Life at 100 Mb – How I Broke into the 1%

I always knew that someday I would make it into the 1%. I have been aiming to be a part of it since the day I arrived off the boat with just a suitcase in my hand. Unfortunately, I am not talking about my adjusted gross income,  which according to the IRS still puts me right amongst the riffraff, or for the true 1%, “rif et raf,” meaning  “one and all” in French.  But, now that I have 100Mb broadband speeds to my home, I can boldly claim to be part of the new 1% internet glitterati, which is almost as good.

100mb speed test result

100mb speed test result

If you don’t believe that internet speed is the new status symbol, replacing both the BMW and paid-off mortgage to let people know that you have arrived, just look at how the Washington liberal elite are making the National Broadband Plan their new priority. The current administration has looked at rural America, and seen how we fat cat country folk have been gorging ourselves on broadband, building “elite,” “premium” and “unnecessary” fiber optic networks to sparsely populated areas, while the more deserving cosmopolitans in the great cities of this nation languish on archaic, dilapidated copper networks that the Big Telecoms have not bothered to update since the 50’s. Consequently, city folk struggle to get 3Mb speeds in many cases. The average broadband connection in the United States is only 6.6 Mbps downstream, according to Akamai’s latest State of the Internet Report. To correct this gross injustice with some smart social engineering, the administration has declared, nay—decreed, that 100Mb speeds must be the goal for broadband to urban areas, but that 4Mb is good enough for simple rural folk. There may of course be political motivation behind this, due to the demographic distribution of where the current administration’s votes come from, but, regardless, it is clear that even at the very top of the Ivory Towers, they now recognize that to have arrived you must have 100Mb speeds.

It wasn’t easy for a poor immigrant like me to break into the 1%. Like many people in that other elite 1%, it may in the end have come down to a lot of luck, and being in the right place at the right time. The first thing I had to do was move to an area served by a rural telecom with the funding to build out their fiber optic network, and then unwittingly build a home so remote, so far away from the existing copper network, that the only option was to break out a strand from their main fiber backbone and bring it directly to my home. In this way my new house became the first in Idaho to have fiber to the home. This event was published in the Idaho State Journal back in 2006. At the time, I was cruising on the fastest available speed of 12Mb, which was unprecedented back then. A couple of weeks ago I ordered our newly available 100Mb speed package. But, although I now had that speed to the fiber optical network terminal on my home, my old reliable Linksys router simply could not handle the awesomeness of those speeds. The maximum output to my computer, Xbox and other direct-wired ethernet devices on my home network was only about  35Mb. As for the wireless devices like the Kindle and Droids, forget about it. Clearly the router was holding me back, so it had to go.

So, I consulted with my friend Jeremy Smith, who is also my neighbor and boss, and one of the few people I know in our small town who is a bigger internet geek than me. He showed me his Cisco E2000 router, which has the rare feature in a consumer-grade router of having Gigabit ports. I found a refurb model on Cisco’s website for only $39, so it was a no-brainer to upgrade to a new router. As an important side note, this E2000 is not Cisco/Linksys newest router—it’s an older model. They now have a lot of fancier ones with the ability to broadcast multiple guest networks at once and such, but they didn’t think to build Gig ports into them because, after all—who caters to the politically incorrect 1% anymore? But, the Gigabit ports are the key. If you are subscribing to higher speeds and not getting the full potential out of your internet—that is the first place you should look. Regular 10/100 ethernet grade ports will not get you to 100Mb. The second I plugged in my new Cisco Gig router into my network, I was able to get the full 100Mb download speeds to my wired devices. My upload speeds were only set to 5Mb on purpose, because that is the current residential upload offering here in Idaho, but in theory, over fiber, Direct Communications has the ability to deliver the full symmetrical 100Mb up and down.

My next dilemma was, now that I have arrived, what do I do with my 100 Mbps internet connection? I have faster speeds than 99% of the country—I need to do something important online. So, naturally, the first thing I did was take a screen shot of my speed test and post it to my brothers to make them jealous, because they still live in speed-deprived metropolises like San Francisco and Salt Lake City . I learned this trick from our customers on our corporate facebook page, who have shown me the importance of posting speed tests online. The thing about having obscenely fast speeds is that the speed, just like making even more money for the financial 1%, becomes an obsession—it becomes necessary to keep running speed tests just to make sure you are still in the 1%. So, that was also an obvious way to use my connection—run more speed tests and pat myself on the back each time.

The latest national report on bandwidth usage in the USA from network solutions provider Sandvine, says that the average household now uses about 52GB per month, or about 81 hours of streaming video, and that Netflix is responsible for 33 percent of all downstream traffic. As already stated, I have never wanted to be average, and over the past couple of years, I would estimate that I have been personally responsible for at least 2% of all download traffic in the USA due to my Netflix usage. We dropped out satellite years ago when we figured out Hulu was free and Netflix also had free streaming.  But, now that I am in the 1%, it’s time to step up my streaming video usage. Using my elitist training in statistics and standard normal distribution, I calculated that if the national average was 81 hours of streaming video, (guessing a generous standard deviation of 20 hours) to become part of the streaming 1%, I would only have to consume about 128 hours a month of streaming video. That is just over 4 hours a day, which really is not a lot of online video, especially by my family’s standards. I use that on my Kindle over breakfast.

So, I looked to become a little more exclusive, but even to be a one-in-a-million consumer, you only have to watch 178 hours a month, or 5.9 hours a day. Clearly, America is not watching enough online video—the bar is currently very low. Our baby alone is probably using that much up each day just watching Dora on Netflix. She is more like a one-in-a-billion consumer of internet media. This sounds good, but is probably not something to put in Parenting Magazine.  Perhaps to feel more like an elite 1%, we should do something more extreme, like put an internet-enabled TV in all of the bathrooms–luckily I already took the precaution of wiring our Jacuzzi tub with ethernet for just such an emergency.

Of course, the real advantage of more speed today is the number of devices you can connect and stream to at the same time. In my home we have an Xbox, a Wii, a Roku, two desktops, some laptops, a couple of smartphones, and a tablet. That’s only about 8 devices. I know people who have a lot more devices than that in their homes, especially if they have a lot of teenage kids. If the new primetime at home consists of Mom catching up on The Bachelor on her iPad as she runs on the treadmill, while Dad is watching reruns of Shark Week on Netflix, and the kids are on episode 103 of SpongeBob on the Xbox, that is going to require a very robust, constant feed. Family time is just not what it used to be when everybody was staring at the same screen, but multiple screens require multiple IP streams into the home, and that is where we as the 1% truly shine. I sometimes hear customers complain that they can’t watch Netflix and use their VOIP phone at the same time, and I can only shake my head in pity, because they are only subscribing to 1.5Mb speed. If I am to fulfill my responsibility as part of the 1%, I clearly need to invest in even more screens, and I need to keep them all streaming simultaneous, whether anybody is watching them or not.

I have noticed with the financial 1%, that it is difficult for them to fathom how regular folks live. After a while of being rich, they tend to assume that all people live the way they do. They will say things in conversation like: “I don’t understand why you are going camping for your family reunion. Why don’t you all just go on a cruise like a normal family?” Hopefully I will start to become that way with my elite internet service. For example, I already just assume that everyone watches ESPN3, Hulu, Netflix and orders new releases on Amazon Instant Video like I do, or at the very least make use of remote Slingbox at an undisclosed location. I question why the masses are still wasting their limited income on old-fashioned satellite, or worse—visiting that bacteria-infested Red Box. But, I recently tried to watch a BYU game on ESPN3 at a relative’s house in Salt Lake City using my remote access account, and it was an absolute nightmare—not even worth watching over their 4Mb internet connection. The resolution and quality adjusts to your internet speed, and this was so pixilated that I could barely make out the opposing teams colors. I am used to watching ESPN3 on the Xbox at home in full HD, with no buffering, and a crystal-clear picture even better than HD satellite, because they use more compression in their digital feed than our direct internet feed does.

