Advancements Video

Etheric Networks was featured on the cable series “Advancements” hosted by Ted Danson. Here’s the full clip about the company’s mission to bring internet to underserved communities in California. Speaking are Freny Cooper (COO, Monterey Bay Economic Partnership), Laura Schaub (Communications Director, Etheric Networks), Andrew Brickweg (Government Outreach Director, Etheric Networks) and Alexander Hagen, (CEO and Founder Etheric Networks).


Full Transcript

Narrator: Today, the internet has become unavoidable in our daily lives. From education to online shopping to running basic business operations, the internet provides us with the information and knowledge required for modern living.

Alexander Hagen: We saw that from the pandemic that, you know, in emergencies, people can’t even function without the internet [and this] created a severe crisis in schools worldwide.

You know, it’s essential for communication, for commerce, for business, for education and also with our climate emergency. It’ll be very helpful as we adapt to more telecommuting.

Narrator: With instant gratification at our fingertips, many find it hard to believe that millions still lack adequate access to the internet. As broadband becomes more available, the problem of reaching remote and rural areas only continues to grow.

Freny Cooper: A study by BroadbandNow in 2020 estimated that 42 million Americans do not have access to the internet. Especially in rural areas, internet service might be upwards of $100 a month and not everyone can afford that.

Andrew Brickweg: Today’s digital world can really highlight the challenges of living without internet in a rural area. For example, if you need to apply for a job, most jobs you have to apply for on your computer online. If you don’t have adequate internet, you can’t deposit your checks on your mobile app. You have to go to the bank. If you go camping, even the campgrounds have Wi-Fi. So these small things can make a big difference in people’s lives.

Narrator: Challenging the foundations of social and economic norms around the world, the COVID 19 pandemic showed the world why it’s critical to have access to dependable internet connectivity.

Laura Schaub: The COVID 19 pandemic has really shone a light on how much we have grown to depend on the internet over the last 30 years. What was once a luxury is now a necessity, and people who can’t yet get reliable internet are feeling intense frustration. At Etheric Networks our goal is to provide robust, reliable internet to everyone, regardless of where they live.

Narrator: While sections of society who are already connected adopt newer technologies, groups with traditionally lower rates for internet and computer usage continue to lag far behind.

Andrew Brickweg: The digital divide really, I think, is defined by the physical and social isolation that it causes for those who don’t have adequate coverage. When you look at income levels, if you’re in a rural area and you’re very wealthy and you own a home on a mountain top, you’ll figure out a way to get internet for you and your family. But people in rural areas have little, or no choices.

Freny Cooper: The reason why large carriers can’t connect everyone is they’re not motivated to go to rural areas where it’s less densely populated. It doesn’t makes financial sense for anyone to extend fiber to those rural areas.

Narrator: Working with government communities and private entities to deliver gigabit speeds where legacy providers can’t Etheric Networks is on a mission to bring good broadband to more than 60,000 locations in California.

Alexander Hagen: I started Etheric Networks in 2003 to give people choice. DSL had a lot of problems with encapsulating packets, which means that people couldn’t use VPNs very well with DSL, and the whole telecom structure is extremely bureaucratic. The development of the internet with ethernet, such as the name Etheric Networks, is a very clean protocol and it allows standards, and it allows individual people to form up and start organizing networks.

In the beginning, we actually rated as the fastest ISP in the world on DSL Reports, and  we will be the fastest ISP in the world for upload later this year.

Andrew Brickweg:  In California, much of our state is defined by rugged terrain and hard to reach areas. We know we can deliver service to these hard to reach areas because we’ve been doing it for 18 years.

Narrator: Backed by private fiber, emergency power solutions and rapid deployment field technicians, fixed-wireless provides a trusted connection that is designed to stay up even when the power goes down.

Alexander Hagen:  Photons, when they’re traveling with a lot of energy, are light, and as the energy slows, they turn into waves. So fixed-wireless is similar to fiber, except you’re moving through free space. It’s actually slightly faster than fiber because fiber reduces the speed of the photons because of the sheathing and the glass. Whereas the air slows it down less. We’re talking about 180 miles per milisecond…maybe 170 with fixed-wireless and 140 with fiber.

