In search of a fast and affordable connection to the Internet?

If so, the area's leading Internet and Data service provider for both home and work, PenTeleData, is just a phone call away.

Scott Hoppel, commercial sales manager, discussed what the company does and how it stays abreast of the constant changes in technology with members of the Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

Hoppel said the partnership offers residential services that range from dial-up to high speed broadband cable modem and DSL.

"It's a real asset," Hoppel said. "It's something special to be a part of a company partnership owned by privately owned cable and telephone companies."

Through it all, Hoppel said PenTeleData has been able to maintain a local presence, which has given it an identity that customers can relate to.

"We're a group of companies that have a common goal to offer services out there that really nobody can touch," Hoppel said. "The technology that we have access to is phenomenal."

Among its many accomplishments, Hoppel said PenTeleData was the first in the country to provide high speed Internet access.

He added that PenTeleData started with six employees, a figure that has since swelled to 174 full-time and 17 part-time employees in Palmerton.

Technology changes at such a rapid pace that Hoppel said it's a challenge to keep up with. At present, he said PenTeleData has a quarter million broadband users.

"Things change so fast in this industry," he said. "Our growth has really been in response to the demand."

Hoppel said PenTeleData provides services such as Internet, security cameras and firewalling to such entities as Blue Mountain Health Systems, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Moravian College, and St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network.

"It's about finding a better way on the Internet to make things faster," he said. "The growth of the products and the opportunities out there is amazing."

Above all else, Hoppel said continuity is a key when it comes to technology.

With 140,000 hard drive crashes per week in the United States on average, Hoppel said it's imperative to back up all and any data.

"The biggest tip I can give you is that with any critical data, make sure you have them backed up somewhere," he said. "At minimum, take a flash drive and copy it, and put it in your safe."

Hoppel also noted that Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are nearly all taken under the existing IPV4 standard. However, he said plans are in the works for a migration plan to IPV6 in an effort to continue to provide services to existing and future customers.

Peter Kern, president of the chamber, extolled praise on PenTeleData for its positive impact on the community.

"PenTeleData is a company that is behind the scenes," Kern said. "They have a tremendous job to perform."