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.
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.
Cruzio announces start of Santa Cruz Fiber project, Santa Cruz CA
July 19th, 2016 — Cruzio Internet announced today that they will begin construction of the Santa Cruz Fiber internet network immediately. The gigabit speed, fiberoptic network is being built in collaboration with the City of Santa Cruz and has the goal of providing affordable, next-generation broadband to every home and business in the city.
“We could not be more excited to finally be breaking ground,” declared Cruzio’s President and co-founder Peggy Dolgenos. “True, cutting-edge, locally-operated internet is always a goal, and now that goal is closer than ever.”
Cruzio Internet and the City of Santa Cruz have been developing plans to build out a high-speed network for the past two years with various financing options. Spurring the project forward, and demonstrating the construction methods and business model involved, Cruzio is taking the bold step of initiating this first “neighborhood” — covering around 1,000 homes in the downtown area — independently.
“The best way to demonstrate how successful this network can be is to just start building it,” said Cruzio’s Chief Technology Officer and co-founder, Chris Neklason. “The City Council and staff have been fantastically encouraging and we decided the time was right to take that encouragement and put it into action.”
Starting this fall, Cruzio engineers will program and install the hardware necessary to “light up” the gigabit speeds. At the same time, construction crews will move through the neighborhood installing the backbone fiber path, and connections to the homes of anyone who has signed up.
“We’re thrilled about the low price we can offer City residents,” continued Dolgenos. “We are aiming for $50 per month for gigabit internet — one of the lowest prices in the whole country. This is not an elite service, we want to make it affordable to as many people as possible.”
One gigabit per second, or 1000 megabits per second, is 10-100 times faster than the next best service available in the City and is the same level of service available in Google Fiber markets.
“Cruzio has already proven they lead the way with a gigabit-class wireless network,” said J. Guevara, City of Santa Cruz Economic Development Manager. “Now we get to see the first step for Santa Cruz Fiber by providing fast and affordable internet in Downtown Santa Cruz at an unbeatable price.” The City of Santa Cruz and Cruzio continue to explore how to expand the network throughout the city.
To learn more about Gigabit Broadband and to get your building connected, visit gigabit.cruzio.com. To learn more about Santa Cruz Fiber, visit santacruzfiber.com.
Cruzio, founded, run, and wholly owned by residents of Santa Cruz, is one of the largest independent internet service providers in California and a registered Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) with a significant market share (about 9,000 households and businesses) in Santa Cruz County. Established in 1989, Cruzio connects businesses and residences around Santa Cruz County and parts of the Bay Area with multi-gigabit fiber internet, business-grade wireless internet, and other internet and web services. Our beautiful headquarters in downtown Santa Cruz serve as an Internet Exchange Point and data center, with colocation, flexible office space and coworking for startups and small businesses.
A Bold Vision for a 21st Century Santa Cruz:
With encouragement from our community, Cruzio Internet and the City of Santa Cruz have formed a public-private partnership to develop a city-wide Gigabit fiber to the premise network.
Under the terms of the partnership, the City will own the network, and Cruzio will act as the developer during engineering and construction and as the operator when the network is complete. Financing for the development of the network will be through City-backed municipal revenue bonds, repaid through the revenue from the sale of network services (and not by the taxpayers). The project will be financially self-sustaining and 100% of the profit generated will stay in the City of Santa Cruz.
The goal of the network is to provide affordable gigabit and multigigabit services to as many of the 22,000 residences and business in the City of Santa Cruz as possible. A locally-owned, next-generation broadband network operated openly and independently and built for Santa Cruz, it is uniquely tailored to fit the diverse needs of the Santa Cruz community.
How did this plan come about?
For most of our 25-year history, Cruzio has leased copper phone lines to carry Internet to homes and businesses, paying millions of dollars per year to non-local companies for increasingly inadequate infrastructure.
When a single fiber cut in 2009 left most of Santa Cruz without telecommunications for a full working day, Cruzio immediately began to build an independent, local, fiber/wireless network.
But growth has been piecemeal, and Cruzio was dissatisfied by the limitations of a standard business plan. So we approached the City of Santa Cruz with the idea of serving the whole city, not just the easiest areas. Building big would provide economies of scale, making it possible to reach places otherwise unaffordable. For example, extending fiber to the Boardwalk area might make it economical to reach Beach Flats. But Cruzio could not do this alone.
So Cruzio went to the City.
