1st big internet project: an ISP called OlyWa.net (acquired my web design / training biz) then acquired by a weird NorCal telcom who imploded messily… later sorta resurrected as Zhonka – media archive lives here
Zhonka co-founders on 40 under 40 List (new window) – feature article by Paul Schrag from Business Examiner details achievements by 40 area business leaders under 40 years of age including Zhonka’s Jacob Stewart and Dave Olson 6/23/03
Article from The Olympian (new window) – newspaper article about Zhonka Broadband by Alex Goff w/ pic of Dave, Jay and Kenny Trobman at the Clubside Cafe 3/21/03 – Photo by Steve Bloom /The Olympian
Not sure if you saw this but … a few month’s back, my colleague and co-conspirator at Zhonka! was at it again with a wise and insightful bit of commentary on the unnecessary hassle imposed on ISPs who some think should pay the role of snoop and fink. Jay’s commentary is below form his blog post Yet More Business Press from Tuesday, November 21, 2006.
This is in response to the Attorneys General of many states, including Rob McKenna of Washington State, putting out a hot-air puffery press release (read the actual letter here) on how ISPs could help catch paedophiles, which is true, if we snooped on traffic and violated the privacy of our customers. Surely, there is a better way to protect children than turning our country into a “Big Brother” police state, where ISPs and telephone companies keep records of activity and data forever, so that the “authorities” can sift through it long after it would have protected any children. Law enforcement needs to start doing it’s job, and stop hassling poor (and brown) people. Anyway, I think these are some of my best quotes ever published in the print media, and am proud to been able to speak out against this kind of fishing expedition.
Some people in the industry , however, see no problem with offering free wireless Internet access, believing that if a customer can pay for a mocha and owns a laptop, they can probably order a second drink, too.
Dave Olson, minister of marketing at Zhonka, in Olympia, Wash, sell DSL Internet connections to a variety of companies (mostly cafes) in Olympia and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Cafe managers then turn around and offer wireless Internet to their coffee and tea sipping customers at no cost. “For us, it’s a good marketing ploy,” he says. “It promotes us in the community and puts out a lot of marketing goodwill. A year or so ago, it was mostly pay-per-use. Now people are drifting more toward doing the free thing.”
With an Internet line and a piece of hardware that processes the signal, cafes can be up and running in no time. The initial set-up cost is between $30 and $50, according to Olson.
He believes pay-per-use Internet access turns customers off because they have to spend time entering their credit card information onto a home page and might have to make immediate decisions about the number of minutes or months they want to subscribe. Also, the fee to jump on the Internet might seem silly to some people when they have plunked down money for a mocha and pastry, and perhaps plugged a parking meter for the time they are in the cafe. “You’re already in there paying for premium beverage and a place to sit, ” says Olson.
Wireless Net links spread
Libraries join Wi-Fi trend
BY KATHERINE TAM, THE OLYMPIAN
Free wireless access began popping up downtown about three years ago, when Dave Olson and Jacob Stewart launched Zhonka Broadband. They were looking to join with cafes to provide free Internet access. They started out by asking merchants they knew.
“People said ‘What are you talking about? Who’s going to use it? This is nuts,’ ” Olson said. “But they said ‘OK.’ ”
The idea took off. The clientele changed at the 4th Ave. Tav, where people began coming in at the noon hour for lunch and free Wi-Fi, he said. Today, the laptop has become a fixture in coffee shops.
“It creates a third place,” Olson said. “You’ve got your office and your home. Sometimes you need to get away from the distractions and escape.”
Wi-Fi hot spots aren’t widely publicized — though Zhonka publishes a list online — but people have found a way to locate them. Banner said she looks for the distinctive “Zhonka” sticker in shop windows or looks for other laptop users. Word has spread through word of mouth for Caffe Vita, Fink said.
Popular Science magazine ranked Seattle and Olympia as number one and two respectively for having the highest national percentage of Internet customers.
The magazine credited the cities’ relatively high number of free wireless access points as a major reason for the high rankings. It also credited the two cities for bucking a national trend for wireless hotspots to charge users a fee for the service.
