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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.

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Local internet service provider relocates to Camarillo, creates job openings

Original Article

A local internet service provider is expanding throughout the region and aims to become one of Ventura County’s leading technology businesses.

GeoLinks, which was created by Ventura resident Skyler Ditchfield in 2011, began as a two-person team interested in providing internet service to rural residents overlooked by the nation’s larger internet service providers. Since then, GeoLinks has hired over 50 employees and shifted its focus to providing internet packages to large businesses, including Amgen Inc. and several regional McDonald’s restaurants.

Although the privately-owned company’s internet services are largely restricted to businesses, GeoLinks’ continued growth has resulted in a steady stream of job openings for people with technology and customer service skills, according to Ditchfield.

“We started with two people, have over 50 now and are still hiring nonstop,” Ditchfield said in an interview. “We’ve got everything from sales opportunities to customer service, to field tech opportunities, installation and infrastructure technicians, help desk and eventually those jobs can open up to middle and upper-level positions in the company.”

The Camarillo-based business relocated from Ventura to 251 Camarillo Ranch Road last week to house its rapidly growing staff. The building, which was previously owned by mobile video game developer Zindagi Games Inc., includes amenities such as an exercise facility, basketball court, game room and kitchen. GeoLinks’ expanded office matches its growing coverage. The business services companies from northern Ventura County to San Diego and is beginning to spread to other states, such as Arizona.

Beyond job opportunities, Ditchfield considers GeoLinks’ expansion to be an important example of how local businesses can provide compelling alternatives to national companies. Ditchfield stressed that customer service played a major role in his company’s success, and said that GeoLinks’ local focus allowed the business to thrive despite competition from larger internet service providers such as AT&T and Verizon.

“People are fed up with the poor customer service and tech support from the big guys,” Ditchfield said in an interview. “The whole methodology is to get off the phone and move you away, while we’re actually trying to solve the problem. Customer service is why we win (business) accounts, so it’s incredibly important to us that we maintain that level of service.”

Going forward, GeoLinks aims to begin providing internet options to California residents, as opposed to just businesses, in early 2018, with a particular focus on rural communities. For more information about the business, visit GeoLinks’ website.

Skyler Ditchfield GeoLinks

GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield is shown at the basketball court in the new building the company recently moved into in Camarillo. The local internet company is expanding and hopes to provide internet services to individuals as well as businesses. CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR

GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield talks about the expansion of the internet service business. The company was launched in 2011 as a two-person enterprise and now has over 50 people working at its Camarillo facility. It is continuing to expand and hire. CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR

The sales and marketing department of GeoLinks in Camarillo is a busy place. The local internet service provider is expanding and hiring more staff. After starting a a provider of internet services to rural areas not served by the bigger companies it it now focused on serving business like Amgen Inc. CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR

The GeoLinks recreation room has pool tables at the new building the internet service provider recently relocated to in Camarillo. The internet company is expanding after moving from Ventura. CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR

GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield is shown near the main conference room of the company’s new building in Camarillo. The internet company is expanding and hiring as it focuses on providing internet services to area businesses. CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR

GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield talks about the company’s expansion and the new headquarters it recently moved into in Camarillo. After starting in 2011 with two people, the internet service provider now has more than 50 employees and anticipates more hiring. CHUCK KIRMAN/THE STAR