GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – You’ve probably heard of “cutting the cord” to cable television, but even if you do that you’re still relying on another big cord for your internet service. Now the trend is to cut that cord too, and get internet service from smaller independent providers. It’s especially helpful in rural areas where internet service is spotty to begin with.
Jane Wright has lived outside of Golden for nearly 40-years.
“I wanted to be close to grocery stores, but I like the feeling of space,” Wright told CBS4.
While the views can’t be beat, there are some drawbacks to her mountain home.
“It’s hard to get internet, definitely was a problem. You can’t get cable, you have to go satellite. Phone service is a problem,” Wright explained.
Wright was paying more than $100-a-month for internet service that was spotty and slow.
“You never tried to do any kind of Netflix or anything like that, I mean you couldn’t.”
Then she found Au Wireless.
“I was thrilled,” she said.
“Most of the dishes in the lower right corner of the roof there are point-to-point, that send internet to various homes throughout the city that then relay that to their neighbors,” said Chad Wachs, as he points to the equipment that he maintains on rented space on Lookout Mountain.
Au Wireless is the network that Wachs built.
“This was going to be an experiment and a hobby because I like to tinker with things,” Wachs explained.
Like many internet customers, Wachs was fed up with his big, corporate provider.
“We were tired of the price hikes, and we were tired of the data caps,” he told CBS4. “Having to call your provider every single year to renegotiate that rate that was slowly creeping up. And as we watched more and more movies and streaming on TV, we had those data caps that we were hitting and getting charged overages for. And it doesn’t cost an extra dollar to deliver additional data to the end user, so you should’t have to charge extra.”
Four-years ago, he and a few neighbors bucked the system and set up their own network.
“I thought let’s try something different and change the way the system is working right now,” Wachs said.
Wachs’ experiment worked, and by word of mouth, his customer base grew.
“I look back a couple of years later, I’m like, ‘Whoa, there’s hundreds of people that are actually relying on this, I can’t just be tinkering. Now I have to treat this like a job,” Wachs said.
Au Wireless is named after elemental symbol for gold, and is a nod to his hometown of Golden. The network provides internet to about 300 clients in the Golden area. It’s fast and low cost, with no data caps, no speed slowing, and no hidden fees. Au Wireless is also a non-profit, co-operative, which gives everyone a stake in it’s success.
“I wanted it to be something that the community help build with me. It was within that spirit we made it a non-profit,” Wachs explained.
Residents like Wright were anxious to be a part of it. She has a radio on the side of her house and is part of the network that beams the wireless signal around her neighborhood.
“It’s that sense of community because it’s a co-operative, that people work together,” Wright said.
She also values working with a local company that gives her personal customer service.
“When you have an issue or a question, I just send Chad an email, and he emails me back, or we talk on the phone,” Wright said. “We just feel that Au’s more dependable and faster.”
AU Wireless is not currently expanding it’s network to new customers. But here are some other smaller independent providers in the region:
WiFiHood – Denver
Mountain Broadband – Sedalia area, Gilpin, Boulder, Jefferson Counties
Aerux Broadband – Denver Metro Area
Starry – Denver Metro Area
NETEO High Speed Internet – Morrison and surrounding areas
Nedernet.net – Nederland