I am probably never going to be in the financial 1%. In fact, I suspect  I don’t even know anybody who is part of that 1%. But, I am finding it’s not easy being part of any kind of 1%, and I’m beginning to feel a slight empathy for them because of our shared experience. There’s the taunts, the derision from co-workers, the protests and the whining from regular folks complaining about their lesser service, the threat of government redistribution of bandwidth hanging over our heads, and the boredom of having unlimited resources at your fingertips. I can’t even enjoy the mobile data on my cell phone anymore—it is ruined forever for me. How could I ever go back from 100Mb? I will never be able to move into a house without fiber again. My options for relocating are going to be extremely limited from now on. Sometimes I just miss the old fashioned phone—it is tiresome having to dress up for video-conferencing all the time. I’m trying to be a good representative of our elite super-broadband caste, but I don’t play games; I don’t look at porn; I don’t download or upload anything illegal. I don’t even Bit Torrent. I wonder what the proletariat would do with 100Mb? Even though it means I will just be one of the masses again, we are going to have to give 100 Mb to all of them someday. Hopefully by then I will have 1 Gig speeds.

Directcom Completes Arbon Fiber-to-the-Home Project

This spring, Direct Communications engineers completed the upgrade of Arbon Valley from traditional copper telephone lines to Fiber-to-the-Home, enabling every resident in Arbon to receive broadband access.

The company’s fiber to the home rollout in Arbon began in the summer of 2009, and since then, Directcom crews have been working around the clock, laying fiber optic cable to all of the homes in the Arbon Valley. Even the very remote homes, from those miles up in the mountains to down the valley, can now receive better high-speed internet service than is available in most cities in the USA. The company began with Arbon because this exchange area had always been the most difficult to serve with traditional DSL over copper, and thus had the fewest broadband subscribers.

Direct Communications buried 158 miles of fiber optic cable in Arbon Valley, bringing fiber to about 90 homes.

Matt Farr, Engineer and Operations Manager stated: “Arbon was a good starting point for us because it was so open, the construction was straightforward, and there weren’t a lot of other utilities to worry about running into. Also, we had a lot of customers there in Arbon that simply could not receive any internet signal before, because the farms and homes were so spread out. Fiber was the solution. It’s been good to hear customers tell us things like: ‘We tried streaming Netflix for the first time ever last night—that was pretty cool.’”

Matt Farr, Engineer and Operations Manager for Direct Communications in Idaho, shows the new Calix ONT (Optical Network Terminal) that is installed on the side of a home to convert the fiber light signal to Ethernet and phone service.

There is no resistance in the fiber optic cable, unlike copper lines, so the signal can travel infinitely futher, because it’s light, not an electron flow. With fiber, Directcom can now serve more remote customers in rural areas like Arbon, who live many miles away from the central phone office with broadband products like ethernet, VOIP, video conferencing, home security systems, remote appliance management, and other IP-based apps, which will be vital to the future economies of rural areas. Fiber optics will open up whole new markets of people who previously were too far to pick up a DSL signal over copper.

Farr related that the residents of Arbon had been extremely cooperative during the construction, often helping out the crews, which had helped the project go smoothly.

“The farmers would let us park our equipment in their sheds or shops overnight so that things like the water trailer wouldn’t freeze; they would let us fill up with water from their pumps—the whole community was just really helpful. Larry Fitch and Monty Evans made room in their sheds for us on many a cold night.” He related that people were so excited to get internet service that they would go out of their way to help get the work completed quickly.

“Once, at the end of the season, we were stopped by a really bad snowstorm, and a resident from Garden Creek drove out in the snow to pick up our fiber splicer, and all his equipment, on her personal snowmobile, so that we could complete the fiber splicing at their home.

We had people working in some very remote areas in Arbon, and sometimes we would run out of gas. Ken Estep once came out when we were in trouble and gave us a full tank of gas from his farm tanks.

I also want to thank the County Road Crew for all their help—they were extremely responsive in issuing all the road permits and easements we needed, and were very easy to work with—we were able to coordinate our fiber and road construction schedules—we couldn’t have completed this project without them.”

Directcom used local Arbon electrician, Cody Evans, to help wire the homes internal communications lines so that they would be ready for a fiber ethernet connection, and also to connect the homes power to the fiber terminal battery backup. Unlike the old copper network terminal, the fiber electronics (called an Optical Network Terminal, or ONT) on the side of a home, needs a power supply, and that required new electrical wiring in most cases.

A friendly Arbon dog- photo by Jason Garner.

Lucas McHargue, Construction Supervisor, said he remembers those years working in Arbon consisting of long, sometimes lonely days, and each home they connected had a story to it. “I remember times when the snow was so deep on people’s driveways that even the backhoe couldn’t go through it, and we would have to move forward bucket by bucket, as I cleared the snow away. We met a lot of interesting people out there, and a lot of different dogs—some friendly, some not so friendly. People would call into the main office after we left their home and say: ‘Those guys deserve a raise,’ which I agreed with.”

Jason Garner, Rockland and Arbon Exchange Manager, who spent three years travelling to Arbon each day during this project, and personally spliced the cable to a lot of the homes, feels a real sense of accomplishment in completing the enormous job there. “We had a lot of good times together as a crew—it was good to be part of a team, all working together towards a single goal, and those years really drew us together. I want to thank everyone on the crew who put in so many hours to get this done, including Brent Moss (now retired) Lucas McHargue, Steven Robinson, Marshall Ralphs, Nathan Taysom, Allan Jones, Tim Lee, Brendon Mingo, Phil Pratt, and of course the techs back in the office like Brad Medinger and Austin Turley, who turned on the ONTs remotely, and so many others—this was a real team effort.”

Garner reported that one of his favorite memories from his years working in Arbon was getting to know each homeowner personally by name. “We were in every home. We met a lot of good people.  I always used to wonder how Brent knew every customer by name, and now I know—because he put in all the copper to those home decades  ago. Now it was my turn to meet them all during this fiber upgrade.”

Moose seen in Knox Canyon during daily commute to Arbon- photo by Jason Garner

Garner said they saw a lot of wildlife during the commute over the mountains between Rockland and Arbon, including his closest ever encounter with a moose.

Besides the direct access to high-speed internet from Direct Communications that will bring the benefits of faster broadband to residential customers and anchor institutions like Arbon Elementary School, the fiber will benefit the community in many other ways Directcom has connected fiber to two cell phone towers in the valley, which will increase coverage and data speeds for people using certain cell phones. Fiber in an area means better communications for everyone.

The Arbon area’s first telephone lines were laid by local farmers, who asked former Rockland Telephone Company owner, Joseph Lee May, to acquire the lines back in the 1950’s. He was able to connect the two exchange areas together using copper lines hung on poles. Arbon and Rockland are now connected by various buried fiber optic lines that run right over the mountains separating the valleys, and Arbon will become part of a route that transports a lot of data traffic around southeast Idaho for various major carriers.

When will the rest of Direct Communications customers be upgraded to fiber?

Farr explained: “We have a 5-year plan to basically convert all of our exchange areas from Bear Lake to Rockland to 100% fiber to the home. Arbon is complete. We started on Rockland this year, and will be completely upgraded to fiber over the next 2 years there. Bear Lake is the biggest project and that will take longer, but we already have a few subdivisions there completely converted to fiber, including The Reserve and Cottle Communities in Fish Haven. This summer we also buried new duct to about 30 homes in Canyon Estates in Fish Haven, and we hope to complete splicing the fiber there by the end of this year.”

Fiber optic cable carries an all-digital signal, which is better suited to today’s digital communication devices. Also, there is no interference from electric lines or magnetic fields like you experience with copper, so the signal is clearer, which will result in a better conversation and data transmission. Even lighting strikes, which can be transmitted by copper cabling, is not transmitted by Fiber-optic cable.

