Direct Communications Upgrades Cable Network to new DOCSIS 3 System

Direct Communications Cable in Idaho completed a system-wide network upgrade over the course of the Summer of 2014 that will allow residents in all cable franchise towns served by the company to receive up to 20 megabit-per-second internet speeds.

The towns served by Directcom Cable include AberdeenBancroftDowneyFish HavenGeorgetownGraceLavaMcCammonMontpelierParis and Preston

More speed means more fun online.

More speed means more fun online.

The network upgrade was specifically a change from the old Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) 1.0 to a newer DOCSIS 3.0 network specification. The DOCSIS 3 equipment allows an increase in data transmission speeds (both upstream and downstream).

Brian Black, Senior Network Administrator for Direct Communications, explained that the upgrade required a complete equipment swap in all of the fiber huts. “We had to purchase three new CMTS’s to support DOCSIS 3, which cost about $50,000 each.” (Cable Internet delivery includes two primary components: a cable modem, located at each customer premises, and a cable modem termination system (CMTS) located at the Cable TV headend.)  

For existing customers, anyone requesting speeds above the previous top speed of 10Mb would need a new DOCSIS 3.0 modem. All new customers automatically receive a new DOCSIS 3.0 modem at the time of install. 

Black said: “The real difference between a DOCSIS 3.0 system and the old DOCSIS 1 system is that a DOCSIS 3.0 modem can connect to multiple channels at once, whereas the old modem could only connect to a single path. So in theory, customers will now have four times the bandwidth available to them at any given time. Right now each of our customers are set up to connect to two downstream channels, and to four upstream channels, but once we have completed the next planned system-wide upgrade to all digital cable TV, each customer with be connecting to four downstream channels, and to four upstream channels.” 

This explains part of the motivation for the company to migrate to an all-digital cable TV system, because besides improving the quality of the picture and number of available TV channels, moving to all digital TV delivery will also free up more bandwidth for the growing customer demand for faster internet speed. 

Brian Black, Senior Network Administrator for Direct Communications in Idaho

Brian Black, Network Administrator for Direct Communications in Idaho

“What this upgrade to  DOCSIS 3.0 means now for all customers is basically more bandwidth available for everyone, and more consistent speeds, especially during peak hours in the evenings when everyone wants to get online at home to stream video, or catch up with their friends on Facebook,” said Black.

“In theory, I suppose we could deliver speeds up to 50Mb or 100Mb to a single customer now on the coax cable network, but really our goal with this upgrade is to make sure we can deliver the speeds we have already sold to customers, and keep up with the customer growth. We feel pretty good about being able to deliver a solid 20Mb to everyone in town, so we want to keep an eye on that and see where the growth takes us before we start selling even higher speeds. “

Direct Communications has experienced three straight years of over 20% growth per year in customer subscriptions, as residents in small towns in Idaho adopt high-speed internet in increasing numbers, and keeping up with the demand has kept Black and his co-workers busy. Black is very pleased with how the new DOCSIS 3 network is performing.

“It’s been a huge change, and I am very happy with the results. The network is just much more stable, and people have responded by using their internet service a lot more already. We have seen internet usage double in some towns like Preston since we did the upgrade, which is great because it means people trust their internet more, have higher expectations now, and are turning to their internet service more for things like entertainment.”

“Our next step is to obviously move the Cable TV service to an digital head end, which will hopefully happen by the end of this year, free up more channels, and then keep improving our network through deploying more fiber nodes throughout the neighborhoods, and splitting up the network to make sure we can always stay ahead of the demand for bandwidth.”

Note: Aberdeen has not yet been upgraded to Docsis 3, but is on Docsis 2.0.

Cow Steps on Fiber- Knocks Out Cell Tower

Today the average cow in the U.S. weighs 1350 pounds.

Today the average cow in the U.S. weighs 1350 pounds.

In one of those moments unique to rural telecommunications, a cow stepped on some fiber optic cable that was exposed during some maintenance work last month in a pasture near the Cold Water area along the Snake River. The weight of the cow hoof kinked the fiber optic cable and temporarily knocked out service to a nearby cell tower, which was served by the fiber optic cable.

Matt Farr, engineer for Directcom explained: “Usually our fiber is safely buried 4 feet underground, encased in conduit, and protected in vaults with 20,000 lb load ratings, but unfortunately a cow came along just at the wrong time. Our crew was preparing for some scheduled maintenance later that night and had laid some cable slack out on the ground. The cows in these part seem to know when and how to create the greatest amount of havoc for the bipeds, which made it even more difficult to explain to the customer, a big national carrier, that a cow was responsible for taking down their tower. They have very strict standards and procedures regarding downtime and it’s a big deal if tower service is ever affected. Cows don’t really figure into their equations.
It all worked out in the end as our crew, out of necessity, had to start and consequently compete their maintenance work ahead of schedule. Not a method of expediting a project that I would recommend, but sometimes in rural Idaho you have to run with the stampede.”

FREE INTERNET SAFETY CLASS

FREE INTERNET SAFETY CLASS – ALL WELCOME

PROTECT YOUR HOME FROM UNWANTED INTERNET CONTENT

family internet safety classWHEN:
Thursday, September 18, 2014 11 am – Noon

WHERE:
Direct Communications, Paris Office
648 ½ N Main St., Paris, ID

Practical step-by-step demonstration of how to set up FREE customized filters to keep a wide range of content from being accessed through your internet.

Childcare available – please call us at 945-8035 to reserve a space for your children.

This class is part of an ongoing effort by Direct Communications to increase customers’ understanding of technology and how it use it as a beneficial tool.  More classes will be offered on a variety of topics in the future.

Update on Rockland Fiber to the Home Construction Project

Plowing in conduit for fiber optic cable along Center street in Rockland

Plowing in conduit for fiber optic cable along Center street in Rockland

Fiber Optic Cable is coming to your home soon.

Updated September 17, 2014:  

Rockland Idaho – Matt Farr – Project Engineer: “We have completed installation to all of the homes in the southwest quadrant of town, and everybody along the highway south of town, up to Scott Hendrickson.

We also have about about 20 homes installed in the south east quadrant of town, primarily  the ones between Main Street and Pine on both sides of the alley. We are working on the remaining homes in that section of town.

We have also constructed fiber in the north east quadrant of town around the school, east from school and also around the entire bench area. Most of these have a drop cable installed to the house, but the fiber has not actually been spliced, so those homes are still connected via DSL until we cut them over to the new fiber.

Our construction crew is currently also working in the west quadrant of town, where we have about half of the homes in that area completed. (This is around the Spruce Street area, and down Willow Street. Later this fall will be going down Creamery Road and picking up all those homes. We hope by the end of the year to also complete  a fiber build out to the R-corner, and pick up a few more homes along the highway.

Our biggest challenge in upgrading our exchange area to fiber has actually been with the final installation of the new internet service inside the home. A lot of the older homes need new wiring inside and we have had to be creative in finding different routes to get through these homes to the routers and the computers, and just the general set up of the ONT and Wi-Fi in the home has been slow. We also had to bore under the Rock Creek several times  (six times already) in our construction, and we still have a couple more bores to do, so that’s always a bit of a challenge because we have to bore about 15 to 20 feet deep to make sure we’re under the riverbed.”

June 10, 2013-
Direct Communications crews completed burying the main conduit routes throughout the southwest quadrant of town. The southeast quadrant of the project includes 25 homes which will be  upgraded from existing copper plant to new fiber optic cable directly to the home.

Mid- June 2013, Direct Communications crews will start on the southeast quadrant of town, which is south of center street and east of main street. This part of the upgrade project will include 51 homes.

2013-rockland city fiber project

2013-rockland city fiber project, showing where new fiber lines will be buried, along with neighborhood handholds, and the drops to each home.

Directcom will be hosting an open house at their Rockland office on Tuesday July 9, from 5pm-7pm, to answer any questions customers may have about this fiber upgrade. Refreshments will be served.

Matt Farr, operations manager for Direct Communications, explained that this project would be rolled out in various phases. “The first task is to bury the main conduit 48″deep along the city streets, and place all the fiber handholds, which are kind of like manholes where all the fiber will converge for each neighborhood.  While one crew is laying the main grid, another crew will be plowing in the individual conduit drops to each home, and together this will take most of the summer.  This ripping or plowing process is designed to be very customer yard-friendly—we purchased a small maxi-sneaker that will just feed in a plastic conduit into a very thin trench, about 18″ deep, which is opened up by a blade. No reseeding of grass will even be necessary. The new drops to each home will follow the path of the existing copper wire in most cases. Sometime towards Fall the actual fiber optic cable will be blown into the underground plastic conduit, and the final fiber cable drop going to each home will need to be spliced back into the main cables going to each neighborhood node. After that, a new fiber electronics box will mounted inside of each home, which will convert the digital light signals sent over the fiber, into an Ethernet signal which can be read by home computers. We hope to start hooking up internet customers on their new fiber internet connections probably sometime during September.”

Here is a general summary of the project steps:

  1. Phase 1: Bury main conduit 48” deep along the city streets,
  2. Phase 2:  Place all the fiber hand holds (manholes where all the fiber will converge for each neighborhood.)
  3. Phase 3: Plow in individual conduit drops to each home. (½” plastic conduit into a thin trench, about 18” deep. The new drops to each home will follow the path of the existing copper wire in most cases.
  4. Phase 4: Blow fiber optic cable through the underground plastic conduit.
  5. Phase 5: Splice  final fiber cable drop going to each home back into the main cables going to each neighborhood node.
  6. Phase 6: Install new fiber electronics inside central office to feed homes.
  7. Phase 7: Mount new fiber NID (network interface device) on the outside of each home, near the old copper NID.
  8. Phase 8: Connect a new fiber ONT (optic network terminal), to be placed inside of each home, to outside fiber NID. This ONT will convert the digital light signals sent over the fiber, into an Ethernet signal which can be read by home computers.
Laying fiber conduit along Rockland center street

Laying fiber conduit along Rockland center street

Farr explained that there will actually be two new fiber boxes deployed to each home. On the outside of each home near the old copper NID (network interface device) the company would mount a  simple plastic box to act as a splitter, where the fiber from the street would meet a fiber to go inside the customer home. Inside the home, the company will provide a fiber ONT (optic network terminal) that will have a built in wireless router, in order to broadcast the high speed internet signal conveniently throughout the home, and customers could connect to the fiber directly via WiFi using their smartphones, tablets, or laptops, without needing to purchase an additional wireless router themselves. The ONT will also have two ports for phone service, and four ethernet ports, which a customer could use to directly wire any devices to the router. This ONT will need to be located close to a power receptacle inside, since it must be constantly powered for the electronics to function. The ONT does operate on a provided battery back-up, so that in the case of a power failure, phone and internet service will continue to function.

