serve all the devices in the house, test the connection and give a brief introduction to how it all works.
You will love our technicians. They all live locally and they are a knowledgeable, experienced and friendly bunch. They also have one goal: to get you an internet connection that will last you a lifetime and be as trouble-free and enjoyable as possible.
Do you have a passion for lightning-fast internet? Do you like the idea of watching your favorite YouTube videos in crystal clear HD? Or, how does getting that massive file to your coworkers in a matter of seconds instead of hours sound? If this has you saying: “Golly gee, how can I be a part of making this a reality for everyone in Santa Cruz?” Then we want your help!
We’re looking for enthusiastic internet lovers like yourself to become part of our Fiber Champions Team. Santa Cruz Fiber is going to be building out our gigabit-fast fiber network block by block, and we need your help to spread the word.
Our next meeting of the Fiber Champions is happening this Tuesday (tomorrow) starting at 6pm at Cruzio’s building downtown (newcomers welcome!). We’ll have an overview of the project, followed by a discussion about how we can spread the word about this amazing service to as many people as possible. And, of course, there will be pizza and beer to sweeten the deal.
If you want to become a fiber champion, or even if you are just a little fiber-curious, please come join us! You can RSVP through our Facebook page so we know how much pizza and beer to bring. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow!
Here at Santa Cruz Fiber, we spend a lot of time talking to businesses about the importance of high-speed internet, and the return on investment (ROI) opportunities that they can expect should they switch to gigabit fiber. After all, for businesses it’s all about the bottom line right? Well if you want to save money and improve the quality of your products and services, here are the top 10 reasons to switch to a dedicated fiber connection. (Hint: Did we mention it’s faster, better and cheaper than anything else out there?)
1. It’s Wayyyyy Faster
How much faster? Try 10 – 100 times faster, at least. And no, you didn’t misplace the decimal point, It Is That Fast. Typically your standard cable connection is going to get you anywhere between 20 to 100 mbps (and that’s being really generous), while DSL gets you 10-25 mbps. Santa Cruz Fiber offers gigabit speeds (that’s 1000 Megabits) and is infinitely scalable from there…. How fast is that? Think of being able to download or upload an entire HD movie in one second. Woah. It’s also cheaper, but we will talk more about that later.
2. Internet is Essential to the Modern Workplace
It’s pretty much a given now that most white collar jobs (and even many blue collar jobs) have to make use of the internet to be effective. So why wouldn’t you want to maximize their productivity? Just kidding, of course you do.
According to a recent Pew Research Survey, roughly 94 percent of all working adults used the internet regularly as an essential part of their work. Furthermore, greater access to the internet has been found to be directly correlated to higher rates of productivity and the number of hours worked. Bottom line: Your Employees Need It, Therefore You Need It. We All Need It. Even these generic businesspeople in the stock photo above need it!
3. It’s More Secure
One of the lesser known benefits of fiber internet, while still being extremely important, is that Fiber is much more secure than either a Cable or DSL connection. Whereas cable lines have been shown to be capable of hijacking with ease by that one guy down the street with miraculously free television, Fiber can only be circumvented by physically cutting into the line itself. It also gives you the bandwidth for your other security needs, too: cameras and alerts that can stream to your home computer, so you know right away when an alarm is serious.
4. Fiber is More Reliable
Remember that time too many people in your neighborhood tried to watch Netflix at the same time? Or maybe even that one time your internet stopped working for, like, no reason? That just won’t happen with Fiber. Even if every person in your household tried to stream an HD movie on all of their devices simultaneously, you wouldn’t see a drop in performance. Many traditional telecommunications methods are literally dependent on which way the wind is blowing, as the most common type of interference is electromagnetic.
5. Flexibility, On All Fronts
One of the most important attributes of a modern company is its ability to adapt to new challenges and changing circumstances. Fiber provides that flexibility in ways you probably never thought possible. Is traffic to and from work killing company morale? Try telecommuting. Think your sales team needs to live near the manufacturing plant to review product specs? Think again. With fiber you can manage your entire company on the go, avoiding unnecessary office trips while staying on task in the comfort of your own home.
6. New Technology Assumes You Have The Internet to Handle It
This isn’t your grandfather’s workplace anymore. Now, your average worker spends a typical day navigating between word processing, spreadsheets, .pdfs, and video chat, all without closing their internet browser. Add onto this all of the cloud applications and digital storage you are probably using, and the extent of your reliance on light speed ones and zeros should be pretty apparent. And software is getting more dependent on fast internet every day — imagine how it’ll be a few years from now!
7. Symmetric Bandwidth!
First off what is it? It’s being able to download and upload things at the same speed. Why is this important? Well with Cable and DSL connections you can only upload things at a tenth of the speed of your downloads. So what happens if you need to send in an important presentation in advance of a meeting? Or maybe you need to send a large data file to a customer? Cue that Jeopardy music… If you had fiber, you could have uploaded that file 10 times over by the time you finished reading this sentence.
8. It’s Cheaper
While we mentioned this a bit earlier in the article, it’s worth mentioning again how much cheaper Fiber is per unit of bandwidth than Cable or DSL. While a dedicated Gigabit per second of Fiber and your standard business cable option are going to be around the same price (~$100/month), the fiber is at minimum 10 times faster, and comes with infinite scalability (no further installation required). You buy it once, and forget about it. There is no penalty for cancellation. You don’t have to buy a new cable box every year. And we won’t reroute you to Bangladesh to save money on customer service. More time = less money spent.
9. Happier Employees
While this may not seem like the most direct benefit of a fiber connection, it certainly matters to your bottom line. Employees with greater internet access are more productive, and are statistically more likely to be in a better mood in the office. It’s not just about avoiding the dreaded “buffering” message when looking at cat videos. It’s about a seamless work environment where employees can maintain their focus and feel empowered in their jobs. The real bottom line: happy employees means more productivity, which means it’s really you who is the happy one.
10. Happy Customers
This one should be pretty self-explanatory, but just in case you forgot who makes the world go ‘round: it’s your customers. And boy are they something more than sophisticated, and certainly an impatient bunch.
Customers expect “it” (whatever it is you sell or provide), to work perfectly. All the time, every time. The second your website doesn’t respond to a mouse click, or you have to explain that you’re experiencing “technical difficulties” with a shoulder shrug, is the exact moment you begin to lose legitimacy. The customer is always right for a reason, and that reason is they don’t have to be your customer.
The bottom line: Make the investment. Get Fiber. Get Customers. It’s that simple.
Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the fiber-optic cable cut that left much of Santa Cruz in the dark for more than 24 hours. (Otherwise known as The Great Internet Outage of 2009.) In our debriefing meetings at Cruzio in the days and weeks following the incident we discussed what happened, why it had the impact that it did, and how to make sure it didn’t happen again.
All of us here at Cruzio are stoked about the possibility of Google bringing fiber to Santa Cruz (especially the open access part). We’d love it if everyone had incredible connections to the Internet. Continue reading →