Having fiber to a home is a great modern feature that can increase the functionality and value of a home. In fact, having Fiber to the Home could increase the value of a home by as much as $5,000, according to the Fiber-to-the-Home Council *.  Fiber could be a great economic leveler for rural residents.  The homes in Arbon now have the same advanced connectivity as the most high-tech building in any major financial district in the world.

Calix ONT card that is installed on the side of a home to convert the fiber light signal to Ethernet and phone service. Note how a CAT5 network cable will plug directly into the ONT for an internet connection without needing a modem or any other equipment.

Eagle Mountain Fiber Construction Plan Update

We held a construction meeting yesterday to plan the fiber build to the remaining Eagle Mountain subdivisions that are still on copper lines. This year we will continue  upgrading  Eagle Point, and this winter, begin construction in Mount Airey—replacing the old copper plant with brand new fiber optic cable direct to each home.

We know that those of you still on copper in other areas are anxious to know how soon we will be bringing fiber to your neighborhood. The good news I have been authorized to share is that by the end of 2015, we plan to have the entire southern part of the city totally upgraded to fiber. We also laid out a 7-year plan to build fiber to every remaining home in the city.

This is obviously going to be an enormous project, requiring millions of investment dollars, but we feel that each person in Eagle Mountain deserves fiber to the home, despite the current federal government’s objections to remote areas having better networks than the larger urban centers. This is our community, and we are committed to ensuring the economic vibrancy of Eagle Mountain.

Directcom fiber optic cable splicers, Rod and Lani, with our fiber-splicing trailer.

The time is coming when there will be large economic opportunity gap between those who have fiber optic cable to their homes, and those without. We want you to be on the right side of that gap—the up side, the fiber haves.  Having access to unlimited broadband is the future to economic development and personal educational opportunity, and someday each home that wants to be part of the global information economy will probably require minimum speeds of 100 Mbps. Fiber is essential. Fiber is the future.

This build will be unprecedented along the Wasatch Front, especially since all public utilities are required to be buried in Eagle Mountain, so bringing fiber to every last home will require thousands of underground bores. We hope you will be patient as we roll out this plan and ensure that Eagle Mountain will always have the premier fiber broadband network in Utah.

Directcom construction crew with new reflective jackets so they won't be run over by any jogging strollers in Eagle Mountain.

Directcom construction crew, outfitted with new reflective jackets so they won’t be run over by any jogging strollers in Eagle Mountain.

Directcom Customers in Idaho now have Access to ESPN3.com.

ESPN3.com. Your Favorite Sports. Live. Online.

Direct Communications is pleased to announce that our broadband customers in Idaho on our DSL, Fiber Optic and Cable Internet Networks now have access to ESPN3.com.

ESPN3.com Means More College Basketball

Direct Communications is the only Internet Provider in Southeast Idaho that gives you access to this fantastic online sports network. Plus, if you are a Direct Communications Broadband customer, ESPN3.com is now available on Xbox LIVE!

ESPN3.com is a broadband network for live sports programming that harnesses the quality that ESPN has built through its TV networks. ESPN3.com delivers more than 3,500 live online events a year from your favorite sports through a rich, interactive, and easy-to-use experience. Features of the website include the ability to watch multiple games simultaneously, real-time stats and scoreboards, live chat for interacting with friends and other fans, and much more!

Direct Communications means faster streaming broadband. Our fiber optic network allows you to enjoy speeds up to 20Mb, so you can watch streaming video the way it was meant to be viewed. No throttling and no monthly usage caps means you can enjoy unlimited, high-quality, online viewing.

To watch ESPN3 go to our homepage at directcom.com and click on the ESPN3 logo.

New features and functionality updates at launch:

New Viewing Modes – Multiple options to watch live events, including picture-in-picture and split screens;

New Scoreboard Module – Up-to-the-minute scores from hundreds of sports leagues from around the world;

Stats – In-depth event stats that allow fans to track the event they’re watching;

Chat – Interact with other fans watching the game;

Enhanced Schedule – Users will be able to find a specific event via improved navigation;

Social Networking Tools –Update your Facebook and Twitter status.

Key Plays feature where users will be able to jump to key scoring plays and pivotal moments at any time during the game.

Network Description:
Watch more than 3,500 live sports events a year including college basketball, college football, MLB, NBA, PGA and tennis championships

  • Customize your viewing experience with a selection of features
  • Select from a menu of live or recently completed games and events
  • Watch up to 4 LIVE games all at the same time with a variety of viewing modes
  • Ability to CHAT LIVE with your friend in the Chat room
  • Live scores and an analysis
  • With your High Speed Internet connection, log onto ESPN3.com away from home with Remote Access

ESPN3.com Programming:

• Tennis

– Coverage of all 4 Grand Slam events (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open)

– Over 1600 live hours of Grand Slam tennis including simultaneous streams of outer-court coverage

Golf

– The Masters: First and Second Round coverage in addition to the Par 3 Contest

– US Open: First and Second Rounds in addition to specific Par 3 hole coverage

– Open Championship: All 4 Rounds in addition to specific Par 3 hole coverage

CWS

– Up to 37 games of the NCAA Baseball Championship including all games from the College World Series in Omaha.

• MLB

– 76 total games (Monday/Wednesday/Sunday) in addition to the Home Run Derby, All-Star Celebrity Softball game, MLB Futures All-Star game & World Series Championship Parade

• NBA Playoffs

– Up to 27 NBA Playoff games including First Round & Conference Semifinal action as well as all games from the Conference Finals (each year rotates between Eastern & Western Conference Finals)

• Soccer

– Over 650 soccer games per year

– Coverage from major leagues/tournaments including the FIFA tournaments, US Soccer, Italian Serie A, Portuguese Liga, Italian Cup, German Bundesliga, Spanish La Liga, Dutch League, German Cup, MLS and NCAA

• College Basketball

– Over 1000 men’s and women’s basketball games per year including over 170 Championship Week games

– Approx 10-15 exclusive games per year

– Coverage of all major conferences

• College Football

– Over 350 games per year including over 20 Bowl games

– 40 exclusive games this season

– Coverage from all BCS conferences

Please note:

Offer available to broadband customers in Direct Communications’ phone exchange and cable franchise areas in Idaho only. Broadband Internet required. Listed speeds are approximate and may vary depending on line conditions. You will be  authorized to  receive “up to” listed download and upload speeds. You must have fiber-to-the-home to receive 20Mb speeds. If you are on copper, 12Mb is the current top speed.

Direct Communications can take any action to protect our network, our rights and interests. We reserve the right to cancel or change service plan offerings at anytime without notification to subscribers. HD video quality where available from media content provider and dependent on line conditions and speed.

ESPN3.com interface may differ from image shown. All online media content sold separately. See http://espn.go.com/espn3/index# for for details about ESPN3.com service and Terms of Use. Broadband internet required. Directcom is not responsible for support or troubleshooting of ESPN3.com.  All warranties and technical support are through ESPN. May require extra hardware to install. You will need an Xbox LIVE Gold Subscription to access ESPN3 through Xbox live.

Sale of Wireless Internet Assets to Digis

Ten years ago, Direct Communications became one of the first companies in southeast Idaho to offer wireless internet. Since then, both our business and the broadband industry as a whole have changed dramatically.  We have decided that in order to move our business forward more effectively, we will be selling our wireless internet assets in Idaho to our friends at Digis, who specialize purely in wireless internet, so that we can focus on our core business of growing our fiber optic network in Idaho and developing our wired internet products, including our cable and DSL technologies. Basically, we want to focus on the things that we do best, and on the products where we have a real competitive advantage.

