BONNERS FERRY — Having internet access is one of the main things people look for when they purchase or rent a home. In the rural parts of Boundary County, internet access may be difficult, if not impossible to obtain.
EL Internet Northwest has brought a solution to community members through their wireless internet services. They have expanded to cable wired internet to residents in Bonners Ferry and closely surrounding areas, and continue to expand to fiber optic services.
The EL Internet team provides a wireless internet service to the rural areas of Boundary County and strive to keep internet speed and availability at its peak. In addition to the wireless service, they provide hardline cable to one’s house for internet services, but residents must be within the limitations of their services for wired communications.
The company is introducing fiber optic internet service to their customers, starting in Bonners Ferry and expanding to the Three Mile area, with future plans of expansion to residents in Moyie Springs, and north to Eastport, customer base willing.
“Over the span of the past 10 years, we have expanded the options that we offer, starting with wireless internet service,” said Valerie Surprenant, an EL Internet team member.
The company not only offers wireless internet service, but continue to expand their horizons to accommodate their customers’ main requests; faster internet.
“With the fiber optics, there is basically no limits on speed,” said owner Eric Lederhos. “People can get whatever speed they want.”
Throughout the county, the company has grown to 17 towers, bringing internet service to the nooks and crannies of Boundary County, from Bonners Ferry to Eastport, and the Montana border.
Speaking about the differences between regular cable internet and fiber optic internet, Lederhos said, “It is the fastest and lowest latency internet that is available. The speeds and response times, like when you go to a website, there is nothing faster.”
They are bringing big city technology to the rural areas of northern Idaho, enabling residents to have all of the amenities of the world wide web in even the most rural areas of Boundary County.
“We began with radio communication frequency from our towers to the rural, so now that we do the fiber optics, we start in town and then we will catch all of town, up the north side, with fiber optics,” said Lederhos. “We plan to begin offering it downtown. Once we have downtown done, we are running it up to the EL Internet building.”
The implementation will go by area, beginning in downtown Bonners Ferry and moving north, then westward toward Montana. If there is enough customer base requesting the service north in and toward Eastport, the company may change their priority.
“Once we get town done, and this Three Mile portion, we will move toward Moyie,” said Lederhos. “We have been getting calls from people up north that are requesting it, and if we get enough interest, we may change our direction of priority. It all depends on the demand.”
With many years involved in the community, the company continues to support its customers and strives to keep the ever-important service of internet to them.
“We have been a part of this community for about 48 years, and we have had great support from the community,” said Lederhos. “We would really like to thank the community for the great support.”
There is a 24/7 number for customers to contact the company, providing an additional support for those counting on their services.
“We are here in Bonners — we are a part of this community,” said Lederhos. “If you have a problem, and we try not to have problems, but if it happens, we are here locally to respond to it.”
With a service provider that is sourced locally, those that utilize their services support the local community instead of paying money to a large corporation. The money spent locally re-circulates back to the community. One may pay their bill or shop locally, and their money is almost always going to come back around to support one’s neighbor, family, or friends.
“Most of the problems that we have had has been a widespread problem when somebody cuts the line, so everyone goes down,” said Lederhos. “What we have done is sign up with two different companies, so we take that and branch it out in all the methods that we do. What that gives us is a redundancy, so when those lines get cut, we have a backup.”
With the extra support, the company continues to ensure that their service is up to par and in service to their customers as much as possible.
“It’s going to be huge. For a lot of our equipment, we keep backups to ensure that our uptimes are the best,” said Surprenant.
As technology rises, so does the equipment and their purposes.
“We have backup equipment, we have routers that will automatically be monitoring both, so if one goes down, it automatically switches everybody over,” said Lederhos. “It’s really high tech.”
In past years, Lederhos was the head electrician/electronic technician for LP, which is now the mill in Moyie. From there, he went into automation and computer control of equipment, which brought a variety of jobs, including the upgrading of the equipment at the Moyie dam.
“That stuff kind of slowed down a few years back,” said Lederhos. “We never had to lay anybody off because of lack of work, but it was looking that way. So I thought, what should we get into that would help the community and do it here? My wife said, well, our internet sucks, how about that?”
From that point on, Lederhos put up the first four towers of his operation and made sure it had a backup system built into it and the service was readily available to his customers from Bonners Ferry to the rural and hard to reach corners of Boundary County.
“When we hook someone up to our wireless, we make sure the signal is really good, weather doesn’t affect it, and all these things to make it better,” said Lederhos. “From there, we have just been growing.”
EL Internet service is proudly serving Boundary County and they take pride in serving their neighbors and fellow community members.
The company gets a lot of customers that switch because they don’t have an adequate response from their big company providers.
EL Internet is bringing the speed and hyper technology of the big cities to Boundary County through their fiber optic system, linking the small town atmosphere to the large world of the internet at the highest speeds available.
“Most small towns like ours only dream of having technology like this. We’re proud to be able to provide it and we are extremely thankful to the residents of Boundary County for their support,” stated their press release.
To find out when fiber optic internet service will be coming to your street, give them a call at 208-946-4147.