Comparing Different Types of Internet Service Providers

Three Tips on Optimizing Home Network Speed

In this era of Internet streaming video, home automation, and online gaming, the venerable old home network gets a serious workout. Keeping things running smoothly is a must if you want the most out of your bandwidth investment. Knowing how to properly manage your modem (fiber, cable, or DSL) and router plays a big role in the efficiency of your WiFi network.

Here are a few tips on optimizing home network speed to ensure the best possible performance.

optimize home network speed

Regularly Perform an Internet Speed Test

Get into the habit of performing an Internet speed test on a regular basis. Without a real understanding of your actual bandwidth, and any differences between your test results and your ISP’s promised service level, it becomes difficult to set expectations for the performance of your home network. Keep a log of your test results in case you notice repeated discrepancies between the tested result and the speed promised by your service provider.

Be Sure to Occasionally Reboot Your Modem

No matter the type of connection used in your Internet service, occasionally rebooting your modem by shutting it off for 30 seconds and then powering it on helps to keep your Internet connection running smoothly. Do this at least once per month or more frequently if you experience slow performance. Rebooting your router at the same time can also help. This is another great reason to test your Internet speed on a regular basis.

Read and Understand Your Router Manual

Not surprisingly, your wireless router offers you the best opportunity to improve the network performance at your residence. In fact, investing in a high-end dual band router gives you additional flexibility in management. Devices primarily used for video streaming and other high bandwidth tasks are able to reside on their own band, with optimized performance as a result.

Understanding the more esoteric functionality of a premium router lets you do things like beamforming, which allows optimizing the wireless signal for specific devices on your network. This is a smart trick to play if the family is watching an HD movie on Netflix with too much buffering ruining the show.

Router placement within your residence also matters when it comes to streaming performance. Watch out for too many walls or appliances (especially a microwave oven) between your wireless router and any bandwidth consuming devices.

Here’s hoping these few tricks give you the insight to optimize your home WiFi network’s performance, so you and your family are able to truly enjoy your Internet service.

Google Alphabet and the Future of Google Fiber

The news that Google plans to reorganize its corporate structure, creating a new holding company called “Alphabet” hit the tech industry hard recently. The Internet search and advertising giant wants more emphasis placed on the offshoots from its main business. These include the Nest smart home device company, and Google Fiber, the “One Gig” Internet service, currently expanding across the country at a glacial pace.

Google alphabet blocks

What other reasons lurk behind Google’s restructuring? Does this mean your dreams for maxing out a Google Fiber speed test are about to come true? Let’s take a closer look at the details.

Are Privacy Concerns Part of Google’s Move to Alphabet?

Some technology pundits speculate public concerns about Google spying on Internet usage through Google Fiber as one of the reasons for their corporate restructuring. The ability to tap into someone’s home life through a Nest device is another worry. Google’s parsing through Gmail users’ emails and serving them advertising related to the content in those emails still haunts many Internet regulars. As separate companies, the hope is that fear becomes somewhat mitigated.

Another major reason to restructure involves quelling investor fears that Google is only able to generate significant revenue through Internet advertising. Ad revenue made up $16 billion of the $17.7 billion earned by Google in its most recent quarter. But simply reshuffling the corporate deck won’t necessarily make Alphabet’s subsidiaries successful by themselves.

Does Project Fi Stay Separate from Google Fiber?

Google’s own wireless Internet initiative, Project Fi, stayed mostly under the radar since its announcement in April. Leveraging portions of Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks, Fi offers an innovative pricing scheme that actually refunds part of your monthly bill if you don’t use your 3GB data allowance. Like Fiber, Fi’s rollout progresses slowly. According to CEO-designate, Sundar Pichai, Google uses the service to highlight innovations it feels the four major carriers need to implement.

Does Google end up combining their Fiber and Fi projects under one umbrella within Alphabet? That remains to be seen, but the company’s earlier comments about Project Fi being used to pressure major carriers into product innovations raises a question whether the ultimate purpose of Fiber itself is similar.

With the recent announcement of San Antonio as the next “Fiber City,” the Northeast and Midwest parts of the country still feel left out. The question remains whether most of the nation gets to enjoy Google Fiber anytime soon. As Google finishes its corporate transformation pay close attention to any Google Alphabet news between now and the end of the year to see if the company speeds up their Fiber rollout.

Six Ways to Get the Best Internet Service Deals

Everybody likes a deal, right? When it comes to Internet service, there’s no reason to pay any more than a competitive rate, especially for a non-wireless service. With that in mind, here are six tips for finding the best Internet service deals.

