Pasty.NET sees surge in demand for internet service
KEWEENAW COUNTY — Pasty.NET is seeing an unexpected spike in requests for new wireless connections, Charlier Hopper, general manager, said Monday morning. The requests began coming in over the weekend, which surprised him.
“We normally don’t get requests for internet over the weekend,” he said, “because people know we have business hours, although our help desk is open 24 hours. We had just a bunch of requests from all around, including places that we don’t even serve.”
One example is the area around Bruce Crossing, in Ontonagon County. Several people requested service, saying they need the internet to serve their children. Unfortunately, Pasty.NET does not serve that area, Hopper said.
With schools being temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and more and more people working remotely from home, there has been an increase in the need of the service.
“We’ve seen unexpected demand for new wireless connections, mainly from remote satellite or data-capped cell phone users,” said Hopper. “Our user base more than doubles in the summer, and it’s like the snowbirds returned early this year.”
Another reason for the increase in demand, he said, is that quite often people get a hotspot from AT&T or Verizon and they “live with the limitations.” Public hotspots may be created by a business for use by customers, such as coffee shops or hotels. Public hotspots are typically created from wireless access points configured to provide internet access, controlled to some degree by the venue.
“There’s 22 gigabytes, then it slows down to 600 kilobytes, or something,” Hopper said. “So, now they’re home, they’re watching Netflix and all of this, and they know we’re unlimited.”
The average Pasty.Net customer uses approximately 250 gigabytes per month, while the company can accommodate a terabyte.
“That’s a cap that Spectrum and Xfinity have, they put caps on at 1,000 gigabytes, and we don’t have caps,” Hopper said. “We don’t have data caps, so that’s why people call us.”
When AT&T was selling DSL (Digital Subscriber Line, through which users get a high speed bandwidth connection from a phone jack on an existing telephone network), Pasty.NET blanketed the Upper Peninsula, re-selling the service. Customers tended to call Hopper’s company, because, they expressed, they did not want to deal with AT&T. Today, however, Hopper said, his company services approximately 100 DSL all over the 906 area code, and the rest have been reached with high-speed wireless.
“That’s our forte,” said Hopper, “getting internet connection to the really hard-to-reach places.”
The situation is not unique to Pasty.NET, said Hopper. It is a scramble all across the country, as people are scrambling to get their internet connections beefed up, because more time is being spent at home.