The digital Era

The digital Era

The digital Era

One of my neighbors was talking via a group regarding cable and internet and what have you.  Since I took the time to write this to them I thought that I would also share this with you my “virtual” neighbors. 

Shopping Saves Money

I had Time Warner for years.  The bill had eventually reached $300 a month, the picture was hardly HD and often pixelated and too often went out.  The service technicians had been over too many times to fix it and I was over paying that kind of money for interference and snowy pictures. The Internet was slow 6mgb I think and, the two phone lines of course went down when the cable went down.

Truth be told, we don’t recognize the up time, we only really recognize and pay attention to the down time!  So when it went off or they had issues, it was an issue.  As things are “bundled” it is a real problem!

Howdy Neighbor!

Because the e-mail is also through Time Warner, now all of the communication other than the cellular is dead, if it dies for whatever reason.

While I would argue that this is a good time to pick up a book, or go sit on the porch with a glass of tea and say howdy to the neighbors, as we hardly ever meet our neighbors anymore.  We are too happy with our gadgets, and our air conditioning, another story.

Un-Bundle

The old adage about not putting all of your eggs in one basket is salient advice, and germane when it comes to communication.

Some of the easiest things to do is get another e-mail account that is not tied to your provider. Gmail, or some other freebie is a good start.  Yes there are security issues with this so don’t broadcast your banking information through un-encrypted e-mail.  I would argue not to put anything on there that you would not put on social media, but that too is another topic.

Next, as someone pointed out, who needs a land line.  POTS lines or ‘plain old telephone lines” are a thing of the past, much like pay phones.  If you really want a phone line that looks like a regular line, there are options.

First and the cheapest I have found is “Magic Jack.”  Yep, looks cheesy but for $100 for 5 years, pick your number and exchange, which is an easy choice.  Phone lines through your cable provider have all sorts of taxes and fees including *“universal fees” , which are fees tacked onto your phone line to pay for someone else’s phone.

I personally like to choose who I donate to and I don’t like to have it extracted from me, so that too was an easy choice.  No fees or other hidden theft of money with Magic Jack.

There are devices that you can get that utilize the Cell phone service and hook up to your home wiring that actually use a cell phone number as a home phone thus not doing business with the cable company in that regard.  More expensive and fees and other hidden charges will be there.  It still might be less expensive than the cable company.

There are other options for entertainment as more and more services are streaming online as someone else pointed out.  I still like the TV services offered by Verizon but, if that price gets too high, I will switch again.

Broadband is changing constantly and some say that you should get the fastest around including the company that sells it via some upgrade by some carriers on some channel.

Since most companies are using something called QoS (Quality of Service) they can actually throttle certain types of packets so, streaming video may be fast but other types of files may crawl.  This is what the whole net neutrality argument is all about.

Should NETFLIX for instance be able to pay the FCC or some other government entity to have priority traffic over some other streaming service?  Those that have a business like this lobby for it as it would make them more successful and those that think the internet should be unencumbered from government regulations lobby for neutrality.  Your online game packets should have the same priority as VOIP.  (Voice over IP)  I would argue that some companies are already doing it to some degree with or without regulations but proving it would be difficult.  Verizon has in its “fine print” an option to slow the traffic to your MAC address of your router, if you violate any of the rules on the internet such as downloading copyrighted stuff so trust me when I say this, they can do it easily.

My point to this is that I would not pay extra for faster or more bandwidth in that your “cable speed checker” may say that you are blazing but, in fact the traffic that you are interested in may be throttled back for something else.  There are other issues that could also slow down the traffic to your particular site that you are interested in so, before you buy a racecar, make certain you can use it.

Should your Internet be sold to you like water, or electricity?

There are, and have been arguments by greedy politicians and others who believe that you should pay for what you use or cause to move or transverse the internet.  Not only should you pay for your connection to, and the speed thereof, but you should also pay for the amount of data downloaded or uploaded much like cellular providers already do.  Even if the price was negligible, once they got the camel’s nose inside the tent, you would quickly find the whole camel inside the tent.  I would fight this at every turn of the road.

Network cable is not wire

Start with the basic and see if it is acceptable. Ramp up slowly and this is a biggie, make sure that the slowness that you are experiencing is not on your own home network.  Often I see companies that have paid big bucks for superfast internet access and have placed their network cables on top of fluorescent lights, or other em emitting sources.   Another huge mistake that I see often is the use of zip ties to keep them all neatly bundled.  Like building a home, make certain that your networks foundation (physical layer) is solid and installed per specifications.

Too many companies hire some handyman to install network cable thinking it is like any other kind of wire.  IT IS NOT.  There is a reason that there are so many different standards of cable and it has to do with shielding and something called TPI or (twist per inch.) Along with all of that, there is a spacer inside the cable that actually holds the different pairs at certain distances from one another as to not adversely affect the impedance of the cable.  Hire a cable specialist to do this for you; as not only does it need to be routed correctly, but it must be terminated correctly.

Threaten to Fire them

When the cable company gets too pricey call and tell them that you are going to “cancel” and change providers.  They will most probably send you to a “retention specialist” who is authorized to cut your bill, or offer you some free something or other for some amount of time.

Be prepared to cut the cable.

If you are just un-happy with the service and the retention specialist tries to low ball you, simply tell them no; and come get the stuff, or write the letter as some require etc.  I see many people bringing cable boxes and Satellite boxes and what have you to the UPS store or to the FED EX store as those folks have a contract with the provider to wrap the stuff up, and ship it for them.  Read and understand your contract before you engage the company and certainly before you terminate services.  The fine print in some of these contracts is ambiguous at best.  If I need a lawyer to look it over that is a red flag for me.  If I cannot within a few moments read the contract, and understand it completely; I am uninterested in the product.  That is sage advice that 40 years of dealing with vendors has taught me.

Important Information

A note about Magic Jack and or other VOIP services.  911 may not be a function that you have with it so remember if there is an emergency, use your cell phone.  911 is an emergency number (obviously) and when there is an emergency people often forget things like (that phone does not have 911!) when seconds count, you don’t have time to call 911 on a line that will not do you any good!

With Magic Jack they sell it with a network cable that plugs right into your router.  The problem is the cable is “flat.”  A flat cable picks up EM “electromagnetic” interference too easily and effects the performance and quality of the device.  Toss it and use a regular cat 5 or cat 6 jumper cable.

Alarm systems can be dicey with VOIP and certainly with some cable providers.  There are companies that offer cellular connected alarms and while I would not want that exclusively, I would want that as an option.  Crooks can be smart so one must be a step ahead of and smarter than them.  A good alarm company should have specialist that can make certain that if there is an issue that the police or fire or other emergency services will indeed get the call.  One other small pearl of wisdom I would pass on regarding this is simply to test your alarm once a month at least.  When you pay the bill, go test the alarm.  Make it a habit.  You don’t want to find out that it does not work, when or if you need it.

-Best

(c) All Rights Reserved 2015

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