Olympia-based Zhonka Broadband maintains several free wireless spots in the South Sound region. Company spokesman Dave Olson said it allows the company to showcase its high-speed DSL technology while businesses with the hotspots find that they help to attract customers.
Internet Users Better Protected With Two New Bills – Zhonka Press Release – May 20, 2005
House Bill 1888 signing ceremony – L to R: Dave Olson, Zhonka Broadband; Governor Christine Gregiore; Jacob Stewart, Washington Association of ISPs; Hunter Goodman, Assistant Attorney General
Photo purchased from House of Representatives
Many misleading e-mails and malicious attachments are now illegal after Governor Christine Gregoire signed two House bills designed to eliminate “Spyware” and “Phishing.”
New guidelines for distributing and installing software in hopes of decreasing Spyware are specified in HB1021, signed into law on May 17th. Often delivered as e-mail attachments or installed along with free software, these malicious software programs are secretly installed on unprotected computers. Once installed, Spyware inundates the victim’s computer with pornographic pop-up ads and windows with bogus security warnings, without any means to remove or de-activate the ads.
In other scenarios, “Malware” programs perform more nefarious activities such as installing a “Trojan” program, by which the intruder gains control of the infected computer. The compromised computer is then used as a “zombie” to deliver infected e-mail or propagating the Spyware through Trojan and Worms. Alternatively, the infected computers may host Phishing sites or even participate in denial of service attacks against other websites.
HB1888, signed May 5th, prohibits sending e-mail soliciting personal information using fraudulent means such as misrepresentation. In a practice commonly called Phishing, a fraudster sends massive quantities of e-mail purporting to be from major bank, well-known websites, or credit card providers seeking account “clarifications” or “updates.” Unsuspecting users who respond to the invalid inquiries are taken to spoofed websites that may look identical to legitimate sites. Once they reveal sensitive information, they easily fall victim to identity theft and credit card fraud, often without knowledge how they’ve been duped.
With the two laws, the Attorney General’s office will have a new tool to combat this sophisticated fraud. Hunter Goodman, Assistant Attorney General and Director of Legislative Affairs points out, “Spyware and phishing are two of the most destructive tactics used by thieves to obtain private personal information from citizens online, and these two new laws will be a tremendous help in our efforts to protect the public from online fraud.”
This cycle of junk-mail and computer compromise is a burden on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who process the excess junk e-mail and experience increased customer support. Dave Olson, of Olympia’s Zhonka Broadband, points out, “In some cases, we need to contact customers who are unwittingly sending out junk mail from an infected computer – they are usually surprised and then frustrated about the clean up work.” Olson also says that Zhonka encourages a proactive approach to computer protection and maintains a list of prevention resources on the company’s website.
Washington Association of Internet Service Providers’ Jacob Stewart applauds the law saying, “This is a great step in providing relief for Internet users beleaguered by junk mail and mal-ware.” But Stewart also offers a practical word of caution, “Due to the de-centralized nature of the Internet, the Washington State law may face enforcement and jurisdiction issues hence users need to continue to use vigilance in protecting their networks.”
House Bill 1012 signing ceremony – L to R: Dave Olson, Zhonka Broadband; Jacob Stewart, Washington Association of ISPs, Governor Christine Gregiore; Kevin Miller, Zhonka Broadband Intern, Unidentified, Hunter Goodman, Assistant Attorney General -Photo purchased from House of Representatives
Zhonka Broadband Secretary General Jacob Stewart says he runs an Olympia-based Internet Service Provider for the glory. “I started my current business with an eye toward making a living,” Stewart says, “not striking it rich.”
Stewart is no novice to the Internet game. He started OlyWa.Net in 1995. That first company grew quickly and was netting some $1 million a year before merging with Advanced Telecom Group in 2000.
After the OlyWa.Net merger, Stewart says he took a much needed break from the hectic day-to-day stress of building and running a tech company. “I needed time to decompress,” he says.
