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Exwire to expand high-speed Internet service
Carnelian Bay, Agate Bay and Old County residents may gain broadband access
By Julie Brown
April 26, 2007
Exwire, a locally based, high-speed Internet service provider, is planning to expand its service to the majority of residents in Carnelian Bay, Agate Bay and Old County by this summer, a company official said this week.
Due to limitations in their infrastructure, Exwire's broadband service is currently only available to a small portion of the area, said Devin Koch, Exwire's chief executive officer. With recent advances in technology, Koch said the company hopes to expand its service to reach 80 to 90 percent of North Tahoe residents.
For many people in Carnelian Bay, Agate Bay and Old County — who are only offered dial-up connections due to a lack of developed infrastructure — the company's promise may be the beginning of the end of a grassroots campaign for high-speed service.
Approximately 600 residents have voiced their desire for high-speed service through a petition that is available at CB's Pizza & Grill, the Old Post Office Cafe, and the 7-Eleven in Carnelian Bay, said petition organizer Brett Williams. Exwire is aware of their demand.
Exwire's Internet service operates in a similar manner to cell phone reception, said Koch. Service towers send out an Internet signal to a wireless transceiver that is installed in a subscriber's home. A cable connects the transceiver to a router or modem, providing high-speed access to the Internet.
Exwire is able to penetrate areas without broadband infrastructure, furnishing high-speed service to customers who otherwise would be forced to use slow dial-up connections, Koch said. Communities including Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Meeks Bay can already access Exwire's service.
Like cell phone service, proximity to the service tower affects the quality and efficiency of the Exwire's service performance. Recent advances in low-frequency technology, known in the Exwire office as "tree-busting gear," has improved the company's broadband service in densely forested areas, said Koch.
"One of the difficulties we've had in the past is the line of trees. If you couldn't see the tower, you couldn't get service," Koch said. "Now, we have new service to penetrate through the trees."
Currently, Exwire has three service towers in the North Shore area at the Cal-Neva Resort, Flick Point between the Nile and Sahara roads in Carnelian Bay, and at Gar Woods restaurant. The towers have not yet been updated with the new, low-frequency technology, preventing the majority of Carnelian Bay, Agate Bay and Old County from accessing their service.
CB's is one of the few locations in Carnelian Bay that has had access to Exwire's Internet service over the past two years because they are in a direct line of sight to the service tower at Gar Woods.
"Residents here have been calling me because they know that I have the Internet, and they want to know why they can't get it," said Lysa Hill, owner of CB's Pizza & Grill. "They can't get [Exwire service] unless they can see Gar Woods directly."
This limitation will soon disappear when Exwire upgrades the towers with new low-frequency equipment, and constructs two new towers that would serve the area. Exwire plans to offer the new broadband service by this summer, Koch said.
The presence of deep valleys and other topographic obstacles will prevent Exwire from reaching 100 percent of the population, he added.
Williams, the petition organizer, said he thinks Exwire would be a good high-speed service provider except for two flaws, its service limitations and high start-up costs.
Unless AT&T secures its own, competitively priced broadband service in the area before the end of next year, Williams said he believes Exwire could gain a stronghold in the North Shore Internet market.
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