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Wireless And Wired; US Internet Knows Both - Community Broadband Bits 301
Deploying, maintaining, and operating a wireless network is easy, right? You just put up your equipment, sign up subscribers, and start raking in the dough, right? Not even close, says Travis Carter, one of the co-founders of US Internet and our guest for episode 301 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. He should know -- he's deployed both wireless and fiber networks in Minneapolis.
In this episode, we get an update on US Internet’s progress on its fiber deployment. Travis also compares what it’s like to own, maintain, and operate each type of network. There are pros and cons of each and each is better suited for different environments and situations.
Travis and Christopher also talk about some of the marketing approaches that US Internet use after being in business for several years and determining what works in the Minneapolis market. He describes how a local company can compete against the big national ISPs by giving subscribers a good product, maintaining good customer service, and keeping an eye on long-term goals.
Learn more about US Internet in episode 194 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.
This show is 34 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed.
We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.
Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.
Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
Travis Carter: I want to be the first NFL city in the US, done with fiber. There'll be a fiber cable out in front of every home, every business, every everything.
Lisa Gonzalez: You're listening to episode 301 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast from the institute for Local Self-Reliance. I'm Lisa Gonzalez. Travis Carter from US Internet joins Christopher this week. Travis has been on the show before to talk about what it's like to own and operate an independent Internet service company and how has the company evolved from offering wireless in Minneapolis to now deploying fiber all over the city. That was episode 194. This time Travis talks about the progress US Internet has made in its goal to blanket all of Minneapolis with high quality fiber connectivity. He also chats with Christopher about the differences between investing in operating and maintaining fiber networks and different wireless networks. He also gets into some of the lessons he's learned through trial and error. This was our chance to go straight to the source. Now, here's Christopher with Travis Carter from US Internet.
Chris M: Welcome to another Broadband Community Bits, that didn't sound right?
Travis Carter: That's not the right way.
Chris M: No.
Travis Carter: Welcome to episode 301 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.
Chris M: Welcome to episode 301. Travis Carter is back in the house while I'm back in Travis Carter's house in this case, for episode 301. That's 301 episodes. Welcome back.
Travis Carter: Yeah, amazing
Chris M: Well, you know, I have to say that I'm enthusiastic. Listeners like you are, why we keep doing it.
Travis Carter: Yes, and I really wanted to be 300, but you know, I'll take the 301 spot.
Chris M: Yes. Well, we'll just, if we go back to counting from zero and renumber our episodes, a proper computer scientists
Travis Carter: Welcome to episode 300.
Chris M: Right. So travis, you run USI. What does USI?
Travis Carter: So USI is a Internet service provider based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We've gotten business in May of 1995 and me and my two business partners have been providing Internet services and manage services co-location in the twin cities area.
Chris M: And what we're going to be talking about today is a bit of, I think, more technological, wireless versus fiber. What's the experience of someone who has dealt with both of them? You have extensive experience with both you wanna just briefly outline.
Travis Carter: Yeah, about 10 years ago. US, us. I was awarded the municipal wireless contract for the city of Minneapolis and if we rewind back in time, there was initially an initiative across the country for major metropolitan areas to establish a WI-FI, the equivalent of a Wi-Fi hotspot across the entire city. The third pipe, yes. We proceeded to install 2,500 access points across the city of Minneapolis and for 10 years had been providing wireless services to the residence of Minneapolis. Now again, rewinding 10 years ago, the speed profile at the time was 1, 3, and 6 megabits and we were able to install to a substantial number of homes and deal with all the challenges and the reality of Wi-Fi in a municipal setting.
Chris M: That's not the only wireless that you have dealt with.
Travis Carter: You know, wireless has evolved, so every three to five years there seems to be a major technology shift in wireless. So throughout the years we've gone back and upgraded our 2,500 locations to newer technology as that technology has become available and viable.
Chris M: So and that's -- and that's Wi-Fi, but you've also used other kinds of wireless? Is there any kind of wireless that you've always been curious about. But you have not used?
