LOCAL NETWORK RETRANSMISSION FEE INCREASES

Due to significant increases in fees by local network broadcasters (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX etc) to rebroadcast (or re-transmit) their programming, Direct Communications, after consulting with our TV customers, made the decision in March of 2015 to drop duplicate Utah and Idaho local channel feeds in order to keep your costs low. Customers in the Salt Lake TV market footprint will now only receive Salt Lake affiliate local channels, and customers in the Idaho Falls/Pocatello footprint will only receive Idaho affiliate local channels. By making this change, Directcom was able to save you several dollars a month on your TV bill.

As a result of the fee increases by the local network affiliates, the Local Network Retransmission fee on your statement changed in March 2015.  For Aberdeen customers the fee was changed to $7.86. For customers in Downey, Bancroft, Lava and McCammon , the fee was changed to $8.89, and $9.42 in Paris, Preston, Georgetown, Montpelier and Fish Haven.

By the end of the week of Sep 1, 2015, customers will see duplicate network affiliates disappear.

The reason for the difference in fees is that customers in different towns will now receive different local channels depending on whether the town is located in the Salt Lake City or Pocatello TV market footprint. Each local affiliate charges a different amount per customer for us to carry their feed of ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC or the CW. Luckily, PBS stations do not yet charge a fee to carry their feeds, and we hope that remains the case forever. Remember that these stations broadcast their channels free over the air in the cities, so we feel that forcing the rural cable companies to pay to re-broadcast these to rural viewers is an unfair and discriminatory business practice, especially since these affiliates don’t invest in broadcast antennas in rural areas, and so most rural customers can’t access these networks over the air with an antenna anyway. We do the work for them to bring you their advertising and programming, and then they charge us for it.

Some TV and satellite providers have simply refused to pay the price increases, and when this happens, end viewers are really the ones who suffer. Customers don’t want to see blackouts while the networks and satellite companies blame each other and see who will blink first.

While in the past, only the Utah local stations were charging a retransmission fee per subscriber, now all of the Idaho locals are also demanding payment, partly because many of them have been sold recently to larger out-of-state corporations. In the good old days, because they were using public airwaves, these local channels were relatively inexpensive to retransmit; sadly, this is no longer the case—they now are demanding fees higher than most cable channels (like History Channel or Discovery Channel) to carry their feeds. Unfortunately, they plan to hike up prices every year for the foreseeable future, or at least until the old cable TV business model is completely unsustainable.

We are always looking for ways to keep costs down on your TV bill. In the past we were proud to be able to offer our customers in southeast Idaho both the Utah and Idaho locals, but  it simply became too costly to keep both the Utah and Idaho local networks on the channel line-up due to new demands and price hikes this year by almost all of the local affiliate owners. If we continued to carry both Salt Lake and Idaho channels, the increase would have been be much greater–about triple the old re-transmission fee amount.

Earlier this year, we sent out a survey asking our TV customers  whether they would prefer us to only provide a single affiliate feed of each of the networks, or pay more to receive both the Salt Lake and Idaho channels. The results were as follows:

Drop duplicate channels to save money–I only need one feed for each network.
67%

Keep both the Utah and Idaho locals–I am willing to pay more to keep both.
33%

A small majority (52% to 48%) of all customers preferred to watch the Utah locals, but we assigned channels according to the FCC licencing footprints.

To see the full results of the survey, click here.

We were especially pleased to see that 71% of Directcom customers reported that the new digital cable picture was “better “or “much better” than the old analog picture. About 19% said it looked about the same.

We sincerely regret that we have to pass some of the increase in network programming costs on to you. Please visit http://www.americantelevisionalliance.org/about-the-issue/ to learn more about these fees and what you can do to help combat the increasing costs to provide cable TV services.

Some important Facts You Need to Know about Satellite Internet

Like all of us, you have probably been bombarded with junk mail from satellite TV companies and dealers advertising “new” satellite Internet service. For many years, Direct Communications sold satellite Internet service as a last-resort product for customers simply too far away to receive any other kind of service. More recently, we decided to stop offering the product altogether, as fixed and mobile wireless data options and coverage increased, and customer bandwidth demand for services like streaming video made satellite a very unattractive solution for most people.

There are two fundamental problems with satellite Internet that will not go away, no matter how much the satellite TV dealers try to market their Internet product as a viable solution, tell you it’s “new and improved,” and try to get customers to bundle an inferior satellite internet with satellite TV. Don’t be fooled–satellite should only be used if there is no other possible way on earth you can get Internet service to your home–while it still has a place for homes in very remote locations (off-the-grid basically) it is a very inferior way to deliver internet service, and cannot meet the needs of most modern Internet users.

frustrated-internet-userProblem #1: Satellites are in space. 

This isn’t a problem for delivering a one-way, linear TV service, but sending Internet packets of data back and forth, thousands of miles into the sky and then back down again wirelessly, creates some serious time lag issues. (According to http://www.hughesnet.com/index.cfm?page=Satellite-Internet-101 “A request for a Web page is sent from your computer to a satellite about 22,000 miles out in space.”)  Expect to wait several seconds for a response from the remote website server each time you click. This can be very tedious at the best of times even just browsing, and extremely frustrating any time you are trying to do anything interactive online like chat, game, or shop.

Problem #2: Data Caps

Beware–if you are used to unlimited Internet usage, switching to satellite Internet will make you very frustrated and angry.

Even on the top available satellite Internet plan, ($80 per month) you still only get 30 GB of data to use each month. This will be a serious problem for almost all normal internet users, because if you use all of that data before the month is up, you must either pay extra to buy more data or have your Internet speed significantly reduced. Some providers advertise 15 GB of “bonus data” in their plans, but NOTE: this may only be used between 2am and 8 am.

If you get near the cap, they’ll send you a warning notice. If you exceed it, they’ll throttle your speed to down 128k (dial-up). You can add additional data in 1GB increments for $10 each.

All of the satellite companies enforce data caps or throttling policies, and they will tell you up front not to stream video online.  Now, consider this: Streaming in 1080p on Netflix takes up 4.7GB/hour. That means the average HD movie download uses over 10GB of data. If you watched just one movie online a night, that would use up 300GB of data a month. But, you are not just watching movies, are you? You are banking, surfing, emailing, downloading photos and videos from your family. Your kids are streaming kids shows all day long on Netflix,  and probably streaming music all day long at home. If you are using Satellite Internet, you could easily burn through an entire monthly data allotment in one day. Over half of Directcom customers use about 250 GB per month of data per household, and our top 10% of streamers average over 460GB per month. We calculate that our average customer would be paying an extra $15 a month in data overages with the leading wireless ISP in the area, and over $1000 a month using 4G from the leading cell phone providers.

For more info on whether satellite would be a good fit for your location see recommendations at  http://www.dish.com/entertainment/internet-phone/satellite-internet/

For example, the Dish corporate website clearly states that satellite internet is not meant to be a substitute for regular wired internet service:

“The Internet provider at my current location is cable/fiber.  Is dishNET Satellite a good solution for me?

NO, As a satellite-based service, dishNET Satellite Internet has monthly Data Allowance limits which are much lower
than cable and fiber-based Internet providers. Additionally, with satellite-based systems signal latency (delay) occurs,
which may negatively affect some activities such as real-time gaming and VoIP.

I enjoy watching TV shows and movies online with my current provider. Is dishNET Satellite a good solution
for me?

NO, If your current provider supports these services, we do not recommend switching to dishNET. While dishNET
Satellite will support video streaming, it is best to limit these activities to short video clips like those found on YouTube®
or rich content sites operated by ESPN and the like. Streaming video uses a large amount of data. If you use dishNET
Satellite to stream video from services like Netflix® or Hulu® you will quickly consume your monthly Data Allowance,
resulting in your speed being reduced.”

Local satellite dealers may still try to sell you this service. Don’t be fooled, and don’t pay extra. Trust Directcom Fiber Optic Broadband for all your family’s entertainment and connectivity needs. No Caps. No Throttling. No Limits!

So, why are companies like Dish trying so hard to sell you satellite Internet service?

A lot of the junk mail is coming from local dealers wanting a sale no matter whether it’s a good fit for you. But, in the bigger picture, the writing is on the wall for traditional satellite TV service, with more and more people moving to online entertainment sources like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube etc. With their TV subscriber base decreasing each year, satellite companies are very aggressively seeking for new sources of revenue. They know the Internet is the future of entertainment. This could be why Dish bought up several satellite Internet companies recently, and has been aggressively purchasing wireless bandwidth all over the country.  Dish recently announced a streaming TV service called Sling TV, which skips satellite altogether and allows people watch all their TV purely online. We applaud these moves and hope to see more convenient online video options for consumers, but you will need an unlimited bandwidth plan to enjoy all this streaming video.

How do I get the full speed I’m paying for?

Only Directcom, because our network is 100% Fiber Optic Cable, with no wireless links between you and the cloud, can deliver the entire bandwidth to which you subscribe to the fiber network terminal or router in your home. If you are subscribing to 250 Mbps download, we  deliver a full 250 Mbps to your home. If you are on fiber and aren’t seeing the full advertised speed when you do a speed test on your PC or other device, 99% of the time the bottleneck will be in consumer-grade WiFi equipment inside your home network (like your wireless router) or limitations in the WiFi radio capabilities in your laptop, tablet, smartphone, or TV. (Most consumer-grade g/n wireless routers will only practically deliver around 30Mbps to a smart device via wireless even in the best of conditions.) Thus, a properly -wired home network is essential to maximize all of the advantages of our unique, better and special, state-of-the-art fiber to the home service. (Scroll down for MINIMUM IP NETWORK CABLING REQUIREMENTS.)

#1 Tip: Hard wire everything with Ethernet cable.
#2 Tip: Upgrade your router.

