ConnectAnza offers high speed, affordable internet

ConnectAnza technician Donald splices fiber optic cable from the house to the pole. Diane Sieker photo

Living in a rural community has its fair share of problems. While I love the country life one of the things I had to go without was fast, efficient and affordable internet connection. Until now, that is. Thanks to ConnectAnza high-speed fiber optic internet service that problem has become a thing of the past.

I spend a lot of time on the internet, researching, selling items on online forums, uploading assignments and images for Anza Valley Outlook and cruising social media. I depend on it to communicate with friends, family and others.

Years ago, I had dial-up service, just like most people. When urban areas were graduating to DSL and cable connections, we in the high country were still stuck with the screeching of computer modems to connect via old land phone lines. Speeds were not fast enough to support watching videos or transferring large files.

In 2007, I was able to get Verizon broadband using an USB modem connected to the lap top computer. Things got a little better. But the cellphone giant had plans to push me out of the “unlimited data” account that I signed up for exclusively. When the faithful little USB modem finally died, Verizon informed me that I would need an updated device and my account would be restructured and be reduced from unlimited to restricted, and cost more money per month. So, I got clever. I found brand-new modems on eBay and bought five of them, which enabled me to continue with my account for several more years and not be forced to upgrade/downgrade. Finally, though, I dropped Verizon due to other reasons.

My next internet experience was Hughesnet satellite. I was happy with them, the service was good, though not blinding fast, and customer relations excellent. There was only one time that the satellite dish gave me any trouble, and that was last winter when it was covered with snow and could not receive a signal. I made a giant cotton swab out of a towel and a broom handle and gently wiped it clean and the problem was solved.

But Hughesnet cost over $70/month and the data limit was ridiculously low for the price. Often, I would go over my allotment, which resulted in my service speed being reduced to a literal crawl. Loading pages took minutes instead of seconds and the buffering of videos was so bad I could not watch even the shortest program. Of course, this all resolved when the account reset after a payment had been made, but sometimes for half the month I was reduced to well, tears.

Then I heard about the Anza Electric Cooperative offering a fiber optic high speed internet. I was told to sign up and they would notify me when it was available in my area. I was thrilled.

I knew the build out would take months and years in some areas. But I was patient, as I understand the AEC could only move so fast.

Then reports of the scalding fast service leaked onto social media. New users were sharing their connection experiences and offering screen shots of speed tests to illustrate their good fortune. And the price? Very affordable, with no restrictions and it was dependable. I could not wait.

This spring the crews installed the fiber optic cable to the pole at my house. We were getting closer.

Then this July that call came. Shawn Trento, ConnectAnza network administrator, made an appointment with me to do a survey of my home to determine the best way to hook up the service. Together we came up with a plan and he put it into motion.

It takes an entire team to get the installation completed. After the survey, Jesse came and ran the cable from the pole to the house and installed a connection box on the house. In the meantime, crews were working down the road, trenching in more cable to make a jump between poles, as some of the utilities in my area are underground. Then Donald arrived to splice the wires into the main cable on the pole. Trento returned with the router box and battery backup unit, which he hooked up and made absolutely sure that they were working correctly and interacting properly with my computer and phone.

“There you go, you’re all set.” he said.

“Set” is an understatement. I, too, tested my speeds and they were more than impressive. I repeatedly got 50-plus Mbps downloads and 45-plus Mbps uploads. What does this mean?

I can transfer huge photo files in seconds. I can watch YouTube cat videos all day long without sluggish buffering. I can get a smart TV and watch all those cool new shows. I can surf at the speed of light. I have never been so spoiled.

So how do you go about getting ConnectAnza high speed internet service to your home? It all starts with a call to AEC to get on the list. Occasional communication for updates is encouraged. Being nice goes a long way and being patient and understanding is the right thing to do. They are working as best they can, but it takes an entire team to do the install, not simply one person coming to hook up a couple wires. From the office staff to the crew members and technicians, every single one I dealt with was friendly, professional and dedicated.

ConnectAnza was stated to be a three- to five-year project and is progressing nicely, even ahead of schedule in some areas. Approximately 500 members are connected and over 2,000 more are signed up for the service.

For more information on ConnectAnza, call (951) 763-4333 or visit them online at www.connectanza.org. Like me, I am sure you will be glad you did.

ConnectAnza internet speeds recorded at my location. Diane Sieker photo

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