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GeoLinks Formally Approved by USAC to Begin CAF Build Out

The Universal Service Administrative Company has officially cleared GeoLinks to begin CAF II build outs in California and Nevada

CAMARILLO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–On Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) formally approved GeoLinks to start receiving funding for the Company’s Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) buildout in California and Nevada. Announced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in August of 2018 as the largest CAF II winner in the state of California, and 5th largest winner in the nation overall, with GeoLinks’ deployment plans and Letters of Credit officially approved, the innovative telecom will officially begin broadband deployment this summer.

Awarded a total of $87.8M in the auction, GeoLinks will provide more than 11,000 rural locations across California and Nevada with Internet at 100 megabits per second. The Company is also confident that this new infrastructure will simultaneously reduce the cost of bringing high speed broadband access to anchor institutions, such as Schools, Libraries, Hospitals, and Community Colleges, throughout both states.

“We are thrilled to have officially cleared both the FCC and USAC’s approval process for CAF II,” stated GeoLinks’ Co-Founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “While the announcement back in August was undoubtedly exciting, we are now officially in the position to begin deployment throughout both states.”

With the GeoLinks’ team fully prepared to break ground, the Company is now looking forward to participating in the FCC’s LIFT America Act, which will support another $40B worth of broadband infrastructure deployment in aims of closing the digital divide.

For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact Lexie Smith at [email protected]

FCC Comments – Microwave Flexible Use Service Licenses

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, DC  20554

 

In the Matter of

Preparation For Incentive Auction of Upper

Microwave Flexible Use Service Licenses In                            AU Docket No. 19-59

The 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz Bands

(Auction 103)

 

REPLY COMMENTS OF CALIFORNIA INTERNET, L.P. DBA GEOLINKS

California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks (“GeoLinks” or the “Company”) hereby submits these Comments in response to the Commission’s Public Notice released in the above-captioned proceedings.[1]

I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

GeoLinks is one of the fastest growing Internet and phone providers in America and the fastest growing telecom in California.  As such, and in order to be truly competitive within its service territory, the Company has a vested interest in promoting policies that allow fixed wireless broadband service providers to access spectrum resources suitable to providing high-speed broadband service.  Traditionally, fixed wireless ISPs have operated in the unlicensed bands (i.e. 2.4 and 5 GHz).  While several fixed wireless providers, including GeoLinks, have been successful in utilizing the unlicensed bands, their application is limited.  The availability of PAL licenses in the 37, 39, and 47 GHz bands, in addition to others the Commission is currently crafting rules for, could provide fixed wireless providers opportunities to provide fiber-like high bandwidth services and robust backhaul for 5G services in areas and in ways it was not previously possible.

GeoLinks applauds the Commission’s efforts to make more spectrum resources available for wireless uses and for seeking comment on ways to structure the upcoming Auction 103 to try to ensure participation from smaller companies.  While the Company believes that these efforts are a step in the right direction, it is concerned that Auction 103, if not structured the right way, will result in all available spectrum resources being consumed by large companies with seemingly endless capital.  As such, GeoLinks offers the following suggestions to help the Commission put would-be auction participants of all sizes on more equal footing in order to encourage additional licensees and innovative use of the 37, 39, and 47 GHz bands.

I. DISCUSSION

A. The Commission Should Make “White Space” Available for Auction

In the Public Notice, the Commission explains that it does not propose to make the “white space” that results in the 39 GHz band if incumbents chose to receive modified licenses, retaining only “partial PEA holdings (i.e., covering less than the full geographic are of a PEA).[2]  GeoLinks does not believe that leaving these “white spaces” unused promotes sound spectrum policy, especially when these white spaces can be used to further the deployment of advanced spectrum-based services.