Most g/n wireless routers will only practically deliver around 30mbs to a smart device via wireless. In order to hit your full available new speed, you might need a new a/c router, and definitely hard wire (with Ethernet cable) from your router to your PC, Smart TV, or Media Player to take full advantage of your speeds. The airwaves are very congested in all modern homes, especially in young, vibrant, tech-savvy communities like Eagle Mountain, where everyone has a router broadcasting to multiple devices, and WiFi is simply not going to deliver the full 150 Mbps you are paying for. Hard wire. Hard wire. Hard wire. Call us if you need help hard-wiring.

As all communication moves to IP technology, it’s more important than ever
to make sure the wiring and connections in modern homes are capable of
delivering enough bandwidth to support future internet applications, including
communications, entertainment, and smart-home security, automation, and
control services.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that homes are going wireless. Even the best wireless
systems simply don’t have the bandwidth or reach of a “hard” wire—wireless has
bandwidth limits even in a perfect situation, and traveling through walls drastically
reduces any wireless capabilities. Wireless signals also suffer from interference from
other wireless networks, phones, appliances, radios and electronic devices. A wired
connection is always more reliable and consistent. Cat5e cable can handle up to
1 Gigabit per second speeds, and Cat6 will feed up to 10 Gigabits per second. Our
customers already know that any devices that stream HD video need to be hard
wired to their home router to work properly. HD video is just the start of cloud-based entertainment—within a just couple of
years the data requirements of video will quadruple, once Ultra HD, which has four times the resolution of 1080p HD, becomes the new common video standard.

A properly -wired home network is essential to maximize all of the advantages of our unique, better and special, state-of-the-art
fiber to the home service here in Eagle Mountain. Fiber to the home will increase the value of any home by as much as $5,000, according to the Fiber-to-the-Home Council.* Our investment in constructing fiber to the homes in Eagle Mountain means more money in your pocket. More importantly, fiber to a home means a higher quality of life for homeowners in this digital information age, where so much of what we do to enrich our lives has moved online. More internet speed simply means more fun.

MINIMUM IP NETWORK CABLING REQUIREMENTS
Following are the minimum Ethernet cable installation requirements we recommend for new homes:
1. All communications cabling must be home run to a central hub/network distribution point in the basement
mechanical/utility room. (Usually the room where the furnace and water heater are located.)
2. A ¾” flexible plastic conduit/duct should be installed from an outside termination (demarcation) point, usually
near the outdoor power meter, to the central distribution point inside the basement. Do not use any elbow bends. Direct
Communications will feed fiber optic cable through this conduit from the street to the distribution point inside the home.
This conduit could be useful to the homeowner for various future networking needs, including satellite TV cable. The outside demarcation point, or conduit stub-out, should be 2’ from the power meter, and between 32” to 36” above ground.
3. Telecommunications cables need to be a minimum specification of Cat5e, which will support 1 Gig Ethernet speeds,
but preferably Cat6 should be used, which will support the future multi-Gigabit speeds homeowners will require.
4. A label should be included on each Cat5 Ethernet cable identifying the location at which the wire is terminated.
5. A 24”x24” plywood panel should be secured to the wall in the furnace room at the network distribution point. It is the
builder’s responsibility to supply the wood panel. Direct Communications techs will mount the fiber electronics and power
transformer/battery backup to this board. Direct Communications will supply to each customer an:
a. indoor fiber optical network terminal, (ONT) with
b. 4 x 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports
c. Built in wireless router
d. A 12-port patch panel to distribute voice and Ethernet throughout the home over the wired network. This will allow for
very simple patching to/from routers, switches, multimedia ports, and easy replacement if any develop a fault.
6. The 24” wood panel should be located in the mechanical or utility room, at about chest level, should be easily
accessible, preferably on an open wall, with at least 3’ clearance for our techs to work in, and with a 120V power outlet situated
within a 2’ distance to power the indoor ONT battery backup and router.
7. Two Cat5e cables must be fed from the distribution point, through the wall to the External Termination/Demarcation
Point, (which will be about a 6”x6” fiber junction box) leaving at least 2’ of cable slack at the ETP and at least 3’ of slack at the
inside network distribution point. This is simply to prepare for any future externalities or homeowner networking needs.
8. Two Cat5e cables should be fed from the home distribution hub to each low-voltage outlet position at which
communication services are required.
9. Be sure to wire Ethernet to each future possible TV position, to accommodate Smart TVs and future IPTV needs.
10. Leave at least 8” of cable slack at each outlet.
11. All voice or data jacks should be RJ45 type.
12. When considering where to install outlets or RJ45 data jacks, be sure to consider the following:
a. At least two RJ45 type jacks (one for phone, one for internet) on the same faceplate in each bedroom and normally
occupied room.
b. Two or more such outlets are recommended in the great room and study.
c. Minimum of one outlet per level, including the basement.
13. Wire should be routed through 1/2” drilled holes in wall and ceiling headers or through conduit.
14. Ethernet wiring should not be placed in the same conduit with wires that conduct electricity.
15. RJ45 Jack Placement: Think about where furniture will go in each room, and where a media station (such as an Xbox),
computer, phone, TV, or future smart appliance might be placed when thinking about installing jacks. It’s easier to plan ahead
than for the homeowner to install more Ethernet ports after construction.
16. Wire should not be stapled, kinked or smashed—avoid abrading or puncturing the insulating jacket.
17. Avoid excessively hot locations—heating ducts, hot water pipes, etc.
18. Premium homebuilders might consider also installing indoor fiber optic cable to communication points along with
Cat6 as part of the home wiring package, which will be the best way to future-proof any home network.

2013 home wiring brochure-tabloid

WatchTVEverywhere now available FREE to all Directcom Cable TV customers

Online interface for watchTVeverywhere.

Online interface for watchTVeverywhere.


Directcom is pleased to announce the launch of a fantastic new online feature available to all Directcom Cable TV customers in Idaho: WatchTVeverywhere. Watch TV Everywhere allows you to view your favorite channels online on any device from anywhere you have internet access at anytime. If you are away from home and don’t want to miss your favorite show, as long as you have internet access, you can log in and use your smart phone, laptop or tablet as your TV. Plus, you can use the online library to access your favorite content, like past episodes, online anytime, so prime time is whenever you want it to be. This is a wonderfully convenient way to watch TV.

WatchTVeverywhere is really about freedom. No longer do you have to be tied to your couch or living room to watch your favorite shows. Watch anywhere, anytime.

While Directcom pays for each customer to have access to WatchTVeverywhere, we are giving this service away to you for FREE, as a value-added feature to your regular cable TV service, to thank you for being a loyal cable TV customer, so we hope each customer will use it and enjoy the great benefits of this online video entertainment portal.

WatchTVEverywhere has your favorite current shows and episodes.

WatchTVEverywhere has your favorite current shows and episodes.


Sports fans will be especially excited to know that as a Directcom Cable customer, you will have full access too all subscribed networks on the WatchESPN app thanks to our partnership with WatchTVEverywhere. In the past, Directcom internet customers were only able to access content shown on the ESPN3 network. Now, if you are also a cable TV customer, you will be able to log in to the WatchESPN app under Direct Communications Cable, and access all games shown on ESPN and ESPN2, online, and while you are away from home. This is another great reason to choose your local cable company – note that DirecTV does NOT offer any online access to ESPN to it’s customers.

Even if you are at home, use WatchTVeverywhere as an extra TV screen, or as your personal entertainment library. It’s kind of like having a free Netflix subscription, but even better, because WatchTVeverywhere has current, live shows.

This launch is an ongoing process–new channels are being added to our WatchTVEverywhere portal everyday. To use WatchTVEverywhere, you must first complete a one-time registration. To get started, visit http://www.watchtveverywhere.com, select “Direct Communications” your cable service provider from the drop-down menu, and click “submit.” Make sure you have your last invoice handy – you’ll need your account number, and the correct spelling of the last name on the account. Click “Register” to start the registration process. After you have registered, click “Log In,” and enter your username and password. Click on the TV Network you want to watch, and you’ll see a list of available programs.

WTVE_banner1What is WatchTVEverywhere?

WatchTVEverywhere is a service that allows cable TV subscribers to view TV programs on devices other than a TV set. This can include a PC, a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

How is WTVE different from Hulu, Netflix, or other streaming services?
supportTVE-ncontent>It’s FREE. There’s no extra charge to use it.
It includes live TV. Hulu and Netflix only offer previously recorded shows.
It has full episodes of current shows. For instance, episodes of The Closer and Leverage on TNT are available within days of their premier.

How much does it cost?
Nothing! At this time, there’s no extract cost for WatchTVEverywhere, so feel free to explore. There is nothing on the site that will result in an extra cost to you (except overage charges from your cellular carrier, if applicable). As long as you can receive the TV Network in your “regular” cable channel lineup, you may view that network’s TV Everywhere content, if available.

Where can I WatchTVEverywhere?
WTVE works anywhere you can receive an Internet signal: in your house, at work, at the mall, at a hotel, the airport, a vacation home- anywhere! Wired connections and in-home WiFi will provide the best overall quality. The quality of WatchTVEverywhere service while traveling (airports, stores, etc) will vary with the signal strength and bandwidth of the Internet connection you use. Be extra careful when traveling, especially outside the U.S. Data roaming charges may apply, and they can be very expensive.

What shows can I watch?
Each TV network makes their own decision about what to offer on WatchTVEverywhere. For example, the live feed of CNN is available, but the live feed of TBS is not. Instead, TBS offers full episodes of their popular programs.

Why aren’t all programs available?
A TV network doesn’t necessarily own all the rights to all the programs they transmit. A network may have the right to transmit a movie, but only to TV sets, and not on WatchTVEverywhere. It all depends on the network.