Farr wants to place the new ONT on the inside wall directly behind the existing copper NID if possible, so they can use the customers existing inside copper phone wiring for telephone service. On a fiber network, separate lines are required inside the home for the phone and internet service. Where necessary, because many older homes have inside telephone wiring that is not compatible with the new fiber equipment, Directcom techs may also need to run new CAT5 ethernet cable from the new fiber electronics box to a phone or ethernet jack inside the home, to make sure that customers will continue to receive both telephone and internet service. Customers may also have the option of paying a premium to have new CAT5 network cable run to various inside locations of their choice.

“We realize every home is going to present a different situation, with different wiring, so we will have to be flexible. Our end goal is to make sure the customer has an even better internet connection than they have currently on DSL.”

If you have any concerns or questions about this fiber project and how it will affect you, please call our main office at 208 548 2345.

 

A Message from Jeremy Smith:

Fiber Technology and Your Future

This summer you will see our crews working in your neighborhood. These are exciting times for our company and our customers.

We are now in the process of steadily upgrading older neighborhoods that were previously on copper, to fiber. Arbon is complete. During 2013 and 2014 we will be working on upgrading Rockland. We have a 5-year plan to convert all of our exchange areas from Bear Lake to Rockland to 100% fiber to the home, as long as the Federal government continues to support rural telecommunications. This is obviously going to be an enormous project, requiring millions in investment dollars, but we feel that each person in our rural exchange areas deserves fiber to the home.

This is our community too, and we are committed to ensuring the economic vibrancy of our rural towns. We at Direct Communications want to help provide a great quality of life for all of our customers. I see fiber optic cable as being non-negotiable to ensure the economic future of rural America, not just for our customers, but also for us to stay relevant as a communications provider. Some politicians in Washington feel that rural Americans don’t need as much speed as people in cities. I would argue that rural folks need high speed internet even more than their city counterparts because we are so remote, and fiber is the only way you can push a good, unlimited broadband signal out far enough to reach all of our customers. Having access to unlimited broadband is the future to economic development and personal educational opportunity in this global information economy.

Please be patient with us as we roll out this plan to bring you better broadband service.”

-Jeremy Smith -General Manager, Direct Communications

To find out more about why fiber will improve your internet service quality, see http://www.directcom.com/fiber-brochure.htm

Frequently asked questions: Fiber-To-The-Home Technology

How will a fiber connection improve my life?
Faster Speeds. Increased Reliability. Unlimited bandwidth. This is the most advanced method on the planet to deliver high-speed internet. Fiber is a great economic leveler for rural residents. Your home will have the same advanced connectivity as the most high-tech building in any major financial district in the world. Imagine a world where you can stream HD video to as many devices simultaneously as you want to without any buffering. Imagine a world where your internet service never goes down, and you never have to waste time calling tech support. This perfect connection can be yours with fiber optic cable. The fiber line running to your home from the main cable contains just a few strands of fiber, but those strands could theoretically carry all the information in the Western USA. We have the ability to provide up to 100MB per second to each home in the network. Fiber-optic cable carries an all-digital signal, and is better suited to today’s digital communication devices. Fiber optics are the future of communications, because both copper and wireless will eventually max out on the bandwidth people will require. Eventually, all media will be delivered as internet data. You will be ready for that future.

Do I need a modem with Fiber-to-the-home internet service?
No. Your fiber connection does not require a modem. Just plug your computer network cable directly into our optical network device, (ONT) mounted on the outside of your home, and you will be instantly connected directly to our network via pure ethernet.
50 Mb internet

Does my home need to be wired differently to take advantage of fiber-to-the-home?
The new fiber ONT separates the phone and internet signal, so they will need to travel over separate wires inside your home. We will run a new Cat5 cable into your home and install our service to one phone jack and one ethernet jack at a convenient location inside your home, so that you can hook up your phone, and computer or router.

Is a fiber network more expensive to build than copper? 
The price of fiber optic cable is now comparable to copper. The real expense with fiber is in the advanced electronics. The ONT (optical network device) that fits onto the outside of the home, is very expensive, because it’s a far more sophisticated system than the old copper devices. However, there is less maintenance required on a fiber network than copper, so over the years, it will save us, and our customers, a lot of money.

Will I be charged for the installation of fiber to my home?
No. We cover the full cost of the construction of the fiber and installing the new equipment on your home to connect the fiber. We will also waive the final service installation fee when it comes time for you to hook up your computer to our broadband service, with a 1-year commitment.

How is fiber optic cable installed? 
First, we bore, or plow in plastic conduit underground, which is a good method because it has very little environmental impact. We then blow the fiber optic cable through the conduit using compressed air moving at very high speeds. The high-velocity air flow causes the cable to float, and that way we can feed it through very easily. Where the fiber needs to be spliced to serve homes, we put in handholds, or buried manholes with loops of fiber, where we can branch off and pick up those new homes in the future.

Why a buried fiber network?
Buried networks are all about Reliability, Reliability, Reliability! You can count on your fiber conenction to work, from fire, to blizzard, to windstorm. Directcom’s fiber network is 100% buried—no wireless backhauls or downed lines to worry about. In the recent wildfires that damaged or wiped out many other providers communications lines in Idaho, Direct Communications was unaffected since all of our fiber network is safely buried.

Will Fiber increase the Value of my home?
Fiber to the home could increase the value of your home by as much as $5,000, according to the Fiber-to-the-Home Council. Our investment in your home means more money in your pocket. More importantly, fiber to your home means a higher quality of life for you in this digital information age, where so much of what we do to enrich our lives has moved online. More internet speed means more fun.
Fiber will also naturally lead to more economic development in your areas due to the advanced technology and internet commerce opportunities available in the area. This is especially important in rural areas, where a gap has traditionally existed in diverse economic opportunities—but in our new information economy—fiber puts us all on the same footing.
fiber means more speed

Will fiber increase my monthly rate?
No. Your fiber upgrade will not increase your Internet or telephone rates, unless a customer chooses to upgrade their features or speed.

Will new equipment be installed at my home?
Yes. The old Network Interface Device (NID) you currently have will be replaced by a slightly larger Optical Network Terminal (ONT). The ONT coverts the optical signal to ethernet. This unit will also contain the power supply and battery back up for the electronics. The ONT requires electricity. Since fiber cannot carry an electric power charge like copper used to, a battery back-up is required to power your phone service in the event of a general power outage. This battery is designed to last for 8 or more hours, depending on phone usage. Typically, the electronics use .001 kwh per month.

Will getting fiber to my home disturb my yard or property?
Though we may sometimes be required to dig across your yard to bury a new fiber line, our goal is to treat your property as if it were our own. Often, we will have buried conduit already in place. We will be always strive to promptly restore your property to a condition as close to original as possible. We will typically follow the path of existing copper lines during the upgrade. However, homeowners should also understand that your lot came with legal easements registered to each home, for power, water and communications, and anything planted or built over these easements will always be in danger of being disturbed or removed by any public utility companies. Remember to always call Digline at 811 before you dig.

What should I expect during the upgrade?
Although we began several years ago laying the necessary main conduit to each neighborhood, this last phase involves placing fiber or conduit all the way to your home. We will be making our way door to door to do a site survey and to let you know when your fiber connection is ready for service. When everything is in place, we will need to schedule an appointment with you for the final hookup to the network inside your home. We will need an adult present at that time.

KSL–Salt Lake Broadcast to Cease in the McCammon, Downey and Lava areas.

Local television broadcasting networks like KPVI (Idaho Falls – Pocatello) have specific rights under the FCC Network non-duplication rules which protect them from another television station broadcasting their affiliate network programming within their designated area.

Recently, the new owners of the Idaho NBC affiliate, KPVI, have requested that we remove KSL from our cable channel lineup in certain towns, since they have exclusive broadcast rights for NBC within a designated footprint market area.  As a result, we regret to inform you that we can no longer carry KSL–Salt Lake in the McCammon, Downey and Lava areas.

We will cease broadcasting of KSL – Salt Lake on 10/15/2014 in those areas.  We understand that you may not agree with this FCC rule but we are required to honor it.

http://live.ksl.com/ online streaming interface

http://live.ksl.com/ online streaming interface

The good news is you can now stream KSL live online at http://live.ksl.com/.  So, you can still watch your favorite Salt Lake City news and local shows online. Contact us to get the internet speed you need to get the best streaming experience.

And of course the nationally syndicated shows that NBC carries will still be available to watch on KPVI.

We truly appreciate you choosing Direct Communications for your services and appreciate your understanding.

Direct Communications Hires Local Tech Brenden Argyle

argyle IMG_1106

Brenden Argyle of Paris Idaho

Direct Communications welcomes Bear Lake County native, Brenden Argyle, to the team as a new installation and combo tech. In his role as a tech, Brenden will be responsible for field installation and troubleshooting of high speed internet, cable TV and phone service in the Bear Lake area.

Brenden is familiar with various wireless routers, including Linksys, Netgear, and Belkin, comes trained in use of cat-5 and coax cable, and is familiar with both PC and Apple products. Brenden’s prior experience includes working for Digis, Satellite Solutions, and U.S.D.A. Forest Service as a Firefighter.

Please say hi to Brenden as you see him working in the area, and congratulate him on the new job.

Direct Communications Hires New Local Customer Service Rep, Matthew Kulicke.

Picture1Direct Communications in Idaho is pleased to welcome Matthew Kulicke to
Direct Communications as the afternoon CSR/Sales Representative in our Paris Office.