In the Public Notice the FCC makes several proposals that would enable small businesses (e.g. small service providers) to participate in Auction 103.  However, as small providers have advocated in numerous proceedings, PEA-sized license areas can be too large.  For example, in the 3.5 GHz proceeding, GeoLinks previously advocated for smaller license areas because PEAs can so vastly differ in size as well as in urban vs. rural make up.[3]  The example GeoLinks provided, specifically, was PEA 2 in Southern California, which encompasses eight counties[4] and includes both large populous areas and large swaths of rural areas that are currently deemed “unserved” by high-speed broadband services.  If smaller “white space” license areas were made available within this PEA, for example, it might allow smaller carriers to provide more pinpointed services to specific communities without having to try and compete with the large providers for an entire PEA.

Attachment A hereto is a screenshot of PEA 2 taken from the California Interactive Broadband Map.[5]  The shaded areas represent areas that are considered unserved (no broadband access).[6]  While most of these areas fall within Connect America Fund Phase II grant areas, this map illustrates that large PEAs can contain both metropolitan areas as well as unserved areas. If “white spaces” in the 39 GHz band exist in PEAs that could be used to help provide much needed services to unserved rural areas, it stands to reason that the Commission should make those areas available to companies that wish to use them.  Conversely, if a remaining “white space” were to fall within a more populated area, allowing smaller companies the chance to utilize that spectrum would only serve to promote competition against companies who may opt for PEA-sized licenses.

GeoLinks fails to see the logic in creating auction procedures to encourage small companies to participate but refrain from creating possible license areas that these small companies could utilize – especially when they are available.  Moreover, not making these smaller license areas available will lead to these areas remaining unused, which will most likely disproportionately affect rural areas.  As such, GeoLinks strongly urges the Commission to reconsider its position to exclude “white space” areas from Auction 103.

B. The Commission Should Eliminate the Proposed Bidding Credit Caps

GeoLinks has previously expressed that incentive auctions tend to only benefit large companies with large amounts of capital to spend.  For this reason, GeoLinks commends the Commission on its decision to implement bidding credits for small businesses and primarily rural service providers.  However, while the bidding credits set forth in the Public Notice will help level the playing field for all bidders in the Auction 103, the Company believes that if the Commission truly wants to “promote small business and rural service provider participation in auctions and in the provision of spectrum-based services,” it must allow the playing field to remain level throughout the entire auction process.  Specifically, GeoLinks urges the Commission to eliminate the bidding credit caps it proposes in the Public Notice.[7]

GeoLinks recognizes that most companies eligible for the bidding credits do not have access to the kind of capital needed to even come close to reaching the bidding credit caps set forth in the Public Notice.  However, this does not mean it’s impossible. To truly create an auction process that promotes the deployment of advanced spectrum-based services, the Commission must account for the financial differences between larger companies and smaller, competitive companies or those focused on serving rural areas.  For example, if a small competitive broadband provider or rural service provider were to successfully raise enough capitol prior to the auction, it is possible that that company could compete head-to-head with a larger provider for the same block of spectrum within a specific license area.  In this circumstance, the smaller/ rural service provider should not be hamstrung by a limit on bidding credits, which could mean the difference between obtaining needed spectrum or not.  To promote innovation, these smaller companies must be given an opportunity to obtain spectrum licenses. Therefore, GeoLinks urges the Commission to refrain from imposing bidding caps on could-be auction winners and make the Auction 103 bidding credits applicable to all bids made by an eligible company, no matter how large.

II. CONCLUSION

GeoLinks applauds the Commission’s efforts to make more spectrum resources available for wireless uses and to encourage small businesses to participate in Auction 103.  However, in order to truly promote expanded participation in the Auction, GeoLinks recommends that the Commission reconsider making “white spaces” in the 39 GHz band available for auction and remove the bidding credit caps that will only serve to hamstring smaller providers from bidding against large providers.

/

/

/

/

Respectfully submitted,

 

GEOLINKS, LLC

 

/s/ Skyler Ditchfield, Chief Executive Officer

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

 

May 15, 2019

 

Attachment A

FCC Comments - Microwave Flexible Use Service Licenses

[1] Incentive Auction of Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service Licenses in the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz Bands for Next-Generation Wireless Services; Comment Sought on Competitive Bidding Procedures for Auction 103, Public Notice, AU Docket No. 19-59, FCC 19-35 (rel. April 15, 2019) (“Public Notice”).
[2] Public Notice at para. 5.
[3] See Reply Comments of California Internet, L.P. dba GeoLinks, GN Docket No. 17-258 (filed January 29, 2018).
[4] PEA 2 encompasses Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.
[5] See http://www.broadbandmap.ca.gov/ (screenshot taken May 10, 2019).
[6] Based on California’s definition – areas that are not served by speeds of at least 6 Mbps down/ 1 Mbps up.
[7] See Public Notice at paras. 11-17.