At about the same time, the City of Santa Cruz was starting to move forward with recommendations from a 2011 technology task force to develop a Broadband Master Plan (presented to City Council on March 10, 2015).
As construction of our downtown and Westside fiber projects progressed in early 2015, so too did our conversations evolve into an exploration of how to build a gigabit fiber optic network to every parcel in the City.
We worked with the City on a rough design and financial model based on comparable networks in other US cities to get an idea of ballpark costs and see if it made sense to explore further. The City then engaged an Internet network engineering firm to do a high level design for a fiber optic network, and to report on the financial feasibility of such a network.
Over the summer, Cruzio will be surveying the residents and businesses of the City of Santa Cruz, and if the results are favorable, the engineering and construction will begin!
What’s So Big About a Gig?
A gigabit capable digital network means you can move billions of bits of data per second from one place to another. Bits are the ones and zeros, the traffic, being transported over a digital network. Imagine a highway billions of lanes wide.
Most existing telephone or cable company data networks provide megabit service, which measures in the millions of bits per second.
So a gigabit network is 100X or more faster than the Internet service you are connected to today. That’s important, even more so as phone, entertainment and news content are migrating to the Net. Not just increased use, but higher quality requires bandwidth.
But Gigabit Internet isn’t just about smoother streaming of movies and TV. This new broadband infrastructure will fuel economic growth, fill empty real estate and take cars off the road by enabling home businesses and telecommuting. Schools, Libraries and Medical facilities will take advantage of the infinitely faster speeds to connect students to teachers, connect communities and transfer medical CAT and MRI scans and genomic data.
There is also the advent of the so-called Internet of Things. While it is true that thermostats and lamps and refrigerators and washers and dryers will be transmitting much smaller packets of data, they will be doing it frequently, and there will be a vast number of “things” connected to this Internet of Things.
“Big Data” and “More Data” will require ever-faster networks.
In many ways, a fiber optic network is “future proof”.
The physical fiber optic cable and conduit are robust, last through decades of use, and are relatively low cost to service and maintain.
Fiber-optic is also unique in that it can effectively carry unlimited amounts of data, as a physical communications channel. It far surpasses the capabilities supported by current local providers. It can scale: the same fiber can carry 1 gigabit or 10 gigabits or 100 gigabits, and so on, to every home or office.
With a gigabit fiber network, the City of Santa Cruz is future-proofing the infrastructure that will support the economy and essential services for many decades.
Why use a Private-Public Partnership?
While the network will generate revenue above costs, unlike a wholly-commercial enterprise a public-private partnership will emphasize universal coverage rather than focusing on commercial profit centers.
Cruzio’s interests align closely with those of the City:
The City itself needs fast, low-cost Internet among its many facilities.
High Speed Internet is good for the economy — both the City and Cruzio are deeply dependent on the local economy.
It seems fair and right to get Internet to all areas of the City, rather than just to elite neighborhoods. Cruzio’s owners and staff are committed to this fairness, as are City leaders.
Fiber optic networks are expensive to build, on the same level as municipal water or sewer systems. Using bonds, well-managed municipalities like the City of Santa Cruz are better able to get very good financing large scale utility projects which run into the tens of millions of dollars.
With the encouragement of City leaders, a high-tech ecosystem has developed with many small startups building businesses locally. The Office of Economic Development recognizes that these, as well as more traditional businesses, need good infrastructure to prosper.
Yet despite this recognition, a highly educated population and proximity to Silicon Valley, Internet in Santa Cruz lags behind most California cities. This makes it a good target for an infrastructure upgrade.
The City has an excellent professional staff overseeing public interest in many relevant areas: Public Works, Finance, Information Technology and Economic Development, to name a few. But the City doesn’t have expertise in initiating, provisioning and supporting service for thousands of users on a digital network, Cruzio does.
As the largest independent ISP in Santa Cruz, with a 25-year history of great service and support, Cruzio is uniquely positioned to operate this network.
Cruzio’s existing backhaul fiber connection saves many months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in setup and monthly costs. The backhaul can provide low cost bandwidth to feed the entire network and is expandable as needed. Our billing and customer service software is in place, tested, scalable and transferable to the new project. Lease payments for customer connections totaling a million dollars a year, currently going out of our area, could be shifted to pay the City.
Finally, Cruzio already has thousands of Internet users in the City of Santa Cruz who can be moved onto the new city-wide fiber network, providing immediate revenue to service the bond payments and top-notch service for the customers.
It will take a while for the network to be financed, engineered and built. We need you to go voice your interest so we know where to build the network first.