Skyline Broadband WISP

two tall redwood treesThis is our second or third largest tree (the one on the left.) It’s a coast redwood that I think is about 6 foot diameter and nearly 200 feet tall. This tree is special because around 170 feet up its trunk is home to the radio and antenna that have provided our internet service for the last 11+ years.

We’ve relied on Skyline Broadband for our only reliable connection to the outside world (which goes down far less than the land line.) Skyline Broadband was, until recently, a mom and pop wireless ISP (WISP) started by a retired couple living remotely who were looking to bring some bandwidth over the mountain from Silicon Valley for themselves and found a sweet deal on some spectrum and tower placement so they were able to become an ISP and distribute that bandwidth to un-served and under-served folks in my area of the mountains.

Skyline Broadband has been a great ISP. Their uptime has been stellar. Their service has been solid. Their speeds to us are limited because even with the elevation we get from the tree mount we still don’t have line of sight to the access point up the mountain and so must use a lower frequency radio that isn’t capable of high speeds. (I think their top tier plan is 20 Mbps, we’re getting 1.5 Mbps.) We will continue to subscribe to SB as our failover — at least for a while, even after we’ve got Starlink up and running.

(Skyline did recently sell to another local ISP out of Half Moon Bay so while it’s still relatively small and local it’s not the same mom and pop outfit that helped me find the best location and line up a tree climber for the mount. I don’t feel as bad about planning on its obsolescence as I would have if it was still under the original ownership.)

I’m a big fan of local businesses, especially those providing critical services, and I worry that SpaceX, a pretty large corporation, is about to put a strain on many WISPS possibly putting some of them out of business. But it is possible for them to compete, to stay current with infrastructure and deliver competitive speeds and pricing so they’re not necessarily doomed. I certainly hope Skyline Broaband, now Coastside.net, survives and continues to offer valuable connectivity to those who can’t get it elsewhere. We’re certainly thankful for their years of service.