Internet technology seems to be changing faster than ever, with new products and services constantly emerging. If you find that trying to stay on top of developments is like trying to keep up with the most recent celebrity marriages and divorces, we have a few helpful tips for you.
Home Internet Choices
Following is a breakdown of the options available when it comes to Internet access for your home. Broadband – A high speed internet connection provided by an ISP (Internet Service Provider). Three common broadband options are:
- FiOS – A Verizon product that employs the use of fiber optic cables, but is only available in selected areas. FiOS offers more bandwidth and a faster download speed than cable or a typical DSL connection. Enter your address or phone number to check availability at www.verizonfios.com.
- DSL (Digital Subscriber Lines) – This type of service uses existing copper phone wires. No additional wiring is necessary and the line is still available for phone calls at the same time. It does offer a wider coverage area (more availability based on your location) than FiOS but you need to be within a certain distance of a telephone switching station.
- Cable – Offers the widest range (most availability based on your location) of the three. You can get cable internet anywhere you have a coaxial cable connection and it runs off the same network as cable television.
- Wireless Internet – This type of broadband connection provides high-speed Internet access via radio waves. The type of service that shows the great potential for expanding broadband access directly to homes and businesses is called “Line of Sight” wireless systems. Line of Sight means that you must be able to see the point with which you wish to connect, whether it is your own site or one operated by a wireless carrier. Depending on the technology used, the effective range is from about five to thirty kilometers. Although multiple “hops” are an option, they add to complexity and costs.
Satellite – Ideal for remote areas that do not have access to other forms of broadband internet. This technology employs the use of a satellite dish, but signal strength can be affected periodically by weather, sun and cloud cover. How do you decide which is the best option for your home? It really depends on availability of the service, your budget, and what you’ll be doing online. For most internet usage, such as email and web browsing, there’s not much of a noticeable difference in speed between a cable modem connection and a FiOS connection. The difference becomes more noticeable if you regularly play intense computer games, watch streaming online video, or download/upload large files. For this type of heavy usage, FiOS has the edge. Bundled services with your phone, cable, and internet are often the best way to go as you can receive a substantial discount by using the same company for all three.
Many consumer technology products on the market today can be set up for wireless accessibility – with a little knowhow, your printer, your home theater, your gaming system and more can be accessed wirelessly. But, how do you decide what devices should be hardwired and what should be wireless? Although wireless is convenient, hardwiring is more reliable. It is recommended that printers be hardwired as they can be problematic otherwise. Likewise, if you’re streaming video for watching TV, hardwiring is also recommended. When selecting a home for your wireless router, a centralized location is best. And, if you have a very large home, you may want to consider adding a Repeater or Range Extender to boost the signal. It is also recommended that you place the router away from large metal objects, including mirrors, and devices that operate on a frequency, such as mobile phones and microwaves, as each of these can block or reduce your signal. Keep in mind that reorienting the antennae can make a difference, so make a point of adjusting the position until the strongest signal is received.
Securing Your Wireless Network
Following are details on steps you can take to help ensure your wireless network deters unwanted guests.
- The first step in protecting your network is changing the default administrator username and password that comes with the device. Once the device is installed on your network, manufacturers provide a local webpage (configuration page) that allows you to set-up the device using a secure login with a user name and password. It is advisable to change the default administrator login and password because the default information is simple and well-known to hackers and a very common security vulnerability.
Second Level of Security:
- It is also important to secure your wireless network by setting up a network security key, thereby turning on encryption. Although all Wi-Fi devices support some form of encryption, not all encryption is created equal. You’ll want to pick the strongest form of encryption that works with all of your devices, so ideally you’ll want to select the WPA/WEP encryption setting. If you have some devices with older technology, you may need to select a more widely compatible encryption technology.
- You’ll also want to change the default SSID, which is the public name of a wireless network. This is the name of the wireless network to which your devices will connect. Most manufacturers ship their products with the same generic SSID name. For example, Linksys devices are generically set up as “linksys.” Simply knowing the SSID network name does not automatically allow your neighbors or others to break into your network (if you have protected the network with encryption), but a default SSID can indicate a poorly configured network and increase the susceptibility of an attack. Changing the SSID name will also prevent your Wi-Fi network from overlapping with other Wi-Fi networks that might be using the same default name.
Advanced Level of Security:
- It is possible to disable the broadcast of the SSID network name. This will ‘hide’ your wireless network from public view. This means that others with wireless devices cannot ‘see’ that your network is even there. Consequently, no one will be able to connect to your network unless they know the name of your network and connect to it manually using advanced settings not commonly used.
We hope you found these tips useful, but if you’re still feeling overwhelmed, give your friendly design build remodeler a call and we can refer you to someone with top-notch expertise who can help you find the right solution for your home and family.