Monthly Fiber Update: November

Hello Friends,

Welcome to the third installment of our Monthly Fiber Update (if you missed the first two updates, you can read them here). In this email series, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about our fiber initiative. We will continue to send out information like this every month to keep you up to date on the project, and let you know how to get involved if you choose to do so.

Have you seen one of our print ads running in the island papers recently? Our weekly ad has a growing list of projects we’re engaged with at the moment similar to the one below:

Current Group Projects
Matia View on Orcas Island
Morning Light on Orcas Island
Suncrest on Orcas Island
Whiskey Hill on Lopez Island
Cape San Juan on San Juan Island
Mineral Point on San Juan Island
Mineral Heights on San Juan Island
The Highlands on San Juan Island
Spring Point on Orcas Island

Upcoming Group Projects
Cayou Valley on Orcas Island
Garry Oak on San Juan Island
Portland Fair Area on San Juan Island
Rosario Group A on Orcas Island
Salmon Point on Lopez

Completed Group Projects!
Alder Forest on Orcas Island
Eagle Lake on Orcas Island
Seattle Pacific University on Blakely Island
Alder Cottages on Orcas Island

The list above encompasses hundreds of connections, and we are in planning and discussion with hundreds more. Fiber is here to stay and the response has been incredible to date.

For the people who have already received service, the feedback continues to be very positive. Here is a partial quote we received from a subscriber in Spring Point after we completed their installation:

“Most important — even better than the technical skills and professional services — is the attitude and courtesy which the Rock Island team and their contractors have displayed. It has been great to associate with a bunch of folks who are enthusiastic about their work, and motivated by their conviction that they are delivering a valuable resource and good product for the San Juan County community. I’m not sure who has inspired that kind of spirit or how it is being maintained, but GOOD JOB! The traditional OPALCO code of excellence is being well represented by Rock Island.”

– Norm Zimlich, Orcas Island

Thank you Norm! It’s great to get feedback like this. It gives us more fuel to keep moving ahead every day. OK, now let’s get into some updates:

Will Rock Island help me connect my third party devices and set up my home network after I’m connected?

We are seeing a surprising need for installation support beyond the basic install we provide. Generally, we get customers up on their fiber modems, show them how to connect to it via Wi-Fi and Ethernet, and run a few diagnostic tests to make sure our fiber connection is running as expected.

Questions have come pouring in from new customers about how to connect to the rest of their network. Some of these questions include: how they get their Roku, Airport Express, Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV connected to the new network. They are asking how to get their three Wi-Fi printers online, their four iPads, five laptops, their six cell phones and set up a guest Wi-Fi network.

Additional questions include how and when do they cut off their DSL service, where to send their DSL modem and how to reconnect their land lines, and if they still need those strange phone filters on their phones once they do? Whew! We’ve heard enough examples to make your head spin. Every home seems to have a different set of needs and a different layout effecting things like Wi-Fi design an interior cabling. Of course, we want to help our customers in every way we can, but when we’re installing dozens of fiber connections a week, we don’t have the time to do custom work with the teams in the field. After giving this some thought, we decided we can help; he’s how.

We will address this need in at least two ways: One, any Rock Island customer can schedule a time to have a technician come to their home and perform most of the technology tasks outlined above on a time and materials basis. Scheduling time is easy. All one has to do is call the main Rock Island phone number (378-5884) and ask to set up an appointment with one of our field techs. Secondly, we will provide any customer with a contact list of vetted 3rd-party IT consultants if requested. We can deliver this via phone and will have a list of preferred providers on our website soon. We are gathering names and numbers of local pros as we speak, so if you know a good one, please send them our way ([email protected]).

Are there funding options for fiber infrastructure?

We get asked a lot about the cost of getting fiber to a home. On average, it costs about $1,500 to $6,000 to complete a fiber project. We know this isn’t cheap, so we set up a few lending options to make this possible for people who need it.

We worked with Islanders Bank to create two loan programs to cover the costs associated with delivering high-speed broadband to you home. These loan programs are a convenient, low cost and straightforward way to finance both larger group efforts and individual homeowners.

The following programs are available to all qualifying groups and individuals. Contact Islands Bank to learn more:

Individual Loans
Interest Rate: 4.5%
Term: 5 Years
Loan Amount: Up To $5000
Contact Kathy Kantrud: 360-376-5220

HOA Group Loans
Interest Rate: 5%
Term: 5 Years
Loan Amount: Up To $300,000
Contact: Bruce Martin at 360-378-2265

Rock Island is hiring!

Looking for an exhilarating full-time job with great benefits in San Juan County? Living here now, or want to live here full time, and work for a cutting-edge technology company? If yes, give Rock Island your consideration. We are currently looking for people with experience and a great attitude to help join us in our mission. We are currently taking applications for:

  • Account Managers
  • Retail Salespeople
  • Technical Support Agents
  • Field Engineers
  • Network Engineers

If you or someone you know wants to join a thriving technology company making a huge difference in San Juan County, drop us a line at: [email protected].

Monthly open meetings continue; San Juan in November

We decided to start hosting monthly meet-ups to provide a longer format, face-to-face discussion on our project. Meetings will rotate every month from island to island and we will announce upcoming meetings and locations here and in the paper in the months to come.

Last month’s meetings in Eastsound went extremely well. There was a great turnout to both of them, and the Q&A was both productive and insightful for all who joined.

This month’s meetings will be held on San Juan Island at the Rock Island Retail Store. Here are the specifics:

1) Our Monthly Open Meeting: All are welcome to attend this general information session. We will provide a general update and answer questions from the audience.

Next Meeting: November 4, 2015 – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

2) Monthly Group Organizer Meeting: Learn more about organizing your group at this session. We will go over the process and share best practices on how other groups have organized and got fiber to their homes for reasonable rates.

Next Meeting: November 11, 2015 – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

November’s meetings will be held in our Friday Harbor office:

Rock Island Retail Store
345 Court Street
Friday Harbor, WA 98250

Thank you for your time and attention. We will return in December with the next edition of our monthly fiber update. In the meantime, we are making progress every day around the county. Thank you for your time and patience and, most importantly, your support.

All our best,

The Rock Island Team