After months of wading through the permitting process and building the infrastructure, the newest high-speed wireless internet service provider, locally owned and operated EL Internet Northwest, is now connecting customers in Boundary County to the most reliable service available.
"It's progressing very well," said owner Eric Lederhos. "We're consistently getting calls, word of mouth is beginning to spread and many people are already leaving their current providers because of the quality of our service. Linda and I are grateful for the community support we've been getting."
While the technical talk behind his system may be difficult to comprehend, Eric and his wife, Linda, built the system with one goal in mind, to provide everyone in Boundary County who needs or wants quality internet, internet telephone (VOIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol), or video telephone service the best that's currently available.
The mainstay of the system are four main towers, powered mainly by wind and batteries, located strategically around the county to provide wireless coverage to most areas of Boundary County. The main tower in Bonners Ferry receives its bandwidth feed by fiber optics, the most reliable and stable feed currently available, then transmits that signal in a double-backup system that means outages, in any weather, are extremely rare.
In fact, the system was built to provide, in techno-speak, a minimum of 5 9 reliability, which means that the system will be on line 99.999 percent of the time. In layman's terms, that means downtime will be less than 25.9 seconds a week, or 5.26 minutes a year.
And unlike many current wireless internet services now available, particularly satellite, the bandwidth package you opt for is what you'll get delivered … with no upload and download limits. That means your system won't be slowed to a crawl for up to 24 hours if your downloads happen to push you momentarily beyond what most systems allocate. In addition to the four main towers, additional smaller towers are being installed to reach into those areas of the county currently inaccessible to all but satellite service due to the terrain.
Thanks to the high reliability of the system, E.L. Internet Northwest is able to offer VOIP, which can replace traditional landlines for basic telephone service and even offer videophone, where you can see who you're talking to, on your telephone, your television or even in conferences using electronic whiteboards. Both services offer unlimited long distance telephone service throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico at less cost than traditional telephone service, only $25 a month for telephone or $30 a month for video phone.
"Our goal is to be able to reach and provide these services to all but the most inaccessible residents of the county," Eric said. "If we can't reach you today, it won't be long. Let us know where you are, and we'll work to reach you."
Basic installation for wireless internet service is $299, which includes installation of a radio receiver at your home or business and wiring through the wall to a computer or router, and basic service packages range from 128k at $35 per month to a whopping 1.5Mbps at $100 per month for residential installations or 256k at $70 per month to 1Mbps at $100 per month for businesses.
"For most residential customers who want to surf the web and check their email, the 256k package is plenty," Lederhos said. "But we can provide speeds up to 10Mbps if that's needed."
Life-long residents, Eric and Linda launched EL Internet Northwest to provide high-quality service needed by their Boundary County neighbors, and they'll go the extra mile to see that their service meets the individual needs of each customer. They have installation payment plans available to keep start-up costs more affordable, and if you happen to be in one of those "dark" areas surrounded by hills or trees where signals won't reach, they can erect a pole to mount the receiver to get you connected.
They'll even be offering free classes on using the Internet and explaining their system, to include VOIP and videophone, open to everyone who's interested, and if you can't make it to a scheduled class, they're happy to set up a special one-on-one class, also at no charge.
"We've been part of this community and in business here a long time," Eric said. "Our goal first and foremost is to be good neighbors."
To find out more, call E.L. Internet Northwest at (208) 946-4147, visit their website,
, or stop by and visit them in their beautiful offices at 64 Automation Lane north of Bonners Ferry in what used to be the Anheuser Busch hops barn.