AEC celebrates ConnectAnza’s 5th anniversary

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Diane Sieker photo

ANZA – In 2015, the members of Anza Electric Cooperative Inc. took the first step toward building a connected community by approving the ConnectAnza broadband internet service initiative. To date, over 2,000 ConnectAnza member services are up and running.

“ConnectAnza has transformed our business operations. Prior to ConnectAnza our internet service was slow, unreliable and expensive,” Brian Crater, associate executive director of Camp Ronald McDonald For Good Times, said. “With ConnectAnza, our internet speed and reliability is better than our main Los Angeles office and at a better value. Thank you ConnectAnza for allowing us to provide exceptional service to our guests, parents, campers, volunteer, health care partners and the communities we serve.”

With $8 million invested to date, construction is nearly completed, Keith Short, general manager of AEC, said. AEC received grants from the state of California that covered nearly $5 million of the installation costs. While only carrying debt of a little over $3 million, the project has already added $11 million of worth to the member-owned cooperative’s plant value.

The installation of hundreds of miles of fiber optic cable is due to the combined efforts of AEC’s telecommunications crew and that of a small company, Richie Tools, which is owned by Tom Dow; however, the cooperative faced early issues with deployment.

“Highway 74 through Mountain Center and Pinyon was a problem,” Short said. “Highway 74 through the area has a scenic highway designation, and the state’s initial position was that adding a cable to our existing structures would negatively impact the view. Ultimately that issue was resolved, but we experienced a significant delay and additional costs early on.”

“Deploying this equipment in our mountain communities has brought some unique challenges,” Shawn Trento, network administrator of AEC, said. “It’s been great to be a part of bringing true high-speed internet to our members. We’re looking forward to even more opportunities soon.”

One of the many perks of the project included providing refurbished computers to the community at cost. AEC teamed with the Riverside County IT Department in this effort, providing nearly 400 refurbished computers to members either for free or at cost.

As Debbie Winger, member services manager of AEC, said, “We had the unique opportunity to work with the County and KOYT radio to provide computers to income qualified families in our service territory, which has improved accessibility for school and job opportunities.”

There’s much more to modern internet access than streaming movies or gaming; local businesses use it too.

“As a professional videographer, ConnectAnza has opened up a new world of possibilities for me,” Justin Jones AEC member and professional videographer of cv.Watermoore.com, said, “It has enabled me to solicit work anywhere in the world without the logistical nightmare of sending assets back and forth via hard drives and FedEx. Currently I am working with a startup in Solana Beach on some intensive motion graphic marketing collateral. ConnectAnza has enabled me to meet clients, negotiate the work, and send massive amounts of video assets back and forth all without having to leave my house. Before ConnectAnza, none of this would have been possible.”

With continuous battery backup capability from the beginning of the circuit all the way to the member’s home router, internet connectivity remains available even during power outages, Short said.

“Girl Scouts of Orange County has successfully used ConnectAnza’s high speed internet service at our award-winning Camp Scherman, located in the San Jacinto Mountains,” Tom Olivas, director of facility operations for Girl Scout Council of Orange County, said. “ConnectAnza’s reliable internet service enables our camp staff to remain fully connected to campers’ families, while our Girl Scouts have the time of their life participating in Camp Scherman’s timeless traditions, taking on new outdoor challenges, and making lifelong friends.”

For more information on Anza Electric and ConnectAnza, visit http://www.anzaelectric.org.

Submitted by Anza Electric Cooperative.