Archive for month: July, 2018

You Are Only As Great As The Team You Are Surrounded By

You Are Only As Great As The Team You Are Surrounded By

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In our quiz above we gave two ideas about how to motivate workers and inspire successful teams. But there are of course other ideas. I recently had the opportunity to talk to Skyler Ditchfield the CEO Geolinks. He shared with me some additional ideas about the top ways successful CEOs lead large teams.

But there are of course other ideas. I recently had the opportunity to talk to Skyler Ditchfield the CEO Geolinks. He shared with me some additional ideas about the top ways successful CEOs lead large teams.

Lead by example

1. Know that first, and foremost, you must lead by example. If you haven’t done what you’re asking them to do, it’s highly unlikely for them to do it unless they are following in your footsteps.

1. Know that first, and foremost, you must lead by example. If you haven’t done what you’re asking them to do, it’s highly unlikely for them to do it unless they are following in your footsteps.

Money doesn’t necessarily inspire everyone

2. Money doesn’t necessarily inspire everyone. People are often more motivated by recognition, and fear of letting down their peers. I find it incredibly beneficial to overall morale to issue constant public recognition and praise for both individual and team wins. I do this via company-wide emails, verbal shout outs in the office, and 1 on 1 meetings.

2. Money doesn’t necessarily inspire everyone. People are often more motivated by recognition, and fear of letting down their peers. I find it incredibly beneficial to overall morale to issue constant public recognition and praise for both individual and team wins. I do this via company-wide emails, verbal shout outs in the office, and 1 on 1 meetings.

Be ok with accepting failures

3. Innovation is fostered by embedding the culture of being ok with accepting failures.

3. Innovation is fostered by embedding the culture of being ok with accepting failures.

Respond to different personality types

4.Adapt Management style to respond to different personality types.Know that you will have to adapt your management style to different personality types — not everyone communicates or receives in the same way.

4.Adapt Management style to respond to different personality types.Know that you will have to adapt your management style to different personality types — not everyone communicates or receives in the same way.

Clearly define both individual and team goals

5. You must clearly define both individual and team goals — in order to lead your team in the right direction, it’s important for everyone to understand where you’re headed. Team goals also help peers motivate peers. I see this happen within my sales team daily. And, at the end of the day, make sure your team knows that if they’re struggling to reach said goals, that you’re always available to help out and brainstorm possible resolutions. For example, if I have a sales rep who is up against a tough deal, they know they can come to me to brainstorm innovative ways to push it across the finish line.

5. You must clearly define both individual and team goals — in order to lead your team in the right direction, it’s important for everyone to understand where you’re headed. Team goals also help peers motivate peers. I see this happen within my sales team daily. And, at the end of the day, make sure your team knows that if they’re struggling to reach said goals, that you’re always available to help out and brainstorm possible resolutions. For example, if I have a sales rep who is up against a tough deal, they know they can come to me to brainstorm innovative ways to push it across the finish line.

“You Are Only As Great As The Team You Are Surrounded By” With Skyler Ditchfield CEO GeoLinks

By: Breana Patel

I had the pleasure of interviewing Skyler Ditchfield, Co-Founder and CEO of GeoLinks, the Fastest Growing WISP in America. His dedication and work ethic have earned him various accolades in including “Top Innovator in Diversity and Inclusion”, “World’s Top 5 Best Businessmen of 2017”, and 2018 “Entrepreneur of the Year”.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

One of my favorite stories to look back on was when I was about 7 or 8 and my elementary school decided to ban candy. While other kids at school complained, I looked at this as an opportunity and bought candy off premise to sell them to my classmates at 1000% markup. The school did eventually caught me, and I had to stop.

Fast forward, and I took my first real corporate job as a Network Engineer II at the Private Network Management Center in Silicon Valley servicing high-level clients . When the company relocated to the East Coast, I declined the transfer offer and returned to my home town of Ojai, California where I proceeded to build a network business from scratch with $550 in startup capital. I grew the company to nearly 3M within 4 years (in a town of only 8000 people) and then sold my shares. Following this venture, however, things plummeted.

Over the next few years, I experienced multiple business failures that left me facing massive debt and ruined credit and my health also took a toll on me placing me for long stays in hospital. Then came what I call my restart button. I found out I was going to be a dad.

With replenished motivation, I found a whole new lease on life. I regained my health, and aggressively got back in the I.T. space allowing me to climb out of debt.