Laura Schaub: The coolest thing about fixed wireless is its flexibility, it has a small footprint and reaches a wide area. Etheric Network specializes in bringing internet to hard to reach areas, particularly rural areas, using a combination of dark fiber, fixed-wireless towers and spectrum. Our engineers excel at creating solutions to reach the most remote areas. And then once installed, we monitor those from our offices so that our field technicians would know exactly what’s going on at any one time, and can make repairs and updates quickly.

Narrator: A fixed wireless network built with redundancy and reliability in mind has the potential to outperform legacy connections time and time again.

Alexander Hagen:  The future of internet is going to be very important to be able to get extremely high speeds everywhere without generating huge amounts of pollution in the process. And that’s where fixed-wireless really fits in. We can equip our transmitter stations with solar. We can not only transmit without any carbon footprint, we can also recharge our vehicles. And then at the community level, it could be operated by the local municipality. Other cases, it could be operated by private operators and/or owned by private operators. There’s a hybrid ownership model that will be emerging and we have to be competitive globally. The United States is lagging behind the other industrial countries in broadband deployment.

The Cost of Fixed-Wireless

The question most people have about Etheric Networks service is, “Why does it cost more than Comcast or any other big provider?” The short answer is, because we provide a custom level of service that differs from Comcast in many ways. We’re like a microbrew or artisan bakery. A sports car, not a minivan. Customers pay more for these kinds of products and services for three main reasons. Location, quality, and loyalty.


The major issue big ISPs have with delivering fiber is location. Fiber goes in the ground and it’s expensive to put there. If you live in an urban area with streets designed for connectivity, the cost is affordable. If you live in a hard to reach or remote area, the cost goes up and it becomes a question of accounting. In rural areas with low population density, it doesn’t make sense to tear up the ground for fiber. Big ISPs have invested billions in cable and fiber over decades, to venture into specialized services like fixed-wireless would not be profitable. 

We’ve built a hybrid network to make this possible. It’s a private custom engineered network with connections between fixed-wireless towers, dark fiber, and datacenters. A finely tuned system operating faster and more efficiently than one any large ISP could build or maintain for a reasonable cost. 

More than megabits

Big ISPs provide lots of megabits for low cost, but the quality varies. That’s the trade off for big bandwidth. Speed and reliability are affected by other factors like number of hops, latency, and jitter. A private 10 megabit well engineered symmetrical fixed-wireless connection will deliver a better experience than a 100 megabit download / variable upload connection from a big ISP. Comcast can’t offer private high-speed connections like that because they don’t have the infrastructure. For gamers, livestreamers, and businesses that rely on quality high-speed coms, a low latency, low jitter connection is critical



In the past, hard to reach and rural areas were left with few choices. DSL and satellite were the only options and they can’t provide adequate bandwidth for the cost. Fixed-wireless technology is an affordable way to deliver internet to these areas. However, Etheric can’t rely on one technology to provide reliable connectivity. Our network is a custom built hybrid that navigates between challenging areas and the urban datacenters that connect to the rest of the world. 

Our network is a custom built hybrid that navigates between challenging areas and the urban datacenters that connect to the rest of the world. 

NASDAQ webpage

Stock brokers use private fixed-wireless connections because they are faster than fiber and milliseconds equal millions in their world. NASDAQ had to add a minimum latency rule to level the playing field because of the custom engineering possible. Firms would have an unfair advantage from a faster connection if not regulated. Distance, tech, and engineering all count. 


Etheric is a locally owned and operated business. We were founded to offer choice where there wasn’t any. Many of our towers are co-owned with customers. We work with communities to build infrastructure together. As a small business we have the flexibility to do that. This builds brand loyalty that helps us grow and do more for our customers. 


It’s always more expensive for pioneers. Anyone connected to a fixed-wireless service is a pioneer in that sense. It’s bleeding edge technology. That’s cool.., but costly. Every new connection makes the tech more common which helps drive the cost down. 

A spectrum of possibility

Recent days have shed light on how important hybrid network solutions are. Rural and hard to reach areas cannot rely on outdated infrastructure in emergency situations. Federal funding has been allocated at an unprecedented rate to help bridge the digital divide. Etheric has a mission to connect rural California and we’re determined to get it done faster than asked. It’s a mammoth task for a small business. As we scale up for the challenge, each community we reach will be faced with choices to make. We’re going to build this together. 

