Zumacom: “Mom and Pop” Start Up Meets Needs for Better Coverage

A new kid on the block, local wireless internet company Zumacom, is slowly expanding coverage to residents in Montezuma County, CO using existing fiber and cell phone towers to reach customers. The Journal reported that owners of Zumacom, Erich and Erica Hennig, have been up and running since February and are now offering service to Dolores with plans to expand to Lewis by mid-October. They’re currently offering three different internet speeds – 5, 10, and 25 Mbps – ranging in price from $50-$130 per month.

Erich Hennig has 20 years of experience in wireless networking and after moving to Dolores a few years ago, discovered the need for better coverage. Erich uses wireless extensions to connect Zumacom’s customers to existing fiber cables and cell phone towers throughout the county. Zumacom can offer up to 25 megabits of data per second this way, he said. But each building that connects to the wireless network must have a line of sight to a fiber access point.

According to Erica, who handles operations and marketing for the company, “We want to continue toward Mancos and beyond. We want to be the rural choice.”

For being a new, small company, Zumacom is already “throwing their hat in the ring,” responding to a Connect 4 Broadband and Initiative’s request for proposal earlier this year. It’s offering to act as a private partner in the group’s plan to bring affordable internet to county residents. The county initially chose to partner with other suppliers, however the Hennig’s said they would still be willing to participate in a Connect 4 plan in the future.

And the couple has big plans for expansion. Erich said their ultimate goal is to build enough infrastructure to serve the “majority” of Montezuma County by next year. Once they’ve started serving customers in the Lewis area, they hope to move on to the Mancos Valley. Right now, it’s just a two-person operation, so installing wireless extensions plus marketing the business is a challenge. However, the “mom and pop” company hopes to add headcount to their business and continue to grow.

“We’re trying to build a carrier grade service, one that is really robust and withstands all the things that could disrupt (it),” Erich said.

September 12, 2017

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