Fast forward a few successful startups later, and I founded California Internet, now GeoLinks, with my cousin Ryan Hauf. We are now the fastest growing fixed wireless provider in the country, and the fifth fastest growing overall telecom.

How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?

Our company has a strict policy to leave all egos at the door and always adhere to a “Best Idea Wins” mantra. This encourages team work and levels the playing field so that pride doesn’t get in the way of moving the business forward. When all else fails, however, it is the job of management to remind everyone of the common goal and allocate tasks accordingly to role and skill set.

Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on retaining talent today?

In today’s modern workplace, creating and maintaining a positive company culture is paramount in attracting and retaining top talent, thus it’s imperative to never forget as a leader that you’re only as great as the team you’re surrounded by.

Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”?

1. Know that first, and foremost, you must lead by example. If you haven’t done what you’re asking them to do, it’s highly unlikely for them to do it unless they are following in your footsteps.

2. Money doesn’t necessarily inspire everyone. People are often more motivated by recognition, and fear of letting down their peers. I find it incredibly beneficial to overall morale to issue constant public recognition and praise for both individual and team wins. I do this via company-wide emails, verbal shout outs in the office, and 1 on 1 meetings.

3. Innovation is fostered by embedding the culture of being ok with accepting failures.

4.Adapt Management style to respond to different personality types.Know that you will have to adapt your management style to different personality types — not everyone communicates or receives in the same way.

5. You must clearly define both individual and team goals — in order to lead your team in the right direction, it’s important for everyone to understand where you’re headed. Team goals also help peers motivate peers. I see this happen within my sales team daily. And, at the end of the day, make sure your team knows that if they’re struggling to reach said goals, that you’re always available to help out and brainstorm possible resolutions. For example, if I have a sales rep who is up against a tough deal, they know they can come to me to brainstorm innovative ways to push it across the finish line.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

You need to get them to buy into your vision. Reward your team with recognition and make sure you curate genuine relationships so they care about who they are working with and for. Also, if you have bad employees, get them out, fast. Don’t tolerate people that are not absolutely excited to be there.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

The first story that comes to mind happened a few years ago when one of the telecom tower owners we were working with was having major permitting issues with a state agency. In an effort to ward of compliance regulators, the owner released cougars to literally stalk and surround his tower. Maybe not the story you were looking for, but I found this quite comical.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I founded GeoLinks with the mission to close the U.S. Digital Divide. I am determined to bring connectivity to every unconnected Anchor Institution in America over the next 7 years. To accomplish this goal, I am aggressively looking to change the landscape of Internet across America by influencing the reform of broadband funding and spectrum policy on both a state and federal level. GeoLinks has successfully connected more schools than any other ISP in both 2016 and 2017, and we became an instrumental lobbyist in the passing of AB1665, the Internet For All Act, that brought $330m in new funding to the state of California.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.

From POTS to VoIP – A Look at Today’s Top Phone Systems for Business

From POTS to VoIP – A Look at Today’s Top Phone Systems for Business

Although the development of the modern-day analog telephone, commonly referred to as a plain old telephone system (POTS), can be accredited to numerous individuals throughout history, it was Alexander Graham Bell who was first to actually patent the technology as an “apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically” back in 1876. Fast forward, and today many residential customers and small businesses still use this archaic technology. The good news is, however, that while a portion of society has yet to venture away from this 142-year-old system, the world has in fact progressed, and far superior options are available to the marketplace.

For instance, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP). 

In a nutshell, voice over internet protocol (VoIP), converts voice into digital signals allowing businesses to make voice calls over a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line. Aside from being much more cost-effective, one of the main reasons businesses opt for the technology over POTS is that VoIP services offer enterprise-grade features such as call queues, auto-attendant, call forwarding, music on-hold, and unified communications, to name a few. If a business decides to implement VoIP, there are a variety of ways they can physically deploy the service. For example, one way some businesses are making the switch without having to change all of their hardware and incurring additional cost is by deploying an ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) which allows them to keep their analog phone system and take advantage of the cost savings immediately.

PROS of VoIP:

  • Cost Savings – Certain VoIP providers, such as GeoLinks, can save companies up to 40% when compared to traditional phone lines.
  • Ease of Use – VoIP is easier to install, configure, and maintain.
  • Mobility – With VoIP’s ability to support UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service), a user is able to take and make calls from a standard office phone, a computer, and a mobile softphone.
  • Enterprise-grade Features – as mentioned above.