Matthew comes to us with 4 years experience in customer service. He most recently worked
for Allstate Roadside Services as a CSR and previously in Sony PlayStation’s Tech Support.

Matt genuinely likes working with people and loves the feeling of accomplishment when he
has been able to help them. His family is very important to him and he likes spending time in
nature hunting and fishing.

WELCOME, MATTHEW KULICKE!

How to Watch ESPN3

ESPN3 Basketball

ESPN3 Means More Basketball

Good news for Directcom Broadband customers–you have free, instant access to all sports events shown live, or on demand after the game, on ESPN3.

We are thrilled that more customers are accessing ESPN3 every day. We hope that you will come back and watch more events on ESPN3. Direct Communications pays Disney/ESPN for every one of our customers to have access to ESPN3, so we hope you will use this value-added benefit that comes with your internet service. If you are a Directcom Broadband customer, you will be able to watch ESPN3 events online while you are at home using a browser on your PC, or remotely (at work, for example) on a PC browser, if you activated remote access from your home PC.

Commonly Asked Questions about Watching ESPN3

How do I access ESPN3?

To access ESPN3, open a browser on your PC, go to our homepage directcom.com and click on the ESPN3 link, or go directly to http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/channel/espn3/  No sign-in is required to watch ESPN3 events for Directcom internet customers. ESPN3 must be accessed through a browser, and not the WatchESPN mobile app.

TIP: The one app that will work with our service  is the ESPN app on the Xbox. If you have an Xbox,  this is probably the best and easiest way to access the games. The interface and  resolution is fantastic.

TIP2: Most BYU Football games shown on ESPN are made available on demand on ESPN3 immediately after the game.

What’s the difference between WatchESPN and ESPN3?

There is a big difference between the ESPN3 network, and the WatchESPN app. ESPN has not made the situation any less confusing for customers of small companies like us by also recently changing the name of their ESPN3 website  to WatchESPN, just like the mobile app. WatchESPN is the portal to access content shown on all of the ESPN networks–including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNClassic, etc. ESPN3 was the first online sports network made available by ESPN parent company, Disney, and Directcom was one of the first small ISPs to sign up as distributor of that exclusively online network back in 2010.  Now, ESPN3 is just one of the networks included in the whole WatchESPN portfolio. All of our internet subscribers have instant access to ESPN3, but not to the whole WatchESPN suite or WatchESPN app, which is still reserved for Cable TV or Satellite TV customers who already subscribe, and thus pay for access, to all those TV networks. ESPN is extremely protective of their revenue generated from Cable TV distribution.

Why can’t I sign in and use the WatchESPN mobile app?

We are still receiving a lot of calls from customers who are trying to access the games on their smartphones via the WatchESPN mobile app, and not seeing us listed as a provider there. Please do not attempt to use the WatchESPN mobile app. We provide free access to ESPN3 for our internet customers via our home internet service. The ESPN servers recognize our IP address range and provide access to the games to anybody on our network. The WatchESPN app works quite differently, and is strictly for customers of the big national cable TV providers-–do not attempt to use the WatchESPN app from your mobile device, because it will ask you to choose and login to your satellite or cable TV provider. To access ESPN3, which is what all the games will be shown on, from your PC, go to our homepage and click on the ESPN3 link, or go directly to http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/channel/espn3/ If everything is working correctly, you will see a logo on the top right of the espn.go.com/watchespn website saying “Powered by Direct Communications”.

The iPad, mobile phones, and most tablets will not work with ESPN3 service because by default they will always try to get you to download and use the WatchESPN app, which is only for the big cable TV providers. If your tablet has a regular internet browser that works like a PC browser (the first generation Kindle Fire, for example) will allow you to access ESPN3 events within the browser on a flash platform.

Can I watch ESPN3 if I’m away from home?

We get a lot of calls from customers trying to access the games from their workplace. There is a way to watch the games online on a regular PC browser, but it requires prior setup from YOUR HOME in Eagle Mountain or Idaho. TO WATCH REMOTELY: In order to watch when you are away from home, you will first need to activate remote access. To do this you will need to set up an ESPN online account while in your home network (ie, using our internet connection or IP addresses) and then activate remote access by clicking on the “Remote Access” button at the top right. That will allow several days of remote access, after which you will need to return to your home network and reactivate remote access again.

In summary, as long as you are on your home network (that is, on Directcom’s network within Eagle Mountain) and using one of our IP addresses, you will be able to access the games if you are using a regular computer browser or Xbox. If you are not on our network, or trying to use a mobile device or the WatchESPN app, you will have difficulty.  We have even had a couple of customers not being able to access ESPN3 because they were logged into a work VPN while at home, and ESPN3 will only work within our IP range.

But Direct Communications Cable is listed as a provider on the WatchESPN app. Why can’t I sign in?

Direct Communications Cable in rural Idaho is in the process of adding TV Everywhere as a value-added feature to our regular Cable TV services. Cable TV customers in Idaho will now have access to the entire WatchESPN app, but only Cable TV customers who subscribe to a package that contains ESPN. Regular internet customers  will still only have access to ESPN3 unless they also subscribe to Cable TV. We are required by ESPN to submit verification of each TV customer’s package several times a day, which they cross reference with who is signing in to the app. (As we mentioned,  ESPN is extremely protective of their revenue generated from Cable TV distribution, and is not interested in cannibalizing that revenue.)

We understand this may be confusing to our customers using ESPN3 through our website.

As usual, to access ESPN3 content, you must be accessing ESPN3 from our home network.  If a customer clicks on non-ESPN3 content, they will be asked to select their TV provider.  As part of TV Everywhere, Direct Communications is now listed as an approved provider.  However, unless the customer also subscribes to our cable TV service, and has already signed up for a “watchTVeverwhere” login, it will not allow them to authenticate.

The most common frustration experienced by internet customers occurs when customers try to access events on the WatchESPN website, which are actually not ESPN3 events. You will be able to see listings for all events on all networks, but only will be able to successfully watch those on the ESPN3 network. Please ensure you only select content with the ESPN3 logo listed on the far right as demonstrated in the following snapshot:

espn3

Directcom Sponsors Idaho High Schools Sports – 2014 Edition

Bear Lake High School student athletes and staff accept a sponsorship check for $500 from Direct Communications.

Bear Lake High School student athletes and staff accept a sponsorship check for $500 from Direct Communications.

Direct Communications donated $500 to each of the High School Athletic Programs within the company’s service areas again at the end of the 2013/2014 school year. Direct Communications has an ongoing program to support local high school athletics in the communities served by the broadband company, and offers incentive for student athletes to earn donations for their schools  through their participation and own extra effort in all varsity games.

Daniel Parrish of Direct Communications presents Preston High School athletes with a sponsorship check for $500.

Daniel Parrish of Direct Communications presents Preston High School athletes with a sponsorship check for $500.

During football season, Direct Communications pays $15 for every touchdown at home games. At the same time the Girls Varsity Volleyball teams could earn $5 for each ace they served. During basketball season, varsity athletes could earn $5 for every 3-point shot scored during home games.

Directcom schools program coordinator, Daniel Parrish, said he was grateful to all the ADs, principals and superintendents who had been very open and helpful. “They all were very gracious about making us part of their school family.”

Aberdeen High School student athletes accept a sponsorship check for $500 from Direct Communications. — with Daniel Parrish at Aberdeen High School.

Aberdeen High School student athletes accept a sponsorship check for $500 from Direct Communications. — with Daniel Parrish at Aberdeen High School.

Parrish stated that although donations of this nature often require earmarks, Direct Communications has placed no restrictions or requirements on these donations, and the schools are free to use the money however they think is best.

Daniel Parrish presents Grace High School athletes with a sponsorship check for $500.

Grace High School athletes with a sponsorship check for $500.

Although none of the schools reported a points aggregate this past year above the $500 guaranteed donation which Direct Communications had pledged to each school, Jeremy Smith, General Manager for Direct Communications in Idaho, said he enjoyed the ongoing relationship between the broadband company and School District. “As local service provider, we try to build up every community that we serve. Supporting schools makes good sense for both our businesses and our communities.  High speed internet and education go hand in hand, so we view these types of donations as a win-win.” He reminded school administrators that Direct Communications can now provide circuit speeds up to 1Gig upon request.

Daniel Parrish presents North Gem High School athletes with a sponsorship check for $500.  - in Bancroft Idaho

Daniel Parrish presents North Gem High School athletes with a sponsorship check for $500.
– in Bancroft Idaho

New Idaho Outages Calendar

Direct Communications has posted a new Internet and TV outages calendar online, which is accessible to all customers at https://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=directcom.com_ogn3o83ja2i1bfh1aasp2s6v6g@group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/Denver&pli=1. To access the calendar from the Directcom homepage click on: Customer Service>Outages Calendar.

This calendar will contain details on all outages in Directcom service areas in Idaho. Customers who are experiencing internet problems can check the outages calendar to see if their are any system-wide problems in their town before calling tech support.

Scheduled maintenance outages, such as downtime for network or equipment outages, will also be posted to this calendar. Outages due to general power outages (if the power company notifies Direct Communications of scheduled outages) will also be posted.

To see details on any specific outages, such as what is being done, how long the repair or maintenance is expected to take, and how many customers will be affected, simply click on the event listed on the online calendar.

If you use Gmail or Google Apps, you can even add this calendar to your own personal calendar simply by clicking on the Add to Google Calendar icon at the bottom right of the calendar page, so you will be alerted in advance of any upcoming outages.

 

Directcom Idaho Outages

Farewell to Our Friend, Robby Steele. We Will Miss You.

Robby Steele- photo courtesy of Chet Steele

We at Direct Communications mourn the loss of our dear friend, co-worker, and vital member of our Direct Communications family, Robby Steele, who died in an accident in Delta while volunteering at Millard County’s demolition derby on the Fourth of July 2014, at the Millard County fairgrounds. Robby–you left far too soon, and we will miss you always.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family this week, and although our internet service will continue uninterrupted, our office will be closed to walk-ins on Monday, and will be completely closed most of  Thursday to allow all employees to attend Robby’s funeral. We hope you will be patient with us as we allow our employees time to grieve.

