by Amie Rodgers
For most of us, internet service is the life’s blood of all our devices that enables us to do everything from work to play to just Netflix and chill. With reliable internet service, you can make phone calls, stream video, access email, Skype, and post on Facebook until your fingers bleed. (Seriously, don’t try that at home, kids.) Needless to say, when the service is out or worse yet, there is no service available, people get more than just a little anxious.
Whether you’re hip to the interweb or not, affordable access to reliable internet service is important to rural communities for a number of socioeconomic reasons. Not only is it a great resource for the students of today, but also for the workers of tomorrow. “There are still great opportunities here. When the mill shut down, a lot of people lost their jobs and had to move. With more access to reliable internet, more people can work from home or telecommute and stay in the area,” says Linda Brimhall, owner of SynkroMax Internet in Taylor, “It is important to me to be part of building the community and making it better. This is a great area with great families here. We are hoping that our business will help by providing a reliable service people can count on.”
She may be bringing affordable internet solutions to hundreds of satisfied customers (and that is only since March of 2016!), but Linda Brimhall describes herself as very much a small town girl who grew up in Taylor. “It is a great community. Being an internet user, I felt like there was a real lack of consistent, reliable internet here. My husband Brian Brimhall and I married in 2010. We were high school sweethearts that reconnected. You know… that old story,” she smiles during a recent interview, “He was the operator of AZ Digital Dish, which was a satellite provider offering DirecTV, DishNetwork, and satellite internet. Unfortunately, he got sick and passed away from cancer about three years ago. He was always looking for that ‘next big thing’ out there. Not long after he passed, I received a call from a company called LocaLoop. They were offering a bigger and better way to offer wireless broadband internet than satellite ever would. When I looked over the information, I couldn’t help but think that this was exactly what our town could use. By partnering with LocaLoop, we could deliver affordable 4G service without building this giant infrastructure. So, I saw the need and felt that this was the ‘next best thing.’ I think that if my husband were here, he would be doing this.”
So how does this work? “The internet comes to our office in Taylor from Minnesota through fiber trunk lines. We take it from here and wirelessly broadcast it from our towers in a line of sight to the customer’s home ‘finishing the last mile’ as they call it. It is an affordable solution that other providers don’t want to spend the money to accomplish. Our customers have a small outdoor antenna (available for lease at $9 a month) placed high up on the outside of their home with a cable pulled inside. The antenna must maintain line of sight with our tower to receive the signal which is connected to a wireless router, ” explains Linda, “The tower we have at our office is a repeater tower and it can go 7 – 10 miles to the macro tower, which is our main tower that pretty much covers Snowflake and Taylor. We have another tower that covers the golf course area. We look forward to growing our business by putting up these smaller, more affordable towers to get the service to the customers. We just added a new tower out on Bourdon Ranch Road and that will service the south and west end of Taylor and Shumway and as far as White Mountain Lakes. I look forward to expanding service to the areas that need it most including Clay Springs, Heber-Overgaard, Woodruff, Concho, and St. Johns.”
In addition to access and reliability, Linda says that her customers are particularly happy with the use of unlimited data with no hidden fees or contracts. “People love that it is unlimited. They can do all their data with no data cap. They are not going to get bumped up to another level and pay more if they go over a certain limit. We also don’t require contracts, credit checks or forced bundles. It is a monthly auto pay to your checking account and all the invoicing is done digitally with the software. This allows me to concentrate more on making the service better and focusing on the customers’ needs,” smiles Linda, “With this service, customers can also get rid of their land lines and run an internet phone for pennies compared to traditional phone bills. We use one at the office that is $4.25 a month. That is unlimited calling anywhere that works great as long as you have the internet. A lot of people are giving up cable for streaming video services like NetFlix, Hulu, and Amazon. By having one reliable internet connection, they are saving money on both their phones and cable.”
SynkroMax Internet offers three levels of service to fit your needs. “We start out with our 4 MB Premium service, which is $39 ($48 with the antenna lease). That package will run high definition TVs and devices such as laptops. When you have two TVs streaming at the same time while your kids are gaming and streaming, if you don’t have enough bandwidth, you are going to buffer. The second level of service is the Plus package, which is 10 MB down and 2 up. This package allows for multiple devices to be streaming without buffering. The Max package is $109, which is 20 MB down and 3 up. A lot of people who work from home use this one for video conferencing and uploading files. We also sell a commercial-grade package for $159, which is 25 MB down and 5 up,” explains Linda, “The upcoming upgrades are expected to be as much as 40 MB down. It is exciting to know that technology is changing and we will be part of that without additional cost to our customers. Our system with LocaLoop is cloud-based so it is very easily updated. We have just finished an upgrade to a direct fiber optic connection and the 4G Plus platform. This upgrade will allow us higher capacity, faster speeds and much more bandwidth. We will be able to add a lot more customers. Upgrades are also constantly being done with the Synkro Software, which will greatly improve our speed capability and add new technologies to our system as they are developed. And the nice thing, it is all done in the cloud, which makes the changes fast and easy for us and our customers!”
What is extra nice for SynkroMax customers is the ability to call a local office for service and support when they need it. “I am really big on customer service and local support. That is huge for me. I never want this to be so big that I can’t communicate with my customers as to what their needs are and I can’t make it out for a week to fix their problem. That is a problem,” she laughs, “It is really important to me to make sure that my customers are educated about their service. When my guys are there installing, they help our customers set things up and operate it. They give trouble shooting tips and make sure the customer understands what they have and how they can really use it.”
Even with a wealth of technology at her fingertips, Linda admits being a small business owner can be daunting. “It has been really stressful at times, but I am feeling pretty good about things now because our customers are so happy with their service and it has been so reliable. I have also been very grateful for the help of Northland Pioneer College’s Small Business Development Center. They have been awesome,” smiles Linda, “When I started in March, I got a hold of a flyer from the SBDC about getting your business on Google Maps. Being new, I knew I needed to do that. I went to the class and found out that Merlene Foshee worked there and she and my husband had been good friends. She has come over almost monthly to help me set some goals, which I really needed to do as a new business. She helped me look at some of my future projections and where I am at now in terms of how much money I am going to need. I jumped on the opportunity to have the extra help. She has been really supportive and if I have any questions, I can call and they are there with an answer. I recommend the SBDC to any business owner, especially if they are just starting up. They don’t come in and try to run your business or tell you what to do. They just offer help for you to succeed so our community will succeed. They are really great. This whole journey has been incredible and I have been really blessed. I have met so many great people that I can call friends.”
SynkroMax Internet is located at 34 Casa Linda Drive in Taylor. For more information, please call (928) 243-7811 or visit www.synkromaxinternet.com. You can also find them on Facebook at SynkroMax 4G Broadband Internet.
Are you thinking of starting a business or need help with your existing business? Free help is available by contacting NPC’s Small Business Development Center. For more information, please call (928) 532-6170 or visit www.npc.edu/sbdc.