From left, sales staffers Lee Carlander and Tracy Green; Chris Rose,
director of sales/marketing; and engineers Jay Hennigan and Jessie
Bryan of Impulse Advanced Communications.
Local firm boosts business broadband
By STEVE SINOVIC, NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
March 11, 2012 7:58 AM
Impulse buying may be taking a whole new meaning for small business
owners in Santa Barbara looking for faster broadband service.
At a time when businesses depend on Internet access more than ever,
Santa Barbara-based Impulse Advanced Communications is investing
heavily to land new clients in the region or help current customers upgrade.
Some of the growth is being funded by a loan of more than $1 million
(and more to tap in a bigger line of credit) from Business First Bank
to fund the rollout of new service between Carpinteria and Goleta.
"It should help us get into double-digit growth," predicted Dave
Clark, president of the company, in a recent interview the
NEWS-PRESS, as he discussed strategies to expand the customer base.
Mr. Clark, a UCSB psychology grad who later ran Circuit City's IT
system, said his time with Impulse dates back to when the company was
a dial-up Internet provider mostly serving home users.
As the landscape changed and other providers jumped onto the consumer
bandwagon, Impulse, which was founded in 1996, charted a niche as
network specialists, working with large local employers such as Santa
Barbara Bank & Trust and Deckers.
Impulse seeks to differentiate itself by addressing service gaps not
offered by the larger competitors, helping to tweak many aspects of a
customer's network, including phones, routers and switches.
Thanks to business loans, Impulse set in motion its next-generation
network when it saw Internet options for businesses on the South
Coast remaining narrow while demand for bandwidth was increasing.
Business Internet access comes through three pipelines: coaxial
cable, traditional copper wire and fiber optics.
Cox Communications owns and controls the region's coaxial cable lines
and Verizon stopped upgrading its copper lines and has been focusing
more on its wireless business and building a residential television
network in large markets.
But Verizon's traditional copper lines, which are linked to virtually
every business and home in the region, presented an opportunity to
telecommunications carriers with the proper licenses.
So, 18 months ago, Impulse received a license which allows it to use
all of Verizon's copper wire between a customer's building and
Thanks to advances in technology, Impulse is able to deploy equipment
that provides fast, high-quality Internet access using copper.
All the copper wire between Ellwood and Carpinteria run to six
central Verizon offices and Impulse has leased space in five of them.
For obvious reasons, the wires are highly secure, with cameras and
badges and series of "tough tests" to gain access.
"We each have our own cage locked off," said sales director Chris
Rose, referring to the place where all the connections occur.
Technology advances mean higher speeds and reliability don't bring
sticker shock to customers.
"From a customer perspective, there is a slight increase in cost, but
a significant increase in bandwidth," said Mr. Clark, who hopes to
expand the business to points north and south as sales increase in
its home base.
The company's hometown roots make entry by competitors difficult, Mr.
"That's been our point of differentiation," he said. "The level of
problem solving and accountability isn't always there with the
Having a degree in computer science doesn't necessarily lead to work
for Impulse. Someone with a general networking certificate from a
community college can qualify for an entry-level position with the firm.
"They start with customer support for a period of time, graduate and
get promoted to network operations," said Mr. Clark of the career
trajectory of many of the Impulse workforce, which now comprises 30 employees.
Still, network and systems engineers are on staff to help technicians
learn and understand current technology.
The recent recession notwithstanding, businesses of all kinds cannot
stint on connectivity. As the economy recovers, any down time or
delays are deadly, especially for data-heavy companies like law
firms, banks and accounting firms, and those selling products and
"The quality of the connection is critical as a business grows," said
Mr. Clark. "It's not so much the size, but the reliability of the
bandwidth," explained Mr. Clark.
In terms of reliability, he suggests that some clients have "highly
redundant" service, which means backing up data in server farms and in clouds.
To serve its current and future customers, Impulse plans to hire
10-plus additional employees over the next 16 months.
While targeting small to mid-size businesses with new products are a
priority, big business isn't being ignored.
"They still need some love," said Mr. Rose of the larger companies.