Robby represented all that was good in America. He was a dedicated family man, a hard worker, an innovator, a volunteer, and a contributor in every way. We will all miss Robby’s unmistakable smile, laughter, his strength, and great sense of humor–he had that rare ability to make everyone feel instantly like you were his best friend.

Robby managed all the network mapping systems, and was a vital part of all engineering and tech projects, decision making, and everyday business at Direct Communications. The  loss of his experience and knowledge of the network and systems in Eagle Mountain will obviously be a tremendous challenge for us as a company.

Robby commuted from Nephi to Eagle Mountain for work every day for the past 7 years, having been with Direct Communications since May of 2007, but was involved with the development of Eagle Mountain for even several years before then with telecommunications consulting firm MidStates.

Robby Steele -2nd from far right, at our 2013 company Christmas party.

Robby Steele -2nd from far right, at our 2013 company Christmas party.

All residents of Eagle Mountain have lost a key contributor to the development of the fiber network here in the city with the passing of Robby Steele. Robby was truly dedicated to the cause of making the network in Eagle Mountain exceptional, and always strived for 100% accuracy in all of his work, would never settle, and always had the courage to speak his mind if he thought we could do better as a company.

Do you have a memory of Robby you would like to share? We invite all to post comments and tributes below, or on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/directcom.eaglemtn.

 

For related articles about Robby see:

http://fox13now.com/2014/07/05/man-dies-in-accident-at-millard-countys-demolition-derby-organizers-say/

 

 

Direct Communications Hires New Local Eagle Mountain Tech – Landon Beatty

Direct Communications is very pleased to welcome another local Eagle Mountain resident, Landon Beatty, as a full-time employee on the growing Directcom tech team.

New Directcom Employee Landon Beatty

New Directcom Employee Landon Beatty

Landon’s responsibilities as a Combo Tech will include customer fiber optic and phone service installations, level 2 tech support, and plant/network and equipment maintenance.

Landon comes to Directcom after several years as a communications specialist with US Army Reserve, where he maintained the detachment’s computer and radio systems, as well as trained other techs and soldiers on how to use the units communications systems.  Prior to that he served in the regular US Army Armor Division as an Assistant Tank Commander, maintaining the communications systems, guns and ammunition for his Abrams Tank. For several years he also ran his own business designing and installing custom home theater systems, installing not only the wiring and technology, but even designing and building the custom wood cabinets and trim. We are thus very confident that our customers in Eagle Mountain will be in good hands when Landon is doing a home internet install.

Landon stated: “I am really enjoying getting back to civilian life, and working close to home. In my past career my installations have always been all around the country, and it’s great to be working in a single, local area, where my customers are my neighbors and I can build a long-term relationship with them. So far the techs have been great, the customers have all been great to work with, and I am having a really good time.”

Landon has lived in Eagle Mountain for 2 years. Landon originally hails from Hurricane Utah, and attended Hurricane High School and UVSC. If you see Landon out in the field, be sure to say hi and congratulate him on the new job.

We still currently have open positions for more techs to ensure we always can meet the needs of our growing customer base in Eagle Mountain, so please apply at Directcom.com or see http://blog.directcom.com/2014/04/14/immediate-opening-combo-tech-eagle-mountain-utah/. We prefer to hire Eagle Mountain residents, so strongly encourage all locals to apply to work at Direct Communications, your local Eagle Mountain ISP, or Eagle Mountain internet service provider.

2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil – Match Schedule

  • You can watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ online on WatchESPN.com with Direct Communications High-Speed Internet. Log on to directcom.com today to get remote access.
  • You can watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ online from anywhere in the U.S. on ESPN3 available on WatchESPN with Directcom High-Speed Internet.

    You can watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ online from anywhere in the U.S. on ESPN3 available on WatchESPN with Directcom High-Speed Internet.

A note on this: There is a difference between ESPN3, and the WatchESPN app. We provide free access to ESPN3 for our internet customers. The WatchESPN app is strictly for the big national cable TV providers–do not attempt to use the WatchESPN app from your mobile device, because it will ask you to choose your TV provider, and Direct Communications will not be on that list. To access ESPN3, which is what all the games will be shown on, from your PC, go to our homepage and click on the ESPN3 link, or go directly to http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/channel/espn3/
As long as you are on your home network (that is, on Directcom’s network within Eagle Mountain) and using one of our IP addresses, you will be able to access the games. We have had a couple of customers not being able to access ESPN3 because they were logged into a work VPN while at home, and ESPN3 will only work within our IP range.

TO WATCH REMOTELY: In order to watch when you are away from home, you will first need to activate remote access. To do this you will need to set up an ESPN online account while in your home network (ie, using our internet connection or IP addresses) and then activate remote access by clicking on the “Remote Access” button at the top right. That will allow several days of remote access, after which you will need to return to your home network and reactivate remote access again.

TIP: The ESPN app on your Xbox is probably the best and easiest way to access the games.

Day Air Date Match Start (ET) Kickoff (ET) Duration TV Network Matchup Stage Site
Thu 6/12/14 1 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Brazil vs. Croatia Group A Sao Paulo
Fri 6/13/14 2 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN2 México vs. Cameroon Group A Natal
Fri 6/13/14 3 2:30 PM 3:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Spain vs. Netherlands Group B Salvador
Fri 6/13/14 4 5:30 PM 6:00 PM 2:30 ESPN2 Chile vs. Australia Group B Cuiaba
Sat 6/14/14 5 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ABC Colombia vs. Greece Group C Belo Horizonte
Sat 6/14/14 7 2:30 PM 3:00 PM 2:30 ABC Uruguay vs. Costa Rica Group D Fortaleza
Sat 6/14/14 8 5:30 PM 6:00 PM 2:30 ESPN England vs. Italy Group D Manaus
Sat 6/14/14 6 8:30 PM 9:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Ivory Coast vs. Japan Group C Recife
Sun 6/15/14 9 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ABC Switzerland vs. Ecuador Group E Brasilia
Sun 6/15/14 10 2:30 PM 3:00 PM 2:30 ABC France vs. Honduras Group E Porto Alegre
Sun 6/15/14 11 5:30 PM 6:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina Group F Rio de Janeiro
Mon 6/16/14 13 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Germany vs. Portugal Group G Salvador
Mon 6/16/14 12 2:30 PM 3:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Iran vs. Nigeria Group F Curitiba
Mon 6/16/14 14 5:30 PM 6:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Ghana vs. United States Group G Natal
Tue 6/17/14 15 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Belgium vs. Algeria Group H Belo Horizonte
Tue 6/17/14 17 2:30 PM 3:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Brazil vs. México Group A Fortaleza
Tue 6/17/14 16 5:30 PM 6:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Russia vs. South Korea Group H Cuiaba
Wed 6/18/14 20 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Australia vs. Netherlands Group B Porto Alegre
Wed 6/18/14 19 2:30 PM 3:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Spain vs. Chile Group B Rio de Janeiro
Wed 6/18/14 18 5:30 PM 6:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Cameroon vs. Croatia Group A Manaus
Thu 6/19/14 21 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Colombia vs. Ivory Coast Group C Brasilia
Thu 6/19/14 23 2:30 PM 3:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Uruguay vs. England Group D Sao Paulo
Thu 6/19/14 22 5:30 PM 6:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Japan vs. Greece Group C Natal
Fri 6/20/14 24 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Italy vs. Costa Rica Group D Recife
Fri 6/20/14 25 2:30 PM 3:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Switzerland vs. France Group E Salvador
Fri 6/20/14 26 5:30 PM 6:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Honduras vs. Ecuador Group E Curitiba
Sat 6/21/14 27 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Argentina vs. Iran Group F Belo Horizonte
Sat 6/21/14 29 2:30 PM 3:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Germany vs. Ghana Group G Fortaleza
Sat 6/21/14 28 5:30 PM 6:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Nigeria vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina Group F Cuiaba
Sun 6/22/14 31 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ABC Belgium vs. Russia Group H Rio de Janeiro
Sun 6/22/14 32 2:30 PM 3:00 PM 2:30 ABC South Korea vs. Algeria Group H Porto Alegre
Sun 6/22/14 30 5:30 PM 6:00 PM 2:30 ESPN United States vs. Portugal Group G Manaus
Mon 6/23/14 36 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Netherlands vs. Chile Group B Sao Paulo
Mon 6/23/14 35 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN2 Australia vs. Spain Group B Curitiba
Mon 6/23/14 34 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Croatia vs. México Group A Recife
Mon 6/23/14 33 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN2 Cameroon vs. Brazil Group A Brasilia
Tue 6/24/14 39 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Italy vs. Uruguay Group D Natal
Tue 6/24/14 40 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN2 Costa Rica vs. England Group D Belo Horizonte
Tue 6/24/14 37 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Japan vs. Colombia Group C Cuiaba
Tue 6/24/14 38 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN2 Greece vs. Ivory Coast Group C Fortaleza
Wed 6/25/14 43 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Nigeria vs. Argentina Group F Porto Alegre
Wed 6/25/14 44 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN2 Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran Group F Salvador
Wed 6/25/14 42 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN Ecuador vs. France Group E Rio de Janeiro
Wed 6/25/14 41 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN2 Honduras vs. Switzerland Group E Manaus
Thu 6/26/14 45 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN United States vs. Germany Group G Recife
Thu 6/26/14 46 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN2 Portugal vs. Ghana Group G Brasilia
Thu 6/26/14 47 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN South Korea vs. Belgium Group H Sao Paulo
Thu 6/26/14 48 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN2 Algeria vs. Russia Group H Curitiba
Sat 6/28/14 49 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ABC 1A vs. 2B Rd. of 16 Belo Horizonte
Sat 6/28/14 50 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ABC 1C vs. 2D Rd. of 16 Rio de Janeiro
Sun 6/29/14 51 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN 1B vs. 2A Rd. of 16 Fortaleza
Sun 6/29/14 52 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN 1D vs. 2C Rd. of 16 Recife
Mon 6/30/14 53 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN 1E vs. 2F Rd. of 16 Brasilia
Mon 6/30/14 54 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN 1G vs. 2H Rd. of 16 Porto Alegre
Tue 7/1/14 55 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN 1F vs. 2E Rd. of 16 Sao Paulo
Tue 7/1/14 56 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN 1H vs. 2G Rd. of 16 Salvador
Fri 7/4/14 58 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ESPN2 W53 vs. W54 Quarterfinals Rio de Janeiro
Fri 7/4/14 57 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN W49 vs. W50 Quarterfinals Fortaleza
Sat 7/5/14 60 11:30 AM 12:00 PM 2:30 ABC W55 vs. W56 Quarterfinals Brasilia
Sat 7/5/14 59 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN W51 vs. W52 Quarterfinals Salvador
Tue 7/8/14 61 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN W57 vs. W58 Semifinals Belo Horizonte
Wed 7/9/14 62 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN W59 vs. W60 Semifinals Sao Paulo
Sat 7/12/14 63 3:30 PM 4:00 PM 2:30 ESPN L61 vs. L62 3rd Place Brasilia
Sun 7/13/14 64 2:30 PM 3:00 PM 2:30 ABC W61 vs. W62 Final Rio de Janeiro

Paris Open House – Friday June 13-Free Food, Free Fun, and Fiber Optic Cable.