VoIP CONS:

  • Bandwidth Dependency – Since VoIP functions over the Internet, it’s critical to have available and reliable bandwidth to complete calls. Thus if you’re on a poor internet connection, you may struggle with both inbound and outbound calls. Quick fix? Upgrade your bandwidth, sign up for a dedicated internet circuit so you never have to share your bandwidth, or bundle in an SD-WAN solution to issue voice traffic priority.
  • Voice Quality – Once again, because VoIP depends on the Internet, if you experience latency your call quality may suffer. Thus, ensure you have a high-quality internet circuit with dedicated Voice QoS (Quality of Service) before making the switch.

If a business is looking to make the switch from a POTS to VoIP, and they want to deploy a more comprehensive solution than a simple ATA box, there are two primary systems to consider – an On-premise PBX or Hosted PBX system. 

 

On-premise PBX

On-premise PBX

An On-premise PBX, also known as an IP-PBX phone system, is similar to a traditional PBX (private branch exchange) system in that it resides physically onsite at a business. The primary difference is that the signaling is completed with an IP phone to the IP-PBX server using a LAN. Calls can go through both a traditional phone company and VoIP by using SIP trunking. 1

PROS:

  • On-premise PBX offers customers more control, customization, and flexibility over their phone system.
  • Supports ability to integrate company software programs i.e. CRM systems.
  • No risk of fee increases post-install.
  • Ability to SIP trunk to get lower cost calls.

CONS:

  • Upfront costs are typically very high.
  • Maintenance costs are the responsibility of the customer, and some businesses may not have enough internal IT resources or the budget to make complex, expensive or highly customized changes.
  • Initial deployment time or repair may take longer.
  • Adds, changes and deletes are customer responsibility.
     

Hosted PBX

 hosted pbx

Unlike an On-premise PBX, businesses who deploy Hosted PBX  systems connect through the Internet to a provider that maintains the equipment at an off-site cloud data center.

PROS:

  • Lower initial equipment cost and set-up cost.
  • Upgrades and new features are typically included.
  • Your provider shoulders all the work, risk, and complexity thus creating less dependency for costly in-house IT resources.
  • Software updates happen automatically so your system is always up-to-date.

CONS:

  • Ongoing monthly service costs are potentially higher.
  • Service provider has the control over your system making a business dependent upon the provider for any and all system maintenance and changes.
      

Not sure how to choose the right system for your business? No problem, call GeoLinks today and talk to an in-house expert to learn more and build the perfect system for your business.

 

1 https://www.voip-info.org/hosted-pbx-vs-on-premise-pbx/

 

Five Crucial Steps Needed To Close The U.S. Digital Divide

Five Crucial Steps Needed To Close The U.S. Digital Divide

POST WRITTEN BY Skyler Ditchfield

CEO of GeoLinks, the Fastest Growing WISP in America named 2018 “Most Disruptive Technology” for its ClearFiber™ Network.

Shutterstock

If you were to google “how to close the digital divide,” you would not come up empty-handed. As a quick precursor, for those of you who may be unfamiliar, the digital divide refers to the inequalities in finances, education and social status faced by those without computers and access to the internet versus those who do. Because having equal access to digital technology is at the core of the divide, broadband availability, or the lack thereof, has become a highly publicized and debated topic between politicians and telecommunications companies (telcos) alike. Nevertheless, the divide still remains and arguably will continue to remain unless the following five steps are taken.

Step 1: Redirect Federal Funding Distribution

The federal government has allocated and continues to allocate ample funding toward closing the digital divide. Consequently, over the past 20 years, we’ve been able to raise broadband standards considerably, at least in urban and suburban markets. Unfortunately, however, the majority of these funds are awarded to major telcos and incumbent providers, and without a guaranteed long-term revenue case in rural America, they have minimal incentive to invest in new infrastructure or to improve current infrastructure. While this may make sense for their personal bottom lines, it does not benefit the American public. So, if large telcos can’t or won’t service rural America, who will?

First, if you have an option to buy from a small local provider, do so — you will consequently be supporting your local economy. However, the problem with totally relying on the little guys is that they are, in fact, the little guys, and often don’t have access to or the power to access the spectrum of state-of-the-art equipment or fiber assets that enable other providers to offer competitive, cost-effective and high-bandwidth solutions.