Will other networks become available?
Yes! We’re working with many different programming providers to expand the number of networks, and the number of shows available on WatchTVEverywhere. Registered users are presented with the complete list of all the networks available to them. When new networks are added, you will see them in your menu of available programs when you log in.

How do I sign up for WatchTVEverywhere?
To use WatchTVEverywhere, you must first complete a one-time registration. To get started, visit http://www.watchtveverywhere.com, select your cable service provider from the drop-down menu, and click “submit.” Make sure you have your last invoice handy – you’ll need your account number, and the correct spelling of the last name on the account. Click “Register” to start the registration process.

How do I use WatchTVEverywhere?
Visit http://www.watchtveverywhere.com. Click “Log In,” and enter your username and password. Click on the TV Network you want to watch, and you’ll see a list of available programs.

What can I watch?
You can watch any WatchTVEverywhere program as long as it’s on a network you subscribe to in your cable TV package. For example, you must subscribe to HBO through your cable company in order to watch HBO’s WatchTVEverywhere programs.

What devices can I use?
Nearly all WTVE programs are available on all devices (PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone). Some networks may not have made all their programs available on all devices.

How many different devices can I use?
There’s no limit to the number of devices you can use, however TV networks may limit the number you can use at the same time. Remember, it’s important to keep your username and password confidential. Use of your credentials by others will result in the loss of your WTVE privileges.

Does WatchTVEverywhere count against my mobile data plan?
Direct Communications does not limit or cap your data, so you can stream as much as you like if you are using Direct Communications Internet at your home. However, if you are using mobile data through your cell phone carrier, watching TVEverywhere will count against your wireless/mobile data cap. Check your data plan before you use WatchTVEveryhwere on a smart phone or wireless network. WTVE programs transmit a lot of data. This can be expensive if you have a limited data plan. We have no way to know when you have exceeded your data plan’s limits. You are responsible for all charges billed to you by your mobile carrier.

Digital Cable TV Upgrade Information

Get ready for digital quality

Get ready for digital quality

We are excited to announce that the Direct Communications Cable TV signal was upgraded at the end of 2014 from analog to full digital. This project was completed on November 4th.

What does this mean for you? If you have a digital TV, this transition should be seamless and you can immediately begin enjoying your higher quality digital content. If you have an older analog TV, you will need a set top box to convert the digital signal or upgrade to a digital TV. This article will give information to help you determine whether your TV is ready for digital.

With a digital signal, you will experience a clearer, higher quality image with less interference, so get ready to say goodbye to “snow” or “static.”We are committed to providing quality services to our rural areas and truly appreciate you choosing Direct Communications for your services. Please read carefully through this information, and call us if you have any more questions about whether your TV is ready for digital.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

1 OUR TIMELINE:

To provide improved picture quality, increase bandwidth capacity and comply with federal mandates, Direct Communication is converting our cable TV signal from analog to digital in two Phases beginning at midnight, October 21.
Phase I:  October 21 at Midnight

  • Channels 26-84 will be broadcast digitally.
  • Analog transmissions of Channels 56-84 will cease.
  • Analog Channels 26-55 will continue to broadcast even though being transmitted digitally as well.  Customers will see duplicate channels until Phase II.

Phase II:

  • Analog transmissions of Channels 26-55 will cease.
  • Head end (tranmitting equipment) will be moved to a new building.
2 NATIONAL DIGITAL TRANSMISSION TIMELINE

  • 2005:  The Digital Transition Act of 2005 mandated analog transmissions cease by 2/17/09.
  • 2/11/09:  Obama signed legislation extending the conversion from analog to digital for major broadcaster to 6/12/09.
  • 6/12/09:  Major broadcasters (defined as “full-power stations”) converted to digital signals.
  • 9/1/2015:  Smaller broadcasters (defined as “low-power stations”) and rural transporters like Direct Communications have had several deadlines to move to digital transmissions that have been pushed back repeatedly since 2010.  However, the FCC and US government have set a hard deadline of 9/1/2015 to cease analog transmissions.
3 ANALOG TO DIGITAL TV TIMELINE

  • Pre-2004 TVs will be analog.
  • TVs shipped from the manufacturer after March 1, 2007 had to be digital
  • TVs sold after 5/25/07 were required to be digital or have a warning label indicating if they were analog.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question Answer
Why are we changing to digital? To provide improved picture quality, increase bandwidth capacity and comply with federal mandates, Direct Communication is converting our cable TV signal from analog to digital in two Phases beginning at midnight, October 21.
Phase I:  October 21 at Midnight

  • Channels 26-84 will be broadcast digitally.
  • Analog transmissions of Channels 56-84 will cease.
  • Analog Channels 26-55 will continue to broadcast even though also being transmitted digitally as well.  Customers will see duplicate channels until Phase II for these channels.

Phase II:

  • Analog transmissions of Channels 26-55 will cease.
  • Head end (tranmitting equipment) will be moved to a new building.
How will the customer be affected in Phase I?
  1. Digital TV customers will only have to auto-program their TVs through the TV’s menu to pick up the new digital channels.
  2. Analog TV customers will lose channels 56-84.  These customers will need to upgrade to a digital TV or get a set-top box (converter) which will convert the digital signal to analog.
How will EXISITNG analog TV customers get the new digital content if they don’t want to buy a digital TV?
  1. Direct Communications will provide up to two set top boxes per account at no charge.
  2. Bulk accounts will be handled on an individual basis by our business sales representative, Daniel Parrish.
How will NEW analog TV customers get the new digital content if they don’t want to buy a digital TV?
  1. The customer can purchase a set-top box on their own.
  2. The customer can include a TIVO with their services for a monthly charge that will act as a converter.
  3. Direct Communications will provide a set-top box (converter) for $6.95/month.
How can a customer determine if their TV is analog or digital?
  1. Pre-2004 TVs will be analog.
  2. TVs purchased after 5/25/07 will most likely be digital but the customer should verify this.
  3. The customer can check the owners manual.
  4. The ID tag or serial number plate located on the back or side of the TV may indicate analog or digital.
    • Any of the following means the TV is digital:
      • DTV
      • HDTV
      • ATSC
      • Digital Tuner
      • Integrated Digital Tuner
      • Digital Tuner Built In
      • HDMI (digital interface)
  5. Visit the manufacturer’s website for the TV make and model listed on the serial number plate.
What advantages does digital have over analog?
  1. Clearer, higher quality image.
  2. Less interference such as “snow” or static”.
  3. The signal takes up less bandwidth making the signal more reliable.
Can the customer elect to keep the analog signal? No.  The analog transmission will cease and be replaced by the digital signal.   We are excited about this conversion which will improve the customer experience with our service.
How does a customer get a set-top box? At the request of the customer, the Customer Experience Rep will put their name on a project spreadsheet by city.  The technician assigned to their area will contact them to install the set-top box.  Installations will be in made in the order the requests are received.
Existing customers may receive two (2) set-top boxes at no cost.  Additional set-top boxes may be purchased at their local electronic stores.
If I have a TiVo, will I automatically be digital-ready? Recently installed TiVos are digitally compatible. However, older TiVos may need to have an M-card installed in order to receive the digital signal.

Customers who need an M-card have been identified and will be contacted by Direct Communications to schedule this installation.

What will happen with the free digital (bonus) channels 100-195? These channels are digital versions of the current analog channels.  When the analog channels are turned off, these digital versions will be moved up in the channel line up to replace them.  They will be broadcast in all areas without interuptions.
How will this digital conversion affect the Digital Plus package? The Digital Plus package line-up (Channels 309-491) will not change.  These channels will not become available through the conversion in the basic or expanded packages unless they are already part of those packages.  These channels are available only through subscribing to the Digital Plus package.