Travis Carter: Yeah, well we, you know, we, we use a lot of wireless for our backhaul. So in Minneapolis we're fortunate to have the downtown area with the tall buildings right in the center of town. So we'll beam wireless microwave licensed signals off of there into neighborhoods to feed the backhaul. We recently, in the last two years have gotten pretty heavy into millimeter wave for short distance from rooftop to rooftop again in, in kind of the downtown and the surrounding area where you have a lot of high- density multi-dwelling units. It's a very viable solution all the way to point to multipoint Wi-Fi and a TDD type or down on the street level.
Chris M: So when we're talking about wireless, you have a background in it.
Travis Carter: Yeah. And our background is the old fashioned way you've learned by doing. So we have made every mistake possible in the wireless industry and I have a warehouse full of equipment that had very nice technical cut sheets on what they could do. We would put them up and then the reality is is 90 percent of the stuff didn't perform as you would expect simply due to the environment. You know, Minneapolis has four seasons, so we go from a lush tropical jungle in the summer to a frozen barren wasteland in the winter and everything in between. So you have to take that into consideration when you're talking wireless and you've also been involved with fiber.
Chris M: So you've coated the city with wireless of Minneapolis and you've also done fiber. How far across Minneapolis?
Travis Carter: Yeah. We're currently in front of about 65,000 homes in the city of Minneapolis, so it's about 30 to 35 percent of the geography and we continue every season to deploy more fiber. This year we've got a pretty aggressive plan to roll out fiber in the south-south part of the city of Minneapolis and we have a five year plan that shows us having Minneapolis a hundred percent completed. Our goal is to have fiber at every square inch of the city of Minneapolis within the next five years.
Chris M: And how many customers do you have of the 65,000?
Travis Carter: About 25,000 currently,
Speaker 4: And you're competing against the best of what cities are typically have, which is a very the best that Comcast offers basically, and it's plant. I'm with gigabit claims and a fiber to the home from Centurylink and a number of these areas.
Travis Carter: Oh sure. Yeah. We've got the two stereotypical incumbents that we deal with on a day to day basis and a key thing to understand about that 65,000 number is that includes multi-dwelling units and have a reasonably high percentage of those. We don't have access agreements to cable yet, so there's -- there's -- It's multifaceted when you roll out a fiber network and yes, the competition is there.
Chris M: I think it's worth establishing first of all that you are succeeding very well in this space. Certainly relative to other over-builders, as the industry calls them, but also that it is possible to succeed in competing against entrenched incumbents like that.
Travis Carter: Oh, absolutely. The market is demanding a third option as you say, and as long as the option is viable, technically superior, customer service superior, there's no reason you can't obtain a viable market share.
Chris M: One of the reasons that we 'wanted to talk to you specifically was because of this wealth of wireless experience. I often, when I'm talking with people, despite not having any of the experience that you have, having heard from you and many other people that have had these experiences, I say things like, the thing about wireless is people pay attention to the upfront cost and they don't realize all the operating costs. So I was hoping to get into some of those operating costs today. Let's talk about one of the first things you've already mentioned, which is a lot of the gear just doesn't perform to specification or or the specification maybe was developed in Israel and it may not be. I don't want to pick on any particular companies, but it might be developed in a place that is not like Minnesota and doesn't work well.
Travis Carter: It reminds me of a visit I took to Tucson, Arizona one time, so we landed in Tucson and we went and visited a wireless, a WISP out there, and this was a wireless utopia. This was unbelievable as far as very limited trees, wide roads, a lot of mounting assets. They don't even have moisture in the air. Exactly. I mean this. This was a perfect place to do wireless and then you return back to Minneapolis, which is the least optimal place to do a wireless and we were able and we continue to be able to deliver wireless service in Minneapolis, you know, through a lot of tricks and techniques and that we've learned over the years of deploying these technologies. You know, there's a price point. If it's too inexpensive, it's probably not going to be as functional as is. But if it's too expensive, you can't make the business model work. We have to live somewhere in between and that's where we tend to live.
Chris M: So once the network is working and you've got it to a point in which you feel like it's going to be successful. Let's talk about Wi-Fi specifically for a second. What are some of the costs people might not anticipate with running a Wi-Fi network?
