Does it take five hours to download two photos of your cousin’s wedding? Do you schedule program updates after midnight so that you don’t have to tie up your phone line during the day? Do you long to connect on Facebook but dial-up has doomed you to a clueless existence? There is hope.
Cal.net, a local Internet service provider based in Shingle Springs, is utilizing new technology and system upgrades to reach people in less populated rural areas. With a 600 square mile service radius in El Dorado and Amador County, Cal.net, formerly Directcon.net and Sierra Advantage, is well aware of the challenge in providing high-speed Internet service in rural areas.
“The biggest challenges we have for Internet access in rural areas are the trees and the line of sight,” said Phil Bosley, marketing director at Cal.net. “There are about 54,000 houses on the Western Slope and about 20,000 of them have no access to high-speed Internet service.”
Internet access for low populated rural areas is not a priority for major providers, due to the lack of financial incentive. Some, like AT&T, have suspended Internet provider expansion in lightly populated areas, prefering to concentrate on more densely populated areas.
“If a county wants to develop economically and compete in business with other counties, they need access to the Internet,” said Bosley. Job creation, educational opportunity, home businesses and telecommuters all depend on the Internet, and many people will not relocate to an area where they don’t have access said Bosley. “It’s a vital community need. Without it, El Dorado County falls behind other counties that have it.”
“A lot of El Dorado County still has old copper phone lines and they have poor reception in rainy weather which can degrade Internet use for those using dial-up,” said Cal.net Wireless Network Engineer Nick Sekulich.”Those lines will continue to decay and they won’t be replaced. Our company is making it a priority to continue to upgrade and invest in evolving technologies for this area. ”
“Most wireless service that is deployed runs on unlicensed, public networks and it’s subject to a lot of ‘noise,’” said Bosley. “Noise” is defined as any undesired electrical disturbance in a circuit, degrading the useful information in a signal. It can be caused by a wide variety of network traffic such as cell phones, tablets and electronic interference, baby monitors, cordless phones, Bluetooth headsets. Noise is also part of a busy system.
“Radio noise has significantly increased in the past three years that I’ve been working for Cal.net,” said Bosley. “The interference slows down the network and people get frustrated when they have high speeds some of the time and low speeds at others — when network use is at a peak. It’s been our company priority to keep upgrading our networks and stablize them in order to cut down on interference.”
Licensed networks are also more secure. “Our ‘backbones’ are 256-bit encrypted and they only communicate with each other, so they are very secure,” said Sekulich.
The newest upgrade, now being deployed, is the most substantial upgrade any wireless provider has ever done in the area, according to Bosley. “We’ll have better penetration through the trees, faster speeds and an allocation for Voice Over Phone network.”
The system starts with an Internet gateway, in this case, the American Tower at Pine Hill, where Cal.net leases space. The signal is sent from the tower to repeaters located on high points that relay the signal to other repeaters at lower points and from there to a CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) affixed to specific customer locations.
Looking down from the tower, one sees the tops of many houses and buildings. If you can see it, you can get a signal to it, said Sekulich, and the new upgrade can even broadcast to dead spots not in the line of sight through its repeaters.
Potential customers call Cal.net about wireless Internet service. Using the customer’s geographical location, Cal.net can determine whether a signal can be received at the location. A technician will come, free of charge, for an on-site survey, to determine the best place to receive the strongest signal. If the customer wants the service, the technician will install the CPE device right then for a one-time installation charge of $195. The monthly fee depends on the package and speed chosen by the customer, but there is no contract.
“That’s one of our biggest sellers — no contract,” said Bosley. “Also our customers have unlimited data and local technical support seven days a week.” Current customers can upgrade or even downgrade their package by calling Cal.net’s customer service.
For those using satellite Internet access, Bosley said the CPE promises better access. “A satellite has good broadcast speeds, but upload speeds are very low. Customers can’t Skype, do most gaming or internet conferencing. The wireless CPE is faster, with lower latency (lag time) and good upload speeds, allowing customers to Skype, game and stream things like Netflix and Hulu. The biggest plus is that it supports VPN (virtual private network) and telecommuting. People love not having to drive to work.”
The new CPE Velocity upgrade goes live on Aug.1. Current customers will be given the option to upgrade if they wish. For more information visit the Website at cal.net.com.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530-344-5069 or email@example.com. Follow @WSchultzMtDemo.