That break didn’t last long. In the wake of the Internet boom, Stewart decided to build a leaner, more efficient business. With the help of a small team of investors, Stewart created Zhonka in 2003.
The life of an entrepreneur can be tough, Stewart says. Entrepreneurs should be prepared for long hours, hard work, planning and perseverance. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his job. “To any would-be entrepreneur I’d say go for it,” Stewart says, “And don’t let anybody tell you it can’t be done.”
NEW BILL KEEPS THE INTERNET TAX-FREE PRESS RELEASE – April 28, 2004
Washington Association of Internet Service Providers
Ron Main of Cable Communications Assoc., Dave Olson of Zhonka Broadband, and Jacob Stewart & Gary Gardner of WAISP join Gov. Locke for SB 6259 bill signing on March 26 2004.
OLYMPIA – During the recent Legislative session, local Internet businesses and industry groups supported a bill to keep Internet services tax-free, in Washington at least. SB 6259 extends the moratorium on cities and towns imposing new taxes on Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Jacob Stewart, Vice-President of the Washington Association of Internet Service Providers (WAISP) suggests, “This tax moratorium extension is important to encourage the use of new Internet technologies by not encumbering users with confusing and redundant taxes.”
Gary Gardner, Executive Director of WAISP, hopes for a fair chance for ISPs who continue to pay the Business and Occupancy (B&O) taxes assessed to general service businesses. “We don’t feel ISPs should pay a separate rate of B&O tax than other businesses, and we continue to oppose any sort of tax on either ISPs or their customers simply for the privilege of accessing the Internet.”
Dave Olson, of Zhonka Broadband, an Olympia-based ISP, sees some comfort from the extension. “This bill enables ISPs to confidently expand broadband service to under-served markets across the digital divide, resulting in increased marketplace choice in areas like Grays Harbor and the Olympic Peninsula.”
A similar Federal bill (HB 49) passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last year. However the companion Senate bill (SB 150) failed, opening the door for municipalities to levy additional taxes on ISPs and their customers.
As the U.S. Senate again debates the Internet Tax Nondiscrimination Act, President Bush offered his encouragement, saying, “If you want broadband access throughout the society, Congress must ban taxes on access.”
FREE WI-FI IS THE “SOUP DU JOUR” FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES
OLYMPIA – As part of Zhonka Broadband’s unique “Surfbreak” program, innovative businesses around the Puget Sound are serving up free wireless Internet access for customers.
While other companies offer “wi-fi” (short for wireless fidelity) for a charge, Zhonka’s Surfbreaks are no-cost and hassle free with no login, password, or membership required. With diverse locations from grassy parks to late-night diners, there is a Surfbreak location to suit most anyone’s preference.
As Zhonka’s Secretary General Jacob Stewart notes, “It’s great to see business people and students escape the office or classroom to meet or study in cafes or parks instead.”
Zhonka, an Olympia-based Internet service provider, introduced this unique program in early 2003 and interest quickly spurred expansion to numerous cafes, espresso shops, computer stores, taverns, and public markets throughout Western Washington.
Recent additions include coffee roasters Batdorf & Bronsons’ Dancing Goats cafe, CafŽ Allegro’s two locations near the University of Washington, and the Olympia Farmer’s Market plus a few micro-brew taverns. A complete list – including contact information – is located online athttp://www.zhonka.net/surfbreak/. Locations are also identified with distinctive “Free Wi-fi for the People” posters and window stickers.
The Surfbreak locations use high speed Zhonka DSL connections to power the wi-fi hot-spots. A customer simply brings a wireless ready laptop or PDA to a Surfbreak locations and “Voila!” they are online.
Dave Olson, Zhonka’s Minister of Marketing Affairs puts forth that everyone involved stands to gain from this arrangement, “The Surfbreak program offers participating businesses a strategic advantage over competitors who charge for use. While we certainly enjoy the goodwill and publicity, the biggest winners in this scenario are folks using this exciting new technology.”
Dave Olson Minister of Marketing Affairs