Finding Internet Service deals

1. Understand the Differences between the Types of Internet Service

Before searching for deals, research the different types of Internet services and their typical maximum speed. $50 per month for 5GB of data on a wireless service isn’t a good deal compared to $75 per month for unlimited fiber broadband.

2. Determine How Much Bandwidth You Need

It is important to figure out how much bandwidth you need based on your Internet usage before shopping for ISPs. If you rarely stream video content, you will be able to get by with less bandwidth than someone who watches 3 hours of Netflix every night. Don’t pay for more Internet than you use.

3 Find the ISPs serving your Location

Finding a great deal on Internet access means little if the ISP in question doesn’t offer service in your area. Simply enter your ZIP code on this page to find great deals on ISPs serving your city.

4. Bundles, Bundles, Bundles

Bundling your Internet service with Digital TV and Phone is a great way to save money. DirecTV and AT&T customers will soon see some interesting package deals after their recent merger. Be sure to read the fine print, since most bundles require a contract with early termination fees.

5. Optimize Your Bandwidth

Investing in a top of the line wireless router lets you get the most out of your bandwidth. This lets you spend a little less on your ISP and still be able to stream videos and other rich media formats with little problem. Check out these tips for optimizing your bandwidth.

6. Know When to Haggle

Haggling with a customer service rep is a great way to get a better deal on your Internet service package. If you live in an area with multiple ISPs, simply threaten to leave for one of their competitors. When subscribing to a bundle package with Digital Phone service — and you aren’t still under a contract — mention Vonage or other similar services. Chances are good you’ll receive a lower monthly payment.

Following these simple tips ensures you won’t spend too much on Internet service. Remember to do your research, and don’t be shy about haggling for the best possible deal.

Charter Time Warner Merger Creates a New Internet Service Giant

When Comcast’s merger with Time Warner failed to pass regulatory muster, Charter Communications, another emerging Internet services giant, entered the fray. With their attempted acquisition more likely to garner FCC approval, interested customers of both companies are probably wondering how the combined Charter Time Warner will affect their Internet service and monthly bill. Are improved bandwidth and lower prices expected by the end of the year?

Let’s analyze the latest Charter Time Warner merger news to see when changes are coming to your home Internet service.

AT&T/DirecTV Merger Approval Bodes Well for Charter and Time Warner

With the recent merger between AT&T and DirecTV earning FCC approval, executives at Charter Communications and Time Warner feel this provides a good harbinger for their own merger’s regulatory approval. One stock analyst feels Charter’s focus on providing new services to their customers in addition to a 60 Mbps “entry ramp” for their basic service plan also helps the cause. The $55 billion merger, once approved, is slated to close sometime in early 2016.

Charter Time Warner merger

Netflix, arguably the biggest consumer of bandwidth on the Internet, has already blessed the union between Charter and Time Warner. This is significant since the movie streaming and rental service famously opposed Comcast’s attempt to buy Time Warner. Reportedly, Charter agreed to offer free interconnection agreements with Netflix and other streaming companies. Comcast on the other hand had tried to charge a fee violating the principles of Net Neutrality, according to Netflix.

Once a decision on this merger gets made, expect to read about its effects on your Internet usage here at Bandwidth Place.

Does a Charter Time Warner Merger Mean More Internet Bandwidth?

If you are a current Internet customer of either company, Charter’s promise for 60 Mbps as their basic service level offers hope for faster bandwidth at the same monthly price. Still, pre-approval promises are just that — promises, so if and when this merger is approved, customers should be proactive with their service provider.  Regularly check your Internet speed, and don’t be shy about calling in to request faster service.

If there is competition between ISPs in your location — maybe AT&T is an option — mention that you are looking at other providers to see if you are able to earn a discount. Remember that bundling Internet service with digital TV and phone gives you the best possible savings.

There is little doubt that this merger frenzy in the Internet service space brings the potential for lower prices for all customers. Now, if only Google could speed up their rollout of Google Fiber!

5 Tips on Transferring Your Internet Service When Moving

Relocation remains one of the biggest hassles for anybody. The large number of tasks involved when moving is enough to drive even a grizzled IT project manager insane. Thankfully, transferring your utilities — especially your Internet service — ranks on the lower end of the stress meter.

Let’s take a look at five easy steps that will make it easy to transfer your Internet service when relocating.

Moving Internet service made easy

1. Find Out if Your Current Provider is Available at Your New Residence

The first step when transferring your Internet service involves finding out if your current ISP offers service at your new location. If you are only moving within your metro area, chances are good you can keep your ISP, but you still need to verify its availability since some providers only serve portions of larger cities. Use an online service aggregator to see what ISPs are available at your new abode.

2. Take Advantage of any Service Bundles

Once you’ve decided on a new provider (or even if you are keeping your current ISP) see if there are any bundles available with Digital TV and Home Phone service to save you some money. You may have to sign a contract agreement with an early termination fee, so be sure to read the fine print.