GeoLinks’ CEO Skyler Ditchfield Appointed to the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee

The Federal Communications Commission announces Skyler Ditchfield as a member of the newly re-chartered Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee

CAMARILLO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–On May 16, 2019, Chairman Ajit Pai of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced his appointment of Skyler Ditchfield, Co-Founder and CEO of GeoLinks, to serve as an official member of the newly re-chartered Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC). Of the 39 listed appointees, Skyler Ditchfield serves as the only Southern California representative.

According to the FCC’s official release, “In its second term, the BDAC will continue its work to craft recommendations for the Commission on ways to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access, or ‘broadband,’ by reducing and/or removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment and strengthening existing broadband networks in communities across the country.” The release continues by outlining the BDAC as an opportunity for interested stakeholders to exchange ideas and develop recommendations to the Commission on broadband deployment, to enhance the Commission’s ability to deploy broadband to all Americans.

Previously appointed to the Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group in 2017, and the Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group in 2018 (both BDAC sub groups), Ditchfield’s elevated appointment will enable him to provide strategic recommendations and influence action to close the digital divide on a national scale.

“I have been continually impressed by Chairman Pai, his administration, and all the work that they have done thus far,” stated Ditchfield. “They’ve truly worked hard to level the playing field for all sized ISPs. They’ve put forward significant new dollars towards broadband investment and are staying true to their promise of closing the digital divide. With GeoLinks’ founding mission being to close the digital divide, we have a multitude of case studies that have proven capable of closing the gap in California. Being that all of these projects demonstrate proven and transferrable methods, I am very excited to get to work with both the BDAC and my two designated working groups to cultivate the most realistic and feasible path forward nationally.”

The renewed BDAC will hold its first meeting on Thursday, June 13, 2019, in the Commission Meeting Room at FCC Headquarters, located in Washington, DC. The meeting is open to the public. The FCC will accommodate as many attendees as possible; however, admittance will be limited to seating availability. The Commission will also provide audio and/or video coverage of the meeting over the Internet from the FCC’s web page at www.fcc.gov/live.

The FCC’s official Public Notice can be accessed online via the following link: https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-announces-re-chartered-bdac-membership-and-first-meeting

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact Lexie Smith, VP of Business Development, at [email protected].

About GeoLinks

Headquartered in Southern California, GeoLinks is a leading telecommunications company and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Digital Voice solutions. Ranked first in category on Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America in both 2017 and 2018, GeoLinks delivers Enterprise-Grade Internet, Digital Voice, SD-WANCloud On-ramping, Layer 2 Transport, and both Public and Private Turnkey Network Construction expertly tailored for businesses and Anchor Institutions nationwide.

GeoLinks’ accelerated success is largely due to its flagship product, ClearFiber™, which offers dedicated business-class Internet with unlimited bandwidth, true network redundancy, and guaranteed speeds reaching up to 10 Gbps. Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network is backed by a carrier-grade Service Level Agreement boasting 99.999% uptime and 24/7 in-house customer support. With an average installation period of 4 to 7 days, GeoLinks is proud to offer the most resilient and scalable fixed wireless network on the market.

Contacts

Media Inquiries:
GeoLinks
Lexie Smith, VP of Business Development
[email protected]

Local internet service provider wins $87.8 million in government funding

 Local internet service provider wins $87.8 million in government funding - GeoLinks - Ryan Hauf

Photo taken by GeoLinks Co-Founder and CTO Ryan Hauf

 

A local internet service provider is going regional, thanks to $87.8 million in funding from the federal government.