Please note that this sale does not include any cable, DSL, fiber, mobile wireless (cell phone), or Syringa Wireless assets, or our wireless customers on Digital Bridge (DBC) networks. So, to most of our customers, while this sale will not affect your wired internet service, we wanted to explain why this is good for your future with Direct Communications.

Some of our customers have expressed concerns such as: Why are you selling the wireless business? What is the future of Direct Communications?

Jeremy Smith, General Manger of Direct Communications in Idaho, sent out the following memo regarding these concerns:

“I wanted to let everyone know about the sale of our fixed wireless assets (not cell phone).  A few months back, we were approached by a company (Digis) to buy our wireless customers.  We did not go out and look for a buyer.  We did evaluate their offer and believe it to be best to sell this particular asset.  The proceeds of the sale will go toward growing the company’s other networks.

It always makes employees and customers nervous when things happen such as this.  So, I believe it important to explain things to all of you. I just want to emphasize, the sale was not essential from a financial point of view, but we figured it to be the best thing at this time as we look towards the future direction of the broadband industry.

In the future, people will probably have two internet connections:
1. a capped mobile data solution, and
2. an uncapped and reliable fixed service for streaming data, video, and future services.  We will be the solution for a fixed home and business internet service.  We should be able to accomplish this with our cable, fiber, and DSL networks. Though fixed wireless is considered a broadband service, I believe the bandwidth to be too limited for the amount of bandwidth needed in the short future (both in quantity and quality).

We have some exciting, positive times ahead.  Let’s make our wired networks the best in Idaho!”

Please understand, we are doing this to strengthen our business, and move in the direction we see the future of broadband service going. Fiber Optics is the future of the internet, the future of our company, and the future of rural broadband. Someday, we will have fiber optic cable to every home in our phone exchange areas, and hopefully to as many homes as possible in our cable areas.

We have spent the past couple of years building fiber to the vital institutions that serve your rural areas, like city, county and government buildings, schools, hospitals, doctors offices, libraries, small and large businesses, and many homes. We have also been delivering fiber service to the cell phone towers in the area, and even to most of our competitors in the area. Without an extensive fiber optic network, our rural economy in Idaho would not be able to function in this information age, so we are making a huge bet on fiber for all of us.

What will we do with the proceeds of this sale?

We will invest the proceeds back into the communities we serve—into building our fiber network in rural Idaho, and also delivering faster speeds on our other wired internet products, like cable and DSL.

Witness the drama unfold each week as the Nation’s top teams and biggest rivals battle on ESPN3. WatchESPN. College Football on ESPN. All Season Long.

Witness the drama unfold each week as the Nation’s top teams and biggest rivals battle on ESPN3 and WatchESPN. College Football on ESPN. All Season Long.

One immediate benefit cable and DSL customers will see is we will soon be offering ESPN3, a fantastic new high-definition sports channel available only online, to our broadband customers for FREE. Did you know ESPN3 will present 70 exclusive online College Football games this season, in addition to the hundreds they simulcast both online and on cable. This October alone, over 123 college football games will air on ESPN3.com. Enhanced viewing options makes ESPN3.com the best way to tune in. Watch up to 4 of your favorite games at once. If you are a sports fan, you will love this fantastic resource we will soon provide free to our customers. http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/source/espn3/
We will try encourage our customers to use the internet more for your video entertainment needs, a technology that is really taking off right now as more people subscribe to online services like Netflix and Hulu. You will begin to see new branding based around the tagline we already use in our Utah exchange ,where most of our customers already have fiber to the home: Faster. Streaming. Broadband.

As a marketing person, I am pleased that our company will be more focused on a single product line. A smart marketer once said: “Do one thing great. Eliminate the irrelevant.” Until fairly recently, we were providing various services including WiMax, Wireless, Cable etc, to over 90 towns in southeast Idaho, and each town’s offering was slightly different. That was a lot for our sales, customer service and technicians to keep up to date with. We were competing with ourselves in many places, covering the same areas with both wireless and wired service. That will now be a thing of the past. We will leave wireless to the people who make that their sole business, and focus ourselves completely on investing in, and improving, our wired networks, where we have a real competitive advantage. This should improve customer service, product design, and the speed at which we respond to new developments in broadband technology, including keeping up with bandwidth needs.

Please call us at 208 548 2345 if you have any concerns about this sale. I am confident that you will be very happy with results of the new direction we are taking as your local broadband service provider, and for those customers who will be transferred to Digis, we are also confident you will be happy with your continued wireless service—they are experts in the wireless field.

What We Did This Weekend: 2011 Pony Express Days Report

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The 2011 edition of Pony Express Days is now over for our tireless employees involved in marketing, but the real work is just beginning for our techs, who have a whole lot of new installs to take care of in the next couple of weeks. After months of preparation, and a mailing blitz, our first night of involvement in the city’s annual festival started  Fri May 27 with the opening night of the PRCA Rodeo, where, as an official sponsor, we set up display booth with banners advertising our big announcement for this year, which was our new 50Mb speeds, and the free Wii for new subscribers. On Thursday afternoon we set up a table with brochures and flyers at the rodeo ground, strapped everything down with packaging tape, and hoped the wind would be kind to us this year.

Diane Bradshaw presents an Xbox 360 to Kloe Thompson, the lucky winner of the 2011 calf scramble.

On May 30 – Monday, was the Final Night of the PRCA Rodeo, and our big event, because we were the sponsor of the calf scramble. Diane Bradshaw, our office manager, gave free t-shirts to all the kids who participated, and a free Xbox to Kloe Thompson,  the lucky winner of the calf scramble.

On Tuesday, as part of our effort to keep in touch with our business customer’s needs, we hosted a 1-hour focus group to learn from them how we could improve our services and products for local businesses at our new office conference room. We gave local business owners $20 plus lunch to hear their opinions. We asked them questions like:

  • What can we do as the local broadband provider to make Eagle Mountain a more attractive destination for business development?
  • How much speed do you think you will need in the next couple of years?
  • Do you employ a dedicated I.T. person?

That evening at 6pm we held a similar focus group for current residential customers to try gauge how we were doing as a company, and were pleased to hear from them how far they thought we had progressed as a company over the past few years. We have been hosting these focus groups for several years, and each year the complaints have decreased, and this year our customers had nothing but compliments to share, even though we tried to stress that we really wanted them how we could improve. One important piece of feedback we did get was that even though we were being involved in the community, donating to schools and athletic teams, the general public was not getting this news, and they explained how they get information from the school newsletters, PTA groups, Crossroads Journal and so forth. Also, we learned that not a lot of them use our homepage after they had got the information they needed to make the switch to us, so we need to use that space purely for advertising for potential customers.

On Wednesday evening we held a focus group for residents who were not our customers to try find out why they would use a different ISP, and what we could do to be more attractive to them, and received a lot of good market information that we will be using to improve our products. An encouraging nugget from that session was that the participants said that even though they may not be using our service, everything they had heard from their neighbors about our company was positive, and they had heard we had great customer service, and that we always treated people well, even in billing disputes. We will continue to hold these focus groups, so if you want to participate next year, contact Ben Hayes at 801 789 2808.

Ben Hayes at our 2011 pony express days vendor booth

On Thursday afternoon we set up our vendor booth at park, and kept that open till 10pm each night till the end of the celebrations on Saturday night. Our promo this year was the free Wii for new subscribers, plus the 50Mb broadband speeds, so we tried to decorate the booth with advertisement that would leave nobody in doubt as to what we were offering. We had a new Wii hooked up to the TV that we were giving away as a prize, and had the Wii playing Netflix, so that people passing by could see the streaming broadband in action. The booth seemed not quite as busy as last year with new sign-ups, but I did notice that most people seemed to know exactly who we are now, if they were from Eagle Mountain—nobody was confusing us with DirecTV, and we didn’t get any customers stopping by to complain like they used to several years ago at the fair. So, our network improvements are definitely being effective

On Friday morning we sponsored a team at the Special Needs Charity Golf Tournament at The Ranches Golf Club, the proceeds of which went to the EM City Exceptional Kids Club (special needs activities program). Our company team managed a score of 4 under par, which was a way off the winning 13 under par, but any day that I get to play golf for work is a fantastic morning at the office for me. Our General Manager, Kip Wilson, is really a good golfer with real golf shoes and everything, and a 330-yard drive.

