Aug 24, 2011

Aug - 10 2011 | By

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Remember, there's another show this month. 5th Wed 8/31/11 

Paul & guest, John Paul of Spiral Internet, were in the studio, Glenn called in.

Mentioned at various points during the show:
Nevada County residents can find local internet service at: spiralinternet.com
Spiral's phone # 530-478-9822
More info about the Fusion project for high speed internet (just in Sacramento for now): sacramentofusion.com
John's email: johnp@spiralinternet.com

John first gave us a bit of history about internet access.
– Early form of access was thru dialup.
– Then came ISDN. It was a little better than dialup but was expensive and harder to set up.
– Then DSL came along. It had the ability to put a digital signal over the copper telephone wires.
– Along with DSL came the ability to have internet access over coaxial cable, about 10 years ago. <Like the Comcast service>

He then talked about connection speeds
– DSL can go up to 6 megabits per sec downstream <toward the user> and 1 megabits upstream <from the user to the internet>.
– A DSL signal over copper wire starts to degrade pretty quickly with distance. You begin to "lose all kinds of speed" after about 15000 feet. The rural areas of Nevada County may get only 1.5 megabits/sec. Ironically, many people in Sacramento have the same problem because they're far away from the central office.
– Coaxial cable is a little bit better regarding the distance factor. The distribution point is brought right into the neighborhood. Because of that, the cable speeds are higher. But the users in the neighborhood share the signal so if everyone is watching movies, each user can experience a great slowdown.
– The telephone company (most likely AT&T) is trying to make the most of the copper medium. ADSL 2 Plus is the current technology. With one phone line it can give you about 20 megabits per second at about 2000 feet from the central office. At 8000 feet it's about 10 megabits per second. With 2 phone lines you can double these speeds. <Implied in the conversation was that the Fusion service uses ADSL 2 Plus>

Paul brought Glenn into the conversation. He joined in by a phone call from near Truckee.

With the Fusion service comes the regular analog phone service. And you get an unlimited plan with both the DSL & the phone line. Since this is the traditional phone line, it doesn't affect the bandwidth of the DSL, unlike voice over IP (VOIP).

There are 2 kinds of phone companies that can have access to the central office <of the copper wire provider (e.g. AT&T)>. The Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers — the original telephone company (AT&T, Verizon, SureWest). And the Competing Local Exchange Carriers — they are a result of deregulation and they rent the phone lines from the Incumbent Carriers.

Paul asked whether ADSL 2 can reach a greater distance <than DSL> and John said no. At first it actually degrades faster with respect to distance, and by the time it degrades to 1.5 megabits per second (mentioned above), the distance is comparable to regular DSL — "the quicker stuff end quicker".

John mentioned that AT&T is starting to roll out U-verse in Nevada County. In urban areas, U-verse gives you phone, internet and TV service, but in Nevada County they're getting phone & internet only. However, John said, that once a customer switches to U-verse, "they can't go back to anyone else because it's not part of the Telecommunications Act"…"part of the provision of the Telecommunications Act was if they moved to a digital technology, they would not have to offer those services because they were not really technically running thru the central office". <I'm not clear on this, just be careful to check out your options before subscribing to U-verse>

A service similar to Fusion is available in San Francisco and the response has been good there, John said. He also said that U-verse is not available there because the city council thought the equipment was too ugly.

Fusion is coming to downtown & midtown Sacramento first and, in four months, to the greater Sacramento area.

Glenn mentioned that he now has Digital Path wireless service after having been on dialup for a long time. He said he's been watching Netfilx movies and Paul expressed surprise that he's doing that over wireless. The guys expressed concern of doing that in the early evening hours and suggested that, out of courtesy, to avoid hogging the bandwidth during those hours when people who are, for instance, self-employed are trying to use it.

Paul brought up Google's project to bring 1 gigabits per second internet to some community in the U.S. Now finalized, the project invited communities to submit their pleas to gain Google's favor. Kansas City was the winner, in part, because Google had already bought a lot of pre-existing fiber cable in the area.
<Google's project was mentioned on the 3-22-10 show. John was on this show too.>

Case Western Reserve has been studying how people use this massive amount of bandwidth. John said if you search Youtube for "Case Western Reserve gigabit" you can find about some of the uses — like health care services and telepresence.

John said that many telehealth services, like one in California, are going on their own network that works separately from the internet.

Paul asked what speed you actually get with Fusion's advertised 20 megabits per second. John said that is the guaranteed speed 100% of the time if you're close enough to the central office. It depends on the distance.

Paul said that if you log on to your <DSL> modem you can see what the data rate is. But that's the connection rate and typically, he said, one would get about 90% thru-put. To check your speed use speedtest.phonepower.com.

A few people still use ISDN because it can reach greater distance than DSL. KVMR uses it for remote broadcasts like music festivals and it's pretty reliable for that purpose.

The Fusion service costs $39.95 per month for 20 megabits per second and unlimited nationwide phone calls (federal fees & taxes are extra). The price may become more than that when it's offered in Nevada County because of the low density of users. <There's not the critical mass of people to keep the price low>

John mentioned that AT&T DSL and U-verse now charge you more if your usage goes over a certain amount of data — a data cap. Paul said that started in May and was due in part to people streaming so much video like Netflix. John thought that we're seeing just the beginning of bandwidth deficit.

Paul briefly mentioned that you no longer have to have a landline phone account to get DSL. John said that's only true for AT&T customers; for a service like Fusion you need to have a phone account. <I think I heard that correctly. Check it out before you buy>

Glenn asked John how long it would take to have a running Fusion service from the time it's ordered. John said it would be about 7 to 10 working days.

John said Fusion customers are asked to buy a new modem or wireless router. Technically, existing equipment can work but legacy AT&T modems tend to fail or cause problems. If you want the 40 megabits per second (2 phone line) service, there's different modem for that.

John said there about 18 features that come with the included phone service. Check their web site for details.

Zack, from Grass Valley, called in. He would like to ditch his AT&T internet service but he doesn't need a lot of bandwidth, as with Fusion. He said he'd like to keep it in the $20-$25 price range.
– That just happens to be the lowest price that Spiral Internet offers. You can call them at 530-478-9822.

Some Zentech podcasts (and those of many other KVMR programs) are available from a link on KVMR front page, or here.

Barbara called. She's looking for a very basic Mac laptop.
– The cheapest Mac laptop goes for $999.
– There are used Macs at geeks.com or amazon.com.
– Apple.com and smalldog.com have refurbished Macs with 1 year warranty.
– Make sure you get an Intel Mac. <That it has the Intel CPU>
– Also try powermax.com.

Last Updated 8:28 PM 8/24/2011