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How GeoLinks’ Flagship Product ClearFiber™ is Closing the Rural Broadband Gap AND Connecting Urban America

Original Article

Every Fall communication industry executives from around the world travel to Silicon Valley to attend the Telecom Councils’ TC3 Summit—a 2-day, working summit where companies who build communications networks come to discover innovation. This year’s title sponsor was GeoLinks, a leading telecommunications company and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Hosted Voice solutions.

With the topic of “connectivity” taking precedence on this year’s agenda, GeoLinks’ CEO Skyler Ditchfieldtook to the main stage on day 1 in an address titled “Closing the Rural Broadband Gap.” Beginning by providing an overview of GeoLinks’ success in deploying high-speed broadband to businesses and anchor institutions nation-wide, Ditchfield discussed how closing the digital divide will ultimately require implementing a hybrid network that utilizes fixed wireless to deliver the last mile.

Audience members were particularly intrigued with Ditchfield’s innovative case studies surrounding GeoLinks’ fixed wireless product ClearFiber™, many declaring GeoLinks to be “the most impressive start-up to present at the summit.” Operating 100% in-house, Ditchfield explained how ClearFiber™ can deploy rapidly and produce low-latency, gigabit plus speeds at a fraction of the cost of fiber.

However, summit attendees also learned that GeoLinks is doing much more than just connecting rural communities with high-speed broadband. The telecom also has a growing footprint in the urban and sub-urban landscapes, giving larger carriers a true run for their money.

“It’s time for the public to know that there is another realistic option in the market apart from the big 4 carriers,” expressed Ditchfield. “GeoLinks provides enterprise-grade Internet and Hosted Voice solutions backed by round-the-clock, U.S. based customer support and an industry leading Service Level Agreement. In-house we have coined this ‘The GeoLinks Difference’—it’s our golden rule to treat you like we want to be treated. That, paired with our exceptional products and service offerings, has quickly led us to become the fifth fastest growing privately-owned telecom in America.”

Following his address at the summit, RCR Wireless Editor, Sean Kinney, sat down with Ditchfield to dig even deeper into all that GeoLinks has done, is doing, and plans to accomplish in the very near future in both the rural, urban and sub-urban landscapes. You can view the entire interview by tuning in to the below video.

50 Fastest Growing Private Companies 2017: Geolinks Building Broadband Access for Rural America

Original article by Helen Floersh

No. 2: GEOLINKS
Camarillo

CEO: Skyler Ditchfield

Growth Rate: 335%

It has been a big year for GeoLinks, the No. 2 firm on the Business Journal’s 2017 list of the Valley area’s Fastest Growing Private Companies.

Besides updating its moniker to reflect its long-term ambitions – the business-to-business internet service provider changed its name in June from California Internet to GeoLinks, which it described as being better aligned with its goal of expanding its services nationwide – the company also settled into its new, 38,000 square-foot Camarillo headquarters and hired its 50th employee. Finally, GeoLinks made the 2017 Inc. 5000, ranking No. 5 in the telecommunications category and coming in No. 604 overall.

“For a lot of people, what sets us apart is how we’re different from the big guys,” Ryan Adams, GeoLinks president, said. “We decided that we’re going to do what we thought was in the best interest of our clients, first and foremost.”

So far, that mindset appears to be working. Geolinks has managed to more than double its revenue year over year since 2014, when it saw $2.2 million in revenue. It generated $8.8 million last year, according to the firm, and is on track to outperform itself yet again in 2017.

“Telecommunications doesn’t necessarily have to be an ugly word,” Adams said. “For us, it’s really about enhancing the customer experience and evolving with our clients as well. That’s where the big guys have a hard time.”

GeoLinks envisions itself as one day being the premiere provider of high-speed internet to rural communities throughout California and beyond. While just 10 percent of all U.S. citizens lacked access to high-speed internet in 2016, the figure climbed to roughly 40 percent for those living in rural areas, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

“It’s not just a buzz-term that we use, it’s our passion: Bridging the digital divide, which means bringing high-speed internet to everybody no matter what geography,” Adams said. “Studies have shown that people who have access to high-speed internet are more inclined to make more money and better education. These things are very important to us.”