GeoLinks, an 8-year-old Camarillo-based ISP that primarily serves businesses and rural areas, is among several companies that will receive funding from the Federal Communication Commission’s Connect America Fund Phase II Auction. The company plans on using the capital to bring high-speed internet to rural communities previously lacking connectivity.

The first phase of the fund was held around five years ago and catered to larger, national ISPs.

Money from the fund’s second phase, which totals around $1.5 billion, will be paid out in monthly installments over a 10-year period. GeoLinks will receive $731,000 monthly starting in May, according to CEO Skyler Ditchfield. The company is primarily focused on providing internet service to rural regions and businesses that may be overlooked by the nation’s larger ISPs.

Ditchfield said money from the Connect America fund would allow GeoLinks to create a residential division but said the focus would still be on primarily rural areas.

“It enables connectivity in rural parts of California,” Ditchfield said. “People that live in those locations can try new business ventures, educate themselves better and enable a lot of new internet services like video.”

GeoLinks currently provides internet service to various parts of Ventura County and most other Southern California counties. Local areas serviced by the company include rural parts of Ojai and Thousand Oaks. The company also services entities such as schools, libraries and hospitals in rural areas across the state.

The company plans on using the bulk of the money for new equipment and infrastructure, such as towers, wireless links and distribution. GeoLinks also plans on using around $5.5 million of the funding it will receive to service areas on the California-Nevada border. While GeoLinks will use some of the funding to begin servicing parts of Camarillo and Oxnard, it will also allow the company to make a larger regional push into the Central Valley and around northeastern parts of the state.

The company is allowed up to six years to use the funds to build out its network, although Ditchfield said GeoLinks aims to complete work within four years. As payments will be doled out throughout the next decade, funds received after the network is built will be used for operating costs, such as rent and maintenance.

Applications for the third phase of the fund will likely open in late 2019.

Tyler Hersko covers business news for the Ventura County Star. Reach him at [email protected] or 805-437-0312.

MORE: Camarillo-based GeoLinks joins universities on wildfire project

Wildfire Technology Innovation Summit

Lessons Learned in San Diego – Panel at California’s First Ever Wildfire Technology Innovation Summit

Moderator:

Jessica Block, Assistant Director of WIFIRE Lab, Qualcomm Institute, UC San Diego

Panelists:

1. Skyler Ditchfield, CEO, GeoLinks

2. Tony Mecham, San Diego Unit Chief, CAL FIRE

3. Brian D’Agostino, Director of Fire Science & Climate Adaptation, SDG&E

4. Graham Kent, Director, Nevada Seismological Lab, University of Nevada-Reno

Connect America Fund Making Federal Dollars Work for California

Presented at CENIC’s 2019 Annual Conference.

SPEAKER:

Skyler Ditchfield, Co-Founder and CEO, GeoLinks

ABOUT:

The Connect America Fund Phase II Auction (CAF II) was created by the Federal Communications Commission to distribute federal grant dollars to enable broadband infrastructure buildout to rural areas of the country that lack basic broadband services. In August 2018, GeoLinks was awarded approx. $88 Million to deploy high-speed broadband network facilities to eligible areas in California and Nevada (to be distributed over 10 years). In this discussion, GeoLinks’ CEO, Skyler Ditchfield, will discuss the CAF II application process, awarded areas, and opportunities for creating synergies between CAF II and other broadband grant programs. He will also discuss possible pain points and policy changes needed to streamline deployment and ensure CAF II funding is used as efficiently as possible to connect unserved Americans.

Strategies for Addressing the Broadband Digital Divide

Strategies for Addressing the Broadband Digital Divide

Presented at CENIC’s 2019 Annual Conference.

