Even though we live in a time where virtual reality is becoming commonplace and people are buying tickets to Mars, it’s hard to believe that there still exists a “digital divide” between rural and urban areas when it comes to internet access. According to the Wall Street Journal, approximately 39 percent of America’s rural population – about 23 million people – do not have access to internet with speeds that can support email, web surfing, or video streaming for more than one device at a time. That’s compared to only 4 percent of urban dwellers who lack fast internet.
Some internet service providers promise the moon to rural internet users, encouraging them to commit to long-term contracts and high fees with the promise of impressive speeds, yet they fail to follow through and deliver. Just recently HughesNet users complained online that the company’s network is struggling to provide advertised speeds of “up to 25 Mbps,” with users sharing in DSL Reports online forums that they’re often relegated to mind-numbingly slow speeds between 384 kbps and 1 Mbps.
Kristy CooperOvercoming a serious problem for rural internet users
This past year has been filled with milestones for us. One of the most satisfying is the remarkable bond we’ve built with our customers since we launched 25 years ago. As we move into a New Year we’d like to thank you for your insight, feedback and support along the way. Throughout the year you’ve let us know what is interesting and important to you through every click on our blog, website or social media. In fact, we thought it would be fun to round up the Top 10 most popular articles of the past year. If you missed any, here’s your chance to catch up.
Kristy CooperYou clicked – we listened! Most-read articles of 2017
This year has definitely been one for the books – and we’re not done yet! Our 25th anniversary is this year and we’re pretty excited about what we’ve accomplished – and planning for even more. We’ve rounded up some fun facts you may not know about us, and a few sneak peeks into the future. And up front, we’ve just got to say, thank you! Throughout all we do, it’s customers like you who make is all worth it. We’re truly grateful for your trust and loyalty and look forward to many more years to come.
In the early ‘90s, two old college buddies sat in a poorly-lit garage. Both with serious business and tech skills, both with a vision for providing much-needed technology services and support in the rural area they’d grown up in. In 1992, Kevin Triplett (President and CEO) and Scott Martin (Senior VP) began this company providing computer networking and application development consulting. In 1994, Softcom became an Internet service provider, providing dial-up Internet service and domain hosting to residential and business customers throughout California, Nevada & Utah.
We’re excited to announce some big moves we’re making bringing improved internet services to the Delta region. Our technicians have been working hard replacing existing WiMAX equipment with upgraded next-generation 4G LTE. This is a game changer for the region, bringing improved internet for current Softcom subscribers, and opening the door for others who have been told they are too remote for internet access – until now!
Our mission of providing high-speed internet where others fail to go fits perfectly with the Delta region, a unique region composed of thousands of miles of waterways and one of the most productive farming areas in the United States. Remote is a way of life, and people who live and work in the Delta have become used to falling under the radar when it comes to internet access. There are people who live aboard their boats and others who spend their days working in farms or vineyards, choosing to commute a considerable distance or set down roots in the Delta, loving the peace and beauty of the region.
Kristy CooperNew tech brings better, faster, stronger internet to the Delta
Softcom Chief Technology Officer Brian Meredith spent several days in Tel Aviv, Israel in May 2017 visiting the headquarters of Telrad Networks, a global provider of innovative 4G LTE telecom solutions with more than 300 4G LTE deployments in over 100 countries – including right here at home for Softcom. Brian was invited to the Telrad headquarters in Israel, along with other leaders in our industry, to discuss the latest developments at Telrad, most specifically with their 4G LTE products.
Telrad Networks is a recognized pioneer in the telecom industry, facilitating the connectivity needs of millions of end-users through operators, ISPs and vertical markets around the globe. Their focus is on 4G LTE products designed to enable wireless broadband connectivity, providing solutions that look toward the future – while offering the versatility and affordability required to meet the existing needs of evolving wireless networks.
Kristy CooperSoftcom CTO visits Telrad headquarters in Israel
We’re excited to share that after months of hard work (neither rain, nor mud, nor more rain could hold us back!) we’ve finally completed a cutting-edge technology upgrades for our primary tower at the Network Operations Center here in Galt. This is a significant milestone for us and our customers, providing significant improvements in service, connectivity and speed for many of our customers as they are able to transition to high-speed 4G LTE.