Travis Carter: As Wi-Fi is aged out, so you've got kind of your mobile wireless concept which now has become Wi-Fi and then you have your fixed wireless, which we call TDM, so you've got to. When you look at a access point on the corner of the street, you actually have two different wireless technologies running there, so if somebody is walking down the street with their, with their iPad or their laptop or their cell phone, they can connect to Wi-Fi and that experience is best effort. You get what you get. Now the new MiMo -- er MiMo -- excuse me -- in all the different has made it much better than it was say 10 years ago, but it isn't necessarily -- there's no service level agreement attached to it and so if you traverse through downtown Minneapolis where we have a lot of, a lot of the newer access points running Wi-Fi, you have an amazing experience. Now on a fixed wireless front. This is where you put an antenna in your home or on your business, different radio, different technology, and highly effective if you're within range, if there's not a lot of trees in the way, if there's not buses driving down, you know, we, I always say it depends who depends on the environment and the environment changes and the environment changes all the time.
Chris M: Right? So now if we, if we focus on just the Wi-Fi with the best efforts, I'm curious, you might think to yourself, as a, as a person that's going to get into this business, OK, I'm going to buy this, this wireless access point. I'm gonna, put it on the corner of the street. It's going to sit there for three to five years until I replace it. And that's more or less it. That's all I've got to do, right?
Travis Carter: So the, the fundamental thing you have to understand with wireless networks, and this doesn't matter if it's Wi-Fi or TDM product, if it's LTE, 5G -- the access side of it is relatively good and perfected. It's the backhaul. How do you connect that access point that sits on the corner? So you know, our network where we have fiber and we have a fiber attached access point, it is almost a fire and forget kind of concept. You put the radio up, you hook up your fiber to it, you haul the fiber back to your switching station and now the people that connect to that have an absolutely amazing experience. Now in our legacy environment where we do wireless backhaul, meaning from access point a to access point b, it's actually a wireless connection,
Chris M: Right? It's like a little square on the middle piece of square. That's the antenna
Travis Carter: That is where the majority of your challenges run into. So if it's fiber and wireless and fiber and Wi-Fi, they almost go together like peanut butter and jelly. I mean they, they -- when you have both, you have an amazing wireless experience. That's why you see all these small cells that the phone companies are installing. They're all fiber attached. There is no, they used to be wireless backhaul. That's all gone. So in the area where we have built fiber and we've upgraded the Wi-Fi and we've upgraded the fixed wireless, it's a spectacular experience in the area where we have wireless backhaul, that's an optimization exercise every single day where you're having to continually modify an optimize these backhauls because trees grow, leaves come in, you know, things get knocked down and so you've got to have full time staff and bucket trucks running around all day, every day fixing.
Chris M: You can't just do this from your office here. You can just adjust the radios,
Travis Carter: No, there -- it's a physical kind of adjustment because every year the trees grow a little bit more. Leaves a you have and you need to get out there and realign your antennas. You know, a big windstorm comes through, a tree falls down, somebody hits it. You're constantly adjusting these.
Chris M: This wireless backhaul is a point to point, correct?
Travis Carter: Yes.
Travis Carter: You have to kind of aim it. You got to yeah, you got to get up there and you gotta aim these antennas constantly. So if you have and you have the ability to hook these access points up with a physical connection, then you can realize the dream of most of the wireless Internet service providers, which is put up your antenna and then you can sit back and run, you know, from a central location
Chris M: Are the costs such that if, if you're expanding to the entire city of Minneapolis, would you imagine making wireless just free for everyone who subscribes to your fiber service?
Travis Carter: Correct? Yep. Wi-Fi would be free across the city. So the economics would work for that, correct? Yeah. So our, our utopian view of this would be fiber. At the bottom we would have fixed wireless and then we would have Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi would just be free across the city. Think of it as a big starbucks or Mcdonald's. You just go along and get, get your signal. Fixed wireless would be there for many reasons. So let, let's, let's go down. Let's go down the most obvious ones. There's an apartment building there. We don't have an a wireless agreement -- errr excuse me, a wire agreement with. Well, a tenant could put a little radio on their window and get access to, to the fixed wireless. We have a little thing up here in Minnesota called winter.