Featured Speakers:

Skyler Ditchfield, Co-Founder and CEO, GeoLinks | Louis Fox, CEO and President, CENIC | Matt Rantanen, Director of Technology, Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association | Sunne Wright McPeak, CEO, California Emerging Technology Fund | Steven Huter, Director, Network Startup Resource Center, University of Oregon

About:

A recent article in the New York Times titled, “Digital Divide Is Wider Than We Think, Study Says” (12/4/18), notes that, “Fast internet service is crucial to the modern economy, and closing the digital divide is seen as a step toward shrinking the persistent gaps in economic opportunity, educational achievement and health outcomes in America.” While the FCC concludes that broadband is not available to 24.7 million Americans, a recent study by Microsoft states that “162.8 million Americans do not use the internet at broadband speed” and that this “discrepancy is particularly stark in rural areas.”

Many projects that might address this broadband disparity have been unattractive to private sector providers, given the difficulty of generating a return on investment necessary for the capital expenditures for construction of necessary middle-mile infrastructure. And, while there is a tendency to see the digital divide as a rural issue, many urban areas show a similar lack of access to fast home Internet, though often for different reasons — lack of affordable broadband and/or lack of motivation for broadband adoption.

The picture is not entirely gloomy: There are many creative approaches to address issues of access, affordability, and adoption, often pooling sources of funds, integrating two (or more) broadband technologies, and through partnerships that involve public, government, and private sector partners. The panelists, all of whom are engaged in every aspect of broadband from public policy to project deployment, will highlight and discuss successful strategies to address the broadband digital divide and engage conference participants in a discussion about how to scale locally instantiated projects to reach across all of California (and beyond).

Expanding Flexible Use in Mid-Band Spectrum Between 3.7 and 24 GHz

Expanding Flexible Use in Mid-Band Spectrum Between 3.7 and 24 GHz - GeoLinks

REPLY COMMENTS OF CALIFORNIA INTERNET, L.P. DBA GEOLINKS

California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks (“GeoLinks” or the “Company”) hereby submits these Reply Comments in response to comments filed on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) released in the above-captioned proceedings.[1]

 

  1. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

GeoLinks is one of the fastest growing Internet and phone providers in America and the fastest growing telecom in California.  In an effort to be a truly competitive service provider throughout its service territory, the Company has a vested interest in ensuring that the FCC’s policies allow fixed wireless broadband service providers access vital spectrum resources.  GeoLinks applauds the Commission’s efforts to make more spectrum resources available for wireless uses.  It is undeniable that additional spectrum is necessary to meet “America’s appetite for wireless broadband connections.”[2]  However, GeoLinks urges the Commission not to assume that more unlicensed spectrum is sufficient in and of itself to meet the ever-growing demand for these connections.  Moreover, GeoLinks urges the Commission not to limit how fixed wireless service providers may use these new unlicensed resources, and to create rules that allow for Point-to-Multipoint (“P2MP”) use within the 6 GHz band.

  1. DISCUSSION 

  1. Unlicensed Spectrum is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution

Traditionally, fixed wireless ISPs have operated in the unlicensed bands (i.e. 2.4 and 5 GHz).  The lack of access to licensed spectrum has forced fixed wireless providers to get very creative about how they provision highspeed and high capacity broadband services (including multi-gigabit speeds).  While several fixed wireless providers, including GeoLinks, have been very successful in utilizing the unlicensed bands, the application of these bands is limited.  As several commenters note, increased use of the unlicensed bands has created congestion.[3]  As Broadcom points out, “demand for unlicensed services, especially Wi-Fi, continues to grow, and the existing unlicensed spectrum in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands has become congested.”[4]  In addition, as WISPA’s comments show, the issue of congestion in the unlicensed bands has also been recognized by all current FCC Commissioners.[5]

While GeoLinks sees merit in Broadcom’s assertion that making the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed use “will be a critical step in addressing the looming unlicensed spectrum crunch,”[6] ultimately, GeoLinks believes that relying solely on more unlicensed spectrum availability (without additional opportunities for licensed spectrum) is, at best, a short-term solution.  As Commissioner Rosenworcel notes in her NPRM statement, “by the end of the decade, we will see as many as 50 billion new devices connecting to our networks through the internet of things.”[7]  GeoLinks cautions that as innovation and new devices seek room in the unlicensed bands, the wireless broadband providers that offer competitive connectivity to these new devices will continue to get squeezed.  Inevitably with so many wireless devices and wireless service providers clamoring for the same spectrum, the result will be the same – congestion in the bands and limited opportunities for competition and innovation.