Hopefully they showed our pre-show ad at the Movie in the Park that Friday night at the Silverlake Amphitheater.

On Saturday morning we sponsored several of our employees and their spouses at the 5K and Kids’ Fun Run—you would have noticed them wearing our “faster steaming broadband” t-shirts.

Soon after the 5k was time for the main even we had all been planning for—the Grand Parade. Each year this event seems to get longer, and this year was no exception. We lined up in our spot, #76 this year, at 9am; the parade started at 10am, and we didn’t pull into the parking lot at the end of the parade until after 12pm. During the parade we gave out several hundred dollars worth of candy, plus over 200 frisbees, 300 t-shirts, and 100 bananas. The bananas came about kind of by sheer coincidence –last year Troy, our gorilla man, threw out some bananas his mom had given him into the crowd because he didn’t want to eat them, and people went crazy for those bananas from the monkey. We took note, and this year came prepared and had the ape throwing bananas from the roof of the truck on purpose, and they were probably the most popular item we gave away. Strange but true—marketing is truly a fun occupation. We try to ration the kids in the trucks to space out the Frisbees and t-shirts, and wish we had enough to give everybody on the sidelines something, but unfortunately just don’t have the budget to that that—hopefully you all came away with a good haul from all the local businesses that were represented at the parade.

The thing that most people will probably be talking about was the visit from Master Chief from Halo, who decided he wanted to walk along with our parade float because he was a Direct Communications customer himself. This was a perfect fit for our brand, because any self-respecting gamer would obviously want our fiber optic service with its low latency and ridiculously-fast upload and download speeds. So many kids wanted to come up and high-five Master Chief, that it really slowed down our vehicles’ progress, and we were soon far behind the rest of the parade—we couldn’t see the next float down the road. Anyway, he was fantastic, a real trooper, made a lot of little and not-so-little boy’s days, and hopefully enjoyed himself in Eagle Mountain that day. We really enjoyed having him join us. We need more passionate people like that in the world.

After the parade it was back to the booth, where we had a lot of people switching from wireless services to our fiber-optic broadband, and we listened to their stories of terrible service on wireless with great sympathy, and welcomed them to our better network with open arms, and sent them away happy with a free Wii for their troubles. This is a very satisfying moment for anybody in sales or marketing—when you see somebody making a positive change their lives, something that you know is going to make a real difference to their family and quality of life. We generally save them money, give them faster broadband, a more reliable service, and open up a whole new world of streaming video to them. All it takes is them discovering the truth about how internet service works, and giving them an incentive to make the switch, because it is hard work to switch service providers. Most people we talk to are willing to make the switch right there on the spot at the booth, which is a huge contrast to several years ago, when nobody really knew who we were.

Kip Wilson presents JASON & JENNIE OMER with their new TV during Pony Express Days 2011.

A little after 3pm on Saturday afternoon we held the drawing for our smart TV with VIZIO INTERNET APPS. This drawing was open to current customers in our Eagle Mountain Utah exchange area only. This TV with WiFi built in is the future of video. No wires, no bulky receivers, set-top boxes or media players–streaming access is built right into the TV, and you just hang it on any wall and start watching online video over your home internet network. Kip drew out the ticket, we checked our billing records to make sure the winner was a current customer in good standing, and called them up to pick up their prize at the booth. They showed up within a few minutes, we checked their ID, took a picture, and we posted the announcement of the winner of the TV to our Facebook page literally within a minute of the little ceremony. Congratulations again to JASON & JENNIE OMER, winners of our smart TV drawing for Pony Express Days 2011.

During the first two days of Pony Express Days we signed up over 50 new customers, talked to hundreds of people one-on-one, and hopefully were seen out there being involved in the community by just about everybody in Eagle Mountain, so overall I would consider this year’s event another success.

Thank you letter from Eagle Mountain City expressing appreciation for our sponsorship of Pony Express Days.

Direct Communications Makes a Move

DirectCom's new pocatello office reception area

During this rough economic time when most companies are looking to downsize, Direct Communications found it the perfect time to expand into a larger facility.  On October 31st Direct Communications moved from 485 W Chubbuck Rd, Suite B to 345 W Yellowstone Ave, Suite B in Pocatello, Idaho.   While Direct Communications was a proud resident in Chubbuck, the increase in staff and cramped work space made it apparent that a larger location was forth coming.   When we entered the office doors on Yellowstone, we knew we had found our perfect fit to make it our new home.  With a little muscle, paint, and new furniture, Direct Communications’ move was done in a flash.  As you enter our Pocatello office you are greeted by a friendly member of our sales staff.  There is a soft, leather couch to relax as you ponder the possibility of purchasing cellular phone service,  or enjoy watching the flat screen TV as it navigates through some free on line tools to enhance your web browsing  experience. 

Office on Yellowstone and Maple in Pocatello

DirectCom Office on Yellowstone and Maple in Pocatello

Direct Communications’ cozy, relaxed atmosphere is a reflection of their home town values and their commitment to bring the latest broadband technology to southeast Idaho.  Direct Communication will like to proudly invite everyone to visit us at our new home located at 345 W Yellowstone Ave, Suite B, Pocatello, ID 83201.  Our office hours are Monday through Friday 8am through 6pm.

Direct Communications donates $1000.00 to Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25.

On October 25, 2010, Direct Communications donated $1000.00 to School District 25.  This was in conjunction with a June 25, 2010, Direct Communications fundraiser for local education.  The goal was to show appreciation to the teachers in District 25.  Costa Vida donated the food for the event, and several local businesses donated raffle items to raise money for the school district.  Direct Communications introduced Amped Up Wireless in the area, and pledged to donate $100.00 for each new install of the product during the launch. 

Anya Beauchat, Sales Office Adminsitrator for Direct Communications in Pocatello, presents donation check to School District 25.

Anya Beauchat, Sales Office Adminsitrator for Direct Communications in Pocatello, presents donation check to School District 25.

This story was covered by KPVI News 6, who aired a segment on the 6pm news about the donation. To see the video, visit:

http://www.kpvi.com/story.php?id=30362&n=15206

                With the combined efforts of all involved, we were able to raise $1000.00 to donate to School District 25.  Anya Beauchat, Sales Office Manager of Direct Communications, said “We are proud to be donating to a school district, where not only some of the employee’s children attend, but also to a district where teachers and staff consistently go above and beyond.”  She adds, “Through this donation, Direction Communications would like to both thank, and honor, School District 25 for providing our children with the skills and tools they will need to ensure the future growth of Pocatello.”

                When contacted for comment, Shelley Allen the District’s Education Foundation Director said, “We are fortunate to live in a community that values education and partners with education. It was wonderful of Direct Communications to think of the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District’s students, for giving, when planning their celebration.”  She added, “This donation benefits our kids, and is greatly appreciated.”

                Direct Communications presented a check on October 25, 2010 at 9:00 a.m during the school district Cabinet Meeting at 3115 Pole Line Road, in Pocatello.

Direct Communications Supports Eagle Mountain’s FC Blaze

Direct Communications provided a donation this month to the FC Blaze, Eagle Mountain’s local competitive soccer team, as part of their commitment to giving back to the local community and supporting growth opportunities for youth in Eagle Mountain.

fc blaze logo

fc blaze

Branden Reall, President of FC Blaze, said:

“On behalf of the FC Blaze Competitive Soccer Club in Eagle Mountain I would like to thank Direct Communications for your very generous sponsorship. Your commitment to helping the FC Blaze in our community is sincerely appreciated.