Chris M: We're still in it in the spring.
Travis Carter: Apparently it doesn't want to stop this year. So the, our fiber network is all underground. So when the ground freezes, like ice, ice cube, it's very difficult to do construction. So we could come out to a home owner who wants to sign up for service in February, give them a fixed wireless connection. And then when the ground thaws we could replace it with fiber. There's a myriad of, of city applications of surveillance cameras and water meter readers, et cetera that are all hooked up to fixed wireless. So I view it as three layers of the cake and we just choose the technology that makes the most sense.
Chris M: Are you at all scared that Verizon will come in here with its new 5G product and start taking your customers away from you?
Travis Carter: No, I mean I've heard about these, used to be called Wi-Max and then it was called LTE and then we, you know, pick, pick the acronym in the wireless world. 5G is just the new acronym now. Are they going to put enough access points around Minneapolis at the price point that they're paying? I would. I would find it difficult for them to be able to make a viable model considering the tree density and considering what we have going on here in Minneapolis.
Chris M: You seem to think 5G is not magic.
Travis Carter: There is no magic. It's, it's, it's basically it's wireless. At the end of the day it's, it's, it's wireless. There's no super magic involved here. It's no different than any of the other technologies. It's a small cell configuration, millimeter wave, high density, high qualm rates, line of sight to get optimal. Well in the real world in Minneapolis. Now again going to Tucson. OK, awesome. But in Minneapolis in July, I mean you live here, you know what it's like, it's pitch black when you drive down the streets because there's so many trees. When trees are attenuation to wireless signals,
Chris M: Unfortunately the Ash-borer [an insect] is taken care of it, but we're going to replace them as fast as we possibly can.
Travis Carter: So there's, there's the, there's the reality of wireless. There's only so much spectrum available. Everyone's sharing that spectrum. So when it's Sunday night and everyone's fired up their Netflix or their YoutubeTV, there's only so much of that resource available.
Chris M: Well, and this is also something that I've been curious. How have you been following the very low earth orbit and low Earth orbit satellite discussions? I was curious about that too, because they're talking about launching thousands of satellites.
Travis Carter: Yeah, 4,000 some satellites here.
Chris M: I think, I think each company, so maybe let's say assume you know, eight or 10,000 ultimately. And I was trying to run the numbers on that for everyone in, in these rural areas where some people, including one of our, unfortunately non-technical savvy representatives who thinks he's incredibly technically savvy, says that this is the big solution for everyone. They don't seem to realize that. Once again, I think of this as just being. It's a way of sharing one fiber with all of your friends and relatives and all of their friends and relatives
Travis Carter: People like satellite because it sounds cool and it requires a rocket to install it. Right. But think of it as an access point in the sky. Right? And again, there's only so much spectrum. There's only so you have to have visual line of sight to get to it. There are applications where it makes really good sense. Right?
Chris M: Well exactly. If you're on. I was joking with some of the folks from Colorado, if you're on Pike's Peak, hey, it's great there, but the idea that you're going to have to solve all the problems of rural America is crazy in the. In the same way that. I mean it would be like one, one wireless tower serving all of Minneapolis. The numbers just don't work.
Travis Carter: Let's assume if that was deployed right now. We would probably know where that Malaysian airliner is. The great application for that. We would, you know, ocean liners, a very rural locations and I'm talking not USE rural. I'm talking rural in the middle of Africa or India, Alaska, Rural Alaska. Well, there you go. Yeah, I mean those, those are going to be viable things, but you know, the homeowner in South Minneapolis that wants to watch Netflix and YoutubeTV and play video games that that won't be a viable technology for them.
Chris M: And one other thing, just again on this 5G kick that we're, we're in, we talked about satellites a little bit, but going back to 5G I was just talking with a reporter from Idaho who wanted to know what 5G would mean for Rural Idaho. My answer was, not a whole lot.