3. Schedule the Service Call for the New Location

Once you are ready to go with your new contract, schedule a convenient time for an installer to turn on your Internet service. Make sure you will be present when they arrive and block out some extra time in case of unexpected delays.

4. Pack up Your Equipment for the Move

Carefully pack up your modem and wireless router (if you have one) for the move. If you are going with a new ISP, you’ll need to return the equipment to their local service center or even ship it to them. Either way, make sure the equipment is well protected.

5. Check Your Internet Speed After Installation

Once the installer gets you online and before he leaves, perform your own Internet speed test to verify you are getting the service level in your agreement. If there are any discrepancies make sure the installer checks the quality of your modem and router as well as any outside equipment. Chances are good you’ll be streaming videos in no time.

Follow these easy steps so you can simplify the process and reserve your real moving stress for packing, cleaning, and unpacking. Transferring your Internet service will be a breeze.

Is the End of Flash Finally Here?

The venerable Macromedia Flash definitely made a significant impact in technology over the last decade; where would Internet advertising or browser-based casual gaming be without it? But 15 years into the 21st Century, what was once state of the art is now acutely obsolete. This point was made obvious by Firefox recently disabling the Flash plug-in from its browser due to security issues.

With the technically superior HTML5 standard now seeing wider adoption, the end of Flash is growing more and more imminent.  So as the sun slowly sets on the technology, let’s take a closer look at its approaching demise and what it all means.

Is the sun setting on Flash?

Flash is a Resource Hog Not Suitable for Mobile

The death knell for Flash first began to ring in 2010 when Apple’s Steve Jobs famously blocked the technology from the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, citing its proprietary nature and the fact Flash’s appetite for resources made it unsuitable for mobile devices. Much controversy arose from Jobs’ decision, but later on even Google discovered Flash simply wouldn’t work reliably on its own Android operating system.

As more users moved to mobile devices from the desktop for their casual Internet usage, Flash’s overall decline began to exacerbate. Consider the following scenario: if you are on a mobile device hoping to check the Internet speed of a public WiFi hotspot before streaming some video, are you going to try and perform a Flash-based speed test? Probably not, when a superior HTML5 test runs perfectly on your smartphone.

Security Issues May Be the Final Nail in the Coffin

Recently, security issues affecting the Flash plug-in for desktop users has led to many industry pundits hoping for its demise. In early August, hackers bought ads on Yahoo’s advertising network, leveraging the security hole in Flash to execute malicious code on an unsuspecting user’s desktop. This is only the latest cyber security incident involving the plug-in — Google’s own ad network was targeted earlier this year — leading many tech gurus to recommend always keeping Flash disabled in your browser.

Fortunately, keeping Flash disabled doesn’t adversely affect your Internet browsing experience. Some browsers even allow a setting where it asks permission to enable Flash on a site by site basis — suitable when you are on a trusted website. You’ll notice your computer operating more smoothly instead of the rainbow-colored fan blowing a gasket as the plug-in attempts to run advertising from several networks simultaneously.

YouTube now uses HTML5 as its primary streaming video technology. More companies are following this trend. Even with Flash disabled, some advertisements do run, but they do so smoothly and securely. There remains little doubt — Flash’s days are numbered.

Three Keys for Finding Internet Service Providers

If you’re shopping for Internet broadband service, either at a new residence or your current location, you might be feeling a bit daunted. Fortunately, you have nothing to fear. Getting online can be an easy process with nary a roadblock, and soon you’ll be streaming videos and playing online games like the rest of your neighbors.

The trick is to research the available Internet service providers (ISPs) in your area, and see which one offers the most bandwidth for the buck. With that in mind, here are three key steps for finding Internet providers servicing your location.

Key Tips on finding Internet Service providers

1. Find Out if Broadband is Available at Your Location

First off, you need to check to see what ISPs are available at your location. If you live in a rural area, your options may be limited, as many providers haven’t fully expanded their networks into the hinterlands. In this case, satellite service — and its limited monthly data allowance — may be your only option.

2. Does Your Potential New ISP Offer the Right Services and Bundles?

If you are lucky to live in an area with competition between broadband providers, compare and contrast their service offerings. Is it possible to bundle your Internet service with Digital TV and Home Phone? If so, bundles give you a chance to save significant money on your monthly bill.

Additionally, you can play the various providers against each other to gain extra savings, especially if a two-year contract is ready to expire. Mentioning the Vonage VOIP service is a great way to get a significant discount on your Digital Phone bill.