As GeoLinks has expressed before, the availability of unlicensed bands is not a one-size-fits-all solution to the ever-growing demand for spectrum.  In order to craft a more complete, long-term solution, GeoLinks urges the FCC to expand the availability of unlicensed bands in conjunction with efforts to create more opportunities for licensed spectrum for competitive broadband providers.  This dual approach will ensure less congestion in the unlicensed bands for those carriers supplying the connectivity that drive further innovation.

  1. The Commission Should Ensure the New Rules Regarding the Use of the 6 GHz Band Allow for P2MP Use

With respect to new rules to govern unlicensed use of the 6 GHz band, GeoLinks agrees with various commenters that urge the Commission to create new rules that allow for and promote P2MP operations.  For example, the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (“DSA”) and Starry urge the Commission to allow higher gain antennas and P2MP operations.[8]  Similarly, WISPA makes a number of suggestions that would allow for P2MP operations such as refraining from limiting the types of services that can be offered in the U-NII-5 and U-NII-7 bands.[9]

As GeoLinks has previously explained, P2MP technology creates opportunities to connect multiple users in a more cost-effective manner (even if miles apart), making it ideal for serving multiple customers in one area at a lower cost.  As Starry notes, “point-to-multipoint deployments are essential to fixed wireless providers.”[10]  Moreover, DCA explains that these technologies (as well as point-to-point) “will help improve connectivity and competition in all markets, including but not limited to underserved areas and rural communities.”[11]  For these reasons, GeoLinks urges the Commission to develop rules that allow for P2MP use in the 6 GHz Band.

  1. CONCLUSION

GeoLinks applauds the Commission’s efforts to make more spectrum resources available for wireless uses.  However, as the Commission strives to create policies and rules for unlicensed spectrum use in the 6 GHz Band, GeoLinks urges the Commission not to assume that more unlicensed spectrum is sufficient in and of itself to meet the ever-growing demand for these connections and to promote competition by creating rules that allow for P2MP use.

 

Respectfully submitted,

GEOLINKS, LLC

 

/s/ Skyler Ditchfield, Chief Executive Officer

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

 

March 18, 2019

[1] Unlicensed Use of the 6 GHz Band; Expanding Flexible Use in Mid-Band Spectrum Between 3.7 and 24 GHz, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, ET Docket No. 18-295 and GN Docket No. 17-183, FCC 18-147 (rel. Oct. 24, 2018) (“NPRM”).  The NPRM was published in the Federal Register on December 17, 2018.  See 83 Fed. Reg. 64506 (Dec. 17, 2018).
[2] NPRM at para. 4.
[3] See Comments of Broadcom Inc., ET Docket No. 18-295 (filed February 15, 2019) (“Broadcom Comments”) at 1, Comments of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, ET Docket No. 18-295 (filed February 15, 2019) (“WISPA Comments”) at 5, Comments of Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, ET Docket No. 18-295 (filed February 15, 2019) (“DSA Comments”) at 1.
[4] Broadcom Comments at 1.
[5] See WISPA Comments at 6-7 citing NPRM statements of Chairman Pai and Commissioners Carr, O’Rielly, and Rosenworcel.
[6] Broadcom Comments at 1
[7] NPRM statement of Commissioner Rosenworcel at 1.
[8] DSA Comments at 3, Comments of Starry, Inc., ET Docket No. 18-295 (filed February 15, 2019) (“Starry Comments”) at 2.
[9] See WISPA Comments at 10.
[10] Id.
[11] DSA Comments at 15.

GeoLinks Installs 88 High-Tech Cameras in Southern and Northern California to Provide Critical Insight in High Risk Fire Areas

In collaboration with ALERTWildfire, UC San Diego, University of Nevada Reno, CENIC, SCE and PG&E, in three months GeoLinks has installed 88 cameras to improve confirmation and response efforts in combatting California wildfires.