Travis Carter: Well, I mean let's, let's go to episode 800 of this show and let's talk about 6G. It's just, it's the next-- again, we've been in the salon and maybe I'm a little cynical after 24 years, but it's just the next acronym and there will be applications for it and there will be scenarios where people use it but it isn't a blanket solution for everyone.
Chris M: Well, and this is one of the things, one of the things we just did a show a couple episodes ago that you listened to on 5G and one of the things that's really exciting is the low latency aspects, but the thing that I feel like most people just keep forgetting is the problem with wireless in my mind is that if it was comparable to a wired connection in price, you still have that issue of reliability when you're trying to stream Netflix and you're having a bad night and it kicks you out a couple of times because there was maybe the wind's blowing or maybe someone parked their car in the wrong space, creating odd reflections. Who knows? It just doesn't work that well. It's my impression
Travis Carter: And that's what people at the end of the day want. When we started looking at building this fiber network in the city of Minneapolis, I attributed it to my water at my home. So I'm 48 years old. I have never called the water company one time in my life. Every time I turned the faucet it comes out. I don't know how it works, but it works. That's the impression that the average citizen has of the Internet. The issue we have is we always are hanging around technical people and everyone that's in this industry, but if you just go out and you talk to the average citizen, all they want to do is watch Netflix, surfed the Internet, do their banking, and they want it to just work like the waterworks works. That's it.
Chris M: I totally agree and that's why I sometimes think all this discussion that policy people have about competition misses the point. I don't think that any use customers are excited about competition, right? No one wants to change their home Internet. They want it to work. People want competition when they're stuck with Comcast because they desperately want an alternative.
Travis Carter: You know, we have a 92 percent retention rate after eight years. It doesn't matter if it's Internet fiber or whatever it is. If you can generate a high quality product at a fair price that works, but look what happened in the auto industry when Toyota and Honda came into the market, GM and Chrysler and Ford could have been there. They chose not to, you know, I'm not saying that we're Toyota, but we're providing a high quality product at a fair price with a viable business model that we're not looking to sell. We're looking to run and operate for the foreseeable future. Big Difference. A lot of these guys are trying to turn and burn and make a big home run for themselves so they can lay on a beach. I kinda like it here and I like doing this.
Chris M: And how many calls did you get yesterday from customers that had a problem with your fiber product?
Travis Carter: It's an interesting statistic that I always like to tell, but yesterday was a really good day. We had seven tech support phone calls. Five of them were indoor Wi-Fi related, so there's still wireless related and the other two were faulty Ethernet Jacks at an apartment building that we had to go out and fix. We were the water company yesterday and I'm pretty happy with that. So our whole concept here is designed around how few calls we get because do you want to call your Internet provider? I don't. I just want to go home and it works.
Chris M: So you have like 25,000 subscribers. Seven of them had a problem, five of them. It was related to wireless gear in their home?
Travis Carter: Correct. It's always wireless and now when I say percentage wise it's 90 percent wireless indoor Wi-Fi related. What generally happens is, again, let's go back to the average person. They don't know how Wi-Fi works. They bought a Wi-Fi router eight, nine years ago. They spent $300 on it. It's theirs. They're proud of it and it's worked, but it can't handle the new fiber speeds. As you know. They don't get the speed test results. I often, I often tell people we're not really in the Internet business. We're in the speedtest.net business, you know, because if they run their speed tests, they don't get their full throughput. They call us. There's a tech support ticket. We advise them that they need to upgrade their router because they need to get to the newer speeds and the newer capabilities. That's usually what it is. So during the winter we have very few calls because no, not a lot of people are coming on the network and the summer at ticks up a little bit with that first time I'm getting connected call.
Chris M: And you still are selling wireless services. What kind of support calls do you get on that side?
Travis Carter: So in our Wi-Fi traditional we get a fair number of calls, where we have to try to adjust the antenna, get a better signal, know there's a lot of noise. So you know, you're constantly struggling in our TDM environment, which is the newer iterations of our wireless. It's a comparable to fiber if it's a fiber attached node. If it's a wireless backhaul node, it's about double fiber so it's still good but it's not as good.
