"Folks who live in the middle of nowhere think for sure they'll never have an Internet connection," said
SkyFi Wireless Internet brings a lightning-fast connection to many homes tucked into isolated canyons or perched atop hard-to-reach ridges, said Waulters, manager of the new and quickly expanding wireless service. More than 1,000 customers in
A division of LocalTel Communications, the area's largest provider of Internet, telephone and cable TV services, SkyFi broadcasts a wireless Internet signal from 52 high points that include buildings, water tanks, utility poles and mountain-top homes. That signal -- an alternative to fiber lines and broadband Internet delivered over phone lines -- criss-crosses the region from
It's a technology, said LocalTel co-owner
"The SkyFi signal goes to places where not even a cell phone works reliably," said Mandelis.
SkyFi has grown in the last seven or eight years as LocalTel bought smaller Internet delivery companies -- EnVision in
Operating from its own set of towers and transmission points, SkyFi is sort of like radio, sort of like cell phones and sort of like WiFi, said Mandelis. Transmitters installed at high vantage points beam a line-of-sight signal to 14-inch dishes (sizes vary) bolted under the eaves of homes or onto the rooftops of businesses. SkyFi has its own frequencies to keep from mingling with cell phone channels and in-home WiFi signals.
Internet users also have other options for online connections -- through their cell phones or directly to satellites -- but none provides a connection that's as fast or economical as SkyFi, Waulters said.
Cost of SkyFi depends on the Internet speed required by the customer, he said. Speeds range from 10 megabytes per second (a tad faster than a home DSL connection) to 30 mbps (about the same as a basic cable connection). Prices range from about
Last week, SkyFi technicians were on the roof of the 10-story
"Fiber is not an infallible system," he said. "It occasionally has its problems. So businesses that run round-the-clock operations, particularly ones needing reliable credit card service or a data feed of some kind, see SkyFi as a good solution."
And it just keeps growing, said Waulters. SkyFi currently plans new installations for
"We've long reached the point where the Internet is where we turn for news, entertainment and staying connected to family and friends," said Mandelis. "So people want their online experience to be fast and seamless."
He added, "For folks who live in the country, away from city amenities, SkyFi can be their connection to the world."
(c)2013 The Wenatchee World (Wenatchee, Wash.)
Visit The Wenatchee World (Wenatchee, Wash.) at www.wenatcheeworld.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services