APPENDICES / ATTACHMENTS

qam

digital TV 1 digital TV 3 not digital TV 4

Here is the new channel line-up. Although you will continue to see duplicates of analog channels 2-23, rather watch the digital versions of these channels, which will be in HD Digital quality. (For example, instead of watching channel 5 (KSL NBC), tune to channel 5.1 (KSL NBC HD) for a better viewing experience.
Basic Analog Cable Line Up
Channel Station Call Letters Type
2 RFD-TV RFDTV Public Interest
3 KIDK CBS KIDK Local
4 KTVX ABC KTVX Local
5 KSL NBC KSL Local
6 KPVI NBC KPVI Local
7 Quality Value Convenience QVC Shopping
8 KIFI ABC KIFI Local
9 KXPI FOX KXPI Local
10 KISU PBS KISU Local
11 KBYU PBS KBYU Local
12 KUCW CW KUCW Local
13 FOX 13 FOX13 Local
14 KJZZ IND KJZZ Local
15 BYUTV BYUTV Family
16 WGN Superstation (Chicago) WGN  Local Super
17 The Weather Channel TWC Weather
18 Fox News Fox News News info
19 CNN CNN News info
20 Discovery Channel  Discovery Educational & Learning
21 Learning Channel TLC Educational & Learning
22 Lifetime Lifetime Family
23 Travel Channel Travel Travel
Digital Expanded Cable Line Up
2.2 RFD TV 24.1 ESPN U HD 64.1 NBC Sports HD
3.11 KIDK-CBS HD 25.1 ESPN News HD 65.1 NFL Network HD
4.1 KTVX-ABC HD 26.1 ESPN HD 66.1 CBS Sprots HD
4.2 MeTv 27.1 ESPN 2 HD 67.1 Golf HD
4.3 Weather 28.2 ESPN Classic 68.1 FX HD
5.1 KSL-NBC HD 29.1 ROOT Sports HD 69.2 Spike
5.2 Cozi TV 30.1 TNT HD 70.1 Tru TV HD
5.3 Ksl Wx 31.1 TBS HD 71.2 BBC America
6.11 KPVI-NBC HD 32.1 A&E HD 72.1 Disney JR HD
6.12 Cozi TV 33.1 History HD 73.1 UP HD
7.1 QVC HD 34.2 Cartoon 74.2 OWN
7.11 KUED HD 35.2 Boomerrang 75.2 C-Span
7.12 KUED World 36.2 Family 76.2 HEADLINE
7.13 KUED  V-me 37.2 Disney 77.1 ION HD
8.11 KIFI-ABC HD 38.2 Nickeloden 95.2 CNBC
8.12 Telemondo 39.2 TV Land 96.2 MSNBC
8.13 CW 40.1 Gameshow HD 97.2 LOCAL
8.14 ABC News Now 41.1 DIY HD 98.2 CHAT TV
9.1 KPIX-Fox HD 42.1 HGTV HD 99.1 TV Guide HD
10.11 KISU-PBS HD 43.2 MTV 99.2 TV Guide
10.12 KISU Plus 44.2 GAC
10.13 KISU Create 45.2 VH-1
10.14 KISU World 46.2 CMT
11.1 KBYU-PBS HD 47.1 USA HD
11.3 KBYU Inter. 48.1 Syfy HD
12.1 KUWB-CW HD 49.2 E!
12.3 Retro TV 50.2 Comedy
13.1 KSTU-FOX HD 51.1 Food HD
13.2 Antenna TV 52.1 Bravo HD
14.1 KJZZ-IND HD 53.2 Animal
15.1 BYU TV HD 54.1 Nat Geo HD
16.1 WGN HD 55.2 Hallmark
17.2 Weather 56.2 WE
18.1 FOX NEWS HD 57.2 AMC
19.1 CNN HD 58.2 TCM
20.2 DISCOVERY 59.2 Movie Plex
21.2 TLC 60.1 Fox Movies HD
22.1 LIFETIME HD 61.1 FS1 HD
23.1 TRAVEL HD 62.2 Sportsman
63.1 Outdoor HD
Digital Expanded Cable Line Up (if Using Tivo/DVR/Digital Box)
102 RFD TV 140 Gameshow HD 177 ION HD
103 KIDK-CBS HD 141 DIY HD 178 KUED-PBS HD
104 KTVX-ABC HD 142 HGTV HD 179 5.3 Wx
105 KSL-NBC HD 143 MTV 180 4.3 Wx
106 KPVI-NBC HD 144 GAC 181 4.2 MeTV
107 QVC HD 145 VH-1 182 13.2 Antenna TV
108 KIFI-ABC HD 146 CMT 183 5.2 Cozi TV
109 KFXP-FOX HD 147 USA HD 184 6.3 Cozi TV
110 KISU-PBS HD 148 Syfy HD 185 8.3 CW
111 KBYU-PBS HD 149 E! 186 Retro Tv
112 KUWB-CW HD 150 Comedy 187 8.2 Telemondo
113 KSTU-FOX HD 151 Food HD 188 7.3 KUED V-me
114 KJZZ-IND HD 152 Bravo HD 189 11.3 KYBU Inter.
115 BYU TV HD 153 Animal 190 10.2 KISU Plus
116 WGN HD 154 Nat Geo HD 191 10.3 KISU Create
117 Weather 155 Hallmark 192 10.4 KISU World
118 FOX NEWS HD 156 WE 193 7.2 KUED World
119 CNN HD 157 AMC 194 ABC News Now
120 DISCOVERY 158 TCM 195 CNBC
121 TLC 159 Movie Plex 196 MSNBC
122 LIFETIME HD 160 Fox Movies HD 197 LOCAL
123 TRAVEL HD 161 FS1 HD 198 CHAT TV
124 ESPN U HD 162 Sportsman 199 TV Guide HD
125 ESPN News HD 163 Outdoor HD
126 ESPN HD 164 NBC Sports HD
127 ESPN 2 HD 165 NFL Network HD
128 ESPN Cassic 166 CBS Sprots HD
129 ROOT Sports HD 167 Golf HD
130 TNT HD 168 FX HD
131 TBS HD 169 Spike
132 A&E HD 170 Tru TV HD
133 History HD 171 BBC America
134 Cartoon 172 Disney JR HD
135 Boomerrang 173 UP HD
136 Family 174 OWN
137 Disney 175 C-Span
138 Nickeloden 176 HEADLINE
139 TV Land

Direct Communications Upgrades Cable Network to new DOCSIS 3 System

Direct Communications Cable in Idaho completed a system-wide network upgrade over the course of the Summer of 2014 that will allow residents in all cable franchise towns served by the company to receive up to 20 megabit-per-second internet speeds.

The towns served by Directcom Cable include AberdeenBancroftDowneyFish HavenGeorgetownGraceLavaMcCammonMontpelierParis and Preston

More speed means more fun online.

More speed means more fun online.

The network upgrade was specifically a change from the old Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) 1.0 to a newer DOCSIS 3.0 network specification. The DOCSIS 3 equipment allows an increase in data transmission speeds (both upstream and downstream).

Brian Black, Senior Network Administrator for Direct Communications, explained that the upgrade required a complete equipment swap in all of the fiber huts. “We had to purchase three new CMTS’s to support DOCSIS 3, which cost about $50,000 each.” (Cable Internet delivery includes two primary components: a cable modem, located at each customer premises, and a cable modem termination system (CMTS) located at the Cable TV headend.)  

For existing customers, anyone requesting speeds above the previous top speed of 10Mb would need a new DOCSIS 3.0 modem. All new customers automatically receive a new DOCSIS 3.0 modem at the time of install. 

Black said: “The real difference between a DOCSIS 3.0 system and the old DOCSIS 1 system is that a DOCSIS 3.0 modem can connect to multiple channels at once, whereas the old modem could only connect to a single path. So in theory, customers will now have four times the bandwidth available to them at any given time. Right now each of our customers are set up to connect to two downstream channels, and to four upstream channels, but once we have completed the next planned system-wide upgrade to all digital cable TV, each customer with be connecting to four downstream channels, and to four upstream channels.” 

This explains part of the motivation for the company to migrate to an all-digital cable TV system, because besides improving the quality of the picture and number of available TV channels, moving to all digital TV delivery will also free up more bandwidth for the growing customer demand for faster internet speed. 

Brian Black, Senior Network Administrator for Direct Communications in Idaho

Brian Black, Network Administrator for Direct Communications in Idaho

“What this upgrade to  DOCSIS 3.0 means now for all customers is basically more bandwidth available for everyone, and more consistent speeds, especially during peak hours in the evenings when everyone wants to get online at home to stream video, or catch up with their friends on Facebook,” said Black.

“In theory, I suppose we could deliver speeds up to 50Mb or 100Mb to a single customer now on the coax cable network, but really our goal with this upgrade is to make sure we can deliver the speeds we have already sold to customers, and keep up with the customer growth. We feel pretty good about being able to deliver a solid 20Mb to everyone in town, so we want to keep an eye on that and see where the growth takes us before we start selling even higher speeds. “

Direct Communications has experienced three straight years of over 20% growth per year in customer subscriptions, as residents in small towns in Idaho adopt high-speed internet in increasing numbers, and keeping up with the demand has kept Black and his co-workers busy. Black is very pleased with how the new DOCSIS 3 network is performing.

“It’s been a huge change, and I am very happy with the results. The network is just much more stable, and people have responded by using their internet service a lot more already. We have seen internet usage double in some towns like Preston since we did the upgrade, which is great because it means people trust their internet more, have higher expectations now, and are turning to their internet service more for things like entertainment.”

“Our next step is to obviously move the Cable TV service to an digital head end, which will hopefully happen by the end of this year, free up more channels, and then keep improving our network through deploying more fiber nodes throughout the neighborhoods, and splitting up the network to make sure we can always stay ahead of the demand for bandwidth.”

Note: Aberdeen has not yet been upgraded to Docsis 3, but is on Docsis 2.0.

Cow Steps on Fiber- Knocks Out Cell Tower

Today the average cow in the U.S. weighs 1350 pounds.

Today the average cow in the U.S. weighs 1350 pounds.

In one of those moments unique to rural telecommunications, a cow stepped on some fiber optic cable that was exposed during some maintenance work last month in a pasture near the Cold Water area along the Snake River. The weight of the cow hoof kinked the fiber optic cable and temporarily knocked out service to a nearby cell tower, which was served by the fiber optic cable.

Matt Farr, engineer for Directcom explained: “Usually our fiber is safely buried 4 feet underground, encased in conduit, and protected in vaults with 20,000 lb load ratings, but unfortunately a cow came along just at the wrong time. Our crew was preparing for some scheduled maintenance later that night and had laid some cable slack out on the ground. The cows in these part seem to know when and how to create the greatest amount of havoc for the bipeds, which made it even more difficult to explain to the customer, a big national carrier, that a cow was responsible for taking down their tower. They have very strict standards and procedures regarding downtime and it’s a big deal if tower service is ever affected. Cows don’t really figure into their equations.
It all worked out in the end as our crew, out of necessity, had to start and consequently compete their maintenance work ahead of schedule. Not a method of expediting a project that I would recommend, but sometimes in rural Idaho you have to run with the stampede.”

KSL–Salt Lake Broadcast to Cease in the McCammon, Downey and Lava areas.

Local television broadcasting networks like KPVI (Idaho Falls – Pocatello) have specific rights under the FCC Network non-duplication rules which protect them from another television station broadcasting their affiliate network programming within their designated area.

Recently, the new owners of the Idaho NBC affiliate, KPVI, have requested that we remove KSL from our cable channel lineup in certain towns, since they have exclusive broadcast rights for NBC within a designated footprint market area.  As a result, we regret to inform you that we can no longer carry KSL–Salt Lake in the McCammon, Downey and Lava areas.

