Tag Archives: home broadband

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Why Is the American Internet Empire Crumbling?

The colossal labyrinth of pulses and wires we refer to as “the Internet” is sort of like the jumble of wires and plugs behind your uncle’s VCR. Sure, it works — but it’s largely improvised, and for the love of God don’t touch anything. Much like that old VCR, America’s network infrastructure is often a bit dated in terms of infrastructure. This has become increasingly clear in the past year as policy changes around Net Neutrality and regulatory standards have been riling up consumers, Internet providers, and Internet access advocacy groups alike. Overall, one thing is clear; the US has some issues when it comes to the modern innovation it helped give birth to. The heart of the trouble goes… Continue reading →

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Report: Every ETC Registered with the FCC’s Lifeline Program

This post includes: An overview of the Lifeline program and how it works A comprehensive list of registered ETCs (Eligible Telecommunication Providers), including websites and states served. For state-by-state ETC listings including contact information for each provider, see the United Service Administrative Company “find a Lifeline provider” page. How Lifeline Works Lifeline, a government program created in 1985 to provide phone service for low-income Americans, has been coming under public scrutiny this year thanks to regulatory overhaul of the program under FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. [1] The expansion of the program in early 2016 to cover home broadband Internet service for low-income customers has also been a contentious public issue, especially since reports of widespread Lifeline fraud have been making… Continue reading →

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How to Determine Which Internet Plan Is Right for You

Getting a broadband connection to your house can be a frustrating process. Choosing an Internet plan used to be a simple question of comparing prices and speeds. But these days, the quickly-changing tech marketplace has introduced a number of other factors consumers need to be aware of before they sign on the dotted line. For starters, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) recently began implementing data caps (limits to the amount of data you can use in a month), which can have a big effect on your monthly bill if you go over. At the same time, the growing popularity of high-definition video streaming via services like Netflix is poised to eat up data like never before — meaning that your bandwidth… Continue reading →

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Municipal Broadband Roadblocks

34 million Americans don’t have access to broadband Internet. In fact, 62 percent of those who can get broadband only have one provider to “choose” from. [1] This means that, for the majority of the US, our only option is to pay up… or go without. Some municipalities have taken it upon themselves to fix this problem by building public-owned “municipal broadband” networks. Cities like Chattanooga, TN and Sandy, OR made headlines by providing gigabit-speed Internet at a low cost to their residents. As of 2016, over 185 communities nationwide have followed suit with some form of public broadband service.[2] Needless to say, incumbent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) don’t like this idea, and have been lobbying at the state level for years… Continue reading →

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Cable, Satellite, IPTV & OTT Streaming: What’s the Difference?

Understanding the difference between Cable TV, Sattelite TV, IPTV, and OTT (over-the-top) streaming services can be tricky — particularly as content providers scramble to offer bundled services that blur the line between Internet and broadcast media. While cable subscription numbers have been tailing off in favor of alternatives like Netflix and Hulu, the video-consumption industry on the whole has only grown.  [1] There are more ways to tune into our favorite shows than ever before. More choices translate to more power for consumers, but only if you take a moment to understand the differences between the various types of TV connection available on the market today. Our goal in this post is to walk you through the basics of each “flavor”… Continue reading →

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Where the 2016 Candidates Stand on Broadband, Net Neutrality, and Internet Issues

Politicians have a well-earned reputation for misunderstanding the Internet. …So it’s no surprise that candidate stances on tech issues are all over the map as we approach the 2016 presidential election. From Clinton’s email server scandal[1] to Trump’s proposal of “closing that Internet up” to fight ISIS[2], Internet users have plenty of reason to be concerned about how either candidate might alter the landscape of “InternetLand” if they take office. There’s a lot more than our YouTube addiction at stake for the American public: Net Neutrality, municipal broadband, and data privacy are all on the chopping block. Let’s take a close look at where the candidates stand on Internet and broadband issues. I’ll start with a brief overview of each… Continue reading →

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How to Design a Supercharged Home Network

Your home is your kingdom. What’s a kingdom without strong Wi-Fi? The cable guy’s default settings will only get you the basics. Luckily, it doesn’t take much time or money to supercharge your home network. This article goes over everything needed to strengthen your Wi-Fi, enhance security, and dispel the dreaded “buffering” symbol from your Netflix forever. We’ll also cover ways to extend and enhance your network using hardware like switches, security systems, and power line extenders. Stop: if you’re here because your network is slow or not working, do the following first: Restart your router and/or modem (if no restart button, just unplug for a few seconds) Try different DNS servers (video guide here) If you’re unfamiliar with the… Continue reading →

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How to Optimize your Home Network for Faster Speeds

It’s frustrating to run a speed test and discover that you’re only getting half the Wi-Fi speeds advertised for your broadband plan. Luckily, optimizing your Wi-Fi network for faster speeds isn’t rocket science. All it takes is a basic understanding of how your network operates. In most cases, you can boost your speeds significantly for little or no extra money. This post will break down the basics of how your Wi-Fi network operates and walk through some steps you can take to boost your Internet speeds. Home Network 101 Here are the three main pieces of hardware you need to understand: Modem: The “gatekeeper” between your ISP and your home network, connects to cable or DSL wall outlet. Router: The… Continue reading →

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Renting vs Buying a Modem: What’s Best for Your Budget

If you have broadband, you’re probably renting a modem or modem/router combo from your provider. But is the money worth the convenience? With rental fees from big ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner increasing by as much as 33% in the past year, many consumers are foregoing the monthly fee and buying their own modems. A modem that costs $150 pays for itself in a little over a year. After that, you stand to save $8–$10 per month for as long as the modem keeps ticking. [1] …The catch is that buying a modem isn’t always the best decision. Depending on your situation, installing and maintaining your own modem might be more expensive and time-consuming than it’s worth. In this… Continue reading →

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How to Choose Between Internet Service Providers

Consumer satisfaction with the broadband industry hit a seven-year low last year [1], leaving Internet users more confused than ever about how to choose an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Where do you even start? What are you comparing when you compare ISPs, and how do you decide which one is right for your needs? While 25 percent of US households still only have access to one provider [2], the rest of us have a laundry list of factors and features to consider before signing on the dotted line. Choice is a good thing, but you have to understand what you’re buying in order to get the best deal. Our goal in this post is to walk you through everything you… Continue reading →