Internet Option in Round Valley, and surrounding areas (v2)

There are many beautiful things about living in our area. The stars were beautiful last night, and I probably saw 5-10 vehicles on my drive home last night. Among the many, many reasons that bring people to our community broadband Internet is not one of them. It is a trade off we make for living where we do. In 2016 I updated my previous list of options, and wanted to refresh it for a new look based on what the last three years has given us.

I’m going to provide a bit of background information first, but feel free to scroll down to skip to my recommendation..

The FCC updated their definition of the word broadband, and how funding is allocated to areas based on what can be provided in those areas. The new baseline is 25Mbps download and 3Mbps per second upload. A few defitions for you:

  • Download is the speed at which data comes to you.
  • Upload is the speed in which you can send information to the Internet.
  • Mbps or Megabits per second is a measurement of data. For example, Netflix recommends that your download speed be at least 5Mbps to maintain HD quality downloading.
    • Further explanation: A megabit is different from a Megabyte by a factor of 8. When we talk about Internet speeds it is measured in bits per second, and when we discuss storage it is measured in bytes. Knowing the difference also factors in when you have a plan with bandwidth caps or limitations (Satellite and Cellular) as these limits will be calculated in GigaBYTES of overall usage. Confused yet?! Netflix provides an estimate to their customers for an average of data consumption based on the setting the users chooses for their video quality.

Back to our options and my recommendation!

I wanted to update my list of the options we have in our area for Internet connectivity with a recommendation for what I believe is the best, all-around option for the typical, residential household. Here they are, in the order I would recommend them to a residential customer. There are obviously caveats based on the needs of the user, and specific limitations of each service. Please feel free to contact me with questions about what option is best for you and your home/business.

Recommendation – AirMax (CellularONE)

Bronze Plan – up to 6Mbps download and 2Mbps upload – $40/month

Silver Plan – up to 10Mbps download and 4Mbps upload – $55/month

  • Public IP addressing, if needed for port forwarding or remote services, is available in most areas.
  • Unlimited Data – no cap or throttling based on usage.
  • Service is based upon line of sight to one of the towers in your area.
  • Best upload speeds available. This means sending photos and data to the Internet occurs much quicker. If you perform backups (Carbonite) then this product will be appealing to you.
  • $80 installation fee & a two-year agreement

Most customers choose the Silver plan because the additional speed for $15/month is appealing when multiple devices and children are present in the home.

AirMax topped the previous list, and I still feel it holds it’s place at the top. In full disclosure, I am the local representative for this product, but I remain that representative because I feel like it is the best overall option for us. AirMax provides Internet via a wireless signal from a number of towers in our communities. There are currently two towers in Round Valley, one in St Johns, and one in Concho. There are also towers in Show Low, Snowflake, and Taylor for those a bit farther from Springerville and Eagar. This product is supported by a team out of Show Low, and I feel this helps reduce response time for outages and concerns. They are a smaller business, in the context of Internet Service Providers, so that can manifest itself also.

Alternative – Cellular (Verizon Wireless)

Verizon Wireless provides the greatest availability to bandwidth of all the options, but the service is capped. Your traffic is either deprioritized (on mobile devices) or throttled to 600Kbps up and down (routers, jetpacks, tethering). This impact is not felt as much on mobile devices, but completely changes things on devices meant to power computers and other wireless devices. Prices vary based on your need and the plan you currently have. I leverage this almost daily while I am away from my home to get my mobile devices online, but the data caps and cost keep it from being my primary Internet Connection. If you do not stream a lot, and only need minimal access to the Internet on your computers throughout the month then this is a good option to consider.

Alternative – aDSL (Frontier Communications)

Cable in the ground is what we all look for in an ISP. Reliability is increased and latency is typically decreased when we are hard-wired to our connection. Frontier has many limitations that hinder it as the best option in our area. While the service has no data caps, there are a number of caveats:

  • Limited upload speed ~400Kbps upload on most plans,which makes it hard to send large amounts of information to the internet.
    • This service is also an aDSL or asynchronous connection. Due to this your traffic down hurts your upload speeds, and your uploading hurts your download speeds. This cripples your connection when you try to send large amounts of information to the cloud or web services online.
  • Lack of availability to speeds higher than 6Mbps
    • Residents in Springerville have access to different plans based on their physical location. These users can get 12Mbps aDSL services, which make it a more enticing option. You call their local office for availability and pricing based on your physical address.
  • Lack of availability to new users. I hear from many residents that Frontier will not provision new services to their addresses. They have limited availability on their equipment for customers.
  • Pricing is all over the place for the same plan.

