What a busy year! At the beginning of this year we started with 87 customers, one office, and one employee. We currently have 209 customers, two offices, and three employees (2 part time). Our data usage has grown rapidly also, with our users consuming over 50 terabytes of data every month. We’ve had some real successes this past year, keeping pace with the huge growth, and a few minor setbacks, but overall I’m proud of what our team has accomplished.
Smoky Waters Acquisition
As most of you know, on April 1st the network, equipment, office space, and customer list was acquired from Smoky Waters when they closed their doors. We are very grateful for Pat Conrad and his dedication to keeping their system going as long as he did. We are also grateful for the customers that chose to switch to us in this transition. (I know some of you didn’t really have much of a choice.)
Unfortunately, the timber resource group, that provided space for two of the main towers that Smoky Waters used for their network did not want to extend their property lease to us after they visited the sites in May, so on July 31st we dismantled those transmitters.
As a result of the loss of those transmitters, 50 customers lost internet, some for a couple days and a few for several weeks, as we worked hard to rebuild the network. We added repeaters in Monroe Acres, Foster Road, East Valley, including several in Middle Valley to be able to provide service for those that lost connection. We invested over $10,000 in hardware and labor in order to continue service to over 92% of the customers we lost as a result of the terminated leases. Our biggest investment was on Peterson road for customers at the end of Middle Valley, including a new transmitter pole, electrical service and radio equipment just to reach a bed and breakfast and residences in that area. It took us way longer than we anticipated to work out the kinks, but we are proud of the effort to continue service to each of the Smoky Waters customer base.
Our overall network reliability has exceeded our goal of 99.9% this year. We have had an average less than 4 (customer) hours of downtime this year overall*. Some of that time was planned outages for upgrades or maintenance on equipment and we had a few outages from our provider that were beyond our control. There were several power outages that took down repeater sites, but our overall network withstood every power outage remarkably well thanks to our battery backup systems.
* Not counting customers that lost internet for an extended time due to the loss of the Smoky Waters tower leases.
Looking to 2022
Our current network uses 2 ghz and 5 ghz radios to transmit the internet to our customers. We have reached a maximum capacity on our Vista Ridge tower, even after upgrading our backhaul link. We will be increasing the number of transmitters on that site as soon as the weather cooperates. We will also be upgrading our fiber network to Skamokawa from 500 Mbps to 1 Gbps.
We are also looking forward to partnering with Wahkiakum West Telephone to begin a fiber to the home service that includes telephone, television and internet at speeds up to 10 Gbps. Stay tuned for additional information on this exciting project that will finally bring internet speeds that meet and surpass the fastest speeds in the nation!
A year end newsletter wouldn’t be complete without a few words of thanks! In no particular order I would like to thank the team of volunteers that helped break down the Smoky Waters tower sites, my two office managers, Brian and Julia, my two assistant installers, Darren and Patrick, David for driving me up to Vista Ridge this week, my brew crew advisors, the PUD for assisting in getting power and poles up quickly to replace those towers, my wife for her patience when I’ve had to help customers in the evenings or while we were camping, and most of all my customers, for trusting me with their internet link, for loyally paying their bills, for the kind words when we hook you up, keep you running, and repair your service, and for your patience as we work through the growing pains of a small company. We really do appreciate you!