Directcom Customer Newsletter -Idaho – Fall 2012

The Directcom Connection- Customer Newsletter

The Directcom Connection- Customer Newsletter September 2012

Here are a few updates about how we have been involved in your community this summer:

Directcom to Offer First 100 Mbps Residential Broadband Service in Idaho

Direct Communications will become the first major internet service provider in Idaho to offer 100 Mbps service to residential customers, when they roll out a 100Mb package to customers starting this month.

Fiber Optic Cable means more speed.

These unprecedented speeds have been made possible by the expansion of Direct Communications fiber-to-the-home service, which the company began installing in 2006 to a limited number of new homes, where it made more sense to install new optic fiber cable rather than copper lines. However, over the past two years, Directcom has begun a systematic upgrade of all the lines in their telephone exchange areas, replacing aging copper lines with new fiber optic cable all the way to individual customer homes. Once the fiber is in place, there is unlimited potential for more speed. 100Mb is about as much as most modern consumer-grade electronics equipment can handle.

Jeremy Smith, General Manager for Direct Communications operations in Idaho, explained why the company was aggressively pursuing converting to an all-fiber network: “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. I simply don’t agree with the current Federal Administration’s philosophy that rural Americans don’t need as much speed as people in cities. Everybody needs good internet service; in fact 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 broadband signal out far enough to reach all of our customers. Having access to unlimited broadband is the future to both economic development and personal educational opportunity. Someday, each home that wants to be part of the global information economy will probably require minimum speeds of 100 Mbps. We just wanted to get a head start.”

READ MORE…

Watch More Football on ESPN3

More Football is on ESPN3

Have you tried ESPN3 yet? Just click on the ESPN3 link from our homepage to start watching. This is a fantastic complimentary feature that now comes included with your Directcom Internet subscription. Direct Communications is the only Internet Service Provider in Southeast Idaho that gives customers access to ESPN3. ESPN3.com delivers more than 3,500 live online events a year from your favorite sports through an easy-to-use online interface. Features of the website include the ability to watch multiple games simultaneously, get real-time stats and scoreboards, and live chat for interacting with friends and other fans. ESPN3 will stream over 90 college football games during September, over 50 of which are exclusive. This fall ESPN3 will include games from BYU, Utah, Boise State and USU. Another great feature of ESPN3 is the ability to replay games on demand anytime, and the replays include very convenient bookmarks so that you can skip to all of the important plays. See the month’s schedule at http://blog.directcom.com/2012/08/20/college-football-on-espn3-this-september/

Arbon Fiber-to-the-Home Project Complete

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 for Direct Communications in Idaho, shows a typical Calix ONT that is installed on the side of a home to convert the fiber light signal to Ethernet and phone service.

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.’”

CLICK TO READ MORE…

This story was also published in the  Idaho State Journal, Sep 12, 2012.

“Arbon Valley just became a lot less remote thanks to an upgrade of its phone system to fiber optics. Every resident in Arbon now is able to receive broadband access.”

Click on the link below to read the ISJ article.

http://www.idahostatejournal.com/members/article_0c6e26ce-fca1-11e1-887a-001a4bcf887a.html

Good job to all the techs and crew involved, including Jason Garner, Brent Moss (now retired) Brad Medinger, Lucas McHargue, Phil Pratt, Steven Robinson, and the many others who invested several years of their lives working through mud, snow and wind to bring fiber broadband to the folks in Arbon.

Refer-a-friend and get $100

Refer a friend and get $100.

As families head back-to-school this month, people will be thinking seriously about their internet service reliability, and now may be a good opportunity for you to tell your friends about the superior quality of Direct Communications High-Speed Internet, and give them your referral card.If they sign up for Directcom Broadband, you will receive a $100 credit, and your friend will get a month of service FREE. Refer as many friends as you like—you may never have to pay for internet service again. Download a refer-a-friend card here.

Join us on Facebook.

Direct Communications has a Facebook page exclusively for our Idaho customers, and we want you to join our group. Facebook is a great way for you to stay in touch with us for upcoming changes, immediate notifications, instant updates, specials and free stuff, and helps us keep in touch with what our customers need. A lot of improvements that we have made over the past couple of years have come from customer suggestions on facebook, which we welcome.

Like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/directcom

Direct Communications at your county fair

Rachel and her steer with Kip Wilson at the Power County Fair 4H Auction.

