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by North Rittner

Hello friends‭, ‬and welcome back to Carbon Valley Tech-Talks‭. ‬In this issue‭, ‬we will be discussing Internet Service Providers‭, ‬or‭ ‬ISPs‭, ‬and how to select the right provider and plan for your needs‭. ‬To do this‭, ‬we need to identify a few terms that you’ll need to understand‭. ‬Then‭, ‬we will need to consider what your current day-to-day internet usage looks like‭. ‬Once we’ve done that‭, ‬I feel confident that you’ll be able to seek out and find the internet service that best meets your needs‭. ‬

Let’s get started‭.‬

First things first‭, ‬let’s talk about bandwidth‭. ‬Think of internet speed like a hose that can carry water‭. ‬The bigger the hose‭, ‬the more water can travel‭ ‬through that hose‭. ‬That is the basic concept of bandwidth‭. ‬The higher the Mbps‭ (‬Megabits per second‭), ‬the higher the bandwidth‭ ‬‭(‬the bigger the hose‭.) ‬Think of it this way‭: ‬a 10‭ ‬Mbps connection is the equivalent of a coffee stirrer straw‭. ‬Not much can pass‭ ‬through it‭, ‬and what does‭, ‬passes slowly‭. ‬Now think about a 1000‭ ‬Mbps connection‭ (‬also known as gig speed internet‭) ‬using the straw/hose comparison‭. ‬A 1000‭ ‬Mbps connection would be the equivalent of a firehose mounted to a high-pressure fire hydrant‭. ‬You‭ ‬get the picture‭?‬

Now that we understand bandwidth‭, ‬let’s dive into ISPs and what they can provide‭. ‬The highest-rated ISP in the nation right now is Xfinity‭. ‬I was not paid to say this‮…‬‭ ‬I don’t particularly like their phone customer service‭, ‬but they are undeniably the fastest and most stable ISP in the Carbon Valley area‭. ‬A distant second would be Century Link‭. ‬For now‭, ‬we are only going to reference ISPs in terms of residential internet‭. ‬Know‭ ‬that other ISPs are available in the Carbon Valley area‭, ‬but Xfinity and Century link are the two heavy hitters that can deliver the most for your money‭. ‬

We can now talk about TYPES of internet services available‭. ‬There are five types that most residents of Carbon Valley will encounter‭. ‬The most common is the DSL or digital subscriber line‭, ‬followed by cable modem‭, ‬fiber optic‭, ‬satellite‭, ‬and wireless‭. ‬Most‭ ‬of us will have one of the first three types‭. ‬The further out into rural areas you go‭, ‬you will be limited to satellite service‭ ‬only‭. ‬All these types fall into the category of broadband connections‭. ‬Broadband simply means high-speed internet that is always on‭. ‬Here’s how each of them performs‭:‬

DSL‭ – ‬Speeds can range from a couple hundred Mbps to multi Gbps‭ (‬Gigabits per second‭.) ‬It is mostly delivered through copper telephone lines‭.‬

Cable Modem‭ ‬‮–‬‭ ‬Delivered through coaxial cable that can deliver internet‭, ‬TV‭, ‬and phone on one line‭. ‬Speeds range from 25‭ ‬Mbps to Gig-speed‭ ‬plus‭. (‬1000‭ ‬Mbps‭ +)‬

Fiber‭ ‬‮–‬‭ ‬Delivered through glass tubes called Fiber Optic lines‭. ‬Signals move at the speed of light‭, ‬making them incredibly fast‭. ‬Fiber‭ ‬far exceeds speeds of DSL and Cable Modem‭. ‬The downside is you must live near an urban area where a fiber-optic network is already in place‭.‬

Wireless‭ ‬‮–‬‭ ‬Connects a home or business to broadband using a radio link‭. ‬Speeds are comparable to DSL and Cable Modem but can be susceptible to radio interference‭. ‬It is not widely used in residential scenarios‭. ‬You’ll find these deployments in rural or mountainous areas where cable or fiber lines are not present‭.‬

Satellite‭ ‬‮–‬‭ ‬This broadband service is the most versatile but the slowest of the pack‭. ‬Satellite internet is deployed in rural and mountainous areas where service lines are not easy to dig‭. ‬They are also used on mobile structures so folks living an RV lifestyle can still stay connected while on the move‭.‬

Now that you know what is available to you let’s look at what speed your connected lifestyle will require‭. ‬To determine the best speed for your home‭, ‬ask yourself the following questions‭:‬

1‭ ‬‮–‬‭ ‬How many users live in the home‭?‬

2‭ ‬‮–‬‭ ‬How many connected devices do I have‭?‬

3‭ ‬‮–‬‭ ‬What type of day-to-day usage will I need‭? (‬Anyone work or learn from home‭?)‬

4‭ ‬‮–‬‭ ‬How many people will be streaming content at the same time‭? (‬Any online gamers‭?)‬

For one to two casual internet users‭, ‬you would do fine with 30‭ ‬to 50‭ ‬Mbps‭.‬

For two or more users that stream Netflix and work from home daily‭: ‬50‭ ‬Mbps will serve you well‭.‬

For those families with lots of devices connected and multiple gamers in the home consuming large amounts of bandwidth daily‭: ‬anything less than 100‭ ‬Mbps will throw your household into upheaval‭.‬

To discover all ISPs in Carbon Valley and get an idea of what bandwidth package you should purchase‭, ‬this is a great resource that is completely independent‭: ‬https‭://‬highspeedinternet.com

So‭, ‬there are the basics of choosing an internet provider‭, ‬what to look for‭, ‬and how to gauge what you need to purchase to keep‭ ‬your home happily humming along in this new hyper-connected world we live in‭. ‬

One last tip before I go‭: ‬it’s always a good idea to test your network speed on a regular basis‭. ‬Make sure you are receiving what you are paying for‭! ‬The simplest way to run a speed test to check your bandwidth is to go to‭ ‬www.speedtest.net‭. ‬It’s as easy as hitting the big GO button in the middle of the screen‭. ‬If your speed is not what you are paying for‭, ‬you may want to call your ISP and have them fix it‭. ‬

Until next time my friends‮…‬‭ ‬stay connected and stay healthy‭!

North Rittner lives in Firestone with his wife and is the Information Security Engineer at Boulder Community Hospital‭. ‬With over‭ ‬10‭ ‬years of professional I.T‭. ‬experience‭ , ‬he welcomes your technology questions at‭ ‬findingnorth73@gmail.com‭.‬‬