Rural boom

New state legislation that establishes funds for the deployment of broadband projects in rural areas puts GeoLinks on track to expand its California business substantially. Chief Executive Skyler Ditchfield, who founded GeoLinks in 2011 with his cousin and Chief Techonology Officer Ryan Hauf, was one of the lobbyists behind the September passage of AB1665, or the “Internet for All Act.” Ditchfield has been working with the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives and other organizations to establish contracts with public institutions.

The company was awarded more construction grants than any other internet service provider for California public schools and libraries for 2016 and 2017. Earlier this year, it received a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the California Public Utilities Commission, enabling it to form strategic partnerships with federal agencies such the Department of Education.

“Right now we’re working with all different types of organizations – private and public – to spread the GeoLinks name,” Adams said.

GeoLinks’ rapid growth is linked to three components, Adams added: an exceptional primary product, strong customer relations and a knack for recruiting and retaining top talent. From land procurement to equipment installation, GeoLinks performs every step of the process behind setting up a broadband network in-house, affording finer control over timetables as well as its relationships with clients. The company is able to send workers to sites more quickly than companies that contract with third-party suppliers for equipment-related services.

“People are used to a certain kind of relationship with their internet or telecommunications provider,” Adams said. “Whatever the big guys were doing, we were going to do the exact opposite, starting with our speed of deployment.”

To catch and keep exceptional employees who are fully invested in the company’s progress, GeoLinks has outfitted its headquarters with Silicon Valley-style amenities, such as an in-house gym, basketball court and full-service kitchen. Workers also have access to a personal chef and a wellness expert, he added.

“There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not absolutely delighted with the workforce we have here at GeoLinks,” he said. “We are all about not only the client experience, but also the employee experience.”

But material benefits are only one part of the firm’s strategy for building a standout team. GeoLinks’ managers take a “hands off” approach to employee oversight, minimizing micromanagement so that workers have the intellectual freedom to come up with new ideas that can move the company forward, Adams explained.

“We went out of our way to make sure this is a company that creates a culture of respect, without the ego,” Adams said. “We want all of our employees to feel like they have just as much of a stake in the company as anybody else.”

Three impressive start-ups that presented at TC3

Original Article

1. In a session titled “Closing the Rural Broadband Gap,” Skyler Ditchfield, CEO of GeoLinks, provided an overview of his company’s success in providing high-speed broadband to schools and libraries using fixed wireless technologies, specifically microwave radio operating in several frequency bands. The company’s flagship service is ClearFiber™, which offers customers fixed wireless broadband service on the most resilient and scalable networkSkyler described the advantages of their 100% in house approach to engineering, design, land procurement, construction and data connectivity. GeoLinks approach offers gigabit plus speeds at a fraction of the cost of fiber with lower latency and rapid deployment across the country.

A broadband fixed wireless installation on Santa Catalina island was particularly impressive. Speeds on the island (which GeoLinks says is 41 miles offshore) are typically 300 Mbps, and the ultra-fast broadband connection provides support for essential communications services, tourism services, and commerce. GeoLinks successfully deployed Mimosa Network´s fiber-fast broadband solutions to bring high-speed Internet access to the island community for the first time in its history. Connecting the island to the mainland at high speeds was very challenging. GeoLinks ultimately selected Mimosa for the last mile of the installation, deploying Mimosa A5 access and C5 client devices throughout the harbor town of Avalon.

Another ClearFiber™ successful deployment was at Robbins Elementary school in California. It involved 19 miles of fixed broadband wireless transport to provide the school with broadband Internet access.

Skyler said that next year, GeoLinks planned to deliver fixed wireless transport at 10G b/sec over 6 to 8 miles in the 5Ghz unlicensed band- either point to point OR point to multi-point. The company is considering 6GHz, 11GHz, 18Ghz and 20Ghz FCC licensed bands. He said it would be important for GeoLinks to get licensed spectrum for point to multi-point transmission.