Each year the FC Blaze continues to grow. Through the program, we have seen more young players grow and we have enjoyed good success in the past year.  The goal of the FC Blaze is to continue to make a difference in the community and lives of its players. With the help of donations from supporters such as you we will continue to see improvements.  We will continue to update you as our season progresses.

Thanks again for your generous support.”

Kip Wilson, General Manager of Direct Communications has stated on several occasions that the company is absolutely committed to improving life in Eagle Mountain, and that means supporting the local institutions that are going to help develop the community.

The FC Blaze soccer club was established for the specific purpose of creating a local competitive soccer program whose goals are to instill good character, self esteem, good sportsmanship, and strong physical abilities.   Their intent is to complement the communities and surrounding schools by providing additional levels of competition. For more information on competition soccer, the club, and other information, please visit http://www.fcblaze.org/

FC Blaze from Eagle Mountain U12 Team

FC Blaze from Eagle Mountain U12 Competition Team

DirectCom Lays Fiber-to-the Home in Arbon Valley

Fiber lights

Fiber optic cable connects the world.

Why is fiber optic cable being run to your home in Arbon?
We have been using fiber optics for our backbone network for a number of years—we  were one of the first companies in Idaho to use a digital switch, and helped build the first state-wide all fiber-optic sonnet loop, which ties the entire state of Idaho together into a network that goes back to the national backbone. However, not many telephone companies provide fiber all the way to the home yet—we were the first telephone company in Utah County to do that, so we thought it was time to offer it to our exchange here in Arbon.

Is it an expensive venture? How much does it cost to install fiber optics? Time? Labor?
Today, the price of the fiber optic cable has come to down the point where the cable itself isn’t any more expensive than the traditional copper, and of course at the same time, copper is increasingly expensive, with no hope of ever going down again, the way the world economy is headed. The real expense with fiber is in the electronics. The entire phone switch and head end must be upgraded to support the new fiber network, and on the customer end, the box (we call it a ONT, or optical network terminal) that fits onto the outside of the home, is very  expensive, because it’s a far more sophisticated system than the old copper devices. The great thing about this new ONT though, is that it supports the new technology that people are using more and more in their home, like home networks. Anybody who builds a house now will want to install CAT-5 network cable to each room, so they can network all their computers together, distribute their internet connection to each room, and many security, intercom and advanced entertainment systems all need network cable thesedays. On our ONT, there is a place you can plug your main Ethernet, or CAT-5 cable, right into the fiber-optic network, so you don’t have to use the old phone line or phone jacks. It’s engineered for the future. There is a little more labor involved in actually burying the fiber than there is with copper, which is just ploughed in directly, because fiber-optics must be run in conduit, but the long term benefits are clear and the investment profitable. Also, from what we have seen so far, there is less maintenance required on a fiber network than copper, so over time it will save us money.
 
What are the advantages of fiber optics? What changes would an average citizen see in their lives because of its use?
The most important factor is bandwidth. The fiber line running to a home from the main cable contains usually about 12 strands of fiber, but those 12 strands could probably carry all the information in Idaho. So, the capacity is huge—we have the ability to provide up to 100MB per second to each home. Fiber optics are the future of communications, and copper will someday max out on the bandwidth people will require. In the future, your telephone company will also be your cable company, and all media will be delivered as internet data. The advantage of this of course is that the possibilities for different content and the boundaries for broadcasting will be unlimited. Every person could someday broadcast their own TV station of our their home—just call up Grandma and say—change the channel to IP address such-and-such, and watch your grandchild blow out her birthday candles.

Fiber optics carry an all-digital signal, and is better suited to today’s digital communication devices. Also, there is no interference from electric lines or magnetic fields like you experience with copper, so the signal is clearer, which will result in a better conversation. There is no resistance in the fiber optic cable like metal lines have, so the signal can travel infinitely, because it’s light, not an electron flow, so we can now serve customers who live far away from the central phone office with products like DSL, which is vital in the rural areas. Fiber optics will open up whole new markets of people who previously were too far to pick up a DSL signal over copper. Ask all the farmers if they would like that. Having fiber to your home is a great modern feature that will increase the functionality and value of my home. Here in this little pocket in the hills, is a show-piece of the future.

How has communications in Arbon Valley changed over the last 100 years?
In our office in Rockland we still have the original little Rockland phone switch on display—the current president, Leonard May, used to sit at that switch as a child, which was housed in his family’s own home, and act as the operator, and manually change plugs around to switch the calls. An alarm would ring each time there was a call, and somebody in the family would have to wake up to connect the caller. He bought the company from his father in 1974, and from 300 local subscribers then, we now serve over 10,000 customers with a range of communications products from VOIP phones to DSL to cable TV.

 How many homes are hooked up to fiber optics in Idaho?
There aren’t any other phone companies in Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, Pocatello, or anywhere down to the Utah border, deploying fiber to the home yet. Direct Communications is leading the way, and we have hooked up several homes from Bear Lake to Rockland to fiber.

How is fiber optics installed?

Xbox Winners from 2010 Eastern Idaho State Fair Announced

 Direct Communications has been supporting the Eastern Idaho State Fair for many years. In the early 90’s Garrin Bott,  could be found offering the first satellite TV product in southeast Idaho at an outside booth. Today, Directcom has moved inside to the commercial building, where for the past several years they have been offering High Speed Internet service to fairgoers. The products and promotions we run may have changed over the years, but the fair has remained relatively unchanged—like an old familiar friend that turns up each year at the same time—if your friends smell like sweet funnel cake and grease.
Donald Sherrif

Leslie Quinn from the Directcom Sales & Marketing Department presents Donald Sherrif with his Xbox 360.

Grady-Granski

Leslie Quinn of Direct Communications presents Xbox drawing winner Grady Granski of Idaho with his prize.

This year we were offering a new product recently launched in the Pocatello area—Amped Up Wireless. This wireless high speed internet product features the fastest upload speed currently available in Southeast Idaho—3Mb. I found it personally satisfying to finally be advertising speeds at the fair that were faster than our old competitor down the next isle in the building, Big Dog, who for the past few years had a top advertised speed that was faster than the economy-priced wireless products we were reselling at the fair. This year we had our own network product running off our own fiber in Pocatello, and we wanted to make a big deal about it, so we offered several Xbox’s as booth prizes. Our prize winners from our drawing for 2010 included  Phillis Henson, Donald Sherrif, Grady Granski and Terri Swallow, and Cathy Van Tassell, all from Idaho.

Congratulations to our winners—have lots of fun streaming video and entertaining yourself with your new Xbox 360. This is an entertainment machine that works better the faster your internet is, so it’s a great product to be paired with the premium internet service we offer.

Cathy_Van_Tassell-xBox-winner-2010

Brandon Jolley, DirectCom Installation Manager, presents Cathy Van Tassell with her Xbox.

I also want to thank Anya Beauchat, our sales office administrator for all her hard work setting up the fair booth and supervising the sales staff, and all of our sales associates who covered the shifts over that long 10-day period. Our top sales-generating employee at the fair this year was Leslie Quinn, who was almost brand-new to the company, so she did a good job. The general public might not appreciate how challenging working a booth at an 10-day event like the State Fair can be—it’s not quite the same as working in a sales office—it’s a very intense, full-throttle, auction-like event going on 12 hours per day from 10am to 10pm, in a very hot, dusty, cow shed, where you talk to all kinds of people from all walks of life, and you are competing for attention with hundreds of other businesses peddling their wares—some of whom work and plan all year to move inventory in those 10 days. It’s probably more like the old medieval street-market or middle-eastern bazaars. Most people don’t come to the fair shopping for long-term services like high-speed internet, so that adds to the challenge.