Another option is the middle road between mom-and-pop and the incumbent providers — the mid-sized internet service provider. As it currently stands, mid-sized ISPs do not have the financial resources of big telcos to build out low-cost products with long return on investment, thus making them less competitive for consumers. However, if granted adequate funding to build out infrastructure, these mid-sized telcos have the opportunity to give the mega-ISPs true competition, ultimately keeping the market honest, fair and favored toward the public’s best interest.

Step 2: Open The Airwaves, Fairly 

As it currently stands, today’s major cellular companies hold the vast majority of wireless spectrum allotted by the FCC to resolve the digital divide. These services, while important, do not currently deliver the entire bandwidth necessary to meet the needs of all unconnected Americans. However, the United States still has ample wireless spectrum available. If the FCC and Capitol Hill can appropriate these assets to companies that truly support the public’s best interest, and said companies utilize and deploy intelligently, the utopian idea of one day delivering one-gigabit speeds to every home in America is possible. 

Step 3: Implement A True Accountability Structure

On February 12, 2018, the White House released the Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America. The outline, which acknowledges the horrific state of the nation’s current infrastructure, demonstrates the new administration’s framework, meant to build a better future for all Americans. To its credit, there is a handful of positive action items presented in the outline. From empowering individual state decision-making, to establishing true accountability structures, to expediting and streamlining overall permitting and federal agency processes, at its core, the outline perceivably serves in the general best interest of the American public.

However, it can also be argued that there are inherent and massive flaws in the outline that will ultimately prevent these goals from reaching fruition. For example, past the inadequate division of funding, there is not a clear timeline of when all legislation changes must take effect. Therefore, even though once these changes are enacted there is a 24-month timeline, there isn’t a clear delineation of an official launch date. To paint an extreme example, this outline could have us all sitting here in five or 10 years still spewing on initiatives that could be and could make a better future. Thus, the administration needs to follow up its outline with immediate deadlines in order to formalize proposed accountability structures.

Step 4: Expedite The Use Of Federal Lands

As touched upon above, the idea of expediting processes has been proposed. However, even if we could ensure grant winners would build out as planned, the fact remains that 28% of the U.S. is federally owned, and many of these sites are in areas we need to get through or use for broadcast areas. It’s imperative we support operators’ build times by expediting permitting the use of federal lands sooner than later, and preferably now.

Step 5: Adopt A Technology-Agnostic Hybrid Approach 

While states and communities across the country continue to request fiber optic networks, the reality is that building out fiber infrastructure to every location in America is both cost- and time-prohibitive. Therefore, fiber is not the complete solution if we’re aiming to close the divide in a timely manner. The solution, rather, lies in adapting and building out technology-agnostic hybrid networks. From fiber, to fixed wireless, to 4G and 5G LTE, all of these technologies have their time and place in closing the divide. While there are pros and cons to each method, when used together, they have the ability to create a complete solution that can deliver gigabit and multi-gigabit bandwidth to both urban and ultra-rural communities.

So, If We Know How, Why Is There Still A Divide?

The answer is simple: lack of action. We know the course; now we need to implement. Therefore, to all of those reading this who feel inspired or compelled to truly take part in closing the divide, reach out to your local and state municipalities, and demand action.

Wireless smart farming to keep frost away from citrus

Wireless smart farming to keep frost away from citrus

Computer scientists from UCSB team up with citrus researchers to make a smart farm system that reports temperatures and may eventually automate the use of wind machines that keep frost off citrus crops.

Computer science researchers from the University of California Santa Barbara are using the internet of things to prove that smart farming can be a farm implement as basic as the tractor and plough.

The husband and wife team of Chandra Krintz and Rich Wolski, both UCSB computer science professors, think data analytics can help tackle some of the tough challenges of modern agriculture. They want to apply the predictive mathematical leaps used in modern internet commerce to predict what people will buy, to agriculture. The pair created the UCSB SmartFarm program in response to what they see as the main issues of agriculture.

Krintz and Wolski cite U.S. Department of Agriculture and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization studies that say some scary stuff: increasingly more food is needed to feed the growing global population, and yet farm labor is in short supply or too expensive. Eighty percent of the fresh water and 30% of global energy is used to produce food, half of which we waste in spoilage. Farming also has some particularly tough foes: Pests and disease attack farms’ output and farm land is subsiding (sinking) — especially in California — because of groundwater overdraft. On top of all that, agriculture makes 22% of greenhouse gases.

The only way smart farming can make a dent on those issues is to attack specific problems. For Krintz and Wolski’s first test projects, they talked to the farmer — in this case, farm researchers — first before designing a system. Although almost every ag tech pitch begins with a summary of those issues, the UCSB computer scientists’ approach is to come up with scientifically vetted data about the usefulness of cloud and data analytics in farming.