We will cease broadcasting of KSL – Salt Lake on 10/15/2014 in those areas.  We understand that you may not agree with this FCC rule but we are required to honor it.

http://live.ksl.com/ online streaming interface

http://live.ksl.com/ online streaming interface

The good news is you can now stream KSL live online at http://live.ksl.com/.  So, you can still watch your favorite Salt Lake City news and local shows online. Contact us to get the internet speed you need to get the best streaming experience.

And of course the nationally syndicated shows that NBC carries will still be available to watch on KPVI.

We truly appreciate you choosing Direct Communications for your services and appreciate your understanding.

How to Watch ESPN3

ESPN3 Basketball

ESPN3 Means More Basketball

Good news for Directcom Broadband customers–you have free, instant access to all sports events shown live, or on demand after the game, on ESPN3.

We are thrilled that more customers are accessing ESPN3 every day. We hope that you will come back and watch more events on ESPN3. Direct Communications pays Disney/ESPN for every one of our customers to have access to ESPN3, so we hope you will use this value-added benefit that comes with your internet service. If you are a Directcom Broadband customer, you will be able to watch ESPN3 events online while you are at home using a browser on your PC, or remotely (at work, for example) on a PC browser, if you activated remote access from your home PC.

Commonly Asked Questions about Watching ESPN3

How do I access ESPN3?

To access ESPN3, open a browser on your PC, go to our homepage directcom.com and click on the ESPN3 link, or go directly to http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/channel/espn3/  No sign-in is required to watch ESPN3 events for Directcom internet customers. ESPN3 must be accessed through a browser, and not the WatchESPN mobile app.

TIP: The one app that will work with our service  is the ESPN app on the Xbox. If you have an Xbox,  this is probably the best and easiest way to access the games. The interface and  resolution is fantastic.

TIP2: Most BYU Football games shown on ESPN are made available on demand on ESPN3 immediately after the game.

What’s the difference between WatchESPN and ESPN3?

There is a big difference between the ESPN3 network, and the WatchESPN app. ESPN has not made the situation any less confusing for customers of small companies like us by also recently changing the name of their ESPN3 website  to WatchESPN, just like the mobile app. WatchESPN is the portal to access content shown on all of the ESPN networks–including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNClassic, etc. ESPN3 was the first online sports network made available by ESPN parent company, Disney, and Directcom was one of the first small ISPs to sign up as distributor of that exclusively online network back in 2010.  Now, ESPN3 is just one of the networks included in the whole WatchESPN portfolio. All of our internet subscribers have instant access to ESPN3, but not to the whole WatchESPN suite or WatchESPN app, which is still reserved for Cable TV or Satellite TV customers who already subscribe, and thus pay for access, to all those TV networks. ESPN is extremely protective of their revenue generated from Cable TV distribution.

Why can’t I sign in and use the WatchESPN mobile app?

We are still receiving a lot of calls from customers who are trying to access the games on their smartphones via the WatchESPN mobile app, and not seeing us listed as a provider there. Please do not attempt to use the WatchESPN mobile app. We provide free access to ESPN3 for our internet customers via our home internet service. The ESPN servers recognize our IP address range and provide access to the games to anybody on our network. The WatchESPN app works quite differently, and is strictly for customers of the big national cable TV providers-–do not attempt to use the WatchESPN app from your mobile device, because it will ask you to choose and login to your satellite or cable TV provider. To access ESPN3, which is what all the games will be shown on, from your PC, go to our homepage and click on the ESPN3 link, or go directly to http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/channel/espn3/ If everything is working correctly, you will see a logo on the top right of the espn.go.com/watchespn website saying “Powered by Direct Communications”.

The iPad, mobile phones, and most tablets will not work with ESPN3 service because by default they will always try to get you to download and use the WatchESPN app, which is only for the big cable TV providers. If your tablet has a regular internet browser that works like a PC browser (the first generation Kindle Fire, for example) will allow you to access ESPN3 events within the browser on a flash platform.

Can I watch ESPN3 if I’m away from home?

We get a lot of calls from customers trying to access the games from their workplace. There is a way to watch the games online on a regular PC browser, but it requires prior setup from YOUR HOME in Eagle Mountain or Idaho. TO WATCH REMOTELY: In order to watch when you are away from home, you will first need to activate remote access. To do this you will need to set up an ESPN online account while in your home network (ie, using our internet connection or IP addresses) and then activate remote access by clicking on the “Remote Access” button at the top right. That will allow several days of remote access, after which you will need to return to your home network and reactivate remote access again.

In summary, as long as you are on your home network (that is, on Directcom’s network within Eagle Mountain) and using one of our IP addresses, you will be able to access the games if you are using a regular computer browser or Xbox. If you are not on our network, or trying to use a mobile device or the WatchESPN app, you will have difficulty.  We have even had a couple of customers not being able to access ESPN3 because they were logged into a work VPN while at home, and ESPN3 will only work within our IP range.

Can I watch ESPN3 on a tablet or mobile phone?

The iPad, mobile phones, and most tablets will not work with just the ESPN3 service because by default they will always try to get you to download and use the WatchESPN app, which is only for cable TV providers. If your tablet has a regular internet browser that works like a PC browser (the first generation Kindle Fire, for example)  you may be able to access ESPN3 events within the browser on a flash platform. ESPN3 is best accessed on your PC or laptop, or via good streaming players like your Xbox or Roku.

When I click on the featured sporting event in the player window it asks me to log in and select my provider.

If you are an internet customer only, please only click on events that are being shown on the ESPN3 network. The login window will pop up when you click on non-ESPN3 events. You are probably trying to watch something that is on a different ESPN channel. The most common frustration experienced by internet customers occurs when customers try to access events on the WatchESPN website, which are not actually ESPN3 events. You will be able to see listings for all events on all networks, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU etc, but only will be able to successfully watch those being shown live or stored on demand on the ESPN3 network. Please ensure you only select content with the ESPN3 logo listed next to the event. You can filter by network on the website so that you are only viewing available ESPN3 events.

But Direct Communications Cable is listed as a provider on the WatchESPN app. Why can’t I sign in?

Direct Communications Cable in rural Idaho provides access to TV Everywhere as a value-added feature to our regular Cable TV services. Cable TV customers in Idaho will now have access to the entire WatchESPN app, if those Cable TV customers subscribe to a package that contains ESPN. Regular internet customers  will still only have access to ESPN3 unless they also subscribe to Cable TV. We are required by ESPN to submit verification of each TV customer’s package several times a day, which they cross reference with who is signing in to the app. (As we mentioned,  ESPN is extremely protective of their revenue generated from Cable TV distribution, and is not interested in cannibalizing that revenue.)

We understand this may be confusing to our customers using ESPN3 through our website.

As usual, to access ESPN3 content, you must be accessing ESPN3 from our home network.  If a customer clicks on non-ESPN3 content, they will be asked to select their TV provider.  As part of TV Everywhere, Direct Communications is now listed as an approved provider.  However, unless the customer also subscribes to our cable TV service, and has already signed up for a “watchTVeverwhere” login, it will not allow them to authenticate.

The most common frustration experienced by internet customers occurs when customers try to access events on the WatchESPN website, which are actually not ESPN3 events. You will be able to see listings for all events on all networks, but only will be able to successfully watch those on the ESPN3 network. Please ensure you only select content with the ESPN3 logo listed on the far right as demonstrated in the following snapshot:

espn3

New Idaho Outages Calendar

Direct Communications has posted a new Internet and TV outages calendar online, which is accessible to all customers at https://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=directcom.com_ogn3o83ja2i1bfh1aasp2s6v6g@group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/Denver&pli=1. To access the calendar from the Directcom homepage click on: Customer Service>Outages Calendar.

This calendar will contain details on all outages in Directcom service areas in Idaho. Customers who are experiencing internet problems can check the outages calendar to see if their are any system-wide problems in their town before calling tech support.

Scheduled maintenance outages, such as downtime for network or equipment outages, will also be posted to this calendar. Outages due to general power outages (if the power company notifies Direct Communications of scheduled outages) will also be posted.

To see details on any specific outages, such as what is being done, how long the repair or maintenance is expected to take, and how many customers will be affected, simply click on the event listed on the online calendar.

If you use Gmail or Google Apps, you can even add this calendar to your own personal calendar simply by clicking on the Add to Google Calendar icon at the bottom right of the calendar page, so you will be alerted in advance of any upcoming outages.

 

Directcom Idaho Outages

Why Are Some Homes In Eagle Mountain Still On Copper Instead Of Fiber?

“What is the holdup?“ asked Eagle Mountain resident Don Mallicoat recently on Facebook. This is an excellent question, which many customers in Eagle Mountain who are still on DSL (copper) connections, are probably asking. Why are some homes in Eagle Mountain still on copper, while most are being served with fiber to the home? What is preventing Direct Communications from taking fiber to every home today?

The very short answer is simply: money, and the sheer cost of the citywide upgrade.

The slightly more expanded answer is specifically: cash flow.

The more complex answer, that requires some real explanation, is government regulation of our industry, and how the business model of rural telecom works.

Firstly, let’s be clear—we wish we already had fiber to every home in Eagle Mountain. If we could wave a magic wand, we would make that happen today. Our research and data shows that fiber customers are more satisfied with their service, irrespective of the bandwidth package to which they are subscribing. Further, our data indicates that fiber customers cost less in maintenance and customer support. Our goal is to upgrade every home to fiber as quickly as possible because it is better for our customers, the community, and us.

When Directcom purchased the previously city-owned network from Eagle Mountain City in 2006, the number of houses with fiber to the home was 0.

The number of homes in Eagle Mountain with fiber to the home is now several thousand. So, we have made progress, but yes, there are still neighborhoods we need to convert from DSL to Fiber.