Phillis Henson

Anya Beauchat, Sales Office Administrator for Direct Communications, presents Phillis Henson with her Xbox 360

Anyway, most years the Eastern Idaho State Fair has been a very worthwhile event for us, where we have generated a lot of leads and signed up several new customers.

Leslie Quinn of Direct Communications presents Xbox drawing winner Terri Swallow of Idaho with his prize.

Leslie Quinn of Direct Communications presents Xbox drawing winner Terri Swallow of Idaho with his prize.

Direct Communications: Idaho’s Own Modern Day Pioneer

Who is Direct Communications and what makes this company special? Direct Communications would proudly say that they are builders and pioneers.  While some might say that this is a big statement to come from a company that many in the larger metro areas of Idaho don’t know much about, ask most rural folks in southeast Idaho about Direct Communications, and they will likely tell you about their first experience with high-speed internet.

Direct Communications’ vision is to improve the communications infrastructure throughout Southeast Idaho by connecting rural towns and delivering improved services via their state-of -the-art fiber optic network. As this might seem like foreign language to some who may not have any knowledge of this technology; Direct Communications can best be described as an independent telecommunications leader that has been providing quality communications services since 1954, specializing in rural areas.  Presently, Direct Communications provides telephone, high-speed internet, and cable television service to customers across Idaho.   

Direct Communications is headquartered in Rockland, Idaho, a rural town 40 miles southwest of Pocatello. Direct Communications has been a family owned business since 1954. The Rockland office still has the original little Rockland phone switch on display.  The current president, Leonard May, used to sit at that switch as a child, acting as the operator, changing plugs to switch the calls.  The switch was in his family’s own home.  An alarm would ring each time there was a call, and somebody in the family would have to wake up to connect the caller. He bought the company from his father in 1974.  Starting out with 300 local phone subscribers, Direct Communications now serves over 10,000 customers with a range of communications products.

Direct Communications has a long list of new technologies that they have pioneered.  To name a few of their ventures, Direct Communications was the first to implement a digital switch in Idaho, the first to use fiber optic cable in telephone communications network in Southeast Idaho, the first to provide high-speed internet to rural southeast Idaho, the first IP (Internet Protocol) switch in Southeast Idaho, the first in Southeast Idaho to install fiber to the home, the first to offer DBS satellite in Southeast Idaho, and the first to offer satellite internet in Southeast Idaho.  To add to the list Direct Communications was also one of the first cellular offerings in Idaho and helped build the first and only state-wide fiber optic cable sonet network.  With a list that long, it is no wonder that they have been able to withstand the test of time. 

With all the “Big city Technology,” Direct Communications refuses to give up their small town values.  Direct Communications is a firm believer that communications services must enrich people’s lives and enhance their relationships.  Direct Communications takes pride in knowing that their employees work hard to make sure each customer knows that they are being taken care of.  Direct Communications believes that customers deserve the very best technology available, and knows there is viable business in the small rural areas often neglected by larger companies.  Most recently Direct Communications has expanded into the Declo, ID area providing a much needed reliable high-speed wireless internet option. 

Direct Communication’s latest endeavor is giving customers the availability to have fiber optic cable directly to their home.  Direct Communications was the first company to Southeast Idaho to provide this service. This results in being able to give customers not only faster connecting speeds, but also better quality internet.  Fiber optic cable transmits information using light signals through hair-sized strands of glass, and drastically enhances both its clarity and bandwidth for sending information.  The possibilities once you have fiber into your home are endless with all of the rapid advances in technology. 

The telephone industry as a whole has seen some changes, with more customers replacing their traditional land line phones with mobile/cell phones. However , being able to offer a wide variety of internet services, Direct Communications has been able to evolve with the changing times.  Direct Communication has seen the largest increase of sales with their wireless internet service.  The number of wireless internet customers grew by almost 81% in 2008.  Brandon Jolley, Installation Manager for Direct Communications, modestly attributes this success to his technicians.  Stating, “Without my technicians, it would make my job pretty difficult.”  Brandon also attributes the success to being able to use the latest technology to upgrade his wireless equipment.   In 2008, Direct Communications added five new wireless towers and upgraded eighteen wireless towers.  Brandon and his team’s endless hours of hard work have paid off and it shows by the increase of loyal customers.   Direct Communications services around 85 cities and towns in Idaho with a variety of communication products.

With all this talk about Direct Communications, one last question begs to be answered: Why should I support local businesses like Direct Communications?  Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who feel the impacts of those decisions.  Thus each decision made has an impact that “hits home.”  Compared to chain stores, locally owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community.  Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, contributing to local causes. Some of the organizations and Community projects that Direct Communications has proudly contributed to in 2008 include the Friends of Scouting, 4-H Program (state-wide), Chesterfield Historical Society, Aberdeen Community Channel, ISU Rally Rags, Oregon Trail sponsor, Paris Community Center, Rockland 5th grade mentor program, Power County Junior Miss Pageant, Bear Lake Memorial Hospital foundation and the list continues from there.  (Complete listing of Community projects that Direct Communications was involved with can be found at www.directcom.com/goodworks.htm.)  If you look behind the scenes at any civic activity that contributes to the common well being of the community, you are likely to find a local business person, giving their time, and often their money, to the common good. The service provided by the voluntary efforts of people who care about our community could not be replaced by any amount of government assistance or tax money. Local business people are the unsung heroes of our community.

Direct Communications has found success in rural areas where larger out-of-state companies have failed because of their commitment to invest in the local communities they serve.  Employees for Direct Communications can have pride knowing that they are working for a company that looks out for their local communities.

To find out more information about Direct Communications or the services they provide in your area you may contact them at 800-825-7137 or check them out at www.directcom.com.

Direct Communications to donate $100 of each sale in July to School District #25.

Direct Communications to donate $100 of each sale to Pocatello/Chubbuck School District #25.

 Pocatello, Idaho (Tuesday, June 22, 2010) Direct Communications, a local internet service provider, will host a benefit event for School District #25 on Friday, June 25th, 2010, at the Direct Communications Chubbuck office located at 485 W. Chubbuck Rd. Suite B, and will donate $100 of each sale of its new Amped Up Wireless Broadband service during the month of July 2010, to School District #25.

In continuation of their loyalty to southeast Idaho communities, Direct Communications is excited to announce an event to benefit School District #25 scheduled for June 25th, 2010, 11 am-6 pm.  This event will include live entertainment with local bands, games, cotton candy, prizes and more for children in the area as well as free food donated by Costa Vida. Free massages will be provided by Sunsations Spa. Many prizes will be given out at the event, including a free Xbox 360.  Parents can receive information from Direct Communications knowledgeable staff regarding free services available through the internet, as well as the new Amped Up internet product available from Direct Communications. 

Direct Communications will begin the event with a ribbon cutting in conjunction with the Pocatello Chamber of Commerce for the new Direct Communications Chubbuck office located at 485 W. Chubbuck Rd. Suite B, and the festivities will commence directly following.  In support of our schools and children, a donation jar will be available and Direct Communications will commit to donating $100 of each sale that day and through the month of July to School District #25.

The general public is invited to attend this event that is set to be both beneficial, informative, and fun for children and adults.

Jeremy Smith, general manager for Direct Communications, said: “When we were looking for ways to get involved in the community, we examined what issues were important right now to families in the Pocatello area, and of course the number one issue everybody was talking about was funding for local schools. We thought this would be a good way to show our support for the community and the issues they care about, and hopefully make a positive lasting impression.”

Shelly Allen, community relations specialist for the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District #25, said: “It’s partnerships like this with local businesses that will help us provide a quality education to students in our area. Any proceeds from this event will go directly to the Education Foundation and will benefit both students and their teachers.”