The design parameters of behind UCSB SmartFarm’s Farm Cloud System is to make a system a farmer could love: it should be easy to use and work reliably, cheaply and privately — farmers don’t want their data accessible. The system needs to provide useful data to help increase yield, automate farm operations or save money (or all three), and the data must be available real time. The whole thing has to work without IT staff.

The self-managing system needs to work like an appliance, like your refrigerator, write Krintz and Wolski in a presentation about the project.

Krintz and Wolski are testing the system on nut trees at Fresno State and on citrus at the University of California’s Lindcove Research and Extension Center (LREC) near Visalia, Calif. The UCSB SmartFarm program has support from Google, Huawei, IBM Research, Microsoft Research, the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the California Energy Commission.

RCR Wireless News visited the LREC — a literal test bed for citrus and smart farming — and got the full tour of the UCSB’s Farm Cloud System.

Lindcove’s research mandate

The public is probably not aware that agricultural research centers, such as LREC (Lindcove), do the hard science that protects our food. In the case of Lindcove, hard science is the study of mostly citrus trees, and it means the grueling work of studying each tree.

Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell, research entomologist, an integrated pest management (IPM) specialist and Lindcove’s director remembers sorting fruit by hand.

“When I first started in 1990, if we harvested in January, we would stand in the field in our long underwear and they would pick fruit into a bin and we would have ring sizers that told us what size the fruit was. We would count the fruit and size the fruit and write it on a clip board on a piece of paper,” she said. “Now this machine can do this better.”

Standing near a huge packing line machine that dwarfed her, Grafton-Cardwell explained how the cameras and the extra sensors enable the machine to size and weigh the fruit, examine the outside of the fruit using three types of cameras and estimate the juice level inside. One tree goes through the machine at a time, for scientific purposes, which differs from how a normal packing house operates.

“If I am a researcher, each of my trees is a replication and a different situation, so I want to know everything there is to know about the fruit on that tree,” said Grafton-Cardwell. The cameras take about 30 photographs of each piece of fruit, rotating the fruit as they go. Every parameter from each piece of fruit is put into a spreadsheet: “We know the size, the shape, if it has scarring, the precise color,” said Grafton-Cardwell.

The growers paid for Lindcove’s packing line. “We can simulate anything you want to do on a commercial pack line,” said Grafton-Cardwell. All packing houses have these machines but don’t use them the way researchers do. They don’t need the precision of numbers that researchers need.

“You have to train the machine to the colors and the blemishes. It can get overwhelming,” said Kurt Schmidt, Lindcove’s principal superintendent of agriculture. “We can slow everything down and gather an infinite amount of data.”

“The data sets are ginormous,” Grafton-Cardwell pointed out. Data and an interpretation of the data is the really the product that Lindcove produces.

Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell, Lindcove’s director, shows off the packing line machinery at UC ANR’s Lindcove Research and Extension Center, near Visalia, California. The huge measures, weighs citrus, among other datasets. (Image: RCR Wireless News)

Originally started in 1959 by University of California Riverside and San Joaquin Valley citrus growers, Lindcove helps growers try out treatments and crop varieties without experimenting on their own crops, which protects their orchards — and livelihood. “Researchers from around the state can come here and do experiments,” said Grafton-Cardwell. Lindcove focuses on creating new varietals and demonstrating gardens of hundreds of citrus — a demo garden that is repeated in several other locations, such as the desert, for comparison. The center is working on 30 research projects right now.

“Citrus grows quite easily statewide….there are 300,000 acres [planted]statewide. It’s all fresh market, [California growers] don’t do juice. If the growers produce for juice, they lose money,” said Grafton-Cardwell. Florida and Brazil are the juice producers.

“Their climate doesn’t produce a good-tasting fruit, so they stick with juice,” said Schmidt.

Lindcove is one of nine research centers in the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) department. With soil and climate typical for the commercial citrus growing in the Central Valley of California, the Lindcove’s 175 idyllic acres may be tucked remotely against the Sierra foothills on the road to Sequoia National Park, but it’s on the forefront of fighting some pretty scary citrus pests.

The Huanglongbing (HLB) bacterium has the citrus industry in California in an increasing panic. This bacterium, spread by the Asian citrus psyllids, a small bug imported from Asia, is making its way up through Mexico into California starting with Southern California.

Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening disease, is killing trees at alarming rates and there is no cure yet. “It has devastated Florida. Huanglongbing has knocked their acreage down by 50 percent,” said Grafton-Cardwell. “We are trying to get some proactive research going to prepare for the arrival of the disease in the commercial citrus. Right now it is just in residential backyards, but it is going to get to the commercial citrus in the near future,” said Grafton-Cardwell.

In California, it is particularly hard to control because of the prevalence of backyard citrus trees.

“Right now it is just in Southern California. We are up to about 650 trees in Southern California that tested positive,” said Grafton-Cardwell. All of those infected trees were in residential yards. Therein lies the problem: An estimated 60% of homeowners have a citrus tree in their yard. “That’s like 15 million citrus trees. How do you manage a disease when you’ve got 30 million commercial trees and 15 million residential trees? It is very difficult,” she said. “Homeowners don’t understand plant disease, they don’t understand how to manage the pest, they don’t understand the risk.”

Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell, research entomologist, an integrated pest management (IPM) specialist and Lindcove’s director, examines the screen on a screenhouse. The screen is rated to keep out bugs as small as thrips, to protect clonal varieties of citrus. (Image: RCR Wireless News, Susan Rambo)

A screenhouse at Lindcove, UC ANR’s research and extension center near Visalia, Calif., contains citrus clones for nurseries and growers to use. The program maintains clean clones of citrus varieties. (Image: RCR Wireless News, Susan Rambo)

Unrelated to HLB, but nonetheless an insurance policy for all citrus growers, is Lindcove’s Citrus Clonal Protection Program (CCPP) out of UCR. Lindcove preserves and archives original bud wood of citrus varieties as part of CCPP. Large screenhouses — greenhouses with screens instead of glass — hold clean bud wood, which nurseries, growers and even citrus enthusiasts can use to propagate citrus plants. The citrus buds are grafted to root stock and grown into trees in the screenhouses, where they are protected from insects.

The screens on these structures are “rated for thrips” — so fine that thrips or psyllids can’t get through it. Recently when one of the screens split along one seam, the researchers destroyed all the trees in the compromised screenhouse and disinfected it before repairing it. This is serious business.

First, the network

Lindcove has a new network capability now. “We are really excited,” said Dr. Grafton-Cardwell. “It has taken us ten years to get to the point where we have a network that can support all this, because we are out in the boonies.”

Lindcove now uses the fiber network from CENIC —  the non-profit network operator for the California universities, colleges, schools and libraries — and fixed wireless company GeoLinks for last-mile wireless.

“We were getting our internet from a local provider here in Visalia with limited bandwidth for a lot of money,” said Schmidt. “So now we’ve got this big connection that has the potential to have a large bandwidth. We’re in pretty good shape.”

“ANR pushed really hard in the last couple years to develop the funding to do this for all the research and extension centers, all nine of them, because we were all created back in the 1950s, and most of us in the boonies, and none of us had decent network capability. For scientists in this day and age to do research, it is totally revolutionary,” said Grafton-Cardwell. “When I first came in 1990, we weren’t able to do any of this stuff. Computing was really primitive and now it is going to improve what we do.”

Smart farm at Lindcove

“I didn’t even know what the internet of things was before Rich Wolski explained it,” said Grafton-Cardwell, but now she can’t wait to get it.

The goal of the UCSB’s smart farm test at Lindcove is to improve the decision making for frost protection for citrus growers, which should help reduce costs and carbon footprint.

Schmidt pointed out the culprit: the big windmills on citrus farms. These windmills are needed because the typical inversion layer of warmer air holds cold air to the ground, which damages fruit. The windmills circulate the air when frost is imminent. “It costs $30K a season to run these,” said Schmidt. That’s not even counting the cost of having to run around to the fields in a truck, taking temperature readings at all hours to make a decision when to turn on the windy gas guzzlers.

One windfan and its propane tank peeking out from among rows of citrus at UC ANR’s Lindcove July 9th, 2018, near Visalia, California. (Image: RCR Wireless News, Susan Rambo)

Krintz and Wolski’s team of students have installed low-cost, sturdy weather stations that can withstand the elements and accurately sense temperature and humidity at 5 feet and 30 feet from the ground. The stations are installed to be able to monitor 3 feet from the boundaries of where the windfans cover. The poles also have surveillance cameras with infrared capability to allow more temperature measurement, beyond regular thermometers. A network station in the field moves the data to the office on-site. Drones are also used “on the fly” to monitor at different levels.

