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Olympic Wi-Fi goes off beaten path

Not sure where you'll be in 12 months and hesitant to sign a two-year Internet contract?

Live in the hills and frustrated that DSL Internet isn't available?

A solution exists.

Olympic Wi-Fi - owned by 21 shareholders - offers high-speed wireless Internet service with no contract, providing service where other providers aren't able or haven't dared to venture.

The company started in August 2006 as the dream of recently retired Sequimites Jim and Sandy Reed, who found themselves with a lot more free time and a slow dial-up Internet connection. Because of their location, DSL wasn't an option. But the Reeds weren't interested in dial-up and found a group of others who felt the same.

Now, two and one-half years later, the corporation is going strong and pondering expanding west into Port Angeles.

"I remember when we signed our first three-year lease and we were scared because it seemed so long," said co-owner Sandy Reed. "Now we are getting ready to sign another."

The wireless service works by transmitting a signal from a small receiver mounted on the client's home to one of four remote access towers and connecting the user to the World Wide Web.

Unlike most of its competitors, Olympic Wi-Fi doesn't require clients to sign a contract - accounts are set up on a month-to-month basis - and prices are "very competitive," she said.

The low price, however, has no reflection on quality of service provided, Sandy Reed said.

"It's about the fastest (Internet) out there (because) it doesn't depend on the quality of a cable or telephone lines. It uses radio waves."

More than seven service packages are available ranging in speed from fast, for casual computer users, to super-fast, for gamers and e-traders.

Looking into the future, Jim Reed, company president, has aspirations to expand service westward. But no immediate plans have been announced.

"We're still building a solid base," Jim Reed said.

"To expand, we have to find landowners wiling to set up leases for towers, test the connections and then inform the public."

Sandy Reed prides the company on not having raised its prices.

"We are trying to develop a relationship with our clients where they trust us and we trust them," she said.

John Bush, chief information officer, is in charge of keeping the Internet connection quick and safe, protecting users from "hack attacks."

"Not just e-mail virus scanning either, which is standard. We offer full protection," Bush said.

"There's no need to put a guard dog into the mailbox when you can just open the door."

Twenty-four-hour statistical monitoring allows management to locate and fix problems immediately - often before users realize something is wrong, Bush said.

As of Jan. 1, the team has blocked 1,628 viruses and 4,257 network intrusions.

In an effort to keep the network virus-free, clients are offered 50-percent off a new customer computer tune-up. One computer that came in was infected with 4,111 viruses.

A common sign of infection is a slow Internet connection despite high-speed service, Bush said. Virus scans are highly recommended before joining the network but not required.

Dial-up is available upon request, but Jim and Sandy Reed agreed that the service is on the road to extinction. Wireless Internet, the couple said, is the future.

"It's faster, easier, inexpensive and doesn't tie up the phone line," Sandy Reed said. "When Jim and I were on dial-up, we had to have two lines because we refused to have a line tied up, But when we switched to wireless we were able to drop the extra line and that alone practically covered the cost of having the Internet."

Reach Ashley Miller at ashleyo@sequimgazette.com.

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