NOW HIRING: Tech Support Specialist, Eagle Mountain Utah

tech-supportNOW HIRING:  Tech Support Specialist

Location: Eagle Mountain, Utah. Local residents especially encouraged to apply.

Wage:  $10 to $12/hour, DOE.

Part time. 20 hours per week.

Resumes will be accepted until FRIDAY, MAY 29th and can be emailed to diane@directcom.com or faxed to (801)789-4118

Front exterior of new building will be similar to the existing Direct Communications commercial building.

You will work out of Direct Communications office building in the Ranches, Eagle Mountain Utah.

Direct Communications Cedar Valley is now hiring a new Support Technician (Level 1) to work within its Installation and Maintenance Team.  The duties will include fielding inbound calls and remotely troubleshooting service issues with our customers. Typically the technician will be working out of our call center in Eagle Mountain, taking calls as they come in and making every effort to repair trouble over the phone and in the case where that is not possible, they will dispatch tech to site for further trouble shooting. This is a part time position and hours will include 5 hours a day, Monday through Friday.

20120925_110816Direct Communications Cedar Valley is a Telephone and Internet service provider based in Eagle Mountain Utah.  We currently service approximately 4000 customers via both copper twisted pair wire and Fiber Optic cable from our Central office to the customer premises.  Technician hired will be trained on our remote systems to be able to trouble shoot the entirety of the circuit using our back office tools, and also, assist customer with Wi-Fi and home networking issues to insure seamless service and customer satisfaction.

Responsibilities

  • Provide exemplary service to our customers
    • Engage and act with ownership, displaying confidence, clarity, focus, urgency, and excellence
    • Answer and resolve incoming calls, email, and chat requests for Direct Communications support relating to Internet communications
    • Provide accurate and timely updates to our customers and document customer cases.
    • Monitor network circuit performance and open support cases immediately for resolution
    • Use company provisioning system to facilitate add, move, change, and delete requests for existing clients as needed
    • Educate customers in the use of Direct Communications systems and applications as related to Internet
    • Obtain general understanding of OS and application operations related to company offered services
    • Correct possible configuration issues for clients
    • When needed, promptly escalate cases to Network Technician (Level 2) to ensure customers issues are resolved quickly
    • Maintain a mindset of continuous improvement, in terms of efficiency of processes & customer satisfaction and optimization
    • Any other duties as assigned by management

employmentQualifications

To perform this job successfully, individuals must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily based on company standards. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required to perform the job successfully.

  • Must be punctual and dependable for assigned shift
    • Must have exceptional interpersonal and communication skills
    • Must be fluent in English (spoken and written)
    • Must have a strong desire to learn and recommend new technologies
    • Must be able to work independently and efficiently in a fast-paced environment
    • Be able to document and troubleshoot multiple systems
    • Experience with solving hardware and software issues
    • Proficient in Internet related applications such as E-Mail clients, PPPoE, and Web Browsers
    • Technical Support Center Experience a plus.

Wage range is $10 to $12/hour, depending on experience, qualifications and skills.  Experience with internet protocol is extremely beneficial.

DCCV is an equal opportunity employer.

Resumes will be accepted until FRIDAY, MAY 29th and can be emailed to diane@directcom.com or faxed to (801)789-4118

How do I get the full speed I’m paying for?

Only Directcom, because our network is 100% Fiber Optic Cable, with no wireless links between you and the cloud, can deliver the entire bandwidth to which you subscribe to the fiber network terminal or router in your home. If you are subscribing to 250 Mbps download, we  deliver a full 250 Mbps to your home. If you are on fiber and aren’t seeing the full advertised speed when you do a speed test on your PC or other device, 99% of the time the bottleneck will be in consumer-grade WiFi equipment inside your home network (like your wireless router) or limitations in the WiFi radio capabilities in your laptop, tablet, smartphone, or TV. (Most consumer-grade g/n wireless routers will only practically deliver around 30Mbps to a smart device via wireless even in the best of conditions.) Thus, a properly -wired home network is essential to maximize all of the advantages of our unique, better and special, state-of-the-art fiber to the home service. (Scroll down for MINIMUM IP NETWORK CABLING REQUIREMENTS.)

#1 Tip: Hard wire everything with Ethernet cable.
#2 Tip: Upgrade your router.

Most g/n wireless routers will only practically deliver around 30mbs to a smart device via wireless. In order to hit your full available new speed, you might need a new a/c router, and definitely hard wire (with Ethernet cable) from your router to your PC, Smart TV, or Media Player to take full advantage of your speeds. The airwaves are very congested in all modern homes, especially in young, vibrant, tech-savvy communities like Eagle Mountain, where everyone has a router broadcasting to multiple devices, and WiFi is simply not going to deliver the full 150 Mbps you are paying for. Hard wire. Hard wire. Hard wire. Call us if you need help hard-wiring.

As all communication moves to IP technology, it’s more important than ever
to make sure the wiring and connections in modern homes are capable of
delivering enough bandwidth to support future internet applications, including
communications, entertainment, and smart-home security, automation, and
control services.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that homes are going wireless. Even the best wireless
systems simply don’t have the bandwidth or reach of a “hard” wire—wireless has
bandwidth limits even in a perfect situation, and traveling through walls drastically
reduces any wireless capabilities. Wireless signals also suffer from interference from
other wireless networks, phones, appliances, radios and electronic devices. A wired
connection is always more reliable and consistent. Cat5e cable can handle up to
1 Gigabit per second speeds, and Cat6 will feed up to 10 Gigabits per second. Our
customers already know that any devices that stream HD video need to be hard
wired to their home router to work properly. HD video is just the start of cloud-based entertainment—within a just couple of
years the data requirements of video will quadruple, once Ultra HD, which has four times the resolution of 1080p HD, becomes the new common video standard.

A properly -wired home network is essential to maximize all of the advantages of our unique, better and special, state-of-the-art
fiber to the home service here in Eagle Mountain. Fiber to the home will increase the value of any home by as much as $5,000, according to the Fiber-to-the-Home Council.* Our investment in constructing fiber to the homes in Eagle Mountain means more money in your pocket. More importantly, fiber to a home means a higher quality of life for homeowners in this digital information age, where so much of what we do to enrich our lives has moved online. More internet speed simply means more fun.