Measuring and estimating the evaporation and transpiration under the tree canopy and sending that data to the office means that someone like Kurt Schmidt won’t have to manually take the temperature every hour at all hours, to determine when to turn on the fans. Also, tapping into Schmidt’s knowledge of when the fans need to be turned on will help inform the system; Krintz and Wolski can write software to automate the fans operations. Having more detailed information in real time means saving fuel if one windfan on one end of a microclimate doesn’t need to be turned on, even though others may need to run.

This frost experiment is only the beginning.

“We have a laboratory here that has equipment in it that again, we could be connecting,” said Grafton-Cardwell. “One of the things I proposed to Chandra [Krintz] and Rich [Wolski], is we have all these data in separate units. The pack line generates data, …we are collecting data from the field. That is going into files. The data aren’t connected in any shape or form.”

Grafton-Cardwell’s ultimate goal is to have a researcher go into a portal and view all the data associated with their research.

UCSB SmartFarm sensor approximately 5 feet off the ground surrounded by citrus will help UC ANR’s Lindcove researchers know when to turn on windfans to protect plants from frost. (Image: RCR Wireless News)

The pole holding sensors and cameras for UCSB’s SmartFarm program. (Image: RCR Wireless News)

UCSB’s smartfarm pole at UC ANR’s LREC.

Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell, research entomologist, an integrated pest management (IPM) specialist and Lindcove’s director (right); Kurt Schmidt, Lindcove’s principal superintendent of agriculture, (left) stand in Lindcove orchard in front of UCSB smartfarm experiment. (Image: RCR Wireless News, Susan Rambo)

GeoLinks Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

GeoLinks Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

GeoLinks was officially recognized and welcomed to the community on Thursday, July 12th by the City of Camarillo, the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Charlotte Craven, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, Supervisor Kelly Long’s office, and fellow Ventura County Businesses. In honor of the occasion, GeoLinks hosted a public Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Open House at our headquarters in Camarillo. Check out highlights from the event below!

 

 

GeoLinks_AssemblymemberJacquiIrwin

Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin recognizes GeoLinks by presenting CEO Skyler Ditchfield with an award.

GeoLinks_SkylerDitchfield_MayorCharlotteCraven

Camarillo Mayor Charlotte Craven presents certificate of recognition to GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield

 

GeoLinks_supervisorkellylong

Nancy Phillips of Supervisor Kelly Long’s office presents award to GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield

 

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City officials, community members, and the GeoLinks team gather in the GeoLinks Game Room to hear pre-ribbon cutting recognition speeches.

 

GeoLinks_Camarillo

GeoLinks Headquarter’s Game Room

 

GeoLinks_Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

GeoLinks team, lead by CoFounders Skyler Ditchfield, CEO, and Ryan Hauf, CTO, get ready to officially cut the city’s ribbon.

 

GeoLinksRibbonCutting

GeoLinks team, lead by CoFounders Skyler Ditchfield, CEO, and Ryan Hauf, CTO, cut the city’s ribbon.

 

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A group of the GeoLinks team are welcomed to the city!

 

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GeoLinks team members celebrate during an open house after the official ribbon cutting.

 

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Community members celebrate during an open house after the official ribbon cutting.

 

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Camarillo Mayor Charlotte Craven, Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, and members of the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce at GeoLinks

 

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Camarillo Chamber of Commerce at GeoLinks

 

Amendment of Part 90 of the Commission’s Rules

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, DC  20554

 

COMMENTS OF CALIFORNIA INTERNET, L.P. DBA GEOLINKS

California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks (“GeoLinks” or the “Company”) submits these comments in response to the Commission’s Sixth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the above-captioned proceeding.[1]

 

  1. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

GeoLinks is proud to service the largest coverage area of any single fixed wireless Internet service provider in the state the California.  The Company’s fixed wireless technology platform depends on access to spectrum resources sufficient to support enterprise-level broadband connections.  However, to date, access to dedicated spectrum resources has been difficult for small and mid-sized companies, such as GeoLinks.  In addition to other bands for which GeoLinks has advocated spectrum policies that would allow fixed wireless broadband providers to obtain spectrum, GeoLinks believes that the 4.9 GHz band offers a means to allow providers to access this vital resource in a way that also protects incumbent public safety users.