More on GeoLinks value proposition here and here. And a recent blog post about Skyler Ditchfield who told the TC3 audience he grew up fascinated by communications technologies. This author was very impressed with Skyler and GeoLinks!

2. In a panel on “Startup Success Stories,” Nitin Motgi, founder and CEO of Cask (a “big data” software company) talked about how long it took to seal a deal with telcos. It’s longer than you might think! In one case, Nitin said it was 18 months from the time an unnamed telco agreed to purchase Cask’s solution (based on a proof of concept demo) till the contract was actually signed and sealed. Nitin referred to the process of selling to telcos as “whale hunting.” However, he said that if you succeed it’s worth it because of the telco’s scale of business.

3. Tracknet Co-Founder and CEO Hardy Schmidbauer presented a 5 minute “fast pitch” to the Telecom Council Service Provider Forum. He talked about his company’s highly scalable LPWAN/ IoT network solutions: “TrackNet provides LoRaWAN IoT solutions for consumers and industry, focusing on ease of use and scalability to enable a “new era” of exponentially growing LPWAN deployments.” The company is a contributing member of the LoRa Alliance and the TrackNet team has been instrumental in specifying, building, and establishing LoRaWAN and the LoRa Alliance for more than five years. The founding Tracknet team includes veterans from IBM and Semtech who were instrumental in the development of LoRa and LoRaWAN.

With “Tabs,” Tracknet combines a WiFi connected IoT home and tracker system with LoRaWAN network coverage built from indoor Tabs hubs.

Can Fixed Wireless Fix Rural Broadband?

Original Article

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a telco, a cable company or a software giant with designs on the ISP market, everyone is hoping that new wireless solutions will cut the cost of providing broadband to large sections of the country. The big question is: How much juice does new wireless tech actually have? And is it enough to make rural broadband deployments cost effective?

Service provider GeoLinks and technology vendor Mimosa Networks Inc. , two partners on the fixed wireless frontier, are very bullish on the technology’s promise. How bullish? In working with the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB), GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield says he believes fixed wireless technology can be used to reduce the amount of money needed to connect underserved anchor institutions across the US by up to 70%. That could go a long way to helping close the digital divide, and it could even kick off new competition in some markets where service providers traditionally haven’t cared to venture.

“[We’re] working on doing the cost analysis on doing fixed wireless instead of fiber,” says Ditchfield, referring to a program SHLB is working on to get federal funds for rural broadband deployments. “We think we can probably reduce the total cost in the build ask by about 65% to 70%.”

As partners, GeoLinks and Mimosa have experience in delivering broadband to far-flung places. For example, Ditchfield notes that GeoLinks has built out service to a couple of dozen rural schools in the last 18 months, and that many of these deployments rely on solar- and wind-powered telecom relay stations with wireless links that range from 25 to 58 miles.

“These were schools that weren’t able to complete state testing. The students were being bussed out because they had to go do the state testing at another facility and that’s obviously very costly and time consuming,” says Ditchfield. “So we were able to come in and solve that geographical issue with fixed wireless.”

Ditchfield also recalls a recent deployment where an island off the coast of California needed help to improve the reliability of local Internet. In that case, the issue wasn’t so much the distance the wireless signal had to travel, but the fact that, in order to provide backhaul capacity for the island’s Internet service, the signal had to reach across water from the mainland. Unfortunately, the effects of temperature and air pressure caused the signal to bounce and bend off the water in unexpected ways, disrupting connectivity on a daily basis.

“If you’re looking on a hot day down the road and you’re looking at a distance and you see those heat waves where the light starts to bend a little bit, that mirage effect, that’s basically what’s happening with the radio frequency signals as well,” explains Ditchfield.

GeoLinks and Mimosa solved the issue by dropping wireless equipment to two separate locations on the island, with a fiber run in between, and creating redundancy to counter the interference. Now when one link goes down, the local ISP fails over to the second link.

