Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Internet: Going All Net for Entertainment and Communication

Installment 1 of 3 - TV

Right now, our family is grappling with the questions and logistics of going all Internet.  That is, what if we got rid of phone and replaced it with Internet?  (That one's pretty easy because we already have digital phone service, but has nuances as you'll see.)  What if we got rid of our Cable TV service, can we watch our shows solely on the Internet?

We are looking to reduce our bills.  We are sick of the game where you pay $140 a month for all 3, and after a year it jumps up to $210 - unless you call and threaten to disconnect, in which case they are authorized to offer you this deal to keep you - for another year.  Here's what we have found, and I think you'll agree there are some eye-openers.  My mother once (yeah, once!) said, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is."


In transitioning from traditional service sources of Cable TV and Digital or Land Line phone, it is important to consider how much more traffic (and eggs) you put in one wire (basket).  Therefore, you need to think about or experiment with Internet bandwidth.  Pay attention to Upload and Download speeds - Download is important for watching shows and consuming data, but Upload is important for me because I work from home and frequently send large files.

18 Mbps is the fastest service in my area from AT&T, for about $62 per month with taxes and fees, no discount, not bundled with any other service.  They of course offer discount packages so it ends up being just over half that for the first year, but that is a lot less than the U-Verse U300 bundle for $140 discounted rate.

If we are to truly "cut the cord" with TV and Phone, then we need to ensure we have good Internet for all the services.  U-Verse gave us 2 dedicated DSL lines to our house; Comcast Xfinity had a wire shared by the street, so that when the neighbors got on and did a lot, it slowed us down.  I have been streaming movies heavily for a year, and had (2) VOIP phone lines for a long time, doing Web meetings with screen sharing, and more with no issues.  It is feasible.

Home Network

Don't forget that a lot of your experience with speed has to do with the equipment in your home.  I had an old Linksys 802.11g router, which gives on a good day about 10 Mbps.  I upgraded earlier for about $90 to a D-Link dual-band 802.11n router, which is about 250Mbps over the air - much faster.  However, it is dual band (more about that in a minute), and most importantly, the Ethernet wire port on it is Gigabit.  If you don't have Gigabit network in your house to connect everything else, it gets slow (assuming you are using wires somewhere).  I bought some 5-port Gigabit switches for about $20-$30 each, Gigabit network cards for the PC's when I had them for about $5-$10 each, and voila, Gigabit.

The dual band router gives me 2 broadcast frequencies at 2.4GHz and 5GHz, so it effectively gives me 2 WiFi SSID names.  I segregated my Set Top Boxes (Apple TV's, XBox 360) to the 5GHz band, and put computers and tablets/phones on the 2.4 (some of that was hardware related, since the iPhone and iPad don't connect to 5GHz frequencies probably to conserve battery).

So streaming videos to Apple TV from my cloud drive on the network doesn't interfere with streaming videos from the Internet to a phone or tablet - segregated networks.

No comments:

Post a Comment