 

  1. DISCUSSION
  2. The Commission Should Allow Sharing of the 4.9 GHz Band on a Licensed or Light-Licensed Basis

In the FNPRM, the Commission seeks comment on ways to “stimulate expanded use of and investment in the 4.9 GHz band” and proposes to implement a sharing mechanism to “promote more opportunistic use of the 4.9 GHz band without compromising the integrity and security of public safety operations.”[2]  GeoLinks believes that allowing commercial users to share the band on a secondary basis to public safety licensees would be the most appropriate and most effective use of the band to reach the Commission’s goal.  Specifically, GeoLinks asserts that such sharing should be allowed on a licensed or light-licensed basis.

As GeoLinks has explained in numerous filings, point-to-multipoint (“P2MP”) service options are ideal because they allow a wireless service provider to provide high-speed broadband connections to several end-users (i.e. several households throughout a community) from one location, requiring fewer towers and less equipment than point-to-point (“P2P”) connections.  If sufficient spectrum is available, providers can use P2MP technology to deliver gigabit and near-gigabit speeds to customers.  In addition, because P2MP services are wireless, use of this technology eliminates the need for costly, time-consuming and disruptive construction that is generally associated with fiber buildouts.  This is especially beneficial in rural and high-cost areas and can provide much-needed competition to incumbent providers in urban and suburban areas.

Uncertainty regarding how and where and when spectrum will be used by other users makes it difficult to efficiently manage P2MP connections over longer distances, requiring providers to utilize shorter P2P connections to avoid interference, which are less efficient and more expensive to deploy.  This is especially true in unlicensed bands.  However, under a licensed or lightly-licensed sharing regime with the appropriate frequency coordination in place, commercial users, such as fixed wireless providers, can utilize available spectrum to provide these high-quality, P2MP broadband connections without the risk of causing or receiving harmful interference.  GeoLinks believes that this approach should be applied to the 4.9 GHz band.

 

  1. Successful Sharing of the 4.9 GHz Band Requires Adequate and Accurate Information to Ensure Efficient Frequency Coordination

Sufficient frequency coordination paired with a licensed or light-licensed regime would allow secondary users to operate P2MP (or P2P) wireless connections in the band without the risk of interference to primary, public safety users.  As an initial matter, GeoLinks agrees that any changes made to use within the 4.9 GHz band should not force incumbent licensees to modify, abandon, or replace existing 4.9 GHz facilities.[3]  GeoLinks (as well as other wireless broadband providers) can coordinate its use of a frequency around any fixed point (i.e. the transmission path of a primary licensee) or around any primary use that may be necessary to avoid harmful interference.  However, in order to ensure successful coordination so that incumbent licensees are protected, additional users of the band must know where within the band incumbents are operating.  Therefore, GeoLinks agrees with the Commission’s proposal that incumbent licensees whose authorizations currently encompass the entire 4.9 GHZ band must certify the channels they actually use and input this information into a frequency coordination database (along with transmitter and receiver parameters).[4]

 

  1. The Commission Should Require Strict Buildout Requirements for Any New Users of the 4.9 GHz Band.

As GeoLinks has advocated in previous filings, any spectrum license should carry with it the requirement to serve the public interest – including for shared or light licensed spectrum.  Spectrum is, first and foremost, a public resource and should be allocated accordingly.  Similar to its recommendations for other bands, GeoLinks proposes that the Commission impose minimum buildout requirements for any commercial licensee utilizing the 4.9 GHz band.  Specifically, GeoLinks recommends that this minimum be set high enough to ensure that unserved areas (if applicable) within any license area are not left behind.  GeoLinks believes that these requirements will encourage use of the 4.9 GHz band by commercial users serious about deploying high-speed broadband services and alleviate any risk of spectrum warehousing.  In addition, GeoLinks urges the Commission to implement a reporting process to track whether buildout requirements are met (and met properly).

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  • CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing, GeoLinks urges the Commission to allow for commercial use of the 4.9 GHz band on a secondary basis under a licensed or light-licensed sharing approach.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

GEOLINKS, LLC

 

/s/ Skyler Ditchfield, Chief Executive Officer

/s/ Melissa Slawson, General Counsel/ V.P of Government Affairs and Education

 

July 6, 2018

[1] Amendment of Part 90 of the Commission’s Rules, Sixth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, WP Docket No. 07-100, FCC 18-33 (rel. March 23, 2018) (“FNPRM”).
[2] FNPRM, at para 3.
[3] FNPRM at para 11
[4] Id.  Moreover, GeoLinks agrees that only those channels for which information has been supplied should be afforded protection.