Chris M: So when I tell people that wireless is more expensive over 15, 20 years than fiber, is that. Is that something you're seeing? your entirely underground although you found ways to cut the costs low and given the given the increased support calls the, you know how often you have to change out the equipment and things like that, you know, is that a rough roughly the time in which you have a switchover in, which is cheaper?
Travis Carter: Yeah, I would say that you're spot on. Your capital costs on the front end for fiber are high, the return on investment if you do it right and you get the market share that we're getting is not that long. But the nice part about fiber is I've coined this new -- this new term lately called boring technology and what I mean by that is it just runs. You don't have to babysit it, you know, it's an ethernet switch at the home and it's an ethernet switch and it's a piece of fiber between it. It's highly reliable. Debug. There's not a lot to do with it. Wireless? We have to constantly change out the technology. So we're now just going through again here in 2018 an upgrade in the wireless technology. So what we've tried to do to mitigate the costs of wireless is our version one Wi-Fi, we bought a product from Bel Air and it was a canned system and we put it up and when you want to go to the next system we have to take the whole thing down and put up the new one.
Chris M: Forklift upgrade.
Travis Carter: Exactly. I liked these military shows and I was watching this show and they had a picture of an f 16 fighter and in front of it they had about a hundred different types of munitions. So the idea with that fighter is it was a platform that you could attach anything to. So my theory was why couldn't we do the same thing in wireless? So we didn't have to do this forklift upgrade. We could just change out the access radio. So that's what we have done in the city of Minneapolis to help ease the cost. And the installation is we can take that wireless access point and when this new, the new technology comes out, simply replaced that all the fiber and the ethernet switch and the power and all the support system stays the same and that's helped reduce the cost. But when you have as many access points as we do it is by the time you get done upgrading 2500 of them, you're starting over again.
Travis Carter: And where you run into a real problem with wireless is if you ever have to change the homes, if you're gonna have to go around all the houses and upgrade them. That's a clerical nightmare and a scheduling nightmare and a financial nightmare. All, all while this is happening. That fiber customer hooked up yesterday. We haven't done anything other than bill their credit card every month.
Chris M: Key part.
Travis Carter: So yes, you know, with with fiber I can have a fixed amount of overhead and almost exponentially more customers than I have today. With wireless, it's a, it's a constant, constant upgrade process.
Chris M: Last thing I want to get Travis' marketing tips. We were talking just a little bit before we turned on the microphones. You do incredibly well and even in neighborhoods in which, like I said before, people have the best products available from Comcast and CenturyLink, which I will say are better than -- I mean we rag on those companies, but those companies do a much better job than Charter. I mean, I often say if you are going to be stuck with a cable monopoly, I'm pretty glad it's Comcast or Centurylink may not be the top, but they're there heck of a lot better than Frontier. I'll tell you that right now, better than Windstream. Way Better. So you know, but you go in and you're taking half of the neighborhood in many cases in the first year or two or more. How do you explain that?
Travis Carter: Trial and error. So the first thing we learned was you naturally would assume that you want to go into the most affluent neighborhood. And we did that in the beginning. That was a mistake. When you walk up to somebody as multi-million dollar home and you say, hey, we'd like to save you $20 a month. And they have a Motorola flip phone on there and they're listening to am radio with their black and white TV. That's not your customer. OK. Or you go to the other end of the spectrum. And I always say it's about people that want the Internet. So you know, if you're in a lower demographic, you're probably using your cell phone to access the Internet. So we don't, we don't have a great market share there. It's the middle where you can walk into a middle-class neighborhood and you can say, Hey, I can save you $40. They go, Whoa, that's a bag of groceries. I can give you a high speed Internet. I'm probably 45 years old or younger. I have a desire for it. I might have a Playstation or an X-box in my living room. So it's about desire. And we find these kind of middle-class neighborhoods is, is kind of our key. So what we try to do is we try to do 50 percent of a middle class neighborhood and then we take a year and then we will take 25 percent of our budget and do the higher end neighborhoods and 25 percent and do so we spread out because remember we want to complete the city. We're not kinda picking here and there. It's just realistically where the customers are at. The other thing is we do it contiguous. You just keep moving along because word of mouth
is key: Next door, Reddit, all these online forums, you get a huge market share just from that. And then ultimately at the end of the day it's customer service. Can you put a product where you don't disturb their yard? Will it run non-stop? Will the billing be correct? Here's this is the irony of the whole thing. If we charge you $34, $95 a month, that's what shows up on your credit card. That little piece is so amazing to people that that alone will get you 20 percent market share and you don't play a lot of games with these people.