The company has already upgraded about half of the older subdivisions from copper to fiber; however, due to simple budget constraints, we cannot run it to everyone at once. Over the past few years, Directcom has been able to upgrade about 300 older homes a year to fiber, while at the same time kept up with fiber construction to all new subdivisions. During 2013 the company upgraded Cedar Trails, Sage Valley, and the Eagle Landing subdivisions from Copper to Fiber lines. During 2014 we are upgrading Pioneer and Mountain View. By the end of 2014 we should be completely done with the city center upgrade.

Since 2006, we have invested about $24 million into network assets. (This is public information that can be can be sought from the State Tax Commission.) This should give some perspective into the cost of building a modern fiber network. Where does all that money come from? Not from your internet bill, but keep reading, and we will answer that later.

Some background: Direct Communications bought the former Eagle Mountain Telecom in 2006, after the city had tried for many years to sell off its telephone network. The cost of building and maintaining a telephone network was driving the city slowly towards bankruptcy, and Direct Communications, a private telecom provider with a business model that works for remote areas, stepped up and offered a solution for residents of Eagle Mountain, and Directcom paid off the Municipal Bonds which had financed the City’s network. Direct Communications originally bought the network from the City for $6.3 million, and every year since then we have invested significant resources into upgrading the network plant to fiber optic lines, and upgrading switches, electronics and equipment to power the fiber.

So, what is preventing us from upgrading all the homes to fiber in the same year?

Like all businesses, we work within certain constraints. Our available budget is one constraint. Acquiring capital is a major constraint. For us, and most small businesses, managing cash flow is a major constraint. A small company can easily go bankrupt by growing too fast and not having the cash flow to keep up with growth, because of the time lag between investment and recovery on that investment. That lag needs to be financed. Most fast-growing startups must be fueled by outside investment capital, especially those with high construction costs like communications networks. Without this, they would not have the cash flow to even pay their employees because of this time lag. Directcom, essentially still a startup, must finance most of its network growth and upgrades through borrowing from banks and government entities devoted to lending to rural institutions. Borrowing the millions of dollars needed for upgrades is not easy, and very tight government regulation of our industry makes it especially challenging to acquire financing. Put simply, we just can’t get our hands on the huge amount of money needed to do all the upgrades at once.

An important piece of this puzzle is to understand that end consumers themselves could never pay for the real cost of bringing fiber to their homes under pure market forces in a community this size. Clear evidence to demonstrate this claim is that there no other wireline provider in Eagle Mountain.   However, rest assured, Eagle Mountain citizens, that we are truly the only provider who really loves you, because we are here with you and working diligently to bring fiber optic connectivity to every home and business. This is our only market, and Direct Communications Cedar Valley has no interest outside of Eagle Mountain. You are our only customers.

We should mention the need to build and scale the network in a technologically sound way.  Switching everyone all at once would drastically impact our network, resulting in months or years of chaos and a bad consumer experience for everyone in Eagle Mountain until we stabilized everything again.   We want to build it well, not just for today but for decades to come.  That along with identifying trouble/aged areas in the network is the primary determinant in where to upgrade and how to improve the network. The upgrades have to be carried out in a manageable fashion that will fit within capabilities, and our financing model.

Direct Communications makes their investment in fiber construction back over several decades. We borrow to build the network, and then during those decades of cost recovery, an FCC program pays a specified rate of return, which provides the incentive to invest in remote areas, and allows us to pay back the debt. Without this program, Eagle Mountain would not have a fiber network at all, and we would not have a viable business model. (Also worth noting is that there is a several year gap between when we put fiber into the ground and when it is allowed to start being recovered on under the FCC program.) Of course, along with this federal cost recovery program, comes federal regulation—a lot of it. In spite of the very real and genuine challenges resulting from cash constraints, burdensome government regulations, and ever increasing network demands, we are excited about the accelerated deployment of fiber to the homes that we’re pursuing in order to continue providing premier internet experiences for our customers now, and to prepare for the way people will use the internet in the future.   It is often trendy to trash government regulation and by no means are we fans of a great deal of it, but in rural communities where there is no viable business model for the deployment of fiber networks the model of a regulated monopoly makes the most economic and social sense.  It ensures a provider of a business model that incents investment and then a statewide regulatory authority regulates the monopoly to protect the consumers who have no other choice where to go for wireline services.

So, we will continue to slowly but steadily upgrade from copper to fiber as the business model allows. If you are already on fiber, know that you are enjoying the most advanced broadband technology available anywhere in the world.  If you are one of the customers still on copper, try to console yourself with the fact that you do have fiber to your neighborhood or street node. Only the last few feet through your yard to your home are actually still copper lines. We currently deploy the latest VDSL equipment to maximize the copper technology, and you can choose 20Mb DSL speeds, which is enough to stream about 3 Netflix movies at the same time. We are currently looking at increasing that copper offering to a 30Mb download to tide you over until we get fiber to your home. Someday every home in Eagle Mountain will have fiber all the way to the home, and the happiest people of all will probably be the employees of Direct Communications, your local broadband provider.

(Special thanks to Kip Wilson, General Manager, and Michael Parrish, Accounting Manager, for their contributions to this article.)

No Contract Required

 

Be free.

Be free.

FACT:  Direct Communications in Eagle Mountain does not require a contract or term commitment . 

Any new customer may sign up for Directcom Broadband service without a contract. If you prefer the freedom of no contract, or month-to-month service, all that is required is a simple $75 broadband installation fee. However, new customers who commit to an easy 6-month contract term with their service, can enjoy  free installation, a 30-day no risk guarantee, and the peace of mind of knowing that they can cancel service anytime, with just a $25 early termination fee. What we find is almost 99% of customers in Eagle Mountain prefer service with a contract and $0 upfront, so we continue to offer that option. 

Contrary to some claims by our competitors, we actually have never required a contact for internet customers. New customers could always choose to forgo a contract term. However, very few people ever chose to sign up without a contract because we have always offered free installation with a term commitment. We do this because a term commitment lowers our risk, or cost, of installing our premium service. Our installation is very customer-friendly, thorough, customized, and  hands-on: we do all the work for you and no technical knowledge on your part is needed to activate your service. We send a local tech to your house, who mounts the fiber electronics on your home, runs Ethernet cable inside to your network hub, router, or a location of your choice, then activates your home router, sets up your home wireless router with security if you desire, and he will not leave until you are satisfied that your new fiber internet connection, and the connection to all the devices in your home, is working to your satisfaction. We follow up with a satisfaction survey. In the old days we required a $185 broadband installation fee if new customers did not want to sign a 1-year commitment up front. This was largely dictated by FCC requirements for telecommunications and broadband companies like us. Recently, these regulations have changed to give us more leeway in deciding how to set contract and installation terms.

Since early 2013, our policy for new internet customer installs has been that no contract is required, and we only require a $75 broadband installation fee if a new customer wants to be free of any commitment.

For customers who know they will be in their homes for a while, and are willing to sign a 6-month commitment, we will continue to offer FREE installation. Plus, we of course will also give you the first month free if you are using our refer-a-friend program, or in other words, if you were referred by a friend.

One qualifier, which will probably never change since it is set by the State of Utah Government, is that regulated telecoms like us must charge a $25 phone activation fee for new accounts. This has always existed as part of the Utah State Public Utilities regulation. This is separate from broadband installation fees.

Why are we doing away with contracts?

Over the past couple of years, some of our non-customers in annual focus groups have told us that they didn’t like contracts. Many people did not want to sign long-term commitments various reasons—some did not feel secure in their employment, and feared they might not be able to pay for service in a few months; many said they were looking to move out of Eagle Mountain sometime in the coming year; others said they just don’t like contracts as a matter of principle. We agree—people should stay with us because we offer the best, most reliable service in Eagle Mountain, and not because we have them locked into a contract. However, until recently, our hands were essentially tied because of NECA and FCC regulation.

In  June of 2012, we tested this feedback from non-customers, and during Pony Express Days, instead of offering a sweet electronic toy like an Xbox as a promotion, which would also require long term commitments, we simply offered free installation with no contract and no obligation, and a couple of months of free service so they could demo our superior internet product risk free. While the number of new customers taking advantage of this promo was not quite as high as the years we offered a free Xbox or Wii, the results were still good, and, even more encouraging, as we tracked these customers over the next following months, we found they were just as likely to stay with us than people who had signed a contract. They stayed because they liked the service and found it to be better than any competitors service in Eagle Mountain. This is what we want.

So, we decided to make this no-contract offer our general policy, with a few adjustments. We want to make it easy for people to switch to us. We want to be easy to do business with. We hope that a $75 install charge, with no contract required, would be low enough for most homeowners in Eagle Mountain to afford without requiring anyone to go without shoes for the month. $75 does not nearly cover our cost for an install—we have to pay for the tech, the truck roll, and most expensive, the new fiber electronics to be installed on the home. Together these amount to several hundred dollars. However, we feel confident that once a customer has experienced our faster streaming fiber optic broadband, they will never go back to a wireless internet service provider. Our customers tell us: You simply can’t go back from fiber.

In the past, in order to make it financially viable to give away free electronics as a promotion, like an Xbox, Wii, AppleTV or Kindle Fire, we have with  special promotions asked new customers to sign 2-year contracts to get a fantastic free promo item. Many people who previously said they disliked contracts suddenly didn’t mind them as much. They get a free Xbox, and we get a new customer while lowering our risk–it’s a win-win. In the past couple of years, as the general public has become more tech savvy and educated, the very idea of fiber has become more powerful than any promotion or toy we could offer, so we have limited our promotions and relied simply on our premium value proposition. So, contacts associated with promos are a thing of the past too.