3. Can a Service Aggregator get you a Better Deal?

Before you make a final choice on an ISP, check with a service aggregator to see if any additional savings are possible. The best aggregators give you a chance to check out the providers and deals in your area by simply entering your zip code. You are able to check out the Internet service providers available in your location at a glance, with a convenient chart to give you a better idea on how much bandwidth you’ll need based upon your Internet usage.

Finding a great Internet service provider is a simple process made easier by using a service aggregator to help ensure you get the best possible price. They also give you an idea on the appropriate amount of bandwidth per month depending on your usage. Here’s hoping these tips lead to a great Internet deal in your future.

What the AT&T DirecTV Merger Means to You

After first being announced last year, the FCC and their chief, Tom Wheeler, finally approved the merger between telecommunications giant, AT&T, and satellite TV company, DirecTV late last month. This marriage essentially creates a home entertainment behemoth with AT&T’s phone, digital TV, and Internet business combined with DirecTV’s industry-leading satellite offering.

If you are a current customer of either organization, you probably won’t notice any changes in the short term. But let’s take a closer look to see what might be coming down the pike from the combined company.

AT&T DirecTV merger approved

DirecTV and AT&T Promise Customers Won’t Notice a Difference

Current DirecTV customers recently received an email from John T. Stankey, the Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Entertainment and Internet Services. He stressed that nobody needs to worry about any changes in their services. Stankey speaks of the combined firm providing “flexible packages of video, mobile and Internet services” with customers being able to “enjoy video entertainment and digital content from virtually anywhere.”

In short, expect new bundle packages to provide you with cost savings on phone, Internet, and digital TV. Mobile access to streaming content could be a boon for this new AT&T, especially considering DirecTV’s valuable exclusive with the NFL Sunday Ticket package. The ability to watch out-of-market NFL games is a leading factor keeping many football fans as DirecTV customers.

DirecTV Now Able to Offer a Real Internet Bundle Option

While DirecTV has offered Internet service in a bundle package previously, the AT&T DirecTV merger means better options for customers — provided that AT&T Internet service is available in their location. Make it a point to check out the local ISP options in your area. If you are a DirecTV subscriber who never considered AT&T in the past, significant cost savings might be in your future if you bundle Internet service with your satellite TV.

It is important to note that these new AT&T/DirecTV bundle offers are not available at the time of this writing. Expect them to arrive in the next few months as the merged companies work together to develop a variety of offers for new and potentially existing customers. They may even include DirecTV bundled with an AT&T wireless deal for areas where their U-verse product is unavailable.

Pay close attention to ISPs the world over the next few months as well. With the AT&T/DirecTV merger and the Charter/Time Warner merger raising the level of competition in the industry, consumers may very well benefit from the upcoming battle between the two giants.

Home Automation Internet Gateway Bandwidth Requirements

When turning your residence into an automated 21st Century digital smart home, do you need to worry about using too much Internet bandwidth? If every light, door lock, refrigerator, and window shade in your house is part of a home automation setup, will your data allowance get used up in a matter of days? Thankfully, the truth isn’t dire; in fact, you’ll probably need to worry more about securing your home network instead of your bandwidth usage.

Still, it is a good idea to understand how a home automation system uses the Internet.

Home Automation Internet Gateway

Most Internet of Things Appliances Use Minimal Bandwidth

In a typical home automation setup, a hub, or home automation Internet gateway, connects to your wireless router — Apple’s HomeKit being one notable exception. Any automated devices communicate directly with this hub. You typically use an app — either on your smartphone, tablet, or in a web browser — to control any device connected to the hub. A minimal amount of data gets sent back and forth usually involving commands sent to the device and status information coming back to the controller app.

One aspect of many home automation systems that consumes a relatively large portion of bandwidth is video. If you use video cameras to provide a measure of security in your HA setup, expect each camera to use a decent chunk of data. You are able to mitigate this somewhat by limiting the video quality; in most cases you won’t need HD-level video for a camera to play its role keeping an eye on your home and surroundings.

Make sure to read your video camera manual closely. If black and white video is an option, this also provides significant savings in data usage and retention.

A High-End Router Can Optimizes Your Home Automation Internet Gateway

Consider spending extra on a high-end router to complement your home automation setup. Even if you aren’t using many video cameras in your system, the best routers give you an extra level of control by allowing you to optimize the signal sent to the hub used in your HA installation, leading to better overall performance. You’ll also gain an extra measure of security to ensure hackers don’t use your web-enabled refrigerator as an email server!

As with any piece of emerging technology, it helps to research the variety of vendors and systems in the nascent home automation sector. Additionally, run an Internet speed test if you plan on making an array of video cameras part of your setup. As noted earlier, while most Internet of Things appliances use minimal bandwidth, cameras are the exception.