Direct Communications will be hosting an open house for all Bear Lake County residents on Friday June 13, 2014 from 11am to 4pm, at our newly remodeled Paris office, 648 1/2 North Main, Paris, Idaho. This will also serve as a grand re-opening of our remodeled office.

Join us for free food, snowcones,  fun, prizes and games for the kids, including an inflatable water slide. Come and see our remodeled office, with a new conference room that will be available for approved community use. Meet our new local employees, Jennifer Pope, Dustin Keetch, and Krystal Bruce.

Our open house will include displays and information about Fiber Optic cable technology, and how it is improving life and communications in the Bear Lake area. Our managers, engineers, and project managers will be on hand to answer all your questions about when fiber is coming to your neighborhood. Keith Martindale of KVSI will be doing a local radio broadcast from the event.

For more information please call 208 548 2345.

 

Join us for the grand opening of our remodeled Paris Idaho office and open house.

Join us for the grand opening of our remodeled Paris Idaho office and open house.

 

2014 Pony Express Days Report

The happiest week of the year for our marketing department, Pony Express Days, is over once again. Like previous years, Directcom was a festival sponsor, and we reflected that we have been a corporate sponsor each year for over 10 years now. Although the City celebration was scaled back this year, this was Directcom’s biggest year ever as far as the parade was concerned, and we decided to try direct most of our advertising budget towards throwing out lots of free candy and toys along the parade route, and try give the folks something to remember. We threw out literally thousands of t-shirts, frisbees, and wristbands, and two new items this year: megaphones for the girls, and foam swords for the boys.

We began the week with a customer focus group, which we find is always a good way to set the mood for Pony Express Days. This year we invited customers who were subscribing to symmetrical speeds, and the very highest speeds, 100Mb and 50Mb, to attend our session, so we could find out more about what makes people choose premium speeds, and how they felt we were doing in meeting the needs of super users in Eagle Mountain. They provided us with some good insights, suggestions and discussion, and we provided them with dinner and some insider information into our future plans. Thank-you again to the customers who took the time to attend this session.

Directcom Ape throws out bananas to the crowd.

One of the most fascinating parts of this parade for us is how much people love to catch bananas from our Directcom ape (which started as a parody of 2001 Space Odyssey and represents the evolution of broadband to fiber technology.) This ape throwing bananas tradition began back in 2009 quite by accident, when he threw out an extra banana he was eating that year  just for fun, and the crowd went wild. Every year since then, we have thrown out more and more bananas, and this year our ape distributed three very large boxes during the parade. At the booth this year we had a couple of extra bananas sitting on the desk, and a father and daughter came by to ask a question, and we offered the child a banana. She was not interested in the healthy alternative to the candy on our desk until Diane (our office manager) told her that our parade monkey had actually touched these very bananas, and suddenly her face lit up and she eagerly snatched up the banana and began peeling it. Thanks to Troy for being the ape again–it is not a job for the faint-hearted–it can get very hot in that costume under the blazing desert sun, especially while dancing and surfing on top of a van and throwing out hundreds of bananas.

 

Ben Hayes, Outside Sale Exec for Directcom, presents a Smart TV to Nathan and Sarah Jensen- winners of this year’s Pony Express Days customer giveaway. They will be streaming video in style. –At Nolan Park in Eagle Mountain

Each year we hold a drawing for current customers, and give away a TV at the end of the week. This year the prize was a 40″ Vizio Smart TV, which fits well with our brand position of Faster Streaming Broadband. We try to encourage our customers to stream and watch as much online video as possible, because we have noticed that the more people use their internet for entertainment purposes, the more likely they are to be Direct Communications customers, because we are the only provider in Eagle Mountain that does not limit the amount of data (i.e. streaming movies) people can use each month. In the past we have done paper tickets, but this year we required an online entry, which was hopefully more convenient for both us and our customers.

 

Direct Communications employees and family at the Pony Express Days 5K run.

Each year we pay for several of our employees and their families to run in the 5K on Saturday morning. Kip Wilson, our General Manager, is a running enthusiast, and came away this year with a great idea for how to spice up the race in 2015. He is thinking about introducing an incentive like: every customer who finishes in front of him in the 5K next year will receive a free month of internet service. Would that give you extra motivation during your run?

Ben Hayes ready to answer questions at our booth in Nolan Park.

This was a relatively quiet year for us at the booth in the park, because we were not running any large sales promos like we have sometimes done in years past. (Some of you may have received a free Xbox or Wii simply for signing up back in the day.)  These days, new fiber is the message people want to hear, and rather than invest in sales promotions, we plough all available resources into upgrading copper lines to fiber. By far the most common question people asked at the booth was: “When is Fiber coming to my neighborhood?” We were even pleased to see a competitor with a booth set up just down the aisle from us, because it was clear evidence that contrary to some complaints, there is no internet monopoly in Eagle Mountain.

Superheros and super villains join Directcom for the parade. We say you can unleash your online superpowers with fiber optic broadband.

Thanks again to our superhero friend Tim who makes his own amazing costumes and marches in the parade each year with us. We would like to thank the City for again hosting this great event, and also say good job to the new event Coordinator at the City, Chasity Glenn, and her intern, Tia Trusty, who took good care of the sponsors and made sure everything went smoothly. We enjoyed being near the front of the parade. As a small local business, we must admit we enjoyed the scaled-back version of Pony Express Days–it was more like the old days, with mainly just local businesses as sponsors, locals attending, and a real small-town feel.

See you all again next year during Pony Express Days, and please comment below if you have any suggestions on how Directcom can make next year’s event even better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Are Some Homes In Eagle Mountain Still On Copper Instead Of Fiber?

“What is the holdup?“ asked Eagle Mountain resident Don Mallicoat recently on Facebook. This is an excellent question, which many customers in Eagle Mountain who are still on DSL (copper) connections, are probably asking. Why are some homes in Eagle Mountain still on copper, while most are being served with fiber to the home? What is preventing Direct Communications from taking fiber to every home today?

The very short answer is simply: money, and the sheer cost of the citywide upgrade.

The slightly more expanded answer is specifically: cash flow.

The more complex answer, that requires some real explanation, is government regulation of our industry, and how the business model of rural telecom works.

Firstly, let’s be clear—we wish we already had fiber to every home in Eagle Mountain. If we could wave a magic wand, we would make that happen today. Our research and data shows that fiber customers are more satisfied with their service, irrespective of the bandwidth package to which they are subscribing. Further, our data indicates that fiber customers cost less in maintenance and customer support. Our goal is to upgrade every home to fiber as quickly as possible because it is better for our customers, the community, and us.

When Directcom purchased the previously city-owned network from Eagle Mountain City in 2006, the number of houses with fiber to the home was 0.

The number of homes in Eagle Mountain with fiber to the home is now several thousand. So, we have made progress, but yes, there are still neighborhoods we need to convert from DSL to Fiber.

The company has already upgraded about half of the older subdivisions from copper to fiber; however, due to simple budget constraints, we cannot run it to everyone at once. Over the past few years, Directcom has been able to upgrade about 300 older homes a year to fiber, while at the same time kept up with fiber construction to all new subdivisions. During 2013 the company upgraded Cedar Trails, Sage Valley, and the Eagle Landing subdivisions from Copper to Fiber lines. During 2014 we are upgrading Pioneer and Mountain View. By the end of 2014 we should be completely done with the city center upgrade.

Since 2006, we have invested about $24 million into network assets. (This is public information that can be can be sought from the State Tax Commission.) This should give some perspective into the cost of building a modern fiber network. Where does all that money come from? Not from your internet bill, but keep reading, and we will answer that later.

Some background: Direct Communications bought the former Eagle Mountain Telecom in 2006, after the city had tried for many years to sell off its telephone network. The cost of building and maintaining a telephone network was driving the city slowly towards bankruptcy, and Direct Communications, a private telecom provider with a business model that works for remote areas, stepped up and offered a solution for residents of Eagle Mountain, and Directcom paid off the Municipal Bonds which had financed the City’s network. Direct Communications originally bought the network from the City for $6.3 million, and every year since then we have invested significant resources into upgrading the network plant to fiber optic lines, and upgrading switches, electronics and equipment to power the fiber.

So, what is preventing us from upgrading all the homes to fiber in the same year?

Like all businesses, we work within certain constraints. Our available budget is one constraint. Acquiring capital is a major constraint. For us, and most small businesses, managing cash flow is a major constraint. A small company can easily go bankrupt by growing too fast and not having the cash flow to keep up with growth, because of the time lag between investment and recovery on that investment. That lag needs to be financed. Most fast-growing startups must be fueled by outside investment capital, especially those with high construction costs like communications networks. Without this, they would not have the cash flow to even pay their employees because of this time lag. Directcom, essentially still a startup, must finance most of its network growth and upgrades through borrowing from banks and government entities devoted to lending to rural institutions. Borrowing the millions of dollars needed for upgrades is not easy, and very tight government regulation of our industry makes it especially challenging to acquire financing. Put simply, we just can’t get our hands on the huge amount of money needed to do all the upgrades at once.