CAMARILLO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–GeoLinks, a California-based telecommunications provider and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, has successfully installed and provided high speed, low latency, symmetrical data connections to 88 high-definition, pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras throughout Southern and Northern California to provide critical situational awareness during wildfire events. In collaboration with ALERTWildfire, University of California San Diego, University of Nevada, Reno, CENIC, Southern California Edison (SCE), and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the multi-hazard camera technology provides data related to fire ignition points critical in informing situational awareness and wildfire response.

This state-of-the-art camera network, developed and managed by UC San Diego and the University of Nevada, Reno, connects firefighting agencies with real-time imagery and environmental data enabling first responders to allocate and scale resources appropriately. Situated on GeoLinks’ vertical solar and wind-powered assets, the collected data is transmitted via GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network then handed off via a strategic partnership to CENIC’s private research and educational network to reach the universities, fire officials, utilities, and other users. This vital information allows involved parties to confirm ignition locations, verify 911 reports, image fire behavior, and ultimately deploy informed response and public warning.

“To give a little more context on GeoLinks involvement, we really dove head first in state disaster recovery efforts when hundreds of our clients, neighboring anchor institutions, and team members became displaced during the 2017 wildfires,” said GeoLinks Co-Founder and CEO Skyler Ditchfield. “When vital communications towers were destroyed by the fast-moving wildfire, our team worked around the clock to restore critical connectivity throughout affected counties. The same responsiveness transpired during 2018’s wildfire season; this included providing the same-day installation of a high capacity circuit for key Red Cross shelters free of charge. I realized what a difference we could make in this space with our unique capabilities of building rural and urban networks in off-the-grid locations where these are needed. Our dedication, passion, agility, and unique capabilities in supporting disaster recovery, initiated our involvement with our university collaborators.”

State, private, public and first-responder support for the expansion of this camera system is persistent and irrefutable. “The safety of my firefighters and the communities they protect is my priority, so having more information about a fire before we encounter it is an added safety measure that benefits our first responders,” said former San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Brian Fennessy. “Having access to a live view of our highest fire risk areas will greatly improve situational awareness and our coordination with CAL FIRE. In turn, that allows for quicker response times, better response strategies and faster evacuation orders to ensure our communities are better prepared in the face of a wildfire. During the ignition of the Church Fire, I could watch the smoke on my iPhone, the color, the direction, and immediately knew the resources that I needed to deploy and the time they would be engaged. Furthermore, the crews could watch how the fire progressed on their iPads as they approached the fire, real-time situational awareness — these fire cameras are a game changer.”

The 88 new cameras are located throughout high fire-risk areas throughout California. SCE and PG&E, along with public agencies and the general public, have access to the camera feeds around-the-clock through the www.alertwildfire.org website to monitor wildfire activity. Up to 160 cameras are expected to be installed by GeoLinks throughout SCE’s service area by 2020, which will allow approximately 90 percent coverage in high fire-risk areas. Similar efforts are underway at PG&E to cover their service area.

“I see this project as more of a mission than just a new line of business. None of this would be possible without the amazing work of Dr. Neal Driscoll of UC San Diego and Dr. Graham Kent of UNR who have been the pioneers of this work,” continued Ditchfield. “Our collaboration is now to super charge their founding efforts. Also, big kudos to the utilities for getting this underway; it truly shows their dedication to making a difference in future fire mitigation. The effects of this work will be nothing short of lifesaving.”

For media inquiries contact Lexie Smith, GeoLinks’ VP of Business Development, at [email protected].

About GeoLinks

GeoLinks, a Southern California based telecommunications provider and competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) public utility, is recognized on both a state and national level for its unparalleled capabilities in supporting disaster recovery. Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ innovative proprietary network, ClearFiber™, utilizes a combination of terrestrial fiber optic backhaul, carrier-grade full-duplex fixed wireless equipment, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensed spectrum, to deliver ultra-reliable high-speed broadband Internet access to businesses and anchor institutions throughout California. With the unique ability to build solar and wind-powered redundant telecommunications facilities “off the grid,” GeoLinks is able to deploy broadband to remote and unserved communities in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of fiber. Consequently, the company is recognized as a leader in closing the digital divide and proudly sits on an array of national boards, coalitions, and working groups, including: the Schools, Healthcare & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition; the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA); the Broadband Consortium of the Pacific Coast (BCPC); and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee. Recently the Company received the Christina Haska Distinguished Service Award from CENIC for GeoLinks’ pro-bono services providing critical data circuits to institutions during California’s recent natural disasters.

