Lo­cal In­ter­net provider to dock in In­dian Head

PeakeNet be­gins first phase of Mary­land op­er­a­tion

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By CHAR­LIE WRIGHT cwright@somd­news.com

In­dian Head res­i­dents strug­gling with slow or un­re­li­able in­ter­net ac­cess may soon have an op­por­tu­nity for bet­ter con­nec­tiv­ity, as PeakeNet Broad­band is com­ing to the town in an at­tempt to pro­vide ser­vice to ru­ral ar­eas of Mary­land.

PeakeNet is a lo­cally owned and op­er­ated in­ter­net ser­vice provider with roots in as­sist­ing ar­eas of limited or nonex­is­tent on­line ac­cess. Mem­bers of the team pre­vi­ously worked on a project in Swazi­land, pro­vid­ing in­ter­net ac­cess to the ru­ral African na­tion. This led co-founder Nick Ste­ward and his team to

launch a sim­i­lar ven­ture in Mar yland uti­liz­ing sim­i­lar prac­tices and equip­ment to im­prove and re­vi­tal­ize for­got­ten com­mu­ni­ties.

“Em­ploy­ers look for in­ter­net as a fac­tor when they’re look­ing at in­vest­ing in a com­pany, it’s also a mat­ter of qual­ity of life for res­i­dents,” Ste­ward said. “Even small busi­nesses, they’re the driv­ing force in our econ­omy.”

The group is still fi­nal­iz­ing its ne­go­ti­a­tions with the town coun­cil, but PeakeNet is sched­uled to be­gin in­stal­la­tion by the end of the sum­mer. In­ter­net ser­vices should be up and run­ning by Oc­to­ber, and the team is plan­ning to be able to reach ev­ery home by April.

PeakeNet of­fers a pair of res­i­den­tial pack­ages: the Fam­ily pack­age for $65.99 per month and the Peake pack­age for $95.99 per month. There is also a one-time in­stal­la­tion fee for $150. Both plans promise un­bun­dled broad­band, lo­cal cus­tomer sup­port and no ter­mi­na­tion fees, with the dif­fer­ence in the two be­ing faster speed.

Ste­ward ex­plained that while their prices may be mid­dling, they of­fer some­thing not many providers can boast. Not only does PeakeNet serve pre­vi­ously ig­nored ar­eas, it also of­fers sym­met­ri­cal speeds, namely 50/50 megabits per sec­ond (mbps) for the Fam­ily op­tion and 100/100 mbps for the Peake choice. The con­gru­ency be­tween the up­load and down­load speed means users will al­ways have the fastest pos­si­ble ser­vice. Com­pa­nies who do not have this fea­ture may of­fer a fast up­load speed, but the slower down­load speed will com­pro­mise the over­all ef­fec­tive­ness of the ser vice.

“We’re not nec­es­sar­ily the cheap­est on the list, but our prod­uct is bet­ter than theirs,” Ste­ward said. He added that while other com­pa­nies may pro­vide more ser­vices than PeakeNet, the Mary­land-based group doesn’t have add-ons like equip­ment rental fees, data caps and cer­tain taxes.

The town coun­cil views PeakeNet as an op­por­tu­nity to make In­dian Head more ap­peal­ing to busi­nesses and in­vestors, as well as res­i­dents.

“We want to make the town at­trac­tive,” said Vice Mayor Ron Si­toula.

Si­toula and Mayor Bran­don Paulin are most fo­cused on the Vil­lage Green area and Slavin’s Dock, as these are two of the most pop­u­lar hang­out spots in town. Draw­ing ad­di­tional cit­i­zens to these places could have an eco­nomic re­ver­ber­a­tion, help­ing lo­cal busi­nesses and ven­dors.

“A lot of Charles County doesn’t have ac­cess to high­speed in­ter­net [in these types of ar­eas],” Paulin said. “If we get them here, they get some­thing to eat, it has an eco­nomic ben­e­fit.”

PeakeNet is seek­ing to set up mul­ti­ple hot spots in park ar­eas to com­bat the large crowds. The town has many wooded ar­eas that will not have a di­rect line of sight to PeakeNet equip­ment, but they have that cov­ered too. Houses or build­ings with­out di­rect ac­cess will re­ceive the sig­nal from struc­tures that do, with­out any degra­da­tion of the qual­ity.

And for those con­cerned about in­ter­na­tional spies? All of the tech­nol­ogy is en­crypted, and even if some­one were to catch the sig­nal they would not be able to breach the data. PeakeNet holds on to some in­for­ma­tion, but only for ac­count­abil­ity pur­poses.

“We only keep the min­i­mum amount of data to show we’re do­ing what we’re sup­posed to,” Ste­ward said. “Pri­vacy is very im­por­tant to us.”

PeakeNet pack­ages will be on sale in Au­gust. Ste­ward and his staff will be present at up­com­ing town meet­ings for those in­ter­ested in sign­ing up or gain­ing more in­for­ma­tion. Ad­di­tional de­tails can be found on the web­site at https://www.peak­enet­broad­band.com/.

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