MINIMUM IP NETWORK CABLING REQUIREMENTS
Following are the minimum Ethernet cable installation requirements we recommend for new homes:
1. All communications cabling must be home run to a central hub/network distribution point in the basement
mechanical/utility room. (Usually the room where the furnace and water heater are located.)
2. A ¾” flexible plastic conduit/duct should be installed from an outside termination (demarcation) point, usually
near the outdoor power meter, to the central distribution point inside the basement. Do not use any elbow bends. Direct
Communications will feed fiber optic cable through this conduit from the street to the distribution point inside the home.
This conduit could be useful to the homeowner for various future networking needs, including satellite TV cable. The outside demarcation point, or conduit stub-out, should be 2’ from the power meter, and between 32” to 36” above ground.
3. Telecommunications cables need to be a minimum specification of Cat5e, which will support 1 Gig Ethernet speeds,
but preferably Cat6 should be used, which will support the future multi-Gigabit speeds homeowners will require.
4. A label should be included on each Cat5 Ethernet cable identifying the location at which the wire is terminated.
5. A 24”x24” plywood panel should be secured to the wall in the furnace room at the network distribution point. It is the
builder’s responsibility to supply the wood panel. Direct Communications techs will mount the fiber electronics and power
transformer/battery backup to this board. Direct Communications will supply to each customer an:
a. indoor fiber optical network terminal, (ONT) with
b. 4 x 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports
c. Built in wireless router
d. A 12-port patch panel to distribute voice and Ethernet throughout the home over the wired network. This will allow for
very simple patching to/from routers, switches, multimedia ports, and easy replacement if any develop a fault.
6. The 24” wood panel should be located in the mechanical or utility room, at about chest level, should be easily
accessible, preferably on an open wall, with at least 3’ clearance for our techs to work in, and with a 120V power outlet situated
within a 2’ distance to power the indoor ONT battery backup and router.
7. Two Cat5e cables must be fed from the distribution point, through the wall to the External Termination/Demarcation
Point, (which will be about a 6”x6” fiber junction box) leaving at least 2’ of cable slack at the ETP and at least 3’ of slack at the
inside network distribution point. This is simply to prepare for any future externalities or homeowner networking needs.
8. Two Cat5e cables should be fed from the home distribution hub to each low-voltage outlet position at which
communication services are required.
9. Be sure to wire Ethernet to each future possible TV position, to accommodate Smart TVs and future IPTV needs.
10. Leave at least 8” of cable slack at each outlet.
11. All voice or data jacks should be RJ45 type.
12. When considering where to install outlets or RJ45 data jacks, be sure to consider the following:
a. At least two RJ45 type jacks (one for phone, one for internet) on the same faceplate in each bedroom and normally
occupied room.
b. Two or more such outlets are recommended in the great room and study.
c. Minimum of one outlet per level, including the basement.
13. Wire should be routed through 1/2” drilled holes in wall and ceiling headers or through conduit.
14. Ethernet wiring should not be placed in the same conduit with wires that conduct electricity.
15. RJ45 Jack Placement: Think about where furniture will go in each room, and where a media station (such as an Xbox),
computer, phone, TV, or future smart appliance might be placed when thinking about installing jacks. It’s easier to plan ahead
than for the homeowner to install more Ethernet ports after construction.
16. Wire should not be stapled, kinked or smashed—avoid abrading or puncturing the insulating jacket.
17. Avoid excessively hot locations—heating ducts, hot water pipes, etc.
18. Premium homebuilders might consider also installing indoor fiber optic cable to communication points along with
Cat6 as part of the home wiring package, which will be the best way to future-proof any home network.

2013 home wiring brochure-tabloid

Eagle Mountain Schools Receive Sponsorship from Local Internet Provider, Direct Communications.

Direct Communications, Eagle Mountain’s local fiber optic broadband provider, donated to each of the local schools in Eagle Mountain Utah this Fall.
Why does Directcom sponsor education in Eagle Mountain? Kip Wilson, general manager for Direct Communications, answered this question by stating: “We are absolutely committed to enhancing life in Eagle Mountain long-term, 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.”

Mountain Trails Elemetary-Principal Turner with student council

Mountain Trails Elemetary-Principal Turner with student council

David Turner, Principal of Mountain Trails stated: “We express our extreme gratitude for your generous donation to our school. Receiving funding like this allows so many opportunities to reach out to students and recognize them for the good things they do here at the school. Your contribution will make a significant difference in the lives of the students here.”

Westlake High School Marching Band

Brek Mangelson, Director of Bands at Westlake High School, with Diane Bradshaw and Brigham Griffin, Marketing Director for Direct Communications.

Brek Mangelson, Westlake Marching Thunder Band Director, said:”Thank you so much for your support of the Westlake Marching Thunder Band this year. The band has been invited to be the official USS Utah Battleship delegate in the 2014 Peal Harbor Memorial Parade this December. Your support helped alleviate part of the costs of this trip for the students. We are so excited to represent the entire state of Utah at this event. Words cannot properly express our sincere gratitude towards Direct Communications for helping to make this trip possible for the students. Thank you!”

Diane Bradshaw, Community Relations Representative for Direct Communications presents a check to Westlake High School Football Head Coach Steve Clements.

Diane Bradshaw, Community Relations Representative for Direct Communications presents a check to Westlake High School Athletic Director, Michael O’Connor.

Sharon Mardesich, Athletic Assistant at Westlake High School said “Direct Communications has been a great support to donating a $1,000.00 each year to our Athletic Scholarship Program. The program is set up to award Senior Athletes that may not be the Star of the team, but the Heart of the Team”. Thank you Direct Communication for being a THUNDER FAN!

Cami Larsen, Principal Black Ridge Elementary, with Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications

Cami Larsen, Principal
Black Ridge Elementary, with Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications

Cami Larsen, Principal of Black Ridge Elementary, said: “We are grateful for the support of Direct Communications. The money we received will benefit our students through strengthening our art and music programs. Thank you for helping our students!”

Ranches academy

Ranches academy

“The Ranches Academy student body is excited to have the opportunity to perform in the musical play, Annie; and thanks Direct Communication for the generous donation to pay for the rights to the play” said Director of The Ranches Academy, Susie Scherer.

Diane Bradshaw, Direct Communications Office Administrator and community outreach representative, enjoys being involved with the local schools. “Each year I look forward to going to the various schools in Eagle Mountain and presenting donation checks from Direct Communications. Being personally involved in Utah Scholars and Prosperity 2020, I see the need for business involvement within the schools. I know that any donations the schools receive is put to good use–from the art/music program at Black Ridge elementary to the HOPE program at Frontier Middle School to helping the Westlake Marching band perform at the Pearl Harbor Day parade–all programs help our kids . I am proud to work for a company who values education and is willing to donate money to support our kids.”

Eagle Valley Elementary-pictured from Eagle Valley is Paula Tucker, the new principal, and Angie Hale, media specialist, with Darin Algaier and Diane Bradshaw from Directcom.

Eagle Valley Elementary-pictured from Eagle Valley is Paula Tucker, the new principal, and Angie Hale, media specialist, with Darin Algaier and Diane Bradshaw from Directcom.

Angie Hale of Eagle Valley Elementary said: “We would like to express our appreciation to Direct Communications for their continued generosity and support. Direct Communications, Eagle Mountain’s local telephone and internet service provider, recently made a generous donation to Eagle Valley Elementary. Their contribution will be used to help fund Eagle Valley’s Battle of the Books program and will greatly help to encourage an even greater love of literacy and learning among our students. Direct Communication’s generosity demonstrates their continued dedication to the community and their willingness to help support local schools and programs. Thank you!”

Directcom Sponsors Frontier Middle School Hope Squad Program - 2014

Directcom Sponsors Frontier Middle School Hope Squad Program – 2014

Frontier Middle School Principal Scott Sumner stated: “The generous donations by Direct Communications make many of the programs we do at Frontier Middle School possible. Our hope squad is an exact recipient, and makes it possible to provide hope for kids, and to provide training for success in life, and for what is possible in life. Thank you, Direct Communications.”

Pony Express Elementary principal Vicki Smith with teachers.

Pony Express Elementary principal Vicki Smith with teachers.

Pony Express Elementary principal Vicki Smith reported that their school would be using their $500.00 for purchasing materials for teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). “Specifically, we’ll purchase items that can be used to connect these content areas, such as programmable robots using Lego kits.
Thank-you again for such a wonderful gift. We are pleased that money donated from our community will remain in the school and benefit the children here at Pony Express.”

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

Hidden Hollow Elementary-Principal Tillman and vice principal Mrs Littlefield, with Diane Bradshaw of Directcom.