For future fixed wireless broadband expansion, there is still the issue of finding enough available spectrum to meet bandwidth demand. However, the good news is that companies that are providing fixed wireless services don’t necessarily need to compete with mobile providers for some of the most coveted spectrum real estate. Mimosa Chief Product Officer Jaime Fink and others are lobbying the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to open up more mid-band spectrum, and Fink says that while frequencies in the 3.7GHz band aren’t ideal for mobile services, they are a viable option for fixed wireless connections.

The FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry to study opportunities for mid-band spectrum in July.

“Mimosa has been extremely aggressive with the FCC,” says Fink, noting that the company has put together a Broadband Access Coalition that includes members such as GeoLinks, Cincinnati Bell Inc. (NYSE: CBB) and others. The coalition, as he explains it, is “really pushing the envelope of how fast can we share the 3.7GHz spectrum. It’s really perfect for fixed wireless applications. It’s not something that would be typically used by mobile guys out in rural areas especially so we’re trying to really advance access to that band for multipoint as soon as possible.”

TV white spaces, the spectrum encompassed by the guard bands around older analog television stations, offer another possible alternative. Microsoft Corp.(Nasdaq: MSFT) is pushing heavily for white spaces development as part of a $10 billion rural broadband project and Ditchfield sees the company as a potential partner for GeoLinks down the road. (See Microsoft Pushes White Spaces for Rural Broadband .)

There’s long been a question of whether fixed wireless service will eventually be a cable killer, ending cable’s long dominance of the home broadband sector. Even beyond rural markets, if fixed wireless technology can cut the cost of deployments and still deliver high-speed Internet, it has the potential to radically shift market dynamics.

However, even if wireless technology becomes the preferred solution for last-mile broadband delivery in the future, it won’t negate the need for wired backhaul. Fink points out that even though wireless links can span 50 miles and beyond, the more common scenario is to have a fiber connection within five miles or so of end users in order to support fixed wireless service.

The logical conclusion is that broadband going forward will be a mix of wired and wireless technologies. That’s why cable ISP Charter Communications Inc. is running 5G fixed wireless trials, and why Google Fiber Inc. is considering fixed wireless solutions in conjunction with existing fiber-to-the-home deployments. (See Charter Reveals New Details on 4G/5G Trials and Google Fiber Now a Wireless ISP!.)

Fixed wireless isn’t likely to kill cable, nor to let telcos off the hook for fiber. But it could still open up a lot more opportunity for broadband expansion and specifically for reaching unserved and underserved rural communities across the country.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Appoints GeoLinks’ CEO Skyler Ditchfield to the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee

Recognizing GeoLinks as an industry thought-leader in the country’s evolving broadband discussion, the FCC formally appointed Skyler Ditchfield, CEO, to the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group.

News Verified via FCC Public Notice GN Docket No.17-83

On Thursday, August 3, 2017, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman, Ajit Pai, officially appointed California Internet, L.P., DBA GeoLinks’ CEO, Skyler Ditchfield, to serve on the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC or Committee). Ditchfield will represent GeoLinks as he serves on the BDAC’s Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group (SFSWG), 1 of 5 internal task forces operating within the overarching committee.

Established by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on January 31, 2017, the BDAC provides advice and recommendations to the FCC regarding how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access by reducing and/or removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment. This Committee is intended to provide an effective means for stakeholders with interests in this area to exchange ideas and develop recommendations for the Commission, which will in turn enhance the Commission’s ability to carry out its statutory responsibility to encourage broadband deployment to all Americans.

