Dec 12,2012

Nov - 28 2012 | By

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Glenn and Adam Brodel of Smarter Broadband were in the studio. Paul was in England and didn't participate.

Adam & his wife are co-owners of Smarter Broadband, which uses to be in the Auburn area. It has now merged with Full Spectrum in the Grass Valley area.

Glenn subscribes to Digital Path for his internet connection and is very happy with it.

Adam said that in the Crown Point & Whispering Pines area, the business are having trouble getting high speed internet so Adam has been focusing on bring them AirFiber, which can deliver 1gig/sec broadband. He expects it to be installed in the next couple of weeks.
<Some info about AirFiber here and here>

Adam said they are upgrading equipment on Wolf Mountain, and in January they'll be able to offer 12meg broadband in that area.

He also said they are putting in more towers around the county and that people who've not been able to get their service should check back with them for availability. You can call 530-272-4000

Adam explained how Smarter Broadband originally started with lower frequency equipment, which didn't have a lot of capacity but was better able to transmit thru trees. As the company expanded, they started using higher frequency equipment, which has more capacity but less penetration. Wolf Mountain has both types of transmitters.

In January they'll be testing a new type of transmitter that should provide 6meg and still have good penetration.

Glenn noted that Digital Path doesn't have data limits like AT&T & cable companies do. Adam said Smarter Broadband doesn't have strictly enforced limits, but if they notice a user is hogging a lot of the capacity, they'll try to convince that user to be more considerate of others on the network. He said many users aren't aware that they're consuming excess bandwidth, things may be running in the background — peer-to-peer data sharing or perhaps a virus.

After saying he loves his new iPad, Glenn asked Adam if such mobile equipment uses as much bandwidth for video as an internet connected TV. Adam said many of the streaming services like Netflix can detect what type of appliance is consuming the video and can send a slower stream to a mobile device.

Adam noted that Netflix allows you to set the quality of video you receive. The default is to send the highest quality at a rate of about 6meg/sec. If you set it to just "good" quality (less than 1meg/sec), it's hard to tell the difference on screen, and you can avoid "stuttering" video. <This will also help keep you from reaching your data limit.>

Glenn talked about a friend's TV that delivers a great picture, which he attributed to its plasma screen. The TV receives over the air broadcasts and he wondered about the data rate. Adam said that over-the-air signals are far far better than that of satellite providers because satellite signals use compression.

Adam went on the say that internet data usage has increased dramatically in recent years and most of it is video traffic — 60% of internet usage is streaming video.

John called. He has a Lenovo laptop that's a few years old and it "clicks off" after 10 or 15 minutes; sometimes it runs for a half-hour or so. He said this happens when running on AC power or battery.
– Glenn suspected that it might be overheating. John said it doesn't seem to be hot and it happens before it has a chance to get hot.
– Adam thought it might have over heated at some point and damaged the board, so now it takes only a little heat to cause failure.
– Since it's 6 or 7 years old, consider getting a new machine. If you watch for sales, you can find a decent laptop from under $300 on up to $500. Glenn's favorite retailer is Fry's, but also check online retailers, too.
– John said he's never used this laptop on the internet. That led Glenn to think that Windows has never been updated. So, connect to the internet and do the updates. There will likely be a lot of updating so use a broadband connection.
– Repairs on laptops can get costly.

The disclaimer:
The views and opinions expressed on this show are those of the speakers only and not necessarily those of KVMR its board, management, staff or contributors.

Pam called. She called before looking for another computer that can use dialup, her old machine was running slow. At that time the guys told her she could get her old one refurbished. This time she asked what is done during refurbishing.
– Smarter Broadband/Full Spectrum does PC repairs now, at their Johnson Place address. Their phone # is 530-272-4000.
– Glenn recalled that what was suggested before was to have her operating system reinstalled, not refurbished. Refurbish usually means replacing hardware components.
– Since new desktop PC are under $500, it may be cheaper to buy than have her's serviced.
– New PCs don't come with dialup modems so you'll have to buy one for an additional $50 (or a bit more if it's a USB modem).
– Adam concurred that a "cleanup" may solve her problem. And adding more memory can do wonders, too.

Pam also asked if highspeed is coming to the Camptonville area.
– Smarter Broadband/Full Spectrum doesn't have any current plans for service to that area. But there may be other providers available.
– She explored getting satellite service but her neighbor's trees are in the way. However, it was suggested she check with different satellite companies and she may find one with a satellite in a different position in the sky (bypassing the trees).

Barbara called. Her problem is similar to Pam's but she's on a ridge a couple of miles from Malakoff Diggins.
– I you have a view of Oregon Peak you may be able to get service from Digital Path.
– Smarter Broadband/Full Spectrum has plans to provide service from Oregon Peak. She hoped their service would come soon as she was thinking of getting the Hughes satellite service, which requires a 2 year contract and a $400 cancellation fee.
– Call Smarter Broadband/Full Spectrum to put in a request for service. 530-272-4000

Bonnie called wondering where to get a transcript of the show.
– Go to zen.kvmr.org and click on the 'shows' link.
<Note: Obviously, I don't transcribe the shows. These are only notes>

Bonnie conflated 3G & 4G with wireless service. 3G & 4G refer to phone service. Smarter Broadband/Full Spectrum provides wireless internet service. Adam said they do wireless not wi-fi or phone networks.
– Many of their towers can do 12meg/sec
DSL can do 1.5meg/sec, 3meg/sec and 6meg/sec, but to get 6meg/sec you have to be really close to the transmitting unit.

Also, she heard that wi-fi can be a security problem. If you're using it in a cafe, a knowledgable person may be able to snoop on what you're doing.
– Smarter Broadband/Full Spectrum's service is not like wi-fi in a coffee shop. It uses encryption to protect your privacy. And unlike wi-fi, the hardware mitigates signal interception. It's not 100% secure but better than wi-fi.
– Hackers have easier ways to get your private info — viruses, trojan horses etc. One way to defend yourself, and it's Glenn's mantra, is don't open strange emails or attachments.

Josh called to suggest that previous callers can use a Wilson phone booster for their wireless internet or phone network. You can get one on Amazon, Ebay or Banner Communication for about $200.

Brian called. He has a Wilson booster, external & internal antennas and an AT&T hotspot, but he's still getting poor results. Also, Brian offered the use of his property for Adam to put up a tower and asked of the Wilson booster would work with the equipment used by Adam's company.
– No, the Wilson booster is based on cellular signals. The broadband signals are different and require an different receiver.
– Once you have highspeed internet (1.5meg/sec or faster), you can get a microcell from AT&T or Verizon for about $200. You can plug the microcell into your internet connection, that then "makes a mini cell in the house". <So you'll be using the internet for your cell phone calls instead of the cellular network. I heard of similar devices called femtocells. See also picocell.
– Glenn suggested AT&T, Sprint or Verizon will give you a micorcell if you threaten to end your service with them.

Last updated 10:44 PM 12/12/2012