An important piece of this puzzle is to understand that end consumers themselves could never pay for the real cost of bringing fiber to their homes under pure market forces in a community this size. Clear evidence to demonstrate this claim is that there no other wireline provider in Eagle Mountain.   However, rest assured, Eagle Mountain citizens, that we are truly the only provider who really loves you, because we are here with you and working diligently to bring fiber optic connectivity to every home and business. This is our only market, and Direct Communications Cedar Valley has no interest outside of Eagle Mountain. You are our only customers.

We should mention the need to build and scale the network in a technologically sound way.  Switching everyone all at once would drastically impact our network, resulting in months or years of chaos and a bad consumer experience for everyone in Eagle Mountain until we stabilized everything again.   We want to build it well, not just for today but for decades to come.  That along with identifying trouble/aged areas in the network is the primary determinant in where to upgrade and how to improve the network. The upgrades have to be carried out in a manageable fashion that will fit within capabilities, and our financing model.

Direct Communications makes their investment in fiber construction back over several decades. We borrow to build the network, and then during those decades of cost recovery, an FCC program pays a specified rate of return, which provides the incentive to invest in remote areas, and allows us to pay back the debt. Without this program, Eagle Mountain would not have a fiber network at all, and we would not have a viable business model. (Also worth noting is that there is a several year gap between when we put fiber into the ground and when it is allowed to start being recovered on under the FCC program.) Of course, along with this federal cost recovery program, comes federal regulation—a lot of it. In spite of the very real and genuine challenges resulting from cash constraints, burdensome government regulations, and ever increasing network demands, we are excited about the accelerated deployment of fiber to the homes that we’re pursuing in order to continue providing premier internet experiences for our customers now, and to prepare for the way people will use the internet in the future.   It is often trendy to trash government regulation and by no means are we fans of a great deal of it, but in rural communities where there is no viable business model for the deployment of fiber networks the model of a regulated monopoly makes the most economic and social sense.  It ensures a provider of a business model that incents investment and then a statewide regulatory authority regulates the monopoly to protect the consumers who have no other choice where to go for wireline services.

So, we will continue to slowly but steadily upgrade from copper to fiber as the business model allows. If you are already on fiber, know that you are enjoying the most advanced broadband technology available anywhere in the world.  If you are one of the customers still on copper, try to console yourself with the fact that you do have fiber to your neighborhood or street node. Only the last few feet through your yard to your home are actually still copper lines. We currently deploy the latest VDSL equipment to maximize the copper technology, and you can choose 20Mb DSL speeds, which is enough to stream about 3 Netflix movies at the same time. We are currently looking at increasing that copper offering to a 30Mb download to tide you over until we get fiber to your home. Someday every home in Eagle Mountain will have fiber all the way to the home, and the happiest people of all will probably be the employees of Direct Communications, your local broadband provider.

(Special thanks to Kip Wilson, General Manager, and Michael Parrish, Accounting Manager, for their contributions to this article.)

Viacom Negotiation Update

Update: 4/2/2014

NATIONAL CABLE TELEVISION COOPERATIVE AND VIACOM
REACH DEAL TO RENEW CARRIAGE AGREEMENT
Lenexa, KS and New York, NY – April 1, 2014 – The National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) and Viacom reached an agreement to renew carriage of Viacom’s media networks by NCTC’s more than 800 member companies. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Judy Meyka, NCTC Executive Vice President of Programming, said: “Viacom is and remains one of NCTC’s largest content providers and we are pleased to have reached an agreement that will provide opportunities for our members to distribute their content over multiple platforms.”
“We’re grateful to have reached an agreement with NCTC that will allow millions of viewers nationwide to continue to enjoy our programming,” said Denise Denson, Executive Vice President, Content Distribution and Marketing, Viacom. “We commend NCTC for collaborating with Viacom to reach a fair deal that puts viewers first.”
About the National Cable Television Cooperative
The National Cable Television Cooperative, Inc. (NCTC) is a Kansas not‐for‐profit corporation that operates as a programming and hardware purchasing organization for its member companies who own and operate cable systems throughout the U.S. and its territories. NCTC seeks to maximize current and future opportunities to ensure the profitability, competitive stature and long term sustainability of its member companies.

Original Post 3/27/2014:

Multinational entertainment company Viacom, which is the parent owner of networks:  BET, Comedy Central, Spike, TV Land, CMT, MTV, VH1, and Nickelodeon, is threatening to shut down their network feeds to most rural cable companies at the end of March 2014, unless their demands for huge prices increases are met by the rural cable industry.

Direct Communications obtains all cable TV content through a national rural co-op, The National Cable Television Cooperative — which represents more than 1000 small rural cable operators, and negotiates all our programming deals. NCTC is trying to negotiate with Viacom, but they have informed us that they are not hopeful that an agreement will be reached due to Viacom being unwilling to budge on pricing demands.

Programming fees account for the bulk of our customers’ monthly cable TV bill.  Our goal is to protect our customers from significant programming fee increases. Viacom is demanding an increase that is 40 times the rate of inflation over last year’s fees for the same channels you get today – even if you don’t watch them.

We, as a small company that serves rural customers, feel that Viacom may be out of touch with demand for their programs in rural America, since surveys of our customers in rural Idaho have consistently ranked programs like MTV, VH1, BET, and Comedy Central (which are mostly targeted to urban youth) among the least-watched of any cable networks on the Directcom channel line-up.

Our existing agreement with Viacom expires on March 31, 2014. Although NCTC is working to negotiate a fair price for these networks after March 31, Viacom may turn off their networks or require us to remove all their channels until a new agreement is secured. For more information, please call us at 208 548 2345 or check back regularly on our facebook site, facebook.com/Directcom or  blog.directcom.com

 

Here are links to some of the national news stories about NCTC’s negotiations:

Multichannel News, March 25: Small Ops Gird for Battle

Los Angeles Times, March 26: Viacom in Fight with Small Ops

CBS MoneyWatch, March 26: Cable Customer could lose Viacom

Installing Chrome Logo Signage as Part of our Paris Office Remodel

This winter we have been busy updating, repainting and remodeling our Paris, Idaho office, located about 8 miles north of the white sands of Bear Lake. Thank you to all of our local customers and  employees who have helped on this project. Once we are done, we hope to invite all the residents of Bear Lake Valley to a ribbon-cutting and open house to see the new office. Once known as the Paris Community Center, our new Paris office is still available for special community event use, and will have a new conference room in the back for various community education classes. Yesterday we installed some new cubicles for our local techs to use, and a chrome logo on the back wall.  Special thanks to the pros at SignUp Signs & Graphics in Pocatello , who hand-crafted the chrome 3-D lettering. Anyway, this is how the sign was installed:

Positioning the template on the wall

Positioning the template on the wall

The vinyl template is stuck to the wall with front and back covering removed.The vinyl template is stuck to the wall with front and back covering removed. This was the most difficult and time consuming part of the process.

Sticking the metal letters onto the wall

Sticking the metal letters onto the wall

The lettering is complete

The lettering in place

The sign is finished

The vinyl template is peeled off and the installation is complete.

The finished logo signage on the back wall in our Paris office.

The finished logo signage on the back wall in our Paris office.

No Contract Required

 

Be free.

Be free.

FACT:  Direct Communications in Eagle Mountain does not require a contract or term commitment . 

Any new customer may sign up for Directcom Broadband service without a contract. If you prefer the freedom of no contract, or month-to-month service, all that is required is a simple $75 broadband installation fee. However, new customers who commit to an easy 6-month contract term with their service, can enjoy  free installation, a 30-day no risk guarantee, and the peace of mind of knowing that they can cancel service anytime, with just a $25 early termination fee. What we find is almost 99% of customers in Eagle Mountain prefer service with a contract and $0 upfront, so we continue to offer that option. 

Contrary to some claims by our competitors, we actually have never required a contact for internet customers. New customers could always choose to forgo a contract term. However, very few people ever chose to sign up without a contract because we have always offered free installation with a term commitment. We do this because a term commitment lowers our risk, or cost, of installing our premium service. Our installation is very customer-friendly, thorough, customized, and  hands-on: we do all the work for you and no technical knowledge on your part is needed to activate your service. We send a local tech to your house, who mounts the fiber electronics on your home, runs Ethernet cable inside to your network hub, router, or a location of your choice, then activates your home router, sets up your home wireless router with security if you desire, and he will not leave until you are satisfied that your new fiber internet connection, and the connection to all the devices in your home, is working to your satisfaction. We follow up with a satisfaction survey. In the old days we required a $185 broadband installation fee if new customers did not want to sign a 1-year commitment up front. This was largely dictated by FCC requirements for telecommunications and broadband companies like us. Recently, these regulations have changed to give us more leeway in deciding how to set contract and installation terms.

Since early 2013, our policy for new internet customer installs has been that no contract is required, and we only require a $75 broadband installation fee if a new customer wants to be free of any commitment.

For customers who know they will be in their homes for a while, and are willing to sign a 6-month commitment, we will continue to offer FREE installation. Plus, we of course will also give you the first month free if you are using our refer-a-friend program, or in other words, if you were referred by a friend.

One qualifier, which will probably never change since it is set by the State of Utah Government, is that regulated telecoms like us must charge a $25 phone activation fee for new accounts. This has always existed as part of the Utah State Public Utilities regulation. This is separate from broadband installation fees.

Why are we doing away with contracts?

Over the past couple of years, some of our non-customers in annual focus groups have told us that they didn’t like contracts. Many people did not want to sign long-term commitments various reasons—some did not feel secure in their employment, and feared they might not be able to pay for service in a few months; many said they were looking to move out of Eagle Mountain sometime in the coming year; others said they just don’t like contracts as a matter of principle. We agree—people should stay with us because we offer the best, most reliable service in Eagle Mountain, and not because we have them locked into a contract. However, until recently, our hands were essentially tied because of NECA and FCC regulation.

