Narrator: Today, the internet has become unavoidable in our daily lives. From education to online shopping to running basic business operations, the internet provides us with the information and knowledge required for modern living.
Alexander Hagen: We saw that from the pandemic that, you know, in emergencies, people can’t even function without the internet [and this] created a severe crisis in schools worldwide.
You know, it’s essential for communication, for commerce, for business, for education and also with our climate emergency. It’ll be very helpful as we adapt to more telecommuting.
Narrator: With instant gratification at our fingertips, many find it hard to believe that millions still lack adequate access to the internet. As broadband becomes more available, the problem of reaching remote and rural areas only continues to grow.
Freny Cooper: A study by BroadbandNow in 2020 estimated that 42 million Americans do not have access to the internet. Especially in rural areas, internet service might be upwards of $100 a month and not everyone can afford that.
Andrew Brickweg: Today’s digital world can really highlight the challenges of living without internet in a rural area. For example, if you need to apply for a job, most jobs you have to apply for on your computer online. If you don’t have adequate internet, you can’t deposit your checks on your mobile app. You have to go to the bank. If you go camping, even the campgrounds have Wi-Fi. So these small things can make a big difference in people’s lives.
Narrator: Challenging the foundations of social and economic norms around the world, the COVID 19 pandemic showed the world why it’s critical to have access to dependable internet connectivity.
Laura Schaub: The COVID 19 pandemic has really shone a light on how much we have grown to depend on the internet over the last 30 years. What was once a luxury is now a necessity, and people who can’t yet get reliable internet are feeling intense frustration. At Etheric Networks our goal is to provide robust, reliable internet to everyone, regardless of where they live.
Narrator: While sections of society who are already connected adopt newer technologies, groups with traditionally lower rates for internet and computer usage continue to lag far behind.
Andrew Brickweg: The digital divide really, I think, is defined by the physical and social isolation that it causes for those who don’t have adequate coverage. When you look at income levels, if you’re in a rural area and you’re very wealthy and you own a home on a mountain top, you’ll figure out a way to get internet for you and your family. But people in rural areas have little, or no choices.
Freny Cooper: The reason why large carriers can’t connect everyone is they’re not motivated to go to rural areas where it’s less densely populated. It doesn’t makes financial sense for anyone to extend fiber to those rural areas.
Narrator: Working with government communities and private entities to deliver gigabit speeds where legacy providers can’t Etheric Networks is on a mission to bring good broadband to more than 60,000 locations in California.
Alexander Hagen: I started Etheric Networks in 2003 to give people choice. DSL had a lot of problems with encapsulating packets, which means that people couldn’t use VPNs very well with DSL, and the whole telecom structure is extremely bureaucratic. The development of the internet with ethernet, such as the name Etheric Networks, is a very clean protocol and it allows standards, and it allows individual people to form up and start organizing networks.
In the beginning, we actually rated as the fastest ISP in the world on DSL Reports, and we will be the fastest ISP in the world for upload later this year.
Andrew Brickweg: In California, much of our state is defined by rugged terrain and hard to reach areas. We know we can deliver service to these hard to reach areas because we’ve been doing it for 18 years.
Narrator: Backed by private fiber, emergency power solutions and rapid deployment field technicians, fixed-wireless provides a trusted connection that is designed to stay up even when the power goes down.
Alexander Hagen: Photons, when they’re traveling with a lot of energy, are light, and as the energy slows, they turn into waves. So fixed-wireless is similar to fiber, except you’re moving through free space. It’s actually slightly faster than fiber because fiber reduces the speed of the photons because of the sheathing and the glass. Whereas the air slows it down less. We’re talking about 180 miles per milisecond…maybe 170 with fixed-wireless and 140 with fiber.
Laura Schaub: The coolest thing about fixed wireless is its flexibility, it has a small footprint and reaches a wide area. Etheric Network specializes in bringing internet to hard to reach areas, particularly rural areas, using a combination of dark fiber, fixed-wireless towers and spectrum. Our engineers excel at creating solutions to reach the most remote areas. And then once installed, we monitor those from our offices so that our field technicians would know exactly what’s going on at any one time, and can make repairs and updates quickly.
Narrator: A fixed wireless network built with redundancy and reliability in mind has the potential to outperform legacy connections time and time again.
Alexander Hagen: The future of internet is going to be very important to be able to get extremely high speeds everywhere without generating huge amounts of pollution in the process. And that’s where fixed-wireless really fits in. We can equip our transmitter stations with solar. We can not only transmit without any carbon footprint, we can also recharge our vehicles. And then at the community level, it could be operated by the local municipality. Other cases, it could be operated by private operators and/or owned by private operators. There’s a hybrid ownership model that will be emerging and we have to be competitive globally. The United States is lagging behind the other industrial countries in broadband deployment.