The SFSWG is specifically charged with developing recommendations to improve the process of siting on federal lands and federally managed properties by:

Recommending standard procedures for facility siting
Examining and providing recommendations on how to standardize the duration of leases and easements
Considering whether to recommend a shot clock for the processing of applications for facilities siting on federal land by federal agencies
Exploring and reporting on possible methods for federal agencies to identify and report on coverage gaps and deficiencies
Recommending procedures for creating and maintaining a publicly accessible inventory of space that can be used to attach or install broadband infrastructure
“I am honored that Chairman Pai selected me to serve on the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee,” said Ditchfield. “Appointing a nimble, mid-sized, fixed wireless ISP like GeoLinks to the committee further proves his dedication to making progressive moves towards closing the digital divide. Pai recognizes that this is a critical moment in our country’s social and economic broadband discussion, and I am thrilled to offer GeoLinks’ insight and expertise on how to accelerate national broadband deployment. Furthermore, GeoLinks will be working relentlessly with the Microsoft Whitespace Projects, pushing for more rural and urban wireless spectrum, ultimately driving competition. We are passionate about getting things done as quickly as possible. Like Chairman Pai, GeoLinks realizes that the time to procrastinate is officially over—we’re ready to take action and create visible change now.”

Sitting alongside Ditchfield on the committee are industry-leaders such as Daniel Jorjani, Principal Deputy Solicitor and Acting Solicitor of the Department of Interior, Kellie McGinness Kubena, Director, Engineering and Environmental Staff Rural Utilities Service Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, John Saw, Chief Technology Officer of Sprint, and more.

For media inquiries or to schedule an interview with Skyler Ditchfield, please contact Lexie Olson at lolson(at)geolinks.com.

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About GeoLinks

Founded in 2011 by CEO, Skyler Ditchfield, and CTO, Ryan Hauf, GeoLinks is the fastest growing B2B fixed wireless Internet Service Provider (ISP) in California. Proud to service the largest coverage area of any single provider in the state, GeoLinks expanded its territory in 2017 delivering Enterprise-Grade Internet, Layer 2 Transport, and Turnkey Construction expertly tailored for all business and Anchor Institutions nationwide.

With industry leading installation times, GeoLinks’ flagship service, ClearFiber, offers customers fixed wireless on the most resilient and scalable network ever built. Boasting ultra-low latency, 99.999% uptime, sub 10ms jitter, and a 4-hour max response time, GeoLinks prides itself on consistently delivering the industry’s best Service Level Agreement.

Amongst its many accolades, GeoLinks was the largest construction grant winner for California K-12 schools and libraries in both 2016 and 2017. Servicing thousands of businesses across the country, GeoLinks officially became a CLEC and public utility in 2017.

About The Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee

On January 31, 2017, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the formation of a new federal advisory committee, the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC or Committee), which will provide advice and recommendations for the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access. The Commission intends to establish the BDAC for a period of two (2) years, with an expected starting date during the spring of 2017.

The BDAC’s mission is to make recommendations for the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access, or “broadband,” by reducing and/or removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment. This Committee is intended to provide an effective means for stakeholders with interests in this area to exchange ideas and develop recommendations for the Commission, which will in turn enhance the Commission’s ability to carry out its statutory responsibility to encourage broadband deployment to all Americans.

Fixed Wireless —A Viable Solution to Close the Digital Divide

California Internet CEO Skyler Ditchfield Presents Fixed Wireless as a Viable Solution to Close the Digital Divide at SHLB’s 7th Annual Convention

At SHLB’s 2017 Annual Convention, California Internet CEO Skyler Ditchfield took the stage addressing how and why California Internet’s fixed wireless technology is a viable solution when looking to close the digital divide in United States’ rural communities.

VENTURA, CA (PRWEB) JUNE 08, 2017

More than 300 attendees gathered at the Hyatt Regency in Arlington, Virginia last week, May 31st – June 2, 2017, for the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition’s 7th annual convention to discuss how industry leaders can connect rural anchor institutions and close the United States’ digital divide. With focus on how to build broadband networks in rural communities, California Internet’s CEO, Sklyer Ditchfield, took the stage sharing the proven success of fixed wireless technology and how it is a viable solution in closing the digital divide.

