SIKLU | Closing the Digital Divide for Farmworkers and their families in Salinas

October 23rd, 2022

Cruzio, an Innovative “WISP” in Santa Cruz Works with Longtime Partner Siklu to Deliver Wireless Gigabits to the San Jerardo Cooperative in Salinas

Cruzio is an innovative Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) based in the surfer’s paradise of Santa Cruz, California and offers the highest-speed broadband residential and enterprise connectivity in Santa Cruz and surrounding towns. They also provide data center services, coworking facilities and are a driving force in the region in closing the digital divide.

This commitment is seen in Cruzio’s creation of the Equal Access initiative and Cruzio is taking its model for closing the digital divide through community partnership and community engagement to new areas of need. In particular, Equal Access Monterey Bay is a new partnership between Cruzio Internet, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, and the Central Coast Broadband Consortium and the group’s first project is a CPUC-funded project to bring reliable high-speed, wireless internet to the San Jerardo housing cooperative located just outside of Salinas, the home of celebrated author John Steinbeck and an area with a rich agricultural history.

Built by farm workers in the 1970s, the San Jerardo housing cooperative was an abandoned labor barracks, which the farm worker families first used as a squatting camp and then purchased and transformed into a vibrant community. The California Public Utilities Commission has recognized that addressing the need for real, affordable broadband at San Jerardo would be of immense value to the San Jerardo Cooperative who, like farm worker communities elsewhere, are struggling.

“The community of San Jerardo is a farmworkers housing Cooperative that needs affordable and reliable internet access. Students here do not have a reliable internet connection and are not able to stay connected in their school classes. Many families in the community cannot afford to pay for a reliable internet service [even if it were available]. Communities like San Jerardo need to have affordable and reliable internet access for the well-being of present and future generations.”

The Challenge

As Siklu has seen in similar situations, the cooperative is located in a mostly rural area with little legacy network infrastructure. For instance, the nearest fiber-optic PoP is located 5 miles away. Therefore, providing wireless internet access to the 250 permanent residents, and up to 100 seasonal residents of the Cooperative would require a cost-effective approach incorporating the state-of-the-art engineering, link-budget analysis, and technical support for which Siklu is known.

Cruzio also considered using 5 GHz-based systems for the link from the PoP and for onsite service, frequencies in the 5 GHz band. However, as this band is the preferred band for multi-point connectivity, and the go-to band for Wi-Fi on campuses, cellular off-load, and — of course — inside homes and businesses, it is becoming very crowded and full of noise, even in small towns like Salinas. Cruzio has worked with Siklu since 2015 and the two companies have overcome similar challenges and completed several successful projects. As for the San Jerardo project, work began in May 2022 and concluded by the end of July 2022.

The key requirements were Gigabitspeed connections, onsite or 24/7 remote technical support, and reliability. The first task was to establish a connection to the fiber PoP and for this Cruzio installed a dual band 80GHz mmWave/microwave link which provides a 10 Gbps backbone connection with “five 9s” of reliability.

Siklu Closes the Digital Divide

For the “on premises” network, Siklu’s new MultiHaul™ TG Terragraph-certified product line is a multi-Gigabit wireless technology designed to meet the growing demand for reliable, highspeed Internet access in urban and suburban environments. Initiated by META (formerly Facebook), the Terragraph solution is particularly useful in fiber-poor areas, or areas that cannot expand the existing fiber footprint, such as in downtown areas with historic buildings and other zoning restrictions.

The community is served by a centrally-located MultiHaul™ TG N366 node, which provides 16 Gbps of total capacity with an industry-first 360 degree range of connectivity. The 360-degree field of view allows full coverage of a particular area and a simple connection of up to 60 terminal units and the high capacity provides plenty of bandwidth as the number of users grows. This feature also speeds the process of connecting a MultiHaul™ T265 terminal unit installed at a residence, as it enables an automatic “point and connect” capability.

“The terragraph platform seemed an ideal use case for this project, offering unmatchable speeds and value”. “Our long relationship with Siklu meant we were confident of support and advice. The hardware platform offers unmatched performance and the assistance from the Siklu design team proved invaluable.”

Chris Frost, Cruzio’s CTO

Final Results

The San Jerardo Co-op has played an important role in the Salinas community and economy for many years and now the residents there have the high-speed Internet service they deserve. 250 residents are now connected with a service featuring download and upload speeds of 500+Mbps, which is comparable to Cruzio’s customers in Santa Cruz and other cities.

This project is meeting a critical need in closing the digital divide in an underserved area and – as noted above – the infrastructure is now in place to connect more homes and residents for the foreseeable future. This Equal Access/Cruzio initiative benefitted from its association with the Facebook (now Meta) Connectivity Accelerator program and from the support of many local community groups and elected officials.

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