Dec 26, 2012

Dec - 12 2012 | By

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Glenn was in the studio with his guest John Paul of Spiral Internet, an internet service provider. Paul was still in the UK and didn't join the conversation.
<Contact Spiral at 530-478-9822 or visit>

John started off talking about the Google fiber optics project of 2010. The intent was to test a 1gig connection in a few communities around the nation. 1100 communities submitted requests and the winners were picked by lottery, Last month, Kansas City, Kansas was the first city to have the service turned on. Glenn noted that the throughput would be limited by the distribution inside each house: if you use a wireless router, fiber optic speeds will be reduced to the speed of the router. John said, if you're having a house built, think about having the fiber cable built into the walls: you may not use it right away but in 10 years, fiber is "what's going to be happening". You can see the Nevada County video submission at
<More info about the Google project is in the 2-22-10 show notes>
– The fiber cable in the house is almost the size of a hair. Cladding around the bare fiber adds to the diameter.
– The fiber cable is more flexible now than it used to be. Before, you couldn't do 90-degree bends. Now, you can tie it in knots.
– Later in the show, John said Google charges $70 <per month, I guess> for the 1gig fiber service. That doesn't include phone service. And TV over internet is $50 more. Kansas City residents can opt for a traditional DSL service (15meg downstream & 1.5meg upstream) for free but there's a $300 installation charge.

Glenn said he got an email from Daniel who thought his only option for internet was the Hughes satellite service. He had bought the satellite equipment but then heard that AT&T offered the internet thru their cellular network. However, he gets poor AT&T cellular reception, though Verizon cellular is better. Daniel wanted some guidance.
– If you can see Wolf Mountain or Banner Mountain, check out Digital Path (what Glenn uses) or Smarter Broadband.

John said if Spiral Internet can't supply DSL service or Digital Path (Spiral is a reseller of Digital Path) to a potential customer, they will refer that customer to other providers in the area. Sprial has a blog called Nevada County Connected. Look on the right side for the link "Nevada County services" to get a .pdf file listing providers for Western Nevada County. In order of preference, look for service from Comcast, then DSL, fixed wireless (like Digital Path and a few others in the area), next is Verizon cellular and, lastly, a satellite service.

Glenn thought Hughes is now the only provider of internet <in his area, I guess>. John said Exede also provides satellite service. Glenn noted that satellite providers are quick to throttle down your speed if they see you consuming a lot of data. In his email, Daniel said that Hughes claimed their service would be adequate for his needs, but he found out that's true only before 5am. When others get online and bandwidth drops.

The guys talked about AT&T switching from copper wires to cellular. AT&T, at a stock-holders presentation in Nov, indicated that they are not going to increase or even provide service (DSL & U-Verse) over copper in areas that aren't dense (rural areas). Instead, they will provide cellular service in those areas.

John said that's fine in flat terrain but it's a problem in "geographically diverse" areas like Nevada County. He noted that fixed wireless (Digital Path & Smarter Broadband) work differently than cellular networks. He said AT&T's move from copper could give cable companies, like Comcast, an advantage in pricing and lead to a monopoly on service. Glenn said his friend in Richmond was offered Comcast service (phone, internet & tv) at roughly $130 per month for the first 6 months, but for the remaining 18 months of the contract the price went up to over $200 per month. And, he said, he was being charged rent for every piece of equipment (routers, modems, DVR) in the house.

John noted that Sprial Internet has unlimited data, unlike some companies (like AT&T) that have tiered pricing (pay more, get a higher data limit). Also, Sprial doesn't require long-term contracts.

Glenn mentioned a cell carrier called Peertalk, <maybe he said PureTalk> a GSM service. Their highest rate is $43/mo for unlimited talk, text (txt) and data. He thought that it's an inexpensive alternative to AT&T or T-Mobile. He has plans to give them a try for a month.

Ron called. He lives in the North San Juan area and he & his neighbors got notices from AT&T that they will be switched to the U-Verse broadband service. A neighbor that did convert to U-Verse discovered that it didn't work for them and AT&T would not allow them to switch back to DSL. He wondered if switching to Sprial Internet would get DSL back.
– For some customers, the switch to U-Verse is "in name only". In that case, Sprial can switch you over to their DSL service. It's on a case-by-case basis. Call Spiral to see what they can do: 530-478-9822.
– AT&T claims U-verse is based on fiber optics, but the fiber goes only to the node <a local distribution point> not all the way to the house. Between the node & the house it's copper, which degrades performance.

Glenn related a story about a friend who wanted to switch her phone number because of harassing calls and AT&T switched her to U-Verse. She didn't like the switch and eventually convinced AT&T to give back her old phone number and DSL service. His point was that it is possible to switch back from U-Verse.

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.

Mitch called to say that last year AT&T or some other contractor pulled fiber optic cables thru "the ridge" all the way to Downieville to provide service there, but there are no onramps & offramps for those along the cable's route <there are no taps into the fiber cable to provide service along its route, as I understand it>.

Smarter Broadband did get some stimulus funding to extend wireless throughout the area. They're planning to build a couple of towers on "the ridge"; the "project date is 2015".

Glenn mentioned the upcoming Zentech show dates: Jan 9th, 23rd & 30th

About a year ago Spiral helped reconvene the Nevada County broadband advisory group. They meet monthly and their goal is to come up with a Nevada County broadband plan based on the national broadband plan. That should help get all of the broadband players in the area on the same path to provide the broadband infrastructure in Nevada County.

Russell called. He has Consumer Cellular, a Portland company, for his phone service. He had trouble getting a signal when he was using Verizon & T-Mobile. He's now looking for a really good phone with 4G capability but one that will work with Consumer Cellular. He had tried a phone from Consumer Cellular but it had poor reception so he went back to an older Motorola phone model WX345 and it worked fine.
– The old Motorola phone may just have a better antenna.
– Glenn is an iPhone fan & he suggested Russell find someone with an iPhone and try his SIM card in it to see if it works.
– Check with your neighbors. If one of them is getting reception, ask them what they're using
– Check the California broadband maps from California Utilities Commision to find out what services are available in your area.
– <Also check Nevada County Connected, as mentioned above>

Spiral Internet has information on connecting your tablet to wireless.

Kirk called. He's about 1.75 miles out of Nevada City on Bloomfield Road. He said that 4 years ago AT&T laid fiber nearby but not to his house. Should he just give up waiting.
– Yes, I'm afraid so. Contact Spiral Internet, they can give you more info.

George called to say he's near one of the previous callers <he's near Sontag, I think that's what he said> and he knows that a 4G tower is being put in that will carry both Verizon & AT&T.
– John said Verizon is aggressively expanding in the area.

Bill called about PdaNet 3.5 for Android. <It sounds like app that does tethering. He said Microsoft update doesn't work when he uses Internet Explorer because the "user agent string is being masked". He asked if there's a work-around. The user agent string lets Microsoft know what browser is being used. Microsoft requires Internet Explorer for doing updates.
– Disconnect the laptop from the tether & connect it directly to the internet.
– Additionally, if you do any ordering from AT&T, you have to use Internet Explorer there too, Glenn said.

If you're looking for a broadband ISP check out
For those in the Sacramento, Davis & Woodland area check out
<See more about the Fusion service in the 8-24-11 show notes>

Last updated 11:31 PM 12/26/2012

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