Alternative – Wireless (Wi-Power/TWN Comm.)

This service functions similarly to the recommended AirMax solution, but their pricing structure is different. I recommend Wi-Power under other options because similar speeds are more expensive with Wi-Power. They do not publish their pricing online, but when I spoke with them last they provided similar plans to AirMax for $10-45/month more based on your area and line-of-sight to certain towers in the area. While this is better than Frontier’s aDSL option, you can get more bandwidth up and down for less month with AirMax. Agreement lengths and installation fees vary based on current promotions.

Alternative – Satellite (Various Providers)

Satellite brings broadband speeds to areas with not other options. There are many different vendors who all provide similar plans and pricing. These plans all have low data caps where you either pay more money to “boost” your speeds back up, or are throttled to slower speeds until the end of your billing cycle. There is also an inherent latency issues with satellite because of the distance the data must travel to get to you. Pricing is not comparable to the other services listed above. For those with no other access to the options above, this is your only real option for connectivity.

To wrap things up..

We all wish for more bandwidth today in a world of streaming everything. I have found a balance of services that work best for my family and work needs, but each need and family is different. Drop me a text or call today at (928) 251-0005, and we can discuss which option will help you the most.

Migrating To/From Google Apps From/To Gmail

I had a friend ask about his son’s Google Apps email account.  He would be loosing access to this account soon and would like all of his communications for archival purposes.  His son had just returned home from his mission, and wanted to make sure he got all of his emails before his account was disabled.  So I figured I would make a step-by-step to super simplify getting your emails moved over, after you get back.

1 – Signup for a gmail address.  While not signed in to any account goto http://gmail.com and create an account.  You are not 13 anymore so lets try and avoid superhappytime14 or soccerisdabest1983.  More and more people criticize on our digital life, and a professional looking email will only help.

2 – Once signed up and logged in, click on cog wheel and then mail settings.  Inside mail settings click on Forwarding and POP/IMAP.  There you will just need to verify that IMAP has been enabled. (It should be by default.)

3 – Log out of your new professional sounding gmail account.

4 – Log onto your mission email address. http://myldsmail.net

5 – When logging in your will be prompted with information saying your account has been disabled, please note the information the give you.

EXAMPLE:

POP Server: pop.gmail.com

User Name: john.smith@myldsmail.net

Password: $up3rg00dP@ssw0rDH3r3

The information we care about is the User Name and the Password.

6 – From your myldsmail email interface click on cog wheel and then mail settings.  Inside mail settings click on Forwarding and POP/IMAP.  There you will just need to enable IMAP and after saving leave all other settings as they are.

7 – Goto http://gmail-backup.com/download (Windows-based Application) and download the newest release of their software (at publication this process was successfully done with version 1.07)

8 – Install and run the software

9 – Enter the entire User Name into the first field labeled gmail login. Remember that is john.smith@myldsmail.net and not your username you usually login with.

10 – Enter the password provided in the next field below.

11 – Click Directory and make a new folder somewhere (I put mine on the desktop) to save everything in.

12 – Change the Since Date field to appropriately reflect the entire mission of your missionary.

13 – Click the Backup button, and then depending on how avid of a typist you were as a missionary, and how many pictures your sent you may be here a while.

14 – Once completed, change the gmail login and password fields to reflect your new professional looking gmail address.

15 – Click the Restore button, and again dependent upon your Internet connection and backup size you will be here for even a longer amount of time.

16 – Hooray, your email has been migrated to your new inbox.  I found that the emails were accessible when clicking on  the All Mail button, but then can be moved back into the inbox by highlighting all messages and clicking the Move to Inbox button.

17 – After moving your mail, you may want to snag your contact as well.  To do that:

  1. Sign in to myldsmail.net
  2. Click Contacts along the side of any Gmail page.
  3. From the More actions drop-down menu, select Export….
  4. Choose whether to export all contacts or only one group.
  5. Select the format in which you’d like to export your contacts’ information. Please note, some of these formats can lose some contact information.
    • To transfer contacts between Google accounts, use the Google CSV format. This is the recommended way to back up your Google Contacts.
  6. Click Export.
  7. Choose Save to Disk then click OK.
  8. Select a location to save your file, and click OK.
  9. Log out, and log into your gmail account
  10. Click Contacts along the side of any Gmail page.
  11. From the More actions drop-down menu, select Import….
  12. Locate the downloaded google.csv file, and click OK.
  13. Your contacts have now been imported into your new gmail account as well.