In  June of 2012, we tested this feedback from non-customers, and during Pony Express Days, instead of offering a sweet electronic toy like an Xbox as a promotion, which would also require long term commitments, we simply offered free installation with no contract and no obligation, and a couple of months of free service so they could demo our superior internet product risk free. While the number of new customers taking advantage of this promo was not quite as high as the years we offered a free Xbox or Wii, the results were still good, and, even more encouraging, as we tracked these customers over the next following months, we found they were just as likely to stay with us than people who had signed a contract. They stayed because they liked the service and found it to be better than any competitors service in Eagle Mountain. This is what we want.

So, we decided to make this no-contract offer our general policy, with a few adjustments. We want to make it easy for people to switch to us. We want to be easy to do business with. We hope that a $75 install charge, with no contract required, would be low enough for most homeowners in Eagle Mountain to afford without requiring anyone to go without shoes for the month. $75 does not nearly cover our cost for an install—we have to pay for the tech, the truck roll, and most expensive, the new fiber electronics to be installed on the home. Together these amount to several hundred dollars. However, we feel confident that once a customer has experienced our faster streaming fiber optic broadband, they will never go back to a wireless internet service provider. Our customers tell us: You simply can’t go back from fiber.

In the past, in order to make it financially viable to give away free electronics as a promotion, like an Xbox, Wii, AppleTV or Kindle Fire, we have with  special promotions asked new customers to sign 2-year contracts to get a fantastic free promo item. Many people who previously said they disliked contracts suddenly didn’t mind them as much. They get a free Xbox, and we get a new customer while lowering our risk–it’s a win-win. In the past couple of years, as the general public has become more tech savvy and educated, the very idea of fiber has become more powerful than any promotion or toy we could offer, so we have limited our promotions and relied simply on our premium value proposition. So, contacts associated with promos are a thing of the past too.

Of course, we expect most people will still choose the no upfront cost, free install, with one month free, that comes with a 6-month commitment. This is not a promo—this is our everyday pricing. But, for Eagle Mountain residents who don’t like contracts, this $75 upfront option is built for you, and we hope to see you soon. Haven’t you ever wanted to know what your internet experience could be over fiber optic cable? Try it—you will like it.

Direct Communications Donates to Westlake High School – 2013 Edition

Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications presents a donation to Westlake High School Athletic Director Michael O’Connor for the athletic program. (Not pictured, but our thanks also to: Sharon Mardesich, athletic assistant.)

Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications presents a donation to Westlake High School Athletic Director Michael O’Connor for the athletic program. (Not pictured, but our thanks also to: Sharon Mardesich, athletic assistant.)

Nov 2013 – Eagle Mountain, UT

Direct Communications donated $6000 to the Westlake High School Athletic Program this month, as part of their continuing effort to support student achievement at the school. This money will be split between the football program and the general athletic scholarship fund. According to Sharon Mardesich, athletic assistant, the scholarship fund was established to reward graduating student athletes with money for college, who have made a significant all-round contribution to Westlake High School, not only through their participation in athletics, but also by their good grades, attitude, perseverance and general involvement.

Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications presents a donation to Westlake High School Athletic Director Michael O’Connor for the athletic program. (Not pictured, but our thanks also to: Sharon Mardesich, athletic assistant.) We are proud to be a sponsor of Westlake High School Athletics. —at Westlake High School.

Direct Communications Donates to Rockwell Charter High School – 2013

Diane Bradshaw presents a donation to Coach Maw of Rockwell High School

Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications presents a donation to Coach Maw of Rockwell High School

November 2013, Eagle Mountain Utah.

Direct Communications donated $500 to Rockwell Charter High School again in 2013, as part of the company’s continuing effort to be a responsible corporate partner of the citizens of Eagle Mountain.

Certificate from Rockwell High School thanking Directcom for it's continuing commitment to supporting education

Certificate from Rockwell High School thanking Directcom for it’s continuing commitment to supporting education

Rockwell High presents Direct Communications with a certificate of appreciation

A representative of Rockwell High presents Direct Communications with a certificate of appreciation for supporting the high school.

Direct Communications Donates to the Ranches Academy – 2013 Edition

Ranches AcademyDirect Communications, Eagle Mountain’s local fiber optic broadband service provider, donated again this year to The Ranches Academy.  Diane Bradshaw, Directcom office manager, who has been coordinating the education outreach program, and is herself  a parent of children who attended schools in Eagle Mountain, wanted to find a way to help support local schools, as well as improve the business profile of Directcom. “People need to know that we are heavily invested in Eagle Mountain—we are invested in the children and invested in the community. One way we can give back meaningfully is to get involved in the schools.”

Susie Scherer, Director of The Ranches Academy said: “We are so excited to be getting this check this year. We are doing our first licensed school play and it is more expensive than expected. Half of the money will go toward the play and half will be used again by the student council for similar activities as last year. I just told the parent volunteer about the play and she is ecstatic! Please pass on our gratitude! Thank you.”

Direct Communications Donates to Eagle Valley Elementary

November 2013, Eagle Mountain, Utah.

Ben Hayes, Account Executive for Directcom, presents a donation to Eagle Valley Elementary.

Ben Hayes, Account Executive for Directcom, presents a donation to Angie Hale and Principle Conley of Eagle Valley Elementary.

Direct Communications donated again this year to Eagle Valley Elementary School in Eagle Mountain, as part of the company’s commitment to be involved in the community. As the local broadband service provider, Direct Communications believes that supporting local education is a way to both reinforce the important message that good education and better broadband service go hand in hand, and both are essential elements to enhancing the quality of life for all in Eagle Mountain.

Angie Hale of Eagle Valley Elementary School stated:

“Thank you to Direct Communications for supporting Eagle Valley Elementary! Direct Communications, Eagle Mountain’s local telephone and internet service provider, recently made a generous donation to Eagle Valley Elementary in support of their Battle of the Books program. America’s Battle of the Books provides the opportunity for students in 3rd – 6th grades to read a specific list of books and then compete as teams to demonstrate their knowledge and comprehension of the titles they have read. This program encourages students to read quality books and also gives them the opportunity to have fun while reading and competing with peers. Direct Communications’ contribution will help provide Eagle Valley Elementary’s media center with much needed additional copies of the books, as well as provide awards and incentives for the program’s participants. It will greatly help Eagle Valley Elementary to encourage an even greater love of literacy and learning among its students. Direct Communication’s generosity shows their continued dedication to the community and their willingness to help support local schools and programs.”

Directcom Donates to Hidden Hollow Elementary School – 2013

Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications presents a check for $500 to Tom Tillman, Principal of Hidden Hollow, and Reon Cowan, assistant.

Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications presents a check for $500 to Tom Tillman, Principal of Hidden Hollow, and Reon Cowan, assistant.

November 2013 -Eagle Mountain, Utah. Direct Communications donated $500 to Hidden Hollow Elementary School, as part of their continuing effort to support education in Eagle Mountain.

Brigham Griffin, Marketing Director for Direct Communications said: “For us, being the local service provider  means being involved and trying to make a difference in Eagle Mountain, and we hope that  means something to our customers here. I guarantee that we care about Eagle Mountain more than any other provider, because this is our only service area.  We have no other priority. And so, we care about what happens here, and we try to support causes that will enhance life in Eagle Mountain. “

Hidden Hollow elementary is using the $500 donation from Direct Communications this year to buy snow shoes for their 5th graders, who will attend Clear Creek Camp in the spring.

Thank you note from Hidden Hollow Elementary

Thank you note from Hidden Hollow Elementary

Direct Communications Sponsors Frontier Middle School Hope Squad Program

Eagle Mountain, Utah, November 2013:

Direct Communications, Eagle Mountain’s local fiber broadband company, donated $1000 to Frontier Middle School this month, to sponsor the launch of the new Frontier Middle School Hope Squad Program. This program was designed to help combat and prevent bullying at the school.

Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications, presents Jeff Clark, School Counselor for Frontier Middle School , with a donation for $1000.

Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications, presents Jeff Clark, School Counselor for Frontier Middle School , with a donation for $1000.

A survey was presented to the students asking them to identify 3 students at the school whom they felt they could talk to if they needed help or had an issue. The school counselors then chose the 30 kids whose names popped up most frequently. (10 students for each grade level.) These students will make up the new Hope Squad. School counselors will train them how to respond and handle a situation, such as another student telling them they are considering suicide. The counselors are then notified, and will be able to handle the situation appropriately.

Mary Finely, School Counselor A-D, Frontier Middle School stated:

“Direct communication has made a more than generous donation to our school to help support the Hope Squad.  This is a team of students who are trained to be the listening ears for their peers and alert counselors of anything that could be considered a harmful activity. This donation helps us to sustain a safe atmosphere that is felt by all students in the community. Frontier Middle School recognizes the well-rounded support of Direct Communications for all of our students and thanks them for their generous support.”

Diane Bradshaw, local Office Manager and Community Representative for Direct Communications, said that she was very pleased that the company donation to the school this year was going towards such an important cause as preventing bullying. “We are very impressed that Frontier is taking such a proactive approach to making their school a safe environment, because bullying has been an issue on many parents minds in Eagle Mountain recently. It feels good to know the money will be used to helping making life a little better for all of our kids.”

Jeff Clark, School Counselor, Frontier Middle School said:

“We are grateful for Direct Communications generous donation to Hope Squad which will help spread the word to our students at Frontier Middle School that they are never alone, there’s people that care, and there’s always Hope.”

Jeff Clark further explained that The Hope Squad is a district wide program that will hopefully soon trickle down throughout the state. “Your donation of $1000 will go directly to the Hope Squad program and assist in preventing suicide and bullying at Frontier Middle School.  Hope Squad allows students to share personal information with their peers in a safe environment so they can get the necessary help they need.  The money will be used for our program fees, such as enrollment, shirts, banners and other signage.”

Which Directcom Employee should Win our 2013 Idaho Office Halloween Costume Contest?

Daniel- email

Daniel- email

Kim - Steam Punk

Kim – Steam Punk

Pam - Wednesday

Pam – Wednesday

Jeremy - Horse's Rear End

Jeremy – Horse’s Rear End

John - What does the fox say?

John – What does the fox say?

