County has new internet service provider Planet Networks expanding coverage
Planet Networks employee Sal installing service
By Laurie Gordon Sussex County — There has been a lot of discontent voiced concerning internet service in the county. Perhaps the option of a third provider, in addition to Century Link and Service Electric, will prove more satisfactory. Planet Networks is already servicing some area businesses and residents, and with technology and the times dictating connections be both dependable and affordable, the company is looking to expand in the near future to serve a greater portion of the area's residential population. “We started in Denville and Newton as Garden Networks in 1994-1995," Planet Networks' CEO Robert Boyle said. "We later changed our name to Tellurian Networks when we expanded outside of New Jersey. We were the first ISP (Internet Service Provider) to have a local number coverage in all of Sussex County in 1995.” The company went on to offer unlimited nationwide dialup coverage in 1996 and was the first ISP with 56k modem technology in 1997, as well as the first to offer DSL the same year. Boyle said, “We were the first to offer high speed wireless services in 1999, and in 2000, we completed building the first data center in Sussex County for cloud computing in Newton. We expanded across the country and built another data center in Los Angeles in 2004, and we purchased and restored the Sussex County Hall of Records and made that our headquarters in 2008.” He said the company focused on medical cloud services until selling that part of the business to Dell in 2008. “We have continued to provide cloud computing services, managed IT services, phone services, and high speed fiber access since then," Boyle said. "As the costs dropped and the reliably of high speed wireless and fiber to the home and business technology improved to make it economically viable, we decided to deploy in Sussex County where there is a great need with huge pent up customer demand. To provide these services, we built a new high speed fiber network throughout Sussex County in 2017. Our next generation network is used to provide our 5G high speed wireless and Gigabit/10-Gigabit fiber services.” Customers, including Marshall Scott, appreciate Planet Networks service. “I moved to Spring Street in 2012, and thus began my five years of torment with Century Link," Scott said. "The plan stated 10Mbit/s, but I never actually got that speed except for when I was speaking with one of their tech support members. After a couple years of service, they offered me a free upgrade to 25 Mbit/s, and when the service person came to to perform the installation, he just laughed and said the infrastructure wouldn't support that speed anyway, and one way or another, it didn't. Worst yet is that the connection itself wasn't even reliable.” Besides being dependent on the internet for streaming entertainment, Scott also attends graduate school at the University of Arizona via their distance program, so having a stable internet connection is crucial to his day-to-day life. However, several times a month he was forced to scurry to his place of work to use the internet there so as to not fall behind on his studies. “At first I would call tech support when this happened, wait 30 or so minutes to speak to a representative, only to have them ask me to restart my router--even after telling them I already tried that,” he said. “ After a a few minutes of typing noises, the internet would work again only for it fail again shortly after the call ended. Not to mention, every so often my internet bill would increase by 15 dollars with no notification whatsoever, requiring another 30 minutes on hold followed by 10 minutes talking to a customer service representative.” Scott added, “As our quality of life improved over the years, sadly, Century Link did not. Unfortunately, due to the political and economic situation of internet service and infrastructure, the choices for internet service providers are severely limited for most Americans, ourselves included. I had heard that we might be able to switch to Service Electric, but internet reviews and word-of-mouth informed me that they were no better. It got to the point where I began to consider moving to another area solely to find better internet, which would be unfortunate since we really like it here in Newton.” Several months ago, a post about Planet Networks appeared on Facebook, inlcuding one of their signature antennas on a building that was just around the corner from where Scott lived. “I read about the company, and the technology, and was impressed and excited that they had come up with a fast, reliable deployment method that didn't require physical lines — what I think generally keeps start-ups out of the market," Scott said. "I reached out to them on Facebook, and Rob responded to me personally. Understandably, it's not currently economical for them to install service for a single household at a time, but he said that if I could get a few of the other tenants to also adopt the service, then they would be able to install it in the building. I spoke with my neighbors who all shared similar sentiments, and before long Planet Networks was here setting us up with wireless internet. They even came in and checked the speeds and settings on our computers to make sure we were getting their fully advertised speed, much faster than what Century Link and Service Electric advertised, and light years beyond the speeds we had actually been seeing. Since then, we have had exactly zero problems with internet service or streaming videos, and impromptu trips to work to get my schoolwork done have become a thing of the past. It's really been a godsend, and not a moment too soon. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with them.” Planet Networks currently provides high speed internet services to both business and residential customers in the Wilson Drive and Gail Court business park area, in Sparta. Bolye said this includes various buildings along Sparta Avenue including 270 and 350 Sparta Ave, downtown Newton, and the Merriam Gateway apartments. A number of other locations are slatrd to bein service soon. “Our plan is to cover all of Newton, the commercial/business districts of Sparta, and most residents on and around Lake Mohawk this year,” Boyle said. “Next year we plan to expand to other towns including Andover, Lafayette, and Byram. We provide services to many names which your readers would recognize as well established household names in Sussex County. Some of our clients have been with us for 25 years." What makes Planet Networks so good? Boyle said, “We have one of the fastest backbones in the world today and it was built to have the best reliability possible with low operational costs. We use our own fiber optic equipment manufactured to our specifications. We service all of our commercial clients by providing fully redundant connections via diverse fiber paths. This is a standard feature of our service and it is either not available or is an extremely expensive upgrade with other ISPs and carriers. Basically, we built a new network to service the needs of today and tomorrow while our competitors use networks built 20 years ago for dialup and DSL speeds.” Of Planet Networks' residential component, Boyle said, “We offer residential services today at comparable prices for much faster speeds. The slowest speed we offer starts at 110Mbit/s which is faster than the fastest speeds offered by the cable or phone company. Our typical consumer or business fiber connections are 1000Mbit/s and we offer speeds up to 10,000Mbit/s which is over 10 to 100 times faster than the fastest cable modem speeds and 20 to 200 times faster than the fastest DSL speeds.” Boyle added, “We are a local company and our employees live and work in Sussex County. We care about the community and we want to improve the quality of life of our customers. We also want to help local businesses be competitive by utilizing all of the latest technology to compete with bigger companies. We are completely vertically integrated. We use Planet Networks fiber, Planet Networks optical gear, Planet Networks routers, and our full time employees use Planet Networks bucket trucks to run fiber to our clients to connect to the Planet Networks Internet backbone.” For further information, visit: www.planet.net.