Hidden Hollow Elementary-Principal Tillman and vice principal Mrs Littlefield, with Diane Bradshaw of Directcom.

Tom Tillman, Principal at Hidden Hollow reported that “Hidden Hollow’s Student Council was able to attend the BYU Student Council Leadership Conference in October thanks to Direct Communication’s generous donation of $500.”
Rockwell Charter High SchoolJohnny Ma,Boys Basketball Coach at Rockwell High School said: “Thank you for you sponsorship of $500 to the boys basketball program for the 2015 season. The donation is contributing to helping 22 players in our program. The donation is helping with their travel costs and reducing their costs for basketball shoes. Our program is thankful for this donation and our relationship with Direct Communications. Thanks Direct Communication for everything that you have done for us.”

TRICK OR TREAT at your local Directcom office

Come TRICK OR TREAT at your local DIRECT COMMUNICATIONS office in Paris, Rockland, or Eagle Mountain Utah, from 2-4 PM, HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY OCTOBER 31. We will have lots of treats for the kids.

Here’s a look at some of the best Halloween costumes created by Directcom employees over the years.

Directcom Sponsors Frontier Middle School Hope Squad Program – 2014

October 2014, Eagle Mountain Utah

Direct Communications, Eagle Mountain’s local fiber broadband company, once again sponsored the Frontier Middle School Hope Squad Program for the 2014/2015 school year.  This program, launched in 2013 with a donation from Direct Communications, was designed to help combat and prevent bullying at the school.

Hope Squad is made up of peer-selected students who are trained by school counselors on how to respond and handle a student situation, such as another student telling them they are considering suicide. The counselors are then notified, and will be able to handle the situation appropriately. Hope Squad allows students to share personal information with their peers in a safe environment so they can get the necessary help they need.  The money donated by Direct Communications will be used for program fees, such as enrollment, shirts, banners and other signage.

IMG_0631.JPG

Direct Communications Marketing Director, Brigham Griffin, presents a check to Frontier Middle School Principal Scott Sumner, and Assistant Principal Kevin Henshaw, at Frontier Middle School in Eagle Mountain.

Frontier Middle School Principal Scott Sumner stated: “The generous donations by Direct Communications make many of the programs we do at Frontier Middle School possible. Our hope squad is an exact recipient, and makes it possible to provide hope for kids, and to provide training for success in life, and for what is possible in life. Thank you, Direct Communications.”

Besides being a community partner for education at the school, Direct Communications also services Frontier Middle School with a 1 Gigabit fiber optic connection.

Help Solve a Vandalism Crime in Eagle Mountain

20140918-fiber-cut-street-view

On the morning of September 18, 2014, a vandalism crime targeting the fiber communications network in Eagle Mountain occurred, on the West side of Nolan park, at the SW corner of Tinamous Road & Red Hawk Ranch Road. A vandal got into a telecommunications pedestal, (see inserted picture of green metal box) and cut the fiber inside. This happened in broad daylight, and knocked out all internet to the Ranches Academy Elementary School.

Above-ground enclosure used for splicing, mounting of cross-connect systems, terminal blocks, and other telco equipment.

This above-ground enclosure was broken into and the fiber that was cut by a vandal.

We need your help. If you saw anyone opening that box this morning, please call:
Utah County Sheriff 801-794-3970
FBI 801-579-1400
or Direct Communications 801-789-2800.

Active case number 14UC09562.

location of fiber cut crime

location of fiber cut crime

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

Robby Steele- photo courtesy of Chet Steele

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For related articles about Robby see:

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

Direct Communications Hires New Local Eagle Mountain Tech – Landon Beatty

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

New Directcom Employee Landon Beatty

New Directcom Employee Landon Beatty

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Pony Express Days Report

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

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

Directcom Ape throws out bananas to the crowd.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The slightly more expanded answer is specifically: cash flow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Direct Communications Donates to Westlake High School – 2013 Edition

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

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

Nov 2013 – Eagle Mountain, UT

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

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

Direct Communications Donates to Rockwell Charter High School – 2013

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

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

November 2013, Eagle Mountain Utah.

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

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

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

Rockwell High presents Direct Communications with a certificate of appreciation

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

Direct Communications Donates to the Ranches Academy – 2013 Edition

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

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

Direct Communications Donates to Eagle Valley Elementary

November 2013, Eagle Mountain, Utah.

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

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

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

Angie Hale of Eagle Valley Elementary School stated:

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

Directcom Donates to Hidden Hollow Elementary School – 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you note from Hidden Hollow Elementary

Thank you note from Hidden Hollow Elementary

Direct Communications Sponsors Frontier Middle School Hope Squad Program

Eagle Mountain, Utah, November 2013:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Clark, School Counselor, Frontier Middle School said:

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

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

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

Kristy - Pioneer Woman

Kristy – Pioneer Woman

Ben - Dr Raymond Stantz from Ghostbusters

Ben – Dr Raymond Stantz from Ghostbusters

Brenda  - Ghoul school Graduate

Brenda – Ghoul school Graduate

Diane - Little Bo Peep

Diane – Little Bo Peep

Welcome, Little Dress Up Shop, to Eagle Mountain

We would like to welcome Lindsay Bills  and her Little Dress Up Shop to  Eagle mountain as the newest tenants in the Direct Communications building. Many residents of Eagle mountain may remember seeing Little Dress Up Shop in the vendor booths during Pony Express Days over the years, and we are pleased to have them now as a more permanent part of Eagle mountain. Little Dress Up Shop is currently part of the Eagle Mountain City Business Incubator program. We wish them every success and hope that their business will continue to grow until they can fill an entire building in Eagle Mountain, and will require a 1 Gigabit internet connection to keep up with all their online orders. Stop by and see the great products they offer or visit their website at littledressupshop.com

2013 yellow beauty dress up

2013 yellow beauty dress up

Lindsay Bills describes her business:

Little Dress Up Shop has been in business for 9 years.  Our store provides quality dress up clothes for children who like to play dress up all day long, all year long. We seek to sell only quality dress up clothes that will hold up to our 100% guarantee and that will be comfortable for children.  At our shop you will only find products that meet our high standards of quality, washability, durability and comfort.  We also strive to offer easily accessible customer service that is always friendly and helpful.

Here at Little Dress Up Shop we only sell dress ups we would buy for our own children.  In fact all of our dress ups have been tested out on our little ones.  If they don’t love it, we won’t sell it.

  • Your kids will love the comfort of our Dress Ups.  The fabrics are so soft!  We sell nothing with itchy fabrics or underskirts.
  • We carry only high quality Dress Ups that last.  They are made to be durable.  In fact, we guarantee their quality and durability.
  • They are washable, as opposed to some costumes found in big box stores which you can only “wipe clean.”
  • Our products are easy for children to put on and take off.  There are no buttons or ties to frustrate little fingers.  Most dresses stretch to fit over their heads like a shirt.  There is nothing more to do!
  • Our Dress Ups are available in multiple sizes to assure your kids get just the right fit.  No more “too small” dress-ups.

Our personal Customer Service cannot be beat with our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. We are committed to offering THE Best customer service and community service possible.