Of course, we expect most people will still choose the no upfront cost, free install, with one month free, that comes with a 6-month commitment. This is not a promo—this is our everyday pricing. But, for Eagle Mountain residents who don’t like contracts, this $75 upfront option is built for you, and we hope to see you soon. Haven’t you ever wanted to know what your internet experience could be over fiber optic cable? Try it—you will like it.

Direct Communications Cable Now Carries Fox Sports 1

Direct Communications Cable customers in Idaho have probably recently noticed a change in the channel line-up: channel 61 has changed from the old Speed Channel to FOX Sports 1.  FOX Sports 1 is a new, national 24-hour multi-sport cable channel launched by FOX Sports on August 17, 2013. This new network has replaced the Speed channel.

So what is Fox Sports 1?

Here are some answers from Fox Sports official website to FAQ’s taken from http://msn.foxsports.com/other/page/foxsports1-faq

“Over the past several years, FOX Sports has acquired or renewed rights agreements with entities like the FIFA World Cup, MLB, NASCAR, NFL, UFC and collegiate conferences like the Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Conference USA, Pac-12, the USGA and soccer leagues around the world to develop a full, robust programming schedule. FOX Sports 1 will have nearly 5,000 hours of live event, news and original programming annually.

FOX Sports continues its major commitment to motorsports programming with top-level NASCAR events, including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series (2015) and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races; popular programs like NASCAR RaceDay, NASCAR Victory Lane and NASCAR Race Hub; events from around the world, including Monster Energy Supercross; MotoGP World Championship; the ARCA Racing Series; the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans; and the popular Barrett-Jackson Collector Car auctions on a FOX channel.

At present, FOX Sports 1 has rights agreements in place to carry college basketball and football, MLB (in 2014), NASCAR, NFL (ancillary programs), world-class soccer, UFC and USGA championship events. FOX Sports 1 boasts nearly 5,000 hours of live event, news and original programming annually and that number will continue to grow. College football on FOX Sports 1 is highlighted by regular season coverage of Big 12, Pac-12 and Conference USA games. FOX Sports 1 carries dozens of exclusive prime time college basketball games from the Big East, Big 12, Pac-12 and Conference USA and the network is home to the Big East men’s basketball tournament. Starting in 2014, select MLB League Championship Series and Division Series games as well as regular season games are coming to FOX Sports 1. FOX Sports 1 also carries select NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events beginning 2015; NASCAR Nationwide Series events in 2015, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races; the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race; and all SpeedWeeks, including Daytona 500 Qualifying, Sprint Unlimited at Daytona, (2014, 2017-22) the Budweiser Duel, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NCWTS Practice and Qualifying sessions. Additionally, FOX Sports 1 carries NASCAR RaceDay, NASCAR Victory Lane and Race Hub shows. Soccer is highlighted on FOX Sports 1 with the world’s most prolific club soccer competitions, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League and CONCACAF Champions League. FOX Sports 1 carries the world’s oldest soccer competition, the FA Cup; CONCACAF Gold Cup; CONCACAF Qualifiers, FIFA Women’s World Cup coverage in 2015 and 2019; FIFA Men’s World Cup coverage in 2018 and 2022. UFC is also a core programming pillar. In addition to Saturday pay-per-view preliminary cards, Wednesday nights are home to the UFC with UFC Tonight, live events and The Ultimate Fighter. Come 2015, USGA championship events are also coming to FOX Sports 1.”

New, Faster Upload Speeds for 50Mb and 100Mb Packages

Only Directcom offer truly unlimited bandwidth with no caps, so you can watch as much as you like, without worrying about data overage charges.

Only Directcom offer truly unlimited bandwidth with no caps, so you can watch as much as you like, without worrying about data overage charges.

Direct Communications in Eagle Mountain has increased the upload speeds included in the regular 50Mbps and 100Mbps download speed tiers. (The upload speeds were previously 5Mbps and 10Mbps respectively.) The default upload speed for the 50Mbps package will now be 15Mbps, and the 100Mbps will have a 25Mbps upload speed.

Kip Wilson, General Manager for Direct Communications in Eagle Mountain, explained that the reason for this upload speed increase was to create more value for customers on these premium speed packages, and more fully differentiate  these premium services from the lower tiers. “We looked at the 30 down and 5 up, compared to the 50 down and 5 up, and wanted to give tech savvy customers a significant increased benefit and real reason to upgrade to the 50Mbps tier; so now, not only will they nearly double their download speeds, but also triple their upload bandwidth.”

For customers who want to go fully symmetrical, so that their upload speed matches their download speed (these would be the online class: heavy internet users, content creators, telecommuters, bloggers,  gamers etc, who push as much to the cloud as they download from the internet) Direct Communications offers fully symmetrical fiber optic service for just $15 more per month. Customers can choose 20/20, 30/30, or even 50/50 fiber optic service in Eagle Mountain, which is a very unique offering.

September 2013 Promotion- SIGN UP FOR DIRECTCOM HIGH SPEED INTERNET AND GET ONE-YEAR OF FREE HOME PHONE SERVICE.

September 2013 Only

20130901-voip-promo

Sign up for Directcom High Speed Cable Internet during the month of September 2013, and get one-year of free home phone service, with free unlimited local and free unlimited long distance calling for a whole year.
*Idaho cable network areas only. New Directcom Broadband subscribers or speed upgrades only. Offer expires 09/30/2013. See below for details.

What does Directcom Internet service cost?
Our high speed internet service starts at only $25.95 a month for our basic 2 Mbps speed. This speed is good for regular browsing, email, shopping, and other activities. However, for this promotion, we are requiring that you sign up for at least our next tier speed package, which is $39.95 a month for 6 Mbps speeds. This speed will be fast enough to enable you to use your new digital phone service while you are browsing the internet, and maybe even watching an HD Netflix movie online, all at the same time. We also offer crazy-fast 10Mb and 20Mb service, which will allow you to stream multiple high-definition movies at the same time.

DIRECTCOM HIGH SPEED INTERNET
REGULAR PRICED BROADBAND CABLE SERVICE
SPEED (download/upload) PRICE per month
2 Mb/512k $25.95
6 Mb/512k $39.95
10 Mb /1 Mb $49.95
20 Mb /2 Mb $69.95
Installation is now FREE with a 1-year commitment. ($100 savings.) Equipment now FREE with a 1-year commitment. ($50 savings.)

Do I have to sign a contract?
No, you do not need to sign a contract. No contract is required to qualify for the free year of phone service promotion. However, with a one-year internet service commitment, we will provide you with a free install, and a free modem lease, so that you will have no upfront costs at all. You can choose to go month-to-month and forgo a contract by simply purchasing the modem up front for $50. We will provide the free phone service for up to a year, as long as you keep subscribing to at least 6Mbps high speed cable internet service, even without a contract. If you downgrade to 2Mb speed, we will begin charging you the regular $24.95 price for phone service. You may cancel your phone subscription at any time.

Why are you giving away free home phone service?
Ultimately, we want people on our high speed internet network. We are giving away home phone service simply to encourage you to leave Centurylink altogether and switch all your services to Direct Communications, your local cable company.  We can provide faster speeds, and better service, at better value.

Can I keep my current home phone number?
Yes, you can keep your current number. We will port your number from Centurylink and become your new home phone provider.

What is Direct Digital Voice?
Digital home phone service from Direct Communcations, a real telephone company, delivered over your copper cable line instead of your copper telephone company line.

How does cable home phone service work?
You plug your existing phone into the supplied VOIP-enabled cable modem, which comes with a regular phone jack built into the cable modem, dial as usual, and we do the rest. We send your phone call digitally over your high-speed cable internet connection, to the regular national switching system. You may even keep your exising home phone number. One great benefit of digital, or IP, phone service is that you avoid having to pay all the high taxes associated with traditional land line phone.

Is cable phone service reliable?
We use all digital IP phones at our own telephone company headquarters to provide telephone service to each employee desk. Not only is it reliable, but with so many advanced features, like voicemail to email, online call screening, call management, and one-click calling, it makes using the phone fun again.

How much will I save?
You could save over $400 a year just on your local phone bill. You could also save an additional $250 or more a year on long distance service, depending on how much long distance calling you typically use on your current home phone.

What is the regular price for the phone service after the first year is up?
After the first year, your regular price for home phone service will be $24.95 for Unlimited Local & Unlimited Long Distance Calling, excluding about $2 in taxes and fees. One great benefit of digital, or IP, phone service is that you avoid having to pay most of the high taxes associated with traditional land line phone . You are free to cancel your digital home phone service at anytime.

Do I have to subscribe to your cable TV service in order to get your Internet service?
No. You do not have to be a cable TV customer to get our cable Internet service. Neither do you have to subscribe to cable TV in order to qualify for this promotion. All you have to do to qualify for this promotion is sign up for our cable Internet service, and commit to a one-year service contract.

Can current Directcom customers qualify?
Yes. Current cable TV customers who do not have broadband with us yet may qualify for the free year of phone service promo. Current Directcom Broadband subscribers may also qualify for the free year of phone service promo, under two requirements: 1) sign a new year-long internet service commitment , and 2) upgrade to the next speed tier. The ultimate purpose of this promo is to attract new internet customers who have never experienced the difference between our cable internet service and their current slow DSL or wireless internet.
To qualify as “new” customers, former Directcom customers must have been disconnected for at least 6 months. Any current customer may add digital home phone service to their account at any time with unlimited calling for the regular price of $24.95 a month.

What if I disconnect service/break contract within a year? 
There will be regular termination fees. You will also be required to return the modem.  See 1-year contract for details.