Etheric Welcomes Cliff Beek

Cliff Beek

Etheric Networks warmly welcomes global communications executive Cliff Beek to its board of directors.

Cliff is an accomplished executive with expertise in managing equity-backed companies, with 25-plus years of progressive experience providing leadership and strategic direction to high growth technology organizations, their boards of directors and senior management. Cliff’s expertise will guide Etheric through a significant expansion of its network operations into Northern California over the next six years.

In late 2020 Etheric was a big winner in the 2020 RDOF auction, and will receive nearly $250M over the next 10 years to provide broadband to underserved communities in Northern California. This expansion, compromising 251 Census Block Groups across 25 counties, will position the company as a key broadband provider in the state. Etheric’s hybrid network, comprised of dark fiber, fixed wireless and licensed spectrum, will also serve numerous adjacent communities in addition to the unserved areas designated in the RDOF award.

Alexander Hagen, Etheric’s founder and CEO said: “Cliff’s extensive expertise in global telecom, broadband and satellite markets will be invaluable to Etheric as we scale to be one of the largest broadband providers in California and beyond. His understanding of both the players and game adds considerable bench strength to our board, and we are delighted to welcome him.”

In addition to his role advising Etheric, Cliff serves as CEO and President of Cloud Constellation Corporation, a Los Angeles CA based company that is developing the first global satellite data security platform for governments and financial institutions.

Cliff earned an MBA from Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and a BA from The George Washington University.

Connecting Rural California

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Etheric’s RDOF Adventure

Etheric Communications will receive funding over the next ten years to deploy high-speed broadband to underserved communities in California.

This will provide Etheric with unprecedented resources to provide desperately needed internet
to rural areas on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Etheric will use this opportunity to fulfill its commitment to the socially responsible mission of making internet available to all who need it, while touching the Earth lightly.

The Assignment

Etheric Communications is the auction winner for Rural Digital Opportunity Fund support in census blocks covering portions of the northern California coast and the Sierra Nevadas. 

This is some of the most challenging terrain in the United States.

Fortunately, this is what we do best.

The Challenge

In discussions with education, government and broadband coalitions, the interconnection of communications (internet); fire, environmental and agricultural telemetry; and renewable energy to establish and maintain a robust, clean grid were brought up repeatedly.

Another consistent set of topics focused on transparency and acknowledgement of each community’s own goals for broadband deployment.

The following is a preview of our proposed network.

Etheric is committed to bridging the digital divide, because everyone deserves to be connected to their world, no matter where they live.

The Proposal

To meet the future connectivity needs of consumers, public safety, enterprise and governmental customers, Etheric proposes to deliver 1 Gbps/500 Mbps voice and broadband connectivity using a hybrid approach that relies on a combination of dark fiber, wave services, and licensed and unlicensed mid-band and millimeter wave spectrum.

Some of the assigned areas are quite remote and do not even have basic cellular service. This new infrastructure will improve emergency services capabilities by increasing connectivity in fire and flood zones.

Collaboration is Key

We seek to collaborate with local Internet Service Providers to integrate them into our system, increasing the visibility of quality local small- and medium-sized businesses while saving resources by notably improving fiber connectivity in these regions. 

We are in talks with many fiber providers to improve fiber interconnections in this region.

We Are Invested

Etheric has invested significant resources to ensure the success of this program. We have assembled sufficient licensed spectrum to provide Gigabit Tier service using licensed spectrum to more than 90% of the locations within our RDOF footprint. 

The remaining 10% will be covered with links using a combination of fiber and unlicensed spectrum. 

For middle mile access, we plan to use a combination of fiber and licensed microwave.

Proposed Network Plan

We will leverage our existing management, technology, experience, support staff and other assets to construct, operate and maintain the supported networks. Our proposed network will:

  1. Deliver 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) download and 500 Megabit per second (Mbps) upload speeds with low latency to every location in our assigned census blocks.
  2. Leverage a combination of existing fiber and towers and new construction fiber runs and fixed wireless transmit sites.
  3. Complete construction in six years or less.