This summer Directcom set up booths at the South Bannock County Fair in Downey, the Franklin County Fair in Preston, the Caribou County Fair in Grace, and the Bear Lake County Fair in Montpelier. We also supported the 4H program at the Power County Fair. We enjoyed being in your home towns, seeing your artwork, crafts, and even judging Apple Pie contests; meeting our customers, talking to local residents about our service and fiber optic cable network construction throughout these towns, and handing out candy, Frisbees and t-shirts. We also tried something new this year, and constructed a money/coupon wind booth, which we called our “Cash Cave.” Customers could step inside the Cave and had 30 seconds to grab as many bills or money-saving coupons as they could. We had several new customers, and 14 current customers, win free service in our cash cave, including one who grabbed a YEAR of FREE service. Come and see us next year again at the fair.Read more about our involvement at your fair at http://blog.directcom.com/2012/09/13/why-we-love-county-fairs/

New Outages Mailing List

Wehave a new Idaho Outages Mailing List, where we can make you aware of any upcoming maintenance outages via email. To subscribe to this list, please visit http://support.directcom.com/lists/?p=subscribe&id=1

If you previously subscribed to this list last year, please do so again, as this application has been recently modified and you will need to re-register your email to get onto the new list.

Directcom in Idaho State Journal – “Bringing the cable home.”

Published in the  Idaho State Journal, Sep 12, 2012.

“Arbon Valley just became a lot less remote thanks to an upgrade of its phone system to fiber optics. Every resident in Arbon now is able to receive broadband access.” Click on the link below to read the article.

http://www.idahostatejournal.com/members/article_0c6e26ce-fca1-11e1-887a-001a4bcf887a.html

This story covers our completion of the Arbon fiber to the home project. Good job to all the techs who spent several years working through rain, snow and wind to bring fiber to the good folks in Arbon.

Don’t Let Washington Take Away Your Rural Broadband.

 

The FCC has proposed radical changes that could deprive millions of rural Americans, including you, of broadband access.

Please help by contacting Washington officials and letting them know about your opposition to any plans that would undercut Internet access in your rural community. Go to http://saveruralbroadband.org/?_c=zygmku1m2t5yi9 to send a letter to your two senators, your representatives, and the Obama administration. The more letters we send, the more Washington will know that rural Americans are demanding the same access to quality broadband as big- city dwellers.

For the last century in America, the telecommunications industry has been guided by the principle of Universal Service.   This vital national goal means that the value of the entire network is enhanced by everyone being connected.  This is accomplished through ensuring  those living in remote or rural areas have  access to comparable communications services available in urban areas at comparable rates.  Have you ever wondered how your local phone company can afford to bury a line out to the farmer living many miles out of town or even miles from his nearest neighbor? The construction and maintenance of a single line to a remote home can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but you might pay only $30 per month for that service.  The only way to balance that equation is with Universal Service Funding. In the old days the big telecom companies like AT&T used to help cover the costs to run small rural networks like Direct Communications through an access recovery system, in which they would pay rural companies a fee each time they transferred a call to a rural network.  This was done because they recognized that their own networks were more valuable if connectivity was ubiquitous.  Further, universal connectivity enables everyone to participate in the American experience and larger economy. In the 1980’s, the Federal Government took over the management of redistributing access funds to rural companies, and the FCC established an agency called NECA to collect money into a Universal Service Fund (USF) pool from customers all over the country, via a USF fee on every phone bill.  These monies are then distributed to rural telecom providers  to help cover the costs to build out networks in areas where the density is low enough that there is no viable business case for telecom services. Families in Bear Lake, Arbon, Rockland and Eagle Mountain, Utah, have home telephone service, DSL, other advanced telecom services and even fiber optic broadband service in their homes because of Universal Service Funds.  This is how we recover our cost of doing business.

Over the last decade broadband internet has replaced landline telephone as the service customers value most. Broadband is the future of communications. Broadband is the means by which our knowledge based economy functions. Cell phone towers function on broadband. People work from home on broadband. Rural customers email, bank, shop, study, work, talk, write, watch video, access news and information through rural broadband networks. Broadband is becoming the most important utility to any home. You need broadband, and you deserve to have the same opportunities as every other American, because your access to broadband will either limit or enhance your opportunities. Rural communities will not grow without broadband access. Jobs will not be sustained without good broadband access. Small towns will die.