  • We have a toll free phone number giving you peace of mind that you can reach us with any questions or concerns.  And we always answer our e-mails!
  • We have quick processing times.  All items are in stock when shown as “available” online and we ship orders the same day when placed by 2pm Eastern.
  • We offer free shipping to US residents on all orders all the time.
  • Our returns and exchanges are simple. Just use our Return Authorization form or call for help.
  • We are involved with several charitable organizations-giving to children in the community and around the world.
Store inventory

Store inventory

When we opened this store more than 9 years ago, I had a new baby (my first) and was running a daycare business out of my home.  I was looking for an alternate means of income and never dreamed how this would evolve.  I attribute much of our success to choosing the right product to sell.  We are extremely selective and only offer adorable dress ups that are affordable and comfortable.  As a previous preschool teacher I am excited about these products because I’ve seen the many benefits of pretend play.  Some of the skills they will gain through dramatic play include language development, social interaction and creativity.

Direct Communications Donates to Rockland High School Athletic Program

Jeremy Smith of Direct Communications with Athletic Director Bill Dean, Brant Mink, Donny Lee and Superintendent Jim Woodworth

Jeremy Smith of Direct Communications with Athletic Director Bill Dean, Brant Mink, Donny Lee and Superintendent Jim Woodworth

Direct Communications donated $500 to the Rockland High School Athletic Program this week as part of an effort to support local high school athletics in the communities served by the broadband company. At the start of the 2013 school year, Directcom approached each school athletic director, and offered a way for student athletes to earn donations for their school  through their participation and effort in all varsity games.

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

During the 2012-2013 school year, Rockland Varsity teams reported a total of $150 in earnings through this sponsorship program.  However, Direct Communications gave a final amount of $500, since  they had pledged a donation of at least $500 to each school that participated . Jeremy Smith, General Manager for Direct Communications in Idaho, said he hoped the money would go towards the new Rockland School Weight Room, which is currently under construction inside the new school gym.

Customer Tour of Central Office in Eagle Mountain Announced

Direct Communications will be hosting a free tour of the central office/switch room in Eagle Mountain on Wednesday, May 29 at 6PM.

This will be offered to a limited group of interested customers and hosted by our Inside Plant Manager, Cody Bailey, who manages the internal fiber network in Eagle Mountain.

The tour is expected to last 30 minutes. Space is extremely limited due to safety and security considerations for both the sensitive equipment and for our visitors, so the tour will be limited to the first six customers who email to reserve their place on the tour.

Besides learning some basics of how the fiber network in Eagle Mountain functions, you will have the opportunity to ask our network administrators and General Manager questions you may have about the network, our electronics and equipment, our construction plans, and so forth. Some interesting changes you will see in our switch room are our digital central phone switch, our brand new battery backup array and power distribution, our new upgraded broadband fiber distribution system, and several new state-of-the-art internet switches, routers and cabinets.

To RSVP for this event, please email ben@directcom.com and provide the following information:

Name:

Contact Phone Number:

Home Phone Number or Directcom account number:

Address:

Are you willing to sign a NDA: Yes/No

Are you willing to sign a liability waiver: Yes/No

T-shirt size:

No persons under 18 will be considered. You will be expected to sign both a NDA and a liability waiver.

You will receive a confirmation from Ben Hayes if you are accepted on the tour with further instructions.

Results of 2013 Customer Satisfaction Survey

What is our service really like? 89% of our customers either “love” or “like” their broadband service from Directcom. See what our own customers are reporting. Full results of our 2013 Customer Satisfaction Survey conducted in February of 2013 with a sample size of  428 customers can be seen at:

https://www.surveymk.com/sr.aspx?sm=L3kWO2eEr_2fNF9APfn8qaAutpcR9vbYzI2lhyFu1J97s_3d

 

Direct Communications Contributes to Local Eagle Mountain Schools in 2012

Sharon Mardesich and Mike oConnor of Westlake High School with a check from Direct Communications

Sharon Mardesich and Mike oConnor of Westlake High School with a check from Direct Communications

This month, Direct Communications contributed to each of the local  Eagle Mountain Schools as part of our commitment to be involved in our local community.

Mrs Payne of Ranches Academy with a check from Direct Communications.

Mrs Payne of Ranches Academy with a check from Direct Communications.

Kip Wilson, General Manager explained why the company makes annual contributions to Eagle Mountain schools: “Direct Communications seeks to be a responsible corporate citizen.  We know that supporting educational institutions make good sense for both our businesses and our communities.  Educated people value the services we offer, and communities that value education are successful in attracting the opportunities that accompany economic development.  We view these type of donations as a win-win in our business and civic futures. Plus, we want to support causes that we know our customers really feel strongly about, and we know they care a lot about two vital things: Their Internet service working properly, and their children. We figure that if we keep donating  to the schools, that would keep us involved on both counts.”

Angie Hale of  Eagle Valley Elementary sent us a note saying: “Thank you again for your fabulous donation to our school! We also appreciated the photo opportunity with the giant check. It is currently on display in the entry to our school!” Angie composed  the following quote to submit to the Alpine District newsletter:

Ben Hayes from Directcom presents a check to Eagle Valley Elementary.

Vicki Smith, principal of Pony Express Elementary with Brigham Griffin of Direct Communications.

Vicki Smith, principal of Pony Express Elementary with Brigham Griffin of Direct Communications.

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

Ashlee Robbins, of Rockwell Charter High School, with a donation from Direct Communications.

Ashlee Robbins, Assistant Director at Rockwell Charter High School wrote:

“Thank you so much for coming out to our school today and for the generous donation.  The donation was used to support and fund the Rockwell basketball program. We have both a boys and girls team.”

Steve Stewart, Principal of Vista Heights Middle School stated: “Please accept our thanks for the generous donation of $1000 to Vista Heights Middle School. We are using these funds to enhance and support our Guided Studies program, which provides additional assistance to students who struggle  academically in school. This donation was timely and much appreciated.”

Steve Stewart-Principal of Vista Heights Middle School with Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications.

Steve Stewart-Principal of Vista Heights Middle School with Diane Bradshaw of Direct Communications.

Diane Bradshaw, local office administrator and community relations representative for Direct Communications, has been involved with local education outreach for several years, serving on the Utah Scholars Initiative, and Prosperity 2020 Board.  She explained: “One of the most rewarding parts of my job is giving back to the community, especially our schools.  The future of Eagle Mountain rests in the hands of our children–Direct Communications helps in this endeavor by giving monetarily to our schools, helping our students succeed.  I enjoy hearing back from each school on how they are going to use the donation–some use the money on their libraries, while others use it for student council and sports programs.  I am proud to work for a company that values education and is interested in serving our youth.”

Mrs Mortensen of Hidden Hollow with Diane

Mrs Mortensen of Hidden Hollow with Diane

Suzie Scherer, Director of the Ranches Academy wrote to us: “Thank you so much for the generous donation. We are thrilled to receive the money again this year. The money will be used by our Student Council and our Randy Raffle. The Student Council will use the money to help pay for a service learning project. They will be traveling and serving at a shelter and also would like to go to a City Council meeting and meet with the Mayor. The Randy Raffle is our school wide positive behavior program and character education support.  Our raffle is a reward for students “caught” doing the right thing or demonstrating our character for the month.”

Direct Communications has a long history of partnering with local school districts, especially in remote areas. In many rural towns, Direct Communications was instrumental in bringing the first high-speed internet access to rural school districts.

Wendy hughes and Michelle Zwick- Mountain Trails Elementary

Wendy hughes and Michelle Zwick- Mountain Trails Elementary

Brigham Griffin, Marketing Director for Direct Communications, said: “Education and high-speed internet go hand-in-hand. So, as a broadband provider, supporting education is a good fit for us. Studies show a widening performance gap between students with broadband internet access at home, and those without. Students without internet are at a disadvantage, and at risk for falling behind the curve today. We want to bring high speed internet into more students homes and more speed to every school.”