Direct Communications has a long history of partnering with local school districts, especially in remote rural areas. In many rural towns in Idaho, in places like Aberdeen, Montpelier, Paris, Grace, Thatcher, and many others, Direct Communications was instrumental in bringing the first high-speed internet access to rural school districts. Brigham Griffin, Marketing Director for Direct Communications, explained: “Education and high-speed internet go hand-in-hand. Not only is the education market thirsty for better broadband access to improve educational opportunities for their students, but we find that the more educated people are, the more likely they are to subscribe to higher speed internet services. We want our schools to be strong, because that makes our communities strong and keeps our company healthy.”

Shelly Allen added: “We really appreciate Direct Communications thinking of us and involving us in their planning for this product launch and open house.”

Anya Beauchat, local Direct Communications office administrator for the Pocatello sales office, and organizer of this benefit event said: “As a parent I wanted to find a way to help support our local schools. I hope a lot of people will come out to our event on Friday and show their support for our local school district.”

For more information about the open house on Friday or to contact Direct Communications for product information, call Anya Beauchat at 208 237 9729 or visit www.directcom.com

Direct Communications supports Eagle Mountain Schools

Direct Communications supports Eagle Mountain Schools   

Donation to Ranches academy in Ealge Mountain

Donation to Ranches academy in Ealge Mountain

Eagle Mountain, Utah (Thursday, September 23, 2010)

Direct Communications, Eagle Mountain’s local internet service provider, donated a generous amount to each of the local schools in Eagle Mountain this month, to show their commitment to education in Eagle Mountain.

Eagle Valley Elementary, Hidden Hollow Elementary, Pony Express Elementary, Ranches Academy, Vista Heights, Rockwell Charter High School and Westlake High School each received an undisclosed amount from Direct Communications during the month of September.

Kip Wilson, general manager for Direct Communications, said: “We are absolutely committed to improving life in Eagle Mountain and that means supporting the local institutions that are going to help develop the community. People care about education here, so donating to the schools will hopefully demonstrate our dedication to the top community priorities, including youth development and the success of Eagle Mountain.

A significant portion of the donation to the High School will be channeled to Westlake football. Jason Walker, Head Football Coach for Westlake High School stated: “This donation from Direct Communications is a huge help to our athletics program here at Westlake High School.  It will help to ensure that we have safe, quality equipment for our student-athletes, to help them practice and compete at the highest level possible.  We also use a portion of the donation to pay for after-school tutors to help our student-athletes succeed in the classroom, as well as on the field.  We could not provide such a positive experience for our student-athletes without the help of generous donors like Direct Communications.

Diane Bradshaw, Direct Communications office manager for Eagle Mountain presents donation to Michael O'Connor, Athletic Director of Westlake High School.

Diane Bradshaw, Direct Communications office manager for Eagle Mountain presents donation to Michael O’Connor, Athletic Director of Westlake High School.

Further, as part of their donation, a portion of the funds will be set aside to help fund an Athletics Department Scholarship to help students who might not otherwise be able to attend college.  Direct Communications donation is the catalyst of what we hope to be a tremendous help to students now and in the future.”

Direct Communications has a long history of partnering with local school districts, especially in remote rural areas. In many rural towns in Idaho, Direct Communications was instrumental in bringing the first high-speed internet access to rural school districts. Brigham Griffin, Marketing Director for Direct Communications, explained: “Education and high-speed internet go hand-in-hand. So, as a broadband provider, supporting education is a good fit for us. Studies show that students without internet access at home are falling behind the curve today. Not only is the education market thirsty for better broadband access to improve educational opportunities for their students, but we also find that the more educated people are, the more likely they are to subscribe to our higher speed internet services. We want our schools to be strong, because that makes our communities strong and keeps our company healthy.”

Principal Keith Conley of Eagle Valley Elementary School said: “Thank you for this wonderful donation. This kind of support is so greatly appreciated. When businesses and good people donate to our school, we are able to do things for our students and staff that otherwise could not happen. We will use this donation to help fund our after-school programs. At Eagle Valley Elementary, we sponsor several after school programs to provide a wide array of activities. Among these programs, we offer Knowledge Bowl, Geography Bee, Japanese & Spanish Language Culture, Choir/Drama, Reading Remediation, Math Meet, Student Council and Family Night. Teachers advise these activities and parents volunteer as well. We provide very modest stipends and help to purchase items for the students.

This marvelous donation will go a long way in helping us to continue our tradition of providing meaningful and fun activities for our students and community. Our students, staff and community express gratitude to Direct Communications and Diane Bradshaw, for helping the Eagles at Eagle Valley Elementary School.”

Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications presents a donation to Eagle Valley Elementary in Eagle Mountain, Utah.

Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications presents a donation to Eagle Valley Elementary in Eagle Mountain, Utah.

Diane Bradshaw, local Direct Communications office manager for Eagle Mountain, is also involved in the Utah Scholars Program, and regularly gives presentations throughout the Alpine School District.  “As a parent I wanted to find a way to help support our local schools, as well as improve our business profile. 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.”

Bradshaw can be found each quarter at Westlake High School, giving away prizes to recognize students for academic achievement.

It is hard to miss the signs of Direct Communications involvement around the sports fields at Westlake High School, especially the 40-foot banner facing the football field, touting the relationship between the Thunder and the local broadband company. For example, at the homecoming football game, Direct Communications will be giving away prizes to the crowd, including an Xbox. Walker said again: “Our sincerest thanks to Direct Communications for their generosity and investment in our students.  We appreciate their support and look forward to working with them in the future.”

For more information contact Direct Communications at 801 789 2800 or visit www.directcom.com/eaglemtn

Directcom donated to Rockwell Charter High

Directcom donates to Rockwell Charter High in Eagle Mountain. Donation to Hidden Hollow Elementary

Direct Communications Opens New Retail Store in Preston

Direct Communications, Preston’s local cable company, recently opened a retail and customer service location at 138 S State, Preston, and would like to extend an invitation to all residents of Preston to visit their new location, try their products on display,  and see what new services are available to them.

Brendon Larsen, 17, of Preston, one of the sales representatives working at the new store, explains that the store actually opened in March, but it wasn’t until they put the new sign up outside the store that people really began walking in. “Usually people will see the sign, and recognize the name because a friend told them about their cable TV or internet service from Direct Communications. Most of our business comes through referrals.”

While the space inside the storefront is small, judging by the range of services on offer this is a company with large ambitions.

“We have our entire digital cable lineup playing on the big screen TV, so people can browse through our channels, see the picture quality. We have a computer setup so people can sit and try our high-speed internet. Right now we have our connection at the store set at 5Mb, and we are seeing fairly consistent speeds. We also have our digital VOIP phone set up, which uses our cable internet connection to make calls, and that is actually the only phone line we use at our businesses, so people can test that out, make a couple of calls and see how it compares to traditional phone service.”

Brendon says working at the new store has been a good job for him, and talking to people about communications services is something he enjoys compared to other things he might be doing. “It pays well, and will look good on my resume when I apply for college.”

Jeremy Smith, General Manager for Direct Communications Cable, explains why the company decided to open a retail location in Preston.

“Ever since we purchased the Preston TV franchise from Comcast, we have been looking for ways to improve customer service, and bring a local flavor to the cable network. We know we have a lot of competition from national providers, so we thought a physical location in Preston would help bring our services to the people, increase convenience and create value, because we can show we are a local company, where you can walk in talk to a local representative anytime, face to face. Hopefully that is still worth something today.”

Brendon says current customers use the store to come in and pay their bill, saving them the cost of mailing it in, and to make quick upgrades or changes to their service. “They sometimes come in with technical questions—if I can’t give them an answer right away, I at least can refer them to the right person in tech support immediately.”

The store is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm.

“If new people come in, and try our products, they will usually sign up for service. Actually, I had a salesman walk in the other day, trying to sell me a newspaper or magazine subscription, and he ended up walking away with internet service from us.”

Direct Communications has been providing internet service to Preston residents since 1999, and offers Telephone, Internet and cable TV services throughout southeast Idaho.