Category: Rural Broadband

What do we need in order to work from home?

What do we need in order to work from home?

There I was, talking with someone yesterday morning at an Albany Chamber Greeter’s event about the news regarding the Coronavirus and the Governor banning gatherings of over 250 people.

As the conversation grew, there were other people at this greeter’s event that were business owners, parents, etc. We were talking about the effects of this ban as well as what next steps could be taken (including school closures, banning gatherings of over x number of people, etc.).

The main concern revolved around what this would mean for families if everyone had to stay home for a couple weeks.

I heard just this morning that all public schools in Oregon are closed until April, making the concern that people had yesterday a reality today.

What I learned… and how this can enable you to stay productive during this time

When I go to these events it is purely to see other business leaders, make new connections, etc. Very rarely do I give out business cards or try to sell our services. (We are friendlier internet after all…)

BUT several people had made the comment that if they had to work from home with their current internet connection, they simply wouldn’t be able to do it. For many, their internet connection is just too slow and/or too unreliable.

I let them know that there is a good chance that we would be able to get them online. They just needed to call our office to get the process started with our team.

Are you ready? Next steps you may want to consider

People that know me know that I am not an alarmist by any stretch of the imagination. I am very optimistic that the Coronavirus will be stopped and that we will be able to all carry on with our lives, have a great summer in Oregon, and that in a year or so this will be a distant memory.

All that to say, with the measures that have been taken, there is a possibility that more and more people will be required to work from home. I wouldn’t have even thought about it myself since we have a great internet connection at our house and working from home for a couple weeks wouldn’t be a big deal for me and my family.

The conversation with my friends at the greeter’s event changed my perspective in a big way. Anytime a crisis happens, one of the most important services that can be provided is communications. In our ever-growing digital world that means a reliable internet connection.

In case you haven’t looked at changing internet providers in some time, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Here is what you can expect from us: We have local staff that answer the phone when you call and can answer any questions you have. Our team is scheduled about a week in advance and we do our best to work with people’s schedules for install times.

Measures we are taking to keep our team and our customers safe while we help enable people to work remotely

I certainly understand people’s concern for the health and safety of their family and friends, not to mention the greater community we live in. As my wife and I had our second kiddo just 6 weeks ago, I’m very germ-conscious!

Our team goes into homes and businesses everyday. Here are some of the steps we are taking to ensure the health and safety of our customers that we interact with on a daily basis, as well as keeping our team safe:

The majority of the work our team has to do is outside. While they are inside people’s houses they are instructed to sanitize their hands before entering the house and if a customer requests, to wear disposable gloves as well as a mask.

How Can Alyrica Help?

It’s been a crazy few days impacting events, gatherings and workplaces all over the valley. No one can predict the future, but if you’ve been sitting on the fence about getting a better internet connection at your house, it may be the right time.

In case you’re wondering what our process looks like to get you online, in total it takes less than a week from the first phone call to getting you online and able to work from home. It all starts with a call or checking if your address is in our coverage area.

I think the best question we can ask is…”Do you have what you need to work from home?”

Locally owned, family business; that’s Alyrica!

Rural Internet

Rural Internet

The past few years there seems to be more and more media attention around having better rural internet options. Terms like Digital Divide make the conversation a bit more confusing, especially in areas where there seems to be options.

Defining Rural Broadband

Much of the confusion I think comes from people making the rules for funding rural internet not really having a clear definition of what ‘rural’ is or what ‘adequate service’ means. How big/not big does it mean to be rural?

I grew up as a kid in rural Montana (~2,000 person population) with the next closest town being about 30 miles away and was a booming metropolis of 1,800 people.

I also lived right outside of Seattle for 4 years and shared the road with 4 Million of my closest friends every time I went to the grocery store. Even in that environment, not too far out of the city there are pockets of poor internet access and the only options some people have are old DSL or Satellite.

So how do we begin to define rural, and what service do people need to not be part of the Digital Divide?

The definition of ‘Broadband’ has been a moving target and will continue to be so in the years to come. Since this is the case, areas across the country that had adequate ‘Broadband’ 10 years ago are now being left behind. has a great article on the change over time, and I borrowed their table from that article:

FCC Broadband Definition Over Time

Date Adopted Minimum Download Minimum Upload FCC Commissioner
2015 25 Mbps 3 Mbps Tom Wheeler, D
2010 4 Mbps 1 Mbps Julius Genachowski, D
1996 200 Kbps 200 Kbps William Kennard, D

*Data via FCC Public Records

This change started pushing government organizations to see what they could do to help internet companies make that a reality for people so that they could then have access to ‘Broadband.’

Fixing the Digital Divide

Satellite Internet decided to come to the rescue with the digital divide and create plans around the 25/3 broadband definition. Therefore anywhere you can get satellite internet, you now are NOT part of the digital divide and have broadband access. Right? Not quite…

I’ve had the opportunity to work with Polk County, Oregon on addressing some of the rural internet and broadband issues. Polk County is doing great things in terms of addressing what access the county has and in what areas to help providers see areas of opportunity to go in and serve. The did an extensive survey of residents in the rural areas of the county and had some great findings! Check out their survey and findings here.

As I’ve been in several of these meetings, I have heard over and over people talk about the funding that government agencies have to help pay for rural internet access. Since the money is there for the taking, we (the ‘we’ could be the ISP, the local government, a bunch of individuals, etc. depending on who is talking) need to go take it!

I wish it were that simple, but alas, it is not. If you recall, the satellite internet companies already provide 25/3 service, so by that definition, any area that is able to get satellite internet does not qualify for government funding. No, I’m not joking, it is the reality of the situation.

It isn’t as simple of an issue as many people think it should be. The target that people are striving for today (25/3) will probably be obsolete in the next 10 years. Satellite isn’t fast enough, cell companies have tough data caps, building fiber optics to every address in the United States is incredibly cost prohibitive and impractical… So what is the answer to the digital divide?

Local Internet Companies to the Rescue!

As crazy as it sounds; local internet companies are probably the best bet for helping overcome the digital divide. This isn’t just because I work for a local internet company (a really cool one I might add…) but the local companies are the ones that use the service they’re selling, and they probably live in rural areas just like you do! And since the local internet companies have to sell the internet, chances are good that they need to have good internet at their houses and places of work in order to make their network work.

In all the conversations I’ve had with people around this issue, the one thing that I have found is that there are generally options for people. That isn’t 100% true; the Polk County survey definitely found some areas where there is poor service or no service. Once local internet companies see and hear a need, they are the most willing to help figure out solutions to making that happen; we are neighbors after all!

That’s what I’ve loved about working at Alyrica; I know now that there are options that I never would have imagined before and that the digital divide isn’t as wide or expansive as some would have you believe.

If you haven’t checked our coverage recently; you may be surprised to find that you may be able to get Alyrica service at your house or business. And IF you are out of our main coverage area, we probably know the next best provider who may be able to get you online since we have connections in the industry.

Friendly, solution oriented customer service; that’s Alyrica!