Michelle Zwick of Mountain Trails Elementary said: “Thank you so much for coming to our school last week and presenting us with the “big” check for $500.  We have a Behavior Committee that meets and implements ways to increase good behavior at Mountain Trails Elementary.  We are going to use the donation money for training and also for student incentives to encourage and praise good behavior at school.  We started this program last year, and it was very successful.   We appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity.”

Michelle Zwick

Secretary

Mountain Trails Elementary

Fully Symmetrical Fiber Broadband Speeds are Here

Now make your fiber broadband fully symmetrical for only $10 more a month.

(This means your upload speed matches your download speed.)

Gamers: send bullets as fast as they are coming at you.

Creators: upload your videos and photos in seconds instead of hours.

Everyone: Back up your precious data and hard drives to the cloud.

(Available Upload speeds limited to 100Mb.)

Fiber, fiber, burning bright

In the forests of the night,  

What aspiring geek or guy   

Could utilize thy fearful symmetry?

-With apologies to William Blake

As more and more customers work remotely from home, and even regular folks upload fearful amounts of data in the form of home movies, pictures and online back ups, the need for higher upload speeds has increased dramatically over the past couple of years. Customers have recently been asking for higher upload speeds, and we have heard you.

For example, Kyle Andelin commented on our facebook page: “100Mb download speeds are exciting, but what are the upload speeds going to be? I’m always jealous of family and friends from nearby cities who have 10 down/10 up, and we still seem to have such a limited upload speed.”

He later explained: “If you need a point as to why upload sleep is important, just think about all the online backup solutions out there. Between Mozy and other offerings, or Norton and its integrated solutions, it’s really not realistic to try to upload 25GB worth of files at 100KB/second. That’s the better part of a week to complete a backup.”

We are pleased to announce that our fiber to the home customers can now choose fully symmetrical broadband speeds!

Our network is state-of-the-art fiber optic cable.

Starting Jan 2015,  Eagle Mountain fiber customers can now Amp Up any broadband package to full symmetry for just $10 more per month. So, for example, if you are currently paying $59.95 for 30Mb down with 5Mb up, you can Amp Up to 30Mb down with 30Mb up for $10 more, so your new total would be $69.95 for 30/30 speeds. Customers who really want to create havoc online can now even choose any upload speed up to 100Mb upload, and download speeds up to 1GB.

In the past, upload speeds were limited by two major things: the engineering specs associated with ADSL, which didn’t allow much more than 1Mb upload, and NECA (national exchange carrier association) federal regulatory specs that put limits on our upload offerings. I recently asked a prominent local telecommunications engineer about this at lunch, who explained how this situation came to be. For some reason which we in marketing will never be able to understand, when the engineers who designed the electronics  that power the internet put together their specs for DSL routers and servers, they decided that people did not need as much upload as download speed. They presumed that the regular folks would always be pulling more data from big content providers than pushing it back to the cloud. That assumption went into all the manufacturing specs and for years most network electronics were built that way, until it became impossible to mass produce or order electronics that could handle symmetrical speeds. It was almost like a VHS versus BETA situation, where the inferior product ended up being the one that was mass produced and became the standard.

Upload is still more expensive than download, and probably always will be, but the good news is that fiber overcomes most of the upload technical limitations. The electronics that deliver ethernet over fiber have thankfully been designed to deliver fully symmetrical speeds to commercial customers, and residential customers are now the lucky beneficiaries of that forward thinking.

The second obstacle was the NECA tariffs, which dictated to federally-supported local exchange carriers (small telcos) like us, how much we had to charge for each megabit of speed, and how many megabits we were allowed to deliver for download and upload. We had been begging them for years to give us more options, so that we could be more competitive.

Thankfully, NECA has recently become a lot more forward-thinking, and given us more room to offer better upload speeds, which has opened up the path for new symmetrical speeds on fiber.

Unfortunately, the technical limitations on copper remain, largely due to the equipment design. VDSL gives us slightly better capabilities for customers still on copper, but sadly still not much more than 2Mb currently. There are a couple of options with copper—we could try do an entire network upgrade and replace all of the current VDSL equipment with some newer electronics that could possibly raise the upload speed. This would require hundred of thousands, even millions, of dollars. There are other creative engineering solutions like bonding several pairs of copper together, where available in a neighborhood, to deliver ethernet over copper, but that has a limited range anyway, and also requires new electronics on each end which would cost each customer several thousand dollars.

Ben Hayes, our commercial accounts manager, has been assigned to work individually with copper customers who are looking for higher upload speeds, and would work with the engineers to find these unique customized solutions. This would be a premium service though. 2Mb upload is still our regular limit for VDSL-  that is what we are comfortable advertising.

One other option copper customers will have is to use the new Wi-Fi network we are building out to blanket Eagle Mountain for upload purposes. All broadband customers will have free access  to this network for at least one device, with the option of adding as many devices as you like. Your upload speeds on this wireless network will only be limited by your device’s radio capabilities, and the available bandwidth on the tower, since it, like all wireless service, will be shared bandwidth. However, it will not be a secure network—it’s wireless, so if you are worried about uploading sensitive private data, this option may not appeal to you anyway.

The only real solution, and the current operating plan, is simply to replace all copper lines with fiber to the home, because we would rather put our investment into fiber construction than replacing our VDSL equipment. Only fiber will be able to get us all to fully symmetrical speeds over the long run, and by full symmetrical we mean speeds like 100 down and 100 up. We will convert the entire city to fiber as quickly as we can. Our crews are working around the clock to replace the copper with fiber optic cable to each home.

Amp Up your upload speed to full symmetry with your download speed

To make your speeds symmetrical today, call our office at 801 789 2800.

Directcom to Help Sponsor INTERACTIVE GAME EXPERIENCE – Coming to Rockwell High School

INTERACTIVE GAME EXPERIENCE EXHIBIT COMING TO Rockwell High School In Eagle Mountain City

Written by Linda Peterson. 801-358-1175, Lpeterson@emcity.org

Want to Play the Latest Electronic Games? Free For All Players

     Want a chance to play the latest electronic games and play for FREE?  The high energy Interactive Game Experience Exhibit, (IGX) is coming to Eagle Mountain City, from September 21st 3:30PM until 9:00 PM and September 22nd from 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM.  The event features 2 great days of electronic gaming entertainment!  The exhibit is free to all ticketed visitors.

This super-charged exhibit is an exciting “staycation” for families looking for activities close to home.  The exhibit features 17 game ports with high definition flat screen technology and two 42” monitor ports.  Game platforms include Nintendo® Wii™, PlayStation®2, PlayStation®3, and Xbox 360™.  Gamers can sign up each day for tournaments and winners will receive a variety of prizes.

Teens can test their skills on the latest version of today’s popular games like:

  • Call of Duty
  • Gran Turismo 5 
  • Wii Party
  • Wii Mario Kart
  • Time Crisis Raising Storm
  • Play Station3 Move – with a variety of games
  • XBOX360 KINECT- with a variety of games
    • Kinect Sport – soccer, bowling, ping pong, volley ball, and boxing
    • Joy Ride – exciting racing for all ages.
    • DanceCentral – dance your feet away, top score determines champion in the high pace dance game.
    • Fighters Un-caged – intense teen fighting game
    • Game Party in Motion – pool, shooting, skeet ball, corn hole, and other exciting games.For gamers who want to indulge in sports themed games, the choices will feature favorites such as:
  • Madden NFL 2012
  • NHL 2K12
  • NBA 2K12
  • Connect Sports
  • Connect Adventures
  • Connect Joyride

     Parents and younger children can try their skills on games from the popular Disney, Mario and Lego series including such games as Batman, Indiana Jones and Star Wars.

