Monthly Fiber Update: January

Our Group Fiber Projects

The Rock Island team is actively working on over 200 fiber construction projects at this very moment. We are also in discussions with over 1,000 additional homes and businesses throughout the county to get fiber optic broadband. If you want fiber broadband and haven’t begun the process, be sure to visit the fiber section on our site. Join us in the 21st century!


Rock Tech Seminars – Free Classes!

Here ye, hear ye!

We at Rock Island are proud to announce for the first time here in this newsletter that we are starting FREE WEEKLY TECHNOLOGY CLASSES on Orcas, Lopez and San Juan.

That’s right, free of charge, and for every week in 2017 (except for holidays), we have enlisted two of the county’s finest technology trainers to lead a new class of the week on each of the three islands.

Our goal is to help you build confidence in the technology you own, and help you make confident choices with the new technology you wish to use. We will offer everything from basic introductory sessions to more advanced software and hardware classes – all based on feedback from participants and the community’s needs.

Examples of classes include: streaming TV and movies, computer basics, tech terminology, keeping your computer safe, buying and using the latest and greatest mobile devices, setting up a home network, and many more. Each of the sessions will include a presentation and an opportunity to visit with the trainers afterward.

Stay tuned for more information very soon!


Power Out. Fiber Up.

The power has gone several times over the past few weeks around the county. With wind and rain storms blasting through the islands as they have been, it’s surprising that the power has been up as much as it has been. That’s largely due to the smarts of our local power company, and the hard-working women and men that work each day to keep our power up and running in good times and bad. I know that all of us at Rock Island appreciate their hard work, and we’re sure that you do too!

This month we wanted to highlight a small fact that may be of interest to you. When those rare times come when the power goes out, your fiber or LTE Internet is most likely up and running. How could that be possible you might ask? Batteries. We employ battery backups at all our network sites to make sure that your Internet and T-Mobile cellular phones are up and running in times of need. Yep, you can sit in the dark and surf Facebook if you want to, or more importantly, call 911, OPALCO or anyone else on our system if you need help, or need to help someone else.

A new network has lots of benefits, and fresh batteries, redundant network paths and 24/7 monitoring are just a few that make a difference in our island lives. While we have done a lot to keep the network up outside your home, keeping it alive within your home is another topic. Be sure to employ batteries of your own (UPS) on your modem and phones, and any other devices you need to reach the Internet during a power outage.

If you need a UPS, or just want to talk about the best backup strategy possible for your home or office, stop by or give us a call. We’d be happy to help.


The Analog Phone Myth

Every once and a while when we ask a customer if they want to switch their phone service from an analog to digital phone service (VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol), from time-to-time we hear customers say, “I think I want to keep my land line in case the power goes out.” Upon further investigation, it’s clear that some people think that today’s copper phone lines are more stable than a VoiP phone.

Historically, this was true. Back in the golden, olden days copper wires used to run from a home all the way back to the phone company, making a call possible when the power goes out. However, for decades now, that hasn’t been the case.

Today, all phone calls from traditional analog phones still start at a house, and exits via a copper wire like always. However, for many years now that copper wire eventually connects to a phone cabinet that converts your analog phone call to a digital signal. That digital signal is sent back to the mainland via fiber optics, and in our case, CenturyLink fiber optics.

Today an analog phone line is just as stable as a digital phone in theory. But practically, there are several reasons that make a digital phone more attractive. Here’s a few:

  • The quality of the copper wire inside your house, from your house to the street, and from the street back to the nearest phone cabinet may have degraded from age and weather making calls crackle and weak
  • The phone cabinet where your analog phone connects may be miles and miles away from your home, making your phone quality poor (distance is always a problem with copper-based infrastructure)
  • The phone cabinet converting your analog phone to digital may have worn out batteries, on none at all, to connect your phone calls when the power goes out
  • The fiber carrying your phone traffic may have a high risk of breaking (again)
  • You may be paying for decades of infrastructure costs for the buildout and upkeep of a century old copper-based infrastructure

We believe choosing a digital phone on the Rock Island network is superior to analog for the following reasons:

  • There is no legacy copper wire to get in the way of crisp, clear calling
  • The cost is significantly lower for VoIP
  • The feature set is far superior than the traditional phone, allowing you to send voicemails to email and text, ring multiple phones at multiple locations at once, and a lot more
  • The fiber connecting your calls goes back to the mainland in the center of an armored power cable weighing over 30lbs per foot. That’s safe.

Feel free to call us to learn more about digital phone service (VoiP), or visit our website to learn more about our digital phone options.

Thank you for your time. We’ll be back next month with another Monthly Fiber Update. We appreciate your time and your support; we couldn’t do this without you!

All our best,

The Rock Island Team