Contact Us

Satellite Enabled Voice Services Save Idaho Property and Many Acres from Wildfire


“In 1861, gold was discovered in Florence, Idaho,” Dan Smith explained. “That mining town once had 9000 people living in it. Today it has me.”

Mr. Smith owns the property, from an old mining claim, where the abandoned town sits surrounded by miles of wilderness. While not his permanent home, he has been building a cabin there for the past few years. In August 2021, not far from his property, some local friends riding the trails noted a smoldering fire had reignited. They went to alert Mr. Smith.

“Because I have Hughesnet with Voice services and knew where the fire was, I pinpointed the GPS coordinates, and called the forest service, 9-1-1 and the local sheriff,” he said. “I’m in the middle of nowhere, the only way to explain to 9-1-1 is to relay GPS coordinates. Within 15 minutes, a helicopter was flying over the property.” Two hours later, crews arrived on foot.

In the meantime, Mr. Smith – a former volunteer firefighter – jumped into action.

“On the property, I have firefighting trailers set up, each with 300 gallons of water and a few thousand feet of hose. I unhooked the pump from the trailer, grabbed the hose, chainsaw, some shovels and axes, and loaded it all up, rode over and waded out into the creek. I started pumping water from the creek, in 300-foot sections, fighting my way up the hill, I fought about three or four acres that had reignited. The fire was only half a mile from my land. Given how remote we are, we have to have these tools to be prepared – Hughesnet included.”

“It’s remarkable that the helicopter got to the location in 15 minutes. That couldn’t have happened without the Voice over IP (VoIP) service. Who knows what would’ve happened to my property,” he said. The firefighters themselves were also able to use the service to communicate to the command center.

Mr. Smith is not just a grateful Hughesnet fan, he’s also the owner of Custom Satellite and a long-time Hughes dealer, who serves a large regional area in north and central Idaho, eastern Washington, and Oregon. He understands the terrain and critical role of satellite connectivity for those who live and work in rural or remote areas.

“There will never be cable out here. The nearest electricity grid is 30 to 40 miles away. The closest town is 50 miles. Yet people need to have Internet and phone service. They need to be able to communicate with the rest of the world.”

Consequently, he handles a variety of unique Hughesnet installs.

“It can take over eight hours to get to an install that is only 13 miles away on switchback roads. I’ve done installs by jet boat, helicopter, and four-wheeler. Airplane rides are very common. Sometimes, we’ll take a bush plane, where we land on a dirt airstrip at an extremely steep angle. We land uphill, so it slows the plane down. When you take off, you head downhill, so you can pick up speed. The ground just drops off beneath you. In the winter, I do a lot of jobs on snowmobiles. I’ll drive four or five hours by truck, unload a snowmobile, and ride another hour to get to the location. The only thing we haven’t taken to an install is a horse or mule.”

“One time, I installed satellite Internet in a cave! I drove to this guy’s place. I get there and have to walk about 200 yards up hill. He’d cut a house into the bank of a mountain. There’s a living room with a wood stove buried in dirt, a dirt floor and flat area, with 2x7 boards as his desk. The flat spot was covered in moss to handle the seeping water. He had a turbine generator that turned a water wheel. One lightbulb, one laptop, and Hughesnet.”

In areas where fiber and cable don’t reach, Hughesnet Satellite Internet and Voice connect residents to emergency services and the world.