Braving this past season’s harsh weather, the Softcom crews have been working non-stop over the past several months to install and test the new equipment on the 195-foot tower located at our headquarters. Many customers have already been switched over to 4G LTE service, while others are scheduled or are in the process of upgrading from their current WiMAX service – all at no cost to them.
Kristy CooperAnnouncing significant technology upgrades at Softcom headquarters
You’d click through to log in to the internet, go make yourself a cup of coffee, and hope that by the time you got back to your computer you’d be logged in and ready to go. Luckily those days of slow internet are long gone and today’s connections just keep getting better and faster, even for those of us who live in rural areas. Unfortunately, though, slow-downs do still happen once in a while, even when you have a high-speed connection. They can happen for a variety of reasons, and thankfully some of them can easily be solved at home.
While we do everything we can to assure that our customers here at Softcom get the best – and fastest – service possible, keeping things working here at Softcom is only one part of the equation – your own equipment needs to be working properly for you to have the best internet experience. We know there are other factors that can affect speed, too, so put together a quick checklist to go through when slow internet speeds get you down.
There’s a trend in the market today of big-name carriers offering “unlimited” data plans that seem like the perfect answer for heavy internet users. Promises of never-ending data may sound great, but before you answer the siren call of data without limits, be sure to take a closer look at what you’ll really get.
Data may be unlimited, but speeds are not guaranteed
While many carriers offer “unlimited” data to a certain extent, their plans are filled with a lot of asterisks and if/when scenarios that will affect the quality of your service. Only a certain amount of data per month is guaranteed to be delivered at 4G LTE speeds. As of March 1, 2017, Verizon / AT&T caps it at 22 gigabytes; T-Mobile at 28 gigabytes. After you go over your 4G LTE cap, you are eligible to be “deprioritized” for the remainder of your billing cycle and your connection reduced to “3G speeds.” Depending on how much streaming or data-consuming work you do from your home or office, this could result in a week or two of streamlined internet speeds at the top of your billing cycle, followed by weeks of frustratingly slower connectivity.
Kristy CooperSoftcom Reveals The Truth About “Unlimited” Plans
Here at Softcom we’re kind of obsessed with finding ways to make our network better, faster and stronger than ever. For our customers, that’s a good thing. We’ve been providing network service since 1994, back in the days of dial-up internet. Remember that annoying sound? It took years to get that out of our heads! Since those days we’ve remained dedicated to our customers and community, always seeking out new ways to get them connected with new towers and technology, even when they live in areas that other companies won’t go. Twenty-two years later and counting, we’re pretty proud of what we’ve built, and still on the path to make it even greater. So let us introduce you to 4G LTE internet service.
In our latest triumph in technology, we’ve been rolling out new towers and technology over the last year (with even more scheduled for 2017) that allow us to offer 4G LTE. The new service offers extremely high speed service for video, VOIP, and general internet surfing. Now, when our customers ask us, “Can I use Softcom to replace my expensive satellite TV service?” the answer is Yes! Binge Netflix, stream the Superbowl, let your kids watch their favorite shows, the world online is yours with 4G LTE.
Kristy CooperNew towers, technology, and service areas coming in 2017
If you have the opportunity to work from home, and want the best results for your efforts, it’s important to set up your office for maximum productivity from the start. A home office has many benefits, most popular being the freedom and flexibility to set your own hours and design a workspace you love. As you peruse packages from your local internet provider and start picking paint colors, though, don’t forget to consider these 5 essential elements for a truly productive work-at-home experience.
Connectivity: In today’s working world, no matter what you do, high-speed internet is absolutely essential. Choose a local internet provider that offers secure, reliable, and high-speed internet. Even if you live in a rural community, advancing technology has made it possible for people in remote locations to enjoy the same high-speed connectivity as their urban neighbors. That means you can upload videos, participate in conference calls, lead a webinar and hold a Facebook chat, no matter where you’re located.
Kristy CooperFive must-haves for a productive home office
We believe that everyone deserves fast, reliable internet service no matter where they live or work. Softcom brings the experience, infrastructure, and technology to stand behind our vision. And we’re laser-focused on giving our customers the fast connections, exceptional customer service, and simple, affordable pricing they deserve.