Etheric’s Roots

Etheric Networks first launched broadband service in 2003. It currently serves approximately 2,000 residential and 800 enterprise and small business customers across 10 counties in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. 

Etheric has grown its coverage area to what is now estimated to be the 9th largest WISP footprint in North America.

Etheric developed custom frequency management software to optimize a large production radio area network in some of the most challenging RF environments in the country.

Etheric’s Backbone

In 2015, Etheric acquired a dark fiber ring circling the Bay Area to create redundant microwave and dark fiber backbones. 

This infrastructure will make launching the RDOF build vastly more efficient and rapid. 

Etheric has consistently brought new technology
to market before its peers, ranking 1st nationally in latency, upload and even download at various points in its history.

We deliver service through a combination of fixed wireless, LTE and DWDM/GPON technologies.

Etheric’s Heart

Etheric is a preferred partner of Fortune 100 businesses, startups, construction companies, residents and entire communities in and around the Bay Area. We are known for our rapid, professional deployment of reliable broadband to difficult to reach or underserved areas. 

We have well-trained climbing techs, own and maintain the tallest tower in the Bay Area, build solar carrier class fixed wireless base stations, own and operate bobcats, and terminate fiber.

Our customers know how to reach us and trust us to keep them connected.

Etheric’s Solution

Our proposed network will vastly extend our current operational network, with adjustments in the area of core, backbone and distribution, so that it is scalable, secure and reliable. The 5G core will be integrated into the existing core to enable the 5G RAN and also make our network future proof. The data network will add additional layer 2 edge network enhancements (VXLAN) to enable projection of core compute services to the edge network.

Etheric’s Core

Our proposed IP network design will leverage our existing redundant Data Centers to provide scalable Tier 1 Internet peering. 

Currently, BGP connections are in place across myriad direct Internet Exchange locations – from geographically redundant Tier 1 service providers (Level III, CenturyLink, and NTT America) to key content providers (Google, Netflix, Microsoft, etc.) Our proposal adds LTE/5G core functionality to those existing hardened Tier 1 data centers. 

The 5G core will thus be a standalone model with redundant core servers, i.e. a greenfield deployment specifically designed for our fixed wireless network. 

We will also transition our existing dual stack IPv4 and IPv6 configurations to primarily IPv6.

Backbone & Distribution

Currently in our assigned census blocks there are many gaps and with under- or un-utilized fiber paths. 

Although communities and metro fiber owners are supportive and optimistic about the RDOF initiative, projects in counties such as San Mateo, Santa Cruz Mountains and Coastal Fiber Ring still have many gaps and unused fiber paths.

Our proposed solution will bring dark fiber as close as possible to these census blocks and
cut wireless hops in half compared to existing networks in the area. Our Base Stations can obtain from 10 to 40 Gbps of backhaul via fixed wireless. Backhaul traffic will also be aggregated througha cost effective combination of microwave and millimeter wave backhaul. 

We currently use Arista routers in conjunction with ADVA and passive DWDM to offer VXLAN, and 5G services at our tower as well as our XXX-3GPP core.

Access Network

Our proposed mid-band technologies include 3.6 GHz CBRS, 5-6 GHz UNII, subleasing of 2.5, and 3.7GHz. Our millimeter wave will include solutions using UMFUS 24-38GHz, & V-Band 57-66GHz. With these technologies, beamforming, massive MIMO, and advanced RF signal processing promise significantly improved performance.

Where LOS or density otherwise prohibits use of Fixed Wireless, we will also deploy GPON fiber from a distribution Hub (Lit building/Macro Tower/ Gigacell).

In conclusion, our proposed hybrid fiber-wireless solution is both robust and effective, due to its
use of a variety of solutions for Gigabit, 10G, and terrabit services. 

Each solution has evaluative tradeoffs with cost, speed, community input, energy efficiency, scalability, and roadmapping – thus offering more flexibility than a homogeneous approach. 

With CBRS as a catalyst, our hybrid solution synergizes network building approaches from WISPs, governmental internet services, enterprise and traditional telcos, and fiber companies.

Connect with us about RDOF

If you’re looking for information about RDOF buildout in your area, or are a vendor interested in working with us, please click the button below and fill out the form.