Why is a credit check required to qualify for this promo?
We are making a significant cash investment in you as a new customer. The year of free phone service is worth $250 dollars. We buy an advanced new cable internet and voice modem upfront for you and provide this to you at no cost. We also pay for the truck roll and install. We must pay dealer and employee commissions and marketing costs. Taken together, we are on average spending about $600 to acquire you as a new customer. We realize that switching internet providers involves significant hassle, effort and costs for you too, which is why we cover these switching costs to give you an incentive to move, and make it easier for you to switch to our better service. It is a win-win for all of us in the long run—you need better internet service, and we want more customers. However, we obviously want to make sure we are making a good investment in our customers. Our Experian Vantage Score credit check system returns an average of the three major credit bureaus and is designed to approve 80% of all US residents. This is a soft-check. See http://www.experian.com/consumer-products/vantage-score.html for more information. You will have to achieve a 600 Vantagescore to qualify. (This is different from a regular credit score.)

What if I don’t qualify based on my credit history?
We will still be happy to serve you, and we welcome you as our customer. You can still enjoy the best broadband speed in town. We will not require any deposits or fees, and we will not require you to sign a contract or commitment. We will still provide you with a free install. However, you will not be able to get the free year of phone service promo. Also, you will have to purchase the modem up front, for $50. If you know your history is good and feel you should qualify, we will be happy to work with you or your bank to correct our information.

Only Directcom offer truly unlimited bandwidth with no caps, so you can watch as much as you like, without worrying about data overage charges.

Only Directcom offer truly unlimited bandwidth with no caps, so you can watch as much as you like, without worrying about data overage charges.

Why is Direct Communications better at streaming video than any wireless provider?

  1. Only Directcom offers truly unlimited bandwidth with no caps, so you can watch as much as you like, without worrying about data overage charges.
  2. We are the only wired network in town.
  3. We offer speeds up to 100Mb over fiber optic cable.
  4. We provide enough bandwidth power so you can watch multiple streams simultaneously on several different devices in your home.
  5. Our network is state-of-the-art fiber optic cable.
  6. Our speeds are consistent, and we typically provide the speed we advertise, not some “burstable” mythical speed that you can only get for a few seconds.
  7. Unlike wireless providers, your bandwidth is not shared with your neighbors, so you can all stream video at the same time and not be affected by their usage.
  8. We don’t throttle your speeds if you stream too much.
  9. We don’t put a cap on how much you are allowed to download each month.
  10. Our fiber-optic cable connects you directly to the national fiber backbone, with no wireless links inbetween.
  11. Wireless internet equipment simply wasn’t built to handle constant high-demand applications like high-definition video very well. Our engineered Fiber network was designed to stream high-definition video.

Terms and Conditions

Offer valid for new cable broadband service requests between Sep 1-Sep 30, 2013, only. On approved credit only. One-year internet service commitment required to receive free modem. No commitment required if you purchase the modem up front for $50. New broadband subscribers only.  Cable not available in all areas. Call for availability. To qualify as “new” customers, former Directcom customers must have been disconnected for at least 6 months.
Regular pricing will apply: 2Mb /512k-$25.95 , 6Mb /512k -$39.95 , 10Mb/1Mb-$49.95. *plus applicable taxes and franchise fees.
Bundled with Cable TV service, regular broadband pricing is: 2Mb /512k-$23.95 , 6Mb /512k -$35.95 , 10Mb/1Mb-$45.95. Broadband Installation is free with a 1-year commitment. Listed speeds are approximate and may vary depending on line conditions. You will be authorized to  receive “up to” listed download and upload speeds. Cable service requires a modem. Download and read the full contract online at directcom.com
Cable TV service pricing: Basic Cable $21.00, Expanded Cable $46.95.
*plus applicable taxes and franchise fees.
Direct Vois Broadband Phone Service: Service (including 911 calling) will not function during a power outage and may not function during network congestion. Use of 911 service permitted only at a Direct Communications-local phone exchange service address, otherwise 911 calls will not route directly to a 911 operator. Customers should secure an alternative to 911 service.
Read full VOIP contract and disclosure here.
Direct Communications can take any action to protect our network, our rights and interests. We reserve the right to cancel or change service plan offerings at anytime without notification to subscribers.

What Internet Speed Do I Need to Watch Netflix?

Customers often want to know what broadband speed package they need to subscribe to watch Netflix. The first important thing to know is that the Netflix video stream quality and resolution adjusts automatically to match your available bandwidth, so although you can in theory watch Netflix on any real broadband speed, it’s going to be very low-quality unless you have a good, fast, consistent Internet speed. We typically recommend at least a 6 Mb connection in order to watch one high definition feed, and if you want to watch two movies at once, you should subscribe to our 10 Mb speed.

Here is the information Netflix provides on their website regarding internet speed requirements. Please note, these recommendations are the bare minimum, and only for a single stream. If you want to watch two movies at the same time on different devices in your home, you will need to double these requirements. Plus, if you want to watch a Netflix movie while somebody else wants to browse the internet on another device, you are going to need more bandwidth. Basically, more speed is always better. More speed means more fun, and more connected devices you can use at the same time.

From Netflix Help Center: Internet Connection Speed Recommendations

While Watch Instantly works with many different levels of broadband, the speed and bandwidth of your broadband Internet connection may impact your viewing experience. Netflix streams a little bit of data as a buffer each time you start a movie or TV show. Frequently starting and stopping movies & TV shows will result in a minor increase to the amount of data Netflix streams to you per hour. In most cases, this will be less than a few minutes worth.

Below are the internet speed requirements and recommendations for playing movies and TV shows on the Netflix website.

*Note: Internet speeds listed represent Download speeds.

0.5 Megabits per second – Required broadband connection speed

1.5 Megabits per second – Recommended broadband connection speed

3.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for DVD quality

5.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for HD quality

7.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for Super HD quality

12 Megabits per second – Recommended for 3D quality

HD Video Quality

Movies and TV shows we have available in high definition will play in 720p or better with a fast enough internet connection. If you would like to view high definition titles whenever they are available, be sure to change your video quality setting to Best on the Video Quality page.

 

Netflix and Data Usage

Perhaps an even more important  than your connection speed is monthly data limits. Some providers claim to support video streaming, but will cap how much you can download each month. They may even charge you data overages or throttle (intentionally reduce) your speed if you watch too much.

Direct Communications is the only provider that will give you true unlimited bandwidth, so you can stream as much online video as you want, in full HD quality, without ever worrying about data overage charges.

Only Directcom offer truly unlimited bandwidth with no caps, so you can watch as much as you like, without worrying about data overage charges.

Only Directcom offer truly unlimited bandwidth with no caps, so you can watch as much as you like, without worrying about data overage charges.

Here is what Netflix says on their help pages about data caps—basically they recommend you avoid streaming in HD if you have caps of your service because Best quality can use up to 2.3 GB per hour for HD video.

Netflix Bandwidth Usage

Higher quality video uses more bandwidth than lower-quality video. If your service provider applies a bandwidth or data cap to your Internet service, you can Manage Bandwith Usage by changing the video quality settings to Good or Better to consume less data.

 

https://contactus.netflix.com/article/en/node/306

 

Manage video quality: We know that some of you have Internet data caps and we want to make it easier for you to manage how much data you use. We offer 3 video quality settings to help you manage your data usage. No matter what level you choose, your Netflix membership price will remain the same.

Good quality (up to 0.3 GB per hour)

Better quality (up to 0.7 GB per hour)

Best quality (up to 1.0 GB per hour, or up to 2.3 GB per hour for HD)

https://movies.netflix.com/HdToggle

 

How many devices can I use Netflix on at the same time?

You may instantly watch on up to six (6) unique authorized Netflix ready devices. The number of devices that may be allowed to instantly watch simultaneously will depend on your membership plan. To see the details of your membership plan, go to “change plan information” in the Your Account page. You may have up to six (6) unique authorized Netflix ready devices associated with your Netflix account

 

Why is Direct Communications better at streaming than any wireless provider?
Only Directcom offers truly unlimited bandwidth with no caps, so you can watch as much as you like, without worrying about data overage charges.
We are the only wired network in town.
We offer speeds up to 100Mb.
Our network is state-of-the-art fiber optic cable.
Our speeds are consistent, and we typically provide the speed we advertise, not some “burstable” mythical speed that you can only get for a few seconds.
Unlike wireless providers, your bandwidth is not shared with your neighbors, so you can all stream video at the same time and not be affected by their usage.
We don’t throttle your speeds if you stream too much.
We don’t put a cap on how much you are allowed to download each month.
Our fiber-optic cable connects you directly to the national fiber backbone, with no wireless links inbetween.
Wireless internet equipment simply wasn’t built to handle constant high-demand applications like high-definition video very well. Our engineered Fiber network was designed to stream high-definition video.
We provide enough bandwidth power so you can watch multiple streams simultaneously on several different devices in your home.

Direct Communications offers faster streaming broadband over fiber optic cable in Eagle Mountain and most of Southeast Idaho. Call us for absolutely the fastest High Speed Internet in Eagle Mountain. We are the premiere Eagle Mountain ISP.

Cable TV Rate to Increase

Bundle your cable services with Directcom and save money every month.

Bundle your cable services with Directcom and save money every month.

The only thing that we can be sure of as a small local cable company in our ever-changing industry is that the big content providers who own the television channels will continue to raise the rates to broadcast their shows every year.  Direct Communications has resisted raising our cable TV rates for as long as possible; in fact, although our wholesale costs have gone up every year, we have not increased the retail price on our expanded cable offering since 2008. However, if we are to continue bringing you high-quality programming, the time has come to update our retail rates again.

You have probably heard that all the satellite TV companies already raised their basic rates by about $6 at the beginning of this year. Starting with the July 1 billing period, the retail cost of our basic cable service will increase by just $1, from $21 to $22. The retail rate on expanded cable TV package will increase from the current $39.95 to $46.95. [1]

We will continue to offer great discounts on bundled cable services to help you save more money. We are pleased to announce