Tim - New Dad

Tim – New Dad

Amy -Spider Lady

Amy -Spider Lady

Matt - Linda the Sucker Lady

Matt – Linda the Sucker Lady

Kip - Doesn't do Halloween

Kip – Doesn’t do Halloween

Michael - Ski Bum

Michael – Ski Bum

Anita - American Morph

Anita – American Morph

Erin - Halloween Fun

Erin – Halloween Fun

Lorri - Witch

Lorri – Witch

Tina - Minion

Tina – Minion

Linda - Michael Jackson

Linda – Michael Jackson

Charlotte - Queen of the Beach

Charlotte – Queen of the Beach

Brad - The Deer Hunter

Brad – The Deer Hunter

Rowan - Cowboys Cheerleader

Rowan – Cowboys Cheerleader

Brigham - French Braid

Brigham – French Braid

Which Directcom Employee should Win our 2013 Eagle Mountain Office Halloween Costume Contest?

Kristy - Pioneer Woman

Kristy – Pioneer Woman

Ben - Dr Raymond Stantz from Ghostbusters

Ben – Dr Raymond Stantz from Ghostbusters

Brenda  - Ghoul school Graduate

Brenda – Ghoul school Graduate

Diane - Little Bo Peep

Diane – Little Bo Peep

Direct Communications Cable Now Carries Fox Sports 1

Direct Communications Cable customers in Idaho have probably recently noticed a change in the channel line-up: channel 61 has changed from the old Speed Channel to FOX Sports 1.  FOX Sports 1 is a new, national 24-hour multi-sport cable channel launched by FOX Sports on August 17, 2013. This new network has replaced the Speed channel.

So what is Fox Sports 1?

Here are some answers from Fox Sports official website to FAQ’s taken from http://msn.foxsports.com/other/page/foxsports1-faq

“Over the past several years, FOX Sports has acquired or renewed rights agreements with entities like the FIFA World Cup, MLB, NASCAR, NFL, UFC and collegiate conferences like the Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Conference USA, Pac-12, the USGA and soccer leagues around the world to develop a full, robust programming schedule. FOX Sports 1 will have nearly 5,000 hours of live event, news and original programming annually.

FOX Sports continues its major commitment to motorsports programming with top-level NASCAR events, including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series (2015) and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races; popular programs like NASCAR RaceDay, NASCAR Victory Lane and NASCAR Race Hub; events from around the world, including Monster Energy Supercross; MotoGP World Championship; the ARCA Racing Series; the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans; and the popular Barrett-Jackson Collector Car auctions on a FOX channel.

At present, FOX Sports 1 has rights agreements in place to carry college basketball and football, MLB (in 2014), NASCAR, NFL (ancillary programs), world-class soccer, UFC and USGA championship events. FOX Sports 1 boasts nearly 5,000 hours of live event, news and original programming annually and that number will continue to grow. College football on FOX Sports 1 is highlighted by regular season coverage of Big 12, Pac-12 and Conference USA games. FOX Sports 1 carries dozens of exclusive prime time college basketball games from the Big East, Big 12, Pac-12 and Conference USA and the network is home to the Big East men’s basketball tournament. Starting in 2014, select MLB League Championship Series and Division Series games as well as regular season games are coming to FOX Sports 1. FOX Sports 1 also carries select NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events beginning 2015; NASCAR Nationwide Series events in 2015, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races; the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race; and all SpeedWeeks, including Daytona 500 Qualifying, Sprint Unlimited at Daytona, (2014, 2017-22) the Budweiser Duel, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NCWTS Practice and Qualifying sessions. Additionally, FOX Sports 1 carries NASCAR RaceDay, NASCAR Victory Lane and Race Hub shows. Soccer is highlighted on FOX Sports 1 with the world’s most prolific club soccer competitions, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League and CONCACAF Champions League. FOX Sports 1 carries the world’s oldest soccer competition, the FA Cup; CONCACAF Gold Cup; CONCACAF Qualifiers, FIFA Women’s World Cup coverage in 2015 and 2019; FIFA Men’s World Cup coverage in 2018 and 2022. UFC is also a core programming pillar. In addition to Saturday pay-per-view preliminary cards, Wednesday nights are home to the UFC with UFC Tonight, live events and The Ultimate Fighter. Come 2015, USGA championship events are also coming to FOX Sports 1.”

Student Competition – Make a Video Ad for Direct Communications

Direct Communications is offering $100 to each school AV class/department in our local service areas willing to participate in a student  contest to create the best TV/web video commercial promoting our high speed internet service.

The winning group or individual student responsible for creating the winning ad will receive a $500 prize.

These ads will be aired on our cable TV network on ESPN and seven other cable channels, in pre-movie screen ads at local cinemas, and on our YouTube channel, Facebook page, and various corporate websites.

Specifications:

Videos must be created by local high school or elementary school students. 

Videos must be exactly 30’ in total length for insertion into local cable TV ad spots.

Videos must be in either 1280×720 HD resolution or 720×480 SD resolution.

Videos must be submitted in digital format, exported in either mpeg2, .mov, Quicktime, or mpeg-4 format.

Any models (especially minors) used whose faces are visible in the ad must have signed model releases. These releases must be submitted to Direct Communications with the video submission. These releases are available for download at  http://www.directcom.com/brand/2013-video%20ad%20Model%20release%20form.pdf

Logo and graphics elements are available for download at http://www.directcom.com/brand

All videos must include a title slide indicating the school and students involved in creating the ad.

Videos must be submitted by Dec 31, 2013.

Videos must promote the unique benefits of Direct Communications High Speed Internet Service.

Examples:

Better Streaming.

You can use our internet to stream video better than on competing services.

Fastest speeds in town.

Our 20Mb speeds are faster than any competitors in town.

No caps. No throttling. No limits.

Some providers claim to support video streaming, but will cap how much you can download each month. They may even charge you data overages or throttle (intentionally reduce) your speed if you watch too much.

Direct Communications is the only provider that will give you true unlimited bandwidth, so you can stream as much online video as you want, in full HD quality.

Your local broadband company.

We are locally owned and operated. Our headquarters are in small-town rural Rockland in southeast Idaho, and our employees all live in rural towns in southeast Idaho. Get better service from your local provider.

Some other ideas:

  1. We provide the only fiber optic network in rural southeast Idaho.
  2. You can watch multiple streams at once on different devices in your home.
  3. We offer residential speeds up to 20Mb on cable broadband and 100Mb on fiber broadband.
  4. Our cable network is backed by state-of-the-art fiber optic cable.
  5. Our speeds are consistent, and we typically provide the speed we advertise, not some “burstable” mythical speed that you can only get for a few seconds.
  6. Unlike wireless providers, your bandwidth is not all shared off the same tower.
  7. We don’t throttle your speeds if you stream too much.
  8. We don’t put a cap on how much you are allowed to download each month.
  9. Our fiber-optic cable connects you directly to the national fiber backbone, with no wireless links inbetween.

10. Wireless internet equipment simply wasn’t built to handle constant high-demand applications like high-definition video very well. Our Fiber network was designed to stream high-definition video.

The creative execution should be relevant, but unexpected. Use your imagination and surprise us.

For more information, contact your local Directcom schools rep, Daniel Parrish at 208 945 8223 or at

danielp@directcom.com

or call our main office at 208 548 2345.

To submit your ad, please turn in the digital file on either a data CD or DVD, or preferably on a flash drive/SD card  or USB thumb drive to your nearest Directcom retail location, or give it to your teacher to be picked up by Daniel Parrish. Or, you can mail your disk or SD card to:
Brigham Griffin
Direct Communications
PO Box 269
Rockland, ID 83271

Here is an example of an ad created by a 4th grade student.

Protect Yourself From Phishing And Online Scams

No matter how internet-savvy you are, you should always be alert to phishing and other online scams. While hackers try to break into databases to steal user information, phishers try to dupe you into giving up your username and password voluntarily, usually by having you enter your login information on a fake website. The best way to avoid these scams is to never access your business accounts via email links. Always enter the URL you know and trust directly into the browser. Also, make sure you always double check the URL and security certificate of a site before you enter any passwords.

Phishing occurs most commonly through email. A phishing email appears to be from a legitimate business and will ask you click on a link to change or enter your online account passwords, credit card numbers, or bank account information. If you click on the link, you will be taken to a fake website, which may look exactly like the official website of the real company, and even copy or mask the URL of the real company. Once you enter you password on the fake website, they immediately have your information.  Direct Communications and almost all other legitimate businesses will never request your personal information or any account information  through email.

Here are some recommendations compiled by The Anti-Phishing Working Group:

(Taken from http://www.antiphishing.org/resources/overview/avoid-phishing-scams)

Be suspicious of any email with urgent requests for personal financial information

  • unless the email is digitally signed, you can’t be sure it wasn’t forged or ‘spoofed’
  • phishers typically include upsetting or exciting (but false) statements in their emails to get people to react immediately
  • they typically ask for information such as user names, passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, date of birth, etc.
  • phisher emails are typically NOT personalized, but they can be. Valid messages from your bank or e-commerce company generally are personalized, but always call to check if you are unsure

Don’t use the links in an email, instant message, or chat to get to any web page if you suspect the message might not be authentic or you don’t know the sender or user’s handle

  • instead, call the company on the telephone, or log onto the website directly by typing in the Web address in your browser

Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask for personal financial information

  • you should only communicate information such as credit card numbers or account information via a secure website or the telephone

Always ensure that you’re using a secure website when submitting credit card or other sensitive information via your Web browser

Phishers are now able to ‘spoof,’ or forge BOTH the “https” that you normally see when you’re on a secure Web server AND a legitimate-looking address. You may even see both in the link of a scam email. Again, make it a habit to enter the address of any banking, shopping, auction, or financial transaction website yourself and not depend on displayed links.

Phishers may also forge the yellow lock you would normally see near the bottom of your screen on a secure site. The lock has usually been considered as another indicator that you are on a ‘safe’ site. The lock, when double-clicked, displays the security certificate for the site. If you get any warnings displayed that the address of the site you have displayed does NOT match the certificate, do not continue.

Remember not all scam sites will try to show the “https” and/or the security lock. Get in the habit of looking at the address line, too. Were you directed to PayPal? Does the address line display something different like “hxxp://www.gotyouscammed.com/paypal/login.htm?” Be aware of where you are going.

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