     Electronic gaming is one of the fastest growing industries nationwide and increasingly appeals to families as a recreational option.  In recent studies by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA); it is reported that parents are playing games more often than ever—and not just with their kids, but as a way to unwind and spend time together. The results show that forty-nine percent of parents surveyed said they play games “to spend time together doing something [we] both enjoy.”  Thirty-five percent of parents say they play computer and video games.  Further, eighty percent of gamer parents say they play video games with their kids and sixty-six percent feel that playing games has brought their families closer together.

 

     The latest electronic gaming products in the IGX Exhibit provide players with a more interactive experience. Sony’s new Guitar Hero 5 turns gamers into rock stars and Nintendo’s Wii Sports featuring bowling, tennis and boxing gives participants an opportunity to test their skills against other gamers. Up to seventeen of the latest games rated “E” (Everyone), “T” (Teen), “T10” (Teen) and “C” (Children) provide a variety of challenges for (fair or event) visitors of all ages.

For information go to http://www.eaglemountaincity.com

IGX, Interactive Game Experience is a leader in producing live events for the video game industry.  The company provides electronic gaming attractions for a variety of different host venues including fairs, festivals, theme parks, consumer shows, colleges, corporate events and sporting events such as the NCAA Final 4 and the Indy 500.  For more information on Interactive Game Experience – IGX go to www.igxnet.com.

The Salt Lake Tribune: Eagle Mountain poised to get citywide Wi-Fi network

Directcom in the News: The Salt Lake Tribune: Eagle Mountain poised to get citywide Wi-Fi network.

Click on link to read the full story:

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/money/54498849-79/network-direct-eagle-mountain.html.csp

 

For more info on this product, also see https://blog.directcom.com/2012/06/19/direct-communications-to-blanket-eagle-mountain-with-wi-fi-coverage/

Direct Communications to Blanket Eagle Mountain with Wi-Fi Coverage

Wednesday, June 06, 2012, Eagle Mountain, Utah.

Direct Communications began rolling out Wi-Fi coverage at select sites in Eagle Mountain this month, in conjunction with Pony Express Days celebrations in the city. The company deployed three towers before Pony Express Days, so that residents could enjoy internet coverage at the Rodeo grounds, Amphitheater, and carnival at Nolan Park. This is part of a larger effort to eventually blanket the entire city with Wi-Fi coverage.

Directcom will deploy about 40 Wi-Fi access points at strategic sites in Eagle Mountain so that residents in Eagle Mountain will be able to connect to the internet no matter where they are.  These sites will be directly connected to our fiber optic network. Directcom will deploy about 20 sites in 2012, and the remaining 20 in 2013.

Eagle Mountain

The plan to cover the City with Wi-Fi first emerged at the urging of Eagle Mountain City officials, who felt this would put Eagle Mountain in a strong position for economic development.  Not only would Eagle Mountain have the premiere fiber-optic network in the state, but also the first city-wide Wi-Fi coverage in Utah.

This Wi-Fi coverage is not intended to be a replacement for current home fiber-optic service in Eagle Mountain. Directcom’s existing residential fiber optic service currently offers a direct link to each home with a dedicated fiber line allowing up to 50 Mbps to each home. Like all wireless coverage, this new Wi-Fi service will be shared by multiple users at each access point, and will only be offered as a value-added service for residents who already subscribe to home internet service.

Kip Wilson, General Manager for Direct Communications Cedar Valley, explains: “This wifi coverage will add a mobile element to our existing fiber optic service. We already had the fiber network in place—this just adds more convenience for our customers, in a slightly different format. We know that most of our customers are highly connected, and already use multiple internet-enabled devices like smartphones and tablets, and this service will replicate 4G-like coverage, so that our customers can rather use our Wi-Fi, and won’t have to worry about going over their cell data plan usage caps. In fact, we hope people will always choose to use our Wi-Fi coverage rather than the cell providers. Wherever you are in Eagle Mountain, whether you are sitting in church, or out running, or at the park with your kids, you will be able to enjoy a strong Wi-Fi connection.”

When pressed on whether people would actually use this mobile service, Wilson explained further: “Anyone who has been to Eagle Mountain can see that people here enjoy being outside. There is a constant stream of moms at the park, moms out with jogging strollers, large packs of tweens roaming the streets with smart phones; there are bikers, hikers and golfers. We want people using our broadband service even when they are outside of their homes. When you are running, you will now be able to stream your favorite music over Grooveshark or Spotify, and doing it all without ever leaving our network.”

City-wide Wi-Fi coverage has been deployed in other high-profile cities in the USA, starting with a municipally-funded effort in Philadelphia in 2004, and later in Mountain View, California, where a municipal wireless network was entirely funded by Google. Many of these have since failed or stalled as partnerships between private and public institutions fell apart, often due to troubles funding the build or maintenance of the system, because residents expected free service, but didn’t want to use public dollars to pay for the installation.

This build by Directcom will make Eagle Mountain first among cities in Utah to boast universal Wi-Fi coverage over the entire city. Why will Eagle Mountain’s city-wide Wi-Fi network succeed where others have failed?  Kip Wilson stated: “We are deploying this in part to help put Eagle Mountain on the map. This is exciting infrastructure for the City administrators to be able to talk about in terms of economic development. But, this will not be some low-grade, open network for everyone who hopes to be able to get free service to hop onto. We are investing a lot of capital and engineering money into this. It will be privately-owned, but built for the public good. Obviously we also want to strengthen our market position. You will have to be a Directcom customer to authenticate on the network. We will fund this privately. We will build and manage the network without relying on municipal funds or bonds.”

FAQ:

How many towers are currently operational?

Three, (Rodeo grounds, Amphitheater, and Nolan Park) with three more currently under construction.

What speed will each tower be connected at?
Each Wi-Fi tower will connect directly  to our fiber network via an Optical Network Terminal, and the Ethernet connectivity for those can be set anywhere from 10 Mbps to 1000Mbps. At this stage we are planning to provide most towers with about a 50 Mb capacity.

How much speed will each end user be able to get?
Theoretically, up to 50Mb, but that all depends on how many devices were connected to that wireless access point at any time, their own wireless device technology, and other factors. We will look to beat or replicate a 4G experience for each mobile device.

 

How much area do the towers currently cover?

Each tower will have a radius of about 800ft, depending on line of site.  However, with 40 towers planned to be operation by the end of next year, we intend to have ubiquitous coverage of both population centers (the Ranches and City Center) in Eagle Mountain.

 

What percentage of city already has fiber to the home now?

We have already upgraded 40% of the homes to fiber to the home, but we have a 6-year plan to upgrade the entire city to fiber to the home.

 

What is the schedule for Wi-Fi roll out?

20 towers this year, and 20 more next year, with 10 in operation by end of this summer.

Which towers will go live next?

We are targeting sports fields and outdoor activity hubs, so the ball parks and soccer fields will get next priority.

 

When did you start planning this?

The city of Eagle Mountain is a forward thinking municipal entity and as such it began a dialogue with Direct Communications in 2011 about deploying a wireless network.  The city views it as beneficial for economic development and Direct views it as a value added benefit for its landline broadband subscribers so they can avoid costly overages of the caps imposed by the many wireless/cell providers.  We made the decision in 2012 to start deployment of a wireless broadband service then.