About CENIC • www.cenic.org

CENIC connects California to the world — advancing education and research statewide by providing the world-class network essential for innovation, collaboration, and economic growth. This nonprofit organization operates the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers, and others at vital public-serving institutions. CENIC’s Charter Associates are part of the world’s largest education system; they include the California K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the California State University system, California’s Public Libraries, the University of California system, Stanford, Caltech, USC, and the Naval Postgraduate School. CENIC also provides connectivity to leading-edge institutions and industry research organizations around the world, serving the public as a catalyst for a vibrant California. For more information, visit www.cenic.org.

CENIC Honors GeoLinks for Outstanding California Wildfire Response

CENIC Honors AT&T, GeoLinks, and CENIC NOC for Outstanding California Wildfire Response

 · RENS & NRENS

CENIC announces recipients of 2019 Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award

Read the full release here:https://cenic.org/news/item/cenic-honors-att-geolinks-and-cenic-noc

La Mirada, CA & Berkeley, CA — February 28, 2019 —  In recognition of their immediate and effective response to ensure emergency connectivity to communities and organizations affected by catastrophic wildfires, AT&T, GeoLinks, and CENIC’s Network Operations Center are being recognized with CENIC’s 2019 Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award, which honors individuals who have provided extraordinary leadership and service to the CENIC community.

Project leaders being recognized are: Ryan Adams, GeoLinks; Skyler Ditchfield, GeoLinks; Rhonda Lutz, AT&T; Cheryl Santiel, AT&T; and Stanley Han, CENIC.

When wildfires struck, AT&T, GeoLinks, and CENIC quickly engaged with affected communities to troubleshoot circuit failures, deploy equipment, repair network sites, and provide connectivity for essential emergency services. As a result, anchor institutions, which often serve as communication hubs for first responders and meeting places for area residents during a disaster, were able to maintain Internet connectivity. Evacuated residents were able to contact loved ones and let them know they were safe. People were able to send and receive critical emergency alerts, access email and the Internet, and get vital information immediately…..

…In nearby Oxnard, GeoLinks deployed free temporary microwave circuits to provide Internet access to the main library and two branch sites. Statewide, AT&T’s Network and Disaster Recovery team also deployed portable cell sites and recovery equipment. Meanwhile, CENIC offered to leverage its relationships with ISPs, provide temporary communications links, and donate decommissioned hardware.

“The commitment shown by these organizations and their talented staff was integral to providing critical Internet access that helped affected communities respond and recover during this catastrophic emergency,” said CENIC President and CEO Louis Fox. “We thank them for their dedication to this important work at such a critical moment for these individuals and institutions.”

Established in 2018, the CENIC Christine Haska Distinguished Service Award honors individuals who have provided extraordinary leadership and service to the CENIC community and its partners. The award is named in honor of Dr. Christine Haska (1951-2017), a treasured member of the CENIC community with an exuberant personality, boundless energy, and wide-ranging interests. She brought foresight, grace, and an innovative spirit to all her work, and remains an inspiration to colleagues working in research and education institutions across the nation. Haska had a long career in higher education and in 2002 joined the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California, where she served as vice president of information resources and chief information officer. She played a vital role in establishing both NPS and the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center as CENIC members. Retiring from NPS in 2013, Haska went on to successfully lead an initiative to connect the major health care institutions in Monterey to the CENIC network.

The CENIC Innovations in Networking Awards are presented each year at CENIC’s annual conference to highlight exemplary people, projects, and organizations that leverage high-bandwidth networking. The CENIC conference will be held March 18 – 20, 2019, in San Diego, California. Learn more and register to attend.