*Gmail contacts method partially taken from Google Support

18 – Alright sir/mam, you are ready to take on the world with all the emails from the past two years (or eighteen months).

Remote Computer Control with Google Chrome

There are times that you need to show someone how to do something on the computer.  It always isn’t the shortest drive to that computer, so one may look for an option of remote access.  While there are many options available, Google Chrome now has an App that integrates with it’s browser to provide that functionality as well.  You will obviously need Google Chrome, but once you have that downloaded and installed download the Chrome Remote Desktop App.  After getting it installed on your and the remote computer, all you need to do is get the remote access number from other computer and connect.

Source: Lifehacker

Connect Safely | Help for parents

I heard about Connect safely from Larry Magid on TWIT, and felt it worth sharing.  Connect Safely is a site dedicated to helping parents direct their children to safe and secure web browsing.  On TWIT they were highlighting their book/pdf about Facebook.  I think it is a great resource for parents looking for help with the huge experience we call the Internet.  Browse on over to connectsafely.org to educate yourself and your children.

Also, TWIT or This Week In Tech is site compiling many podcasts hosted by Leo Laporte for all sorts of technology news.  His shows are useful and information for all users of technology.  There is something for the novice and the expert.  Head on over to TWIT.TV

Microsoft H5D LifeCam Cinema

Ever since I got a MacBook Pro I haven’t had to worry about a webcam for Skype or some random need  to capture video quickly.  The built-in iSight camera does a great job for what I needed.  When my Aunt moved into an assisted living facility, I decided it would be neat if we could get her to use Skype to chat with us.  We tested it out for the first time last weekend, and it turned out great.  Click here to see the call in action She enjoyed it, and we plan on doing it in the future.  While preparing these plans I looked around for a nice webcam for my workstation.  I found the H5D which had nice reviews so I picked one up at TigerDirect.  The reason I pulled the trigger on it was the compatibility with both Windows and OS X.  The video on my blog shows it running on my MacBook Pro.  The picture quality was great (720P), and I would recommend this unit to someone wanting a better quality Skype call than a less-expensive webcam would get you.  I also bought a Logitech C250 for $19.99, also at TigerDirect, and while it works fine with her Windows 7 laptop, the video quality is definitely much more grainy than the LifeCam.

Unlock your files with Unlocker

Mostly likely you have been presented with the lovely Windows error message stating that Access is denied and you cannot delete some file.  Enter Unlocker 1.9 to solve the mysterious locked files holding strong to your computer’s hard drive.  Once installed Unlocker is as simple as right-clicking on that file and running the Unlocker program.  It will free up that file and even help you delete it.  It is a nice little tool to have for those pesky and stubborn files on your Windows-based computer.

Click here to download Unlocker 1.9

Frontier Communications 6Mb DSL

The only wired-broadband internet solution in Round Valley, St. Johns, Alpine, and Nuturoso area is Frontier Communications (@frontiercorp on twitter & http://www.frontier.com).  They recently added 6Mb DSL as an option for customers.  I upgraded my connection, and have been playing with it for a day or two.  I wish I could say that I was fully impressed and satisfied in the connection, but it has been less that consistent.  I’m hoping it is “early-adopter” issues, and they will iron things out.  Below are screenshots from Frontier’s office speed test as well as my modem provisioning.  I’ll update when I’ve had it for a week or two and let you know.  Also, I’m trying to get a hold of the new wireless ISP coming into the area called Wi-Power.


Update (11/09/10): My experience has been less than stable, some would say sub-par, with my “upgrade” of DSL.  My modem shows that I am provisioned at the proper speed, and I can run a speed test to the Show Low office, but once I try and do something real online it fails epically.  I have been keeping track of my speeds with my iPad with SpeedTest.net‘s iPhone App.  Here is what I’m seeing realistically.

After multiple tickets with Frontier, and numerous calls with tech support I just visited the office in Show Low, Arizona.  The technician/CSR gave me some pretty solid information, and another tech was at my house later that day.  They found I am possibly too far away from the local office where the DSL equipment is located.  I am 11,000+ feet, and they told me that is too far out.  They have submitted a ticket with their Engineers, and we’ll see what comes of it.

Update (11/10/10): I got a call from Frontier.  They have determined that the distance is a major factor and they are looking into an Adrenaline line to boost my signal at my location.  They are moving me back to the 3Mb service until this gets worked out, and are crediting me a free month of DSL for all the issues.  Sounds promising.