With everyone working from home because of the COVID 19 virus, Surfnet’s Internet backhaul is being severely tested. Our peak usage has grown rapidly and has nearly exceeded our total capacity. Peak usage no longer peaks at night but continues most of the day. The Surfnet team has been heroic, both by maintaining the network in foul weather earlier this year and by adding new customers and bandwidth when required during this crisis. We recognize that we are an essential community service and have continued to operate 24/7 in a dispersed, responsible manner. (Earlier this year it was windstorms and PG&E failures that tested our network. And we did OK on that also.)
In the case of capacity, Surfnet fortunately works on plans to improve our local broadband infrastructure almost continuously. And we’ve decided to accelerate one of those plans to meet the current emergency. Instead of waiting (still) for the fiber that was promised by the CASF Regional Fiber Project back in 2011, we decided to close the final gap with an additional, expensive, but state-of-the-art, 11Ghz wireless link. Over the last few weeks, we licensed, ordered, and installed this pair of 4-foot dishes between our new data center and commercial tower. With this addition link, we will have nearly doubled our Santa Cruz Mtn broadband capacity. …. Of course, you ‘all will figure out how to use that 2X up in just a few months. But Surfnet has a plan for that as well.
Surfnet takes pride in having persisted with Crown Castle to provide that long-ago-promised fiber to Sunnyvale for the CASF Regional Fiber Project. It is nearly complete. When it is finished, Surfnet will have a fiber backbone running down Hwy 17, through the center of the mountains, from which we’ll be able to provide laterals with sufficient capacity to offer mountain residents 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps services. And it’s almost done.
Surfnet has been providing the Santa Cruz Mountains with broadband since 2004. We specialized in serving areas that major carriers considered too costly. Each year we’ve increased our speed, capacity, and reliability, but we’ve kept prices about the same.
Well, there are big changes ahead in the fiber and 5G wireless worlds. And Surfnet plans to remain the local carrier of choice and use the latest technology to provide fiber and fiber-like services at reasonable prices for all mountain residents.