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!
In fact, the kind of fiber Santa Cruz Fiber is working with was initially developed for installation under the ocean, connecting the continents. Talk about built to last! You don’t want to have to go repairing something at the bottom of the ocean.
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.
- You can help us even if you’re not in the first neighborhood, by following our progress, spreading the word and by subscribing to our other services while we work on expanding. (Note: fiber-to-the-home isn’t our only gigabit service! We have lots of excellent fiber-backed options available right now.
- 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.