While Google continues to confound the world about whether or not the internet giant is in the service provider business, one Santa Clara company, Paxio, has been delivering ultra-high speed internet—Gigabit* internet—to businesses and homes for more than a decade.
Among its customers is Oakland’s Jack London Square and Paxio is a partner in Emeryville’s high-speed internet initiative, EmeryConnect.
Started in 2003, Paxio delivers fiber optics communications infrastructure in the Bay Area to business campuses, office buildings, apartment complexes and even neighborhoods, sharing the capital investment costs with developers or owners. Individual tenants don’t have to sign up for Paxio’s service.
That’s because founder and CEO Phil Clark has a philosophy that’s unusual in this business. He doesn’t believe in contracts, and standard Paxio services have no contracts. “You get the best return by having infrastructure,” Clark said.
One reason for Clark’s unique business philosophy is that the Southern California native has a degree in philosophy from UCLA.
His business philosophy is simple, “If we don’t perform you should be able to go to someone else.” His view is that competition benefits everyone. “Even if you don’t buy Paxio’s service, competition to Comcast gets them to drop rates,” he said.
Clark has been tinkering with technology since he was 10. He still remembers the first program he wrote in Basic, a submarine game. For Clark, broadband isn’t just a business, it’s a calling.
“I feel strongly about improving the communities we service by providing next-generation broadband,” he said, whether it be a city of thousands or a small community. I want everyone to experience high-speed fiber optic service at a reasonable price.”
Paxio is the third company—and the third ISP business—Clark has started. “I’ve grown up in this business, in a competitive market.”
His first two weren’t business successes but those experiences ultimately contributed to the success of Paxio. The first, Symbio, aimed to bring high speed internet to apartment complexes. Clark’s second company, FiberRide, was one of the first companies to deliver fiber optic internet to the home (FTTH).
“I looked at failure of first two companies and learned,” he explained. “The key is not trying to be everywhere or to serve everyone, it’s to create a win-win by partnering with other people to build infrastructure. Our selling point is, yes there is a cost, but the capital investment is shared.”
Paxio’s first customers were homebuilders looking to differentiate their developments with built-in high speed internet. A 2015 report by the Fiber to the Home Council Americas reports that fiber connections increases residential real estate value by three percent.
The company delivered its first Gigabit internet service in 2006. By 2009 Paxio expanded into business services, providing service to entire communities and carrier services.
Today Paxio offers business services for companies of every size, carrier services, as well as residential services starting with 25 megabit-per-second for $29 a month up to 1 Gbps for $99—with equal speeds from both uploads and downloads. By contract, Comcast’s monthly residential charge for 10 Mbps is $50, with the top speed of 250 Mbps for about $90/month.
These days Paxio’s biggest challenge, said Clark, is the temptation to succumb to runaway growth, as more and more people hear about the company’s service. The company has had 20,000 requests for service in the last two years alone.
But customer service comes before customer acquisition for Paxio. The company has a director of client experience, whose job, Clark said, is “thinking about customers’ end-to-end experience from the first inquiry to service calls.”
It’s a proven model. “Exuberant customers remind me of the great value we provide,” Clark concluded. “Creating and maintaining these relationships is vital to and a driving force behind every decision we make at Paxio. Exceptional client experience, after all, has and will continue to provide Paxio with long-term, loyal customers we take pride in.”
*Internet speeds are measured in the rate of data communicated per second: one megabit-per-second (Mbps) is 1 million bits-per-second, a gigabit (Gbps per second is 1 billion bits-per-second. With a 10 Mbps internet connection it takes about an hour to download a 2-hour HD movie. With a 1 Gbps connection downloading that movie takes less than 30 seconds.