Chris M: Let me just, let me just share this with you because I had a one year contract with Comcast from some other deal they gave me to lower my price. The only thing I care about is Internet access and I pay extra to have a higher upload speed. So, they came along and they boosted my bill by $30 a month and then they came back to me and said, oh, well, you know, if you take television and phone will lower your bill back down again. And I said, OK, but you're not going to let me use that new modem. I just got top of the line modem for the DOCSIS 3.1 And there's, oh no, we have to use our modem to use a phone service. I said, I'll never going to use your phone service. I don't want it. No, no, no. To get this package you have to pay for the modem every month or we have to buy your own new modem and this and that. All this stuff. And when I was looking at it without taxes and fees and everything else, they're going to drop me down a little bit, but it's all gonna just pop right back up with all those hidden fees.
Travis Carter: It's amazing Billing alone. For me, like I'll get a call from Comcast for my because I have my house and they'll be like, oh, we have this new promotion. My answer every time is don't touch it, don't change it. I don't want any because I don't want to go through the process of trying to fix it. Yeah. Billing and you know, the, the service, the reliability, you know, the customer service where we answer the phone. If there's a problem, we dispatch somebody out in 30 minutes. I never could figure out why Domino's pizza can do it. And we couldn't, you know, we, we've got vehicles running around town instead of sitting there relying on the homeowner to troubleshoot over the phone. Why don't we just send someone over and they can fix it. These little things will get you market share like you wouldn't believe.
Chris M: Last question, last question, which is, you know, you mentioned your highest income the neighborhoods and your lowest income neighborhoods are your worst customers. Why do you want to build the entire city of Minneapolis rather than just starting to head into the suburbs or my neighborhood in Saint Paul after you've hit all the middle class of Minneapolis?
Travis Carter: I grew up in Minneapolis. My business partner, Kurt, grew up in Minneapolis, but it's from my career. I want to be the first NFL city in the US done with fiber with everyone -- everyone. There'll be a fiber cable out in front of every home, every business, every everything. And I'm not saying that the upper income and the lower income are not good customers -- the adoption takes longer. OK, so that's a key point that I didn't make earlier. It's you'll still get the adoption there, but instead of getting it in 12 months or 24 months, it might take you 36 or 48 months to get there. Now this is a key year. This is the very first year where we have a viable television product streaming over the Internet, being in competition with the phone company and the cable company and I think we're going to boost our market share and extra 12 or 15 percent and if you're in that upper income and in that lower income where you're a probably a big TV watcher. This is a big thing we've been missing. So in my original data that was just Internet and phone. Now that we have television in a few; in another year, I'll have better data on those neighborhoods.
Chris M: Great. Well thank you so much once again for sharing your experience with us.
Travis Carter: Yeah, thank you. Appreciate being on the show.
Lisa Gonzalez: That was Christopher with Travis Carter from US Internet. You can learn more about the company@fiberUSInternet.com. We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available at MuniNetworks.org/Broadbandbits. Email us at podcast@MuniNetworks.org with your ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter. His handle is @CommunityNets follow Muninetworks.org stories on Twitter. The handle is @MuniNetworks. Subscribe to this podcast and the other ILSR podcasts: Building Local Power, the Local Energy Rules podcast. You can access them on Apple podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever else you get your podcasts. Never miss out on our original research, subscribe to our monthly newsletter at ILSR.org. Thank you to Arnie Huseby for the song Warm Duck Shuffle, licensed through Creative Commons, and thanks for listening to episode 300 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.