Be aware: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing a new broadband plan that may impact your service. They are advertising this as a plan to bring broadband access to more people, but that is only part of the story. The real story is that they are going to take away funding from rural customers like you because they have decided people living out in the country don’t need to have the same quality or speeds as people in the big cities.  This issue is obviously one that is highly politically charged.

The plan is to ensure that people in big cities get 100Mb service.  This throughput was chosen simply because some Members of Congress believe some reports in which the US is lagging behind smaller and more urban countries like Denmark and Belgium with respect to average download speeds.  These reports fail to account for the fact that the USA is a vast and relatively sparsely populated county and burying  fiber across the great plains and over the Rocky Mountains is more time consuming and expensive than deploying facilities in a country such as in Belgium. As a consequence the FCC’s stated goal is “100 mb to 100 million homes!”  That sounds great, but what about the other 40 million US homes, what does the FCC propose for them?  For people like us living in rural areas, they feel we should be content with 4Mb service!   To restate: The FCC plan proposes speeds 25 times slower in rural areas than in urban areas.

Are our needs any different to people in cities? Don’t our children need the internet for their education just as much as kids in cities? Because of our isolation, and the great distances we have to travel to get anywhere from rural America, we would propose that people in the rural areas need broadband even more than people living in cities. Why does the FCC plan make rural consumers second class citizens?  Further, this stated goal of fostering a digital divide is in violation of the Telecom Act of 1996.

You deserve comparable speed at affordable prices.  That is the law!

Don’t let the FCC keep our rural community on the slow side of the digital divide.

We as a rural telecom industry are fighting this planned legislation to ensure our customers can keep their speeds. We have made such great progress over the past few years in bringing fiber optic broadband to homes, schools, hospitals and public services in our rural communities. We already offer speeds up to 20Mb to most homes, and now, some people in the government want to take that away from you, because they have no political interest in rural areas.

Contact your congressional representatives! Urge them to support regulatory action that ensures equal access to broadband for all Americans. To learn more about this issue, contact your local telecom provider or visit http://saveruralbroadband.org/?_c=zygmku1m2t5yi9.

Farewell to the Oxford Community Center

Oxford Community Center

Last week we closed the doors of the Direct Communications Oxford Community Center after two years of serving that community with a free internet and computer center. However, our high-speed internet service will continue to be available to residents at their homes.

Oxford, Idaho, is a very small town nestled right up against the mountainside in a pretty valley west of Preston. A drive through Oxford is almost like a drive through time. At the center of town is a small dairy still in operation, and certain things are probably no different than they were 120 years ago. The house we rented to house the community center was probably built over 100 years ago, but there weren’t a lot of available options. Next to the center were a couple of horses running in a pasture, and cows grazing on the hill behind us. However, even in very small rural American towns like Oxford, broadband technology is everywhere, and this is a clear indication that the existing programs in place to bring broadband to rural america are working.  There is a brand new cell phone tower overlooking the town. A fiber optic line runs directly through town—part of our fiber loop running between Downey and Preston, which Direct Communications laid in 2008. This fiber route to Oxford was financed in part by RUS funds, and part of the agreement with the RUS was that we would provide an opportunity for the residents there to experience high-speed internet service. Two years ago, Leonard May and I knocked on the door of each home in town, to find out who would be interested in having fiber to the home, since we were already laying a fiber line through the area. We didn’t get a overwhelming response—in fact—thinking back, I can’t remember a single person who was very interested. So, our plans to install fiber to the home were shelved. However, we installed a wireless access point in town feeding directly from our fiber and opened the community center with help from Dana Cox, whom we hired as our agent in Oxford, and who would manage the center for the next 2 years.

Dana also hired Phyllis Murphy, along with a couple of other local Oxford residents to keep the center staffed and always open from 12pm-6pm each weekday and on Saturday mornings. We installed countertops and set up 10 new computers with high-speed internet connections, a phone, and a printer. Dana kept a log of all the people who visited the center, and I was initially surprised at how many people visited each day. The Oxford Community center was well used. Dana was a wonderful representative for us in the community, and we would like to publicly thank everybody who staffed the community center. We hope that those who visited the center had a good experience and will have a positive lasting impression of Direct Communications.

Residents of Oxford who want to continue using high speed internet should call us to install wireless internet at their home at 208 237 9729. Regular rates will now apply.