Accompanied by California Internet’s VP of Sales and Marketing, Phillip Deneef, Ditchfield began his address by reminiscing on his humble beginnings, affirming internet was fundamental in providing the tools and inspiration needed in his entrepreneurial journey. He continued by showcasing a variety of successful case studies that demonstrated how California Internet successfully deployed fixed wireless utilizing renewable energy, such as solar power and wind turbines, to connect extreme rural locations. Employing a 100% in-house approach to engineering, design, land procurement, construction, and data connectivity, Ditchfield further explained how fixed wireless is not only the fastest but also the most cost-effective solution available on the market today.CEO Skyler Ditchfield Presents Fixed Wireless

“I recognize the skepticism and wireless anxiety that people have surrounding fixed wireless technology,” stated Ditchfield. “People think that the technology is inherently flawed, when that’s just not the case. With proper engineering, it is not only possible, it’s feasible to connect rural anchor institutions, in effect, helping close our country’s digital divide. Myself, Phillip, and our entire team back in California, are driven to continuously advance innovation in broadband delivery, and that’s just what we’re doing. I want all rural anchor institutions to know that California Internet offers full turnkey solutions, from network instruction, to bandwidth delivery, via our innovative fixed wireless technology.”

Outside of his speech, Ditchfield and Deneef had the opportunity to further interface with newly inducted FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and SHLB Executive Director John Windhausen over dinner at Chesapeake Room. The evening allowed the regional carrier an opportunity to share and reiterate its experience and success using fixed wireless to reduce the digital divide. Ditchfield and Deneef’s efforts were met with understanding, appreciation and support.

“We are at a pivotal moment of change in our country, and schools, libraries, health providers, and other community anchor institutions (CAIs) have the power to unite and move us forward,” said SHLB Executive Director John Windhausen. “California Internet has proven that fixed wireless is a viable solution for our rural institutions.”

In the days following the convention, Ditchfield and Deneef met with various anchor entities to initiate the process of acquiring the funds needed to achieve their digital goals. With additional support from the recent passing of California’s AB 1665 Bill, California Internet is on a fast track for national expansion. Moving forward, California Internet plans to work towards securing additional grant money, developing strategic partnerships and expanding its metro footprint with a 100gbps backbone and ability to deliver 10gbps via fixed wireless.

For media inquiries or to schedule an interview with Skyler Ditchfield, please contact Lexie Olson at lolson(at)geolinks.com

About California Internet:

Founded in 2011 by CEO, Skyler Ditchfield, and CTO, Ryan Hauf, California Internet is the fastest growing B2B fixed wireless ISP in Los Angeles, California. With immediate access to California’s rural communities, California Internet services the largest coverage area of any single provider in California delivering enterprise-class internet, layer 2 transport, and turnkey construction that is expertly tailored for all businesses and Anchor Intuitions such as hospitals, libraries and schools.

With industry leading installation times, California Internet’s flagship service, ClearFiber™, offers customers fixed wireless on the most resilient and scalable network ever built. Boasting Sub 25MS latency, 99.99% uptime, sub 4ms jitter, and a 4-hour max repair time, California Internet is proud to offer the state’s best industry service level agreement.

Servicing thousands of businesses across the state, California Internet officially became a CLEC and public utility in 2017.

About SHLB:

The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition was created in 2009 in Washington, D.C. to help address the shortage of adequate broadband for anchor institutions and their communities. [“SHLB” is pronounced “SHELL-bee”] The SHLB Coalition is a broad-based organization of anchor institutions, commercial companies and non-profit broadband providers, foundations, public interest groups, and others that work together to develop and support policies to improve broadband connectivity for anchor institutions and their communities in all regions of the country – urban, suburban and especially rural. We receive financial support from membership dues, from our events, and from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The SHLB Coalition is founded on the belief that deploying broadband networks to serve anchor institutions is a cost-efficient and vitally important investment in our nation’s future. Deploying broadband to anchor institutions can improve broadband access to millions of people (students, low-income and elderly people, migrants, etc.) who may not otherwise have access to the Internet. Anchor institution personnel can train people about broadband services and technologies, thereby stimulating broadband usage and demand. Furthermore, high-capacity “Middle Mile” broadband networks serving community anchor institutions can be used as “jumping off points” to serve surrounding residential and business consumers. Several studies show that building high-capacity broadband to community anchor institutions has a multiplier effect that generates tremendous economic growth for the community and the nation.