 

Will you charge customers extra? What’s the pricing model going to be?

We will offer this as a value-added service, so will probably include mobile Wi-Fi service free with a subscription to our premium home broadband packages.

What We Did in 2011

2011- Although this year was one of increased uncertainty for the rural telecommunications industry, with the FCC and federal administration threatening to cut major funding sources for rural areas under the guise of the national broadband plan, Direct Communications as a company made some important strides forward to strengthen our company, get to know our customers better, improve our products and offerings, focus on our core business, improve our competitive position in the markets we serve, and acquire new customers and revenue sources.

Overall, 2011 was a very good year. Our employees and customers should feel satisfied that we made a real difference to our communities, and improved the quality of life in both Idaho and Utah during 2011. That is what makes even us in marketing sleep well at night. We spent the year expanding our fiber network to the vital institutions that serve your rural areas, like schools, hospitals, city, county and government buildings, doctors offices, libraries, small and large businesses, and of course, homes.

We were excited to upgrade to a new Metaswitch IP switch in our Idaho exchanges at the beginning of 2011. Direct Communications was the first telephone company in Idaho to implement a digital switch several years ago, and this new central switch replacement was another pioneering step for rural telecommunications in Idaho. The old digital switch was about the size of an average living room. The new switch is about the size of a small refrigerator. A major difference between the new one and the old switch, besides the size, is that this new switch was developed to take advantage of all the newest computer and internet advancements, especially in its ability to use IP protocol, to talk to modern electronic devices, like IP phones, computers, routers etc., and work on a fiber-optic network.

In Eagle Mountain, the year began with some great publicity as Direct Communications was awarded the 2010 Best Business of the Year by the Lehi Area Chamber of Commerce. https://blog.directcom.com/2011/01/19/direct-communications-awarded-2010-best-business-of-the-year/

After months of work, Direct Communications was able to open the doors to their new building on Campus Drive in Eagle Mountain in February, 2011.  Our grand opening was held in June, along with the ribbon cutting of the Eagle Mountain City business incubator program. The building has 8 “pods”, or office spaces, approximately 2500 square feet each.  Direct Communications houses four of the pods, Beyond Limits Physical Therapy occupies one pod, and the Eagle Mountain City incubator program has the remaining three pods.  After working in two separate areas for several years, Direct Communications was excited to have all of their employees at the same location. This new building signified an important coming-of-age for DCCV, which began as a start-up in the back of the fire station in 2006, and employees who remember all sharing a single bathroom and welcoming potential customers into the reception desk/storage area/stairwell, now had their own offices with hardwood trim—an unimaginable prospect 5 years ago. For more about the building see https://blog.directcom.com/2011/10/06/opening-ceremony-ribbon-cutting-for-new-direct-communications-building-in-eagle-mountain/

We began the year with a couple of new marketing initiatives to launch our new brand position and tagline of “faster streaming broadband” and started by giving away a year-long subscription to Netflix streaming to all new customers in January.  In February we gave away a Roku streaming media player to all new customers. In June, to coincide with Pony Express Days, we gave away a Wii to new customers, which enjoyed about the same success as the Xbox promotion the previous year. All of these device promotions were designed to migrate customers towards using streaming video as their primary entertainment source, because that not only increases the value of our service from a commodity to a premium product, but also, once they become dependent on their internet for video entertainment purposes, they are less likely to leave us for a wireless competitor. We conducted a couple of customer survey during the year, and found that 66% of our customers said they now use online streaming of video as their primary entertainment source.

Also during June, we announced new broadband speeds for all customers, with our basic speed starting at 8Mb, and our fastest speed on offer at 50Mb. This was designed around our main wireless competitors offerings, which had 7Mb as their top speed. Of course, by the end of the year they had also reacted and changed their packages to advertise 10Mb and 15Mb speeds.

After Pony Express Days we cut back on advertising until December, when we rolled out a Kindle Fire as a Christmas promotion, which emphasized making the internet fun—since the new Kindle could stream video, download apps, and play games. The Kindle promotion ended up being our most successful marketing campaign of 2011.

However, 2011 was an interesting year for marketing with the maturing of social media, which for the first time played an important part of our integrated marketing, and opened up a new target media market for us, since we could now target internet customers living only in Eagle Mountain and we began spending a significant portion of our advertising budget on facebook ads.

We began the year by splitting our facebook page into two separate pages for Idaho and Utah, to make it more relevant to each market. Acquiring fans was a slow process at the beginning, until we learned the only sure way to entice more customers to our page was with online promotions for facebook fans.  By the end of the year we had over 500 customers on our Eagle Mountain facebook page. See  https://blog.directcom.com/2011/06/14/first-winner-of-directcom-monthly-facebook-fan-contest/

Navigating social media has been a learning experience for us, and we have had to learn to take the good with the bad, as dissatisfied customers also like to use our page as a soapbox, but overall it has been a positive experience for both the company and our customers, and we actually implemented a lot of good suggestions made by customers on our page through our interactions this year.

We presented on the subject of social media at the annual Utah Rural Telephone Association meeting in St George.

Direct Communications Cedar Valley’s own Brenda Caldwell was named Utah Valley’s Raddest Receptionist by Utah Valley BusinessQ Magazine, and Brenda was featured in the Fall 2011 issue. https://blog.directcom.com/2011/09/29/directcoms-brenda-caldwell-named-utah-valleys-raddest-receptionist/

Probably the most significant change during 2011 was the sale of our wireless internet business to Digis, after being one of the first companies in southeast Idaho to offer wireless internet over 10 years ago. We made this decision primarily so that we could 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. The money from the sale would be reinvested into developing the products where we have a real competitive advantage. Read more about this move at: https://blog.directcom.com/2011/10/13/sale-of-wireless-internet-assets-to-digis/

Immediately after the sale of our wireless business, we launched the ESPN3 broadband channel for our high-speed customers in Idaho. 2011 turned out to be a great year to offer ESPN3, because BYU football, which many of our customers follow, went independent largely on an ESPN broadcasting contract, and so most of their games were streamed online on ESPN3 this year.

We were also kept very busy working with the three major national mobile phone providers to construct and deliver fiber optic service to most of the cell phone towers in the area, so that they could offer more data to their customers, and we also now wholesale broadband service 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. As our tagline claims, we are the future of broadband technology in the rural areas we serve.

Directcom’s Brenda Caldwell named Utah Valley’s Raddest Receptionist

Utah Valley BusinessQ Magazine. Fall 2011 - pg 34 -http://www.utahvalleybusinessq.com/fall2011/34.html

Congratulations to Direct Communications Cedar Valley’s own Brenda Caldwell on being named Utah Valley’s Raddest Receptionist by Utah Valley BusinessQ Magazine.

Brenda has been with the company for 4 years, and probably has never had a bad day at the office in all that time–at least from a customer perspective. If you have had any dealings with Brenda as a customer of Direct Communications, you know she is a deserving recipient of this award.

Diane Bradshaw, office manager of Direct Communications in Eagle Mountain stated in the article:

“Brenda is always, always, always pleasant to each and every customer that calls or comes into our office. She has a smile in her voice when she answers the phone and treats each customer with respect and kindness, no matter what the situation.”

To view the article online, visit http://www.utahvalleybusinessq.com/fall2011/34.html

The following is an except from the article:

Q: How do you greet callers?

A: “Direct Communications, this is Brenda.”

Q: What qualities make a receptionist successful?

A: You need to be patient, kind, reliable, personable and able to multitask.

Q: What do you wish people knew about receptionists?

A: I wish they knew being a receptionist is one of the best jobs. Interacting with customers and other companies and coworkers is so much fun.

Q: What’s on your desk?

A: My phone, a tape dispenser, stapler, post-it notes and stacking trays with my paperwork in them.

Q: What does it mean to you to be “the face” of the company?

A: Being “the face” of the company means I have the most interaction with the customers. They see and talk to me more than anyone in the company, so it is very important to be professional but friendly.

Q: What music plays when you put someone on hold?

A: Soft music and ads about our company.

Q: What’s your strategy in dealing with upset callers?

A: Being a good listener, having empathy and not taking things personally.

Q: Most memorable client interaction?

A: A customer came in every month to pay her bill. We would talk, and she invited me to go to California with her and her family since I had never been.

Q: Funniest client interaction?

A: When I was working a part-time job at the local gas station as well as here at Direct Communications, one of our customers came in and asked me if I had a sister who worked at the gas station. I told her I worked at both places, and she asked if I was sure because I looked a lot younger than the girl who works at the gas station.

Q: Favorite fictional portrayal of a receptionist?

A: Ryan Reynolds as Sandra Bullock’s assistant in “The Proposal.”

http://www.utahvalleybusinessq.com

Utah Valley Magazine is a trademark of Bennett Communications, Inc. 

“Bennett Communications, the parent company of Utah Valley Magazine, is now in its 11th year of publishing. The company publishes four original titles and partners with local organizations on a variety of other projects.

In Utah, Bennett Communications publishes three original titles: Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley Business Quarterly, Utah Valley Bride and MainStreet Magazine. Utah Valley Magazine is published six times a year, UVBQ comes out quarterly and Utah Valley Bride is an annual publication that starts distribution in November” – http://utahvalleybusinessq.com/about/

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.

A Look Back At Pony Express Days Over The Years

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Pinned to my cubicle wall I still have an old screen-printed T-shirt with a red arrow and the tag line “The Right Direction.” This is a memento from a Pony Express Days long before my time—when the Ranches was only a mini-golf course, before fiber heard of in Eagle Mountain, and before the FCC approved the sale of Eagle Mountain Telecom to Direct Communications. Still, we showed up at Pony Express Days faithfully to try win goodwill with the residents by doing things like handing out free Idaho potatoes with the tag line “Free Taters for Out of Staters.” (We still have a few of those custom printed bags up in the attic too.” Each year since then, we have sponsored Pony Express Days, because it’s a great time to feel and be part of the community, and this is the premiere celebration for Eagle Mountain City. Pony Express Days is my biggest week on our annual marketing calendar. We serve a lot of small communities, and go to many county fairs, city celebrations and parades, but there is nothing else like it. The sound of thousands of kids lining the street screaming out for Frisbees, and high-school marching bands; the smell of sunscreen in the desert heat, the excited teenage beauty queens waving from their floats, the annual traffic-jam in Eagle Mountain—who would ever want to miss it?

My first Pony Express Days was 2006. Direct Communications Cedar Valley was a start-up company—operating out of the fire station attic in the city center, and the marketing budget was very small. However, we ordered some cool stuff—350 beachballs and 350 Frisbees. Blowing up all those beachballs to throw out of the back of the truck must have left somebody breathless—I can’t remember who was the lucky person who was assigned that job. In those days we also gave out color t-shirts rather than white ones, and there weren’t a lot of other businesses occupying booths at the park. Still, we didn’t get a whole lot of visitors to our booth—a few curious onlookers and kids wanting balloons.

2007 was memorable because of our foray into the mobile phone world. We tried to use Pony Express Days as a launchpad for our great new cell phone product, Direct Mobile, which was actually just a version of Verizon Wireless, but without any of the latest and greatest handsets. It was doomed to failure from the outset. We didn’t sell a single cell phone at the booth, and that product didn’t make it to the next Pony Express Days. That year was also unique because we gave out sunglasses with neon frames—perhaps you still have a pair lying around in a kids toy chest in your basement.

2008 was exciting because we really were able to start talking about fiber to the home, and our marketing campaign centered around “A new Dawn in the evolution of broadband technology.” For this our ads featured a spoof of “2001 Space Odyssey” with an ape discovering fiber amongst the carcasses of wireless antennas and other outdated  communications stuff like old phones. We shot a video ad at my home in Idaho, which my kids still talk about, because they were terrified of the “monkey costume.” They were excited when I first put on the body suit, but then when I put the head mask in place, one of them actually fell on the floor, covered her eyes and was rolling around screaming until I took it off again to show her it was still me. She wouldn’t come outside for several days in case the “monkey costume” was still out there. That ad screened before the Movie in the Park at the Silverlake Amphitheater, and to go along with that, we handed out battery-powered fiber-optic wands to all the kids in the audience so that they could see how fiber-optics worked. That was an awesome sight, and what a great setting, with hundreds of fiber wands being waved about in the dusk, at the outdoor theater, with our ad playing on the big screen, and Utah Lake in the background. I’m sure nobody remembers that like the marketing director though. The next day we introduced a much friendlier-looking gorilla suit as part of our parade ensemble, and we have kept that going ever since just for fun. We did have one person call in afterwards and complain that the gorilla scared her kid, but most people loved it. So if you wonder why there is a gorilla at Pony Express Days again this year and what it has to do with the internet—it goes back to 2008 and our “fiber odyssey.”

2009 was the beginning of really busy times at Pony Express Days, and hard work at the booth. That year we launched the free ephone bundle, and starting speeds of 3Mb for $29.95, which was a really great deal. Each year the back of the truck was filling up more with little girls as we employees grew our families, and that year there was standing room only. The kids just love to throw out candy to the other kids though and see them scrambling for Frisbees. We gave out silicone wristbands for the first time that year too, and as a promotion, gave away a free ipod with a broadband subscription. I think we closed about 30 sales that day, and we thought we had hit the big time.

2010 Pony Express Days

By 2010, people had really begun to catch onto the idea that they could have our better broadband service without the additional expense of a regular landline, and also online video and gaming was beginning to grow, so we tried to ride that wave with our Xbox promotion. If we could get people to watch more online video, we felt we would have a permanent customer. We want our customers to use our broadband as the primary source of entertainment in their homes. Xbox was a perfect promotional item for that marketing strategy. Our unique competitive advantage is that as the only wire-line broadband provider in the area, we are able to provide the higher speeds and unlimited bandwidth needed for high definition video streaming. Our wireless competitors fear streaming—we needed to encourage it. So, we paired our “Amp Up your Broadband” campaign with a free Xbox, and had our best Pony Express Days ever. We gave away over 160 Xboxs to new customers.

So, what will we be doing in 2011? A lot has changed since 2005. Most people in Eagle Mountain know who we are now, our fiber-optic network is purring, and each year we get fewer rude comments and obscenities yelled at us during the parade, and more smiles. The parade is bigger and lasts longer. The booths are now always full and are incredibly expensive. Our schedule of events we are involved in during the week leading up to the final Saturday has grown each year—we work all day and hold focus groups each night. We will be doing many of the same things, throwing out t-shirts and Frisbees, talking to as many people as we can, but we will also have a couple of new, big things to announce.

Stay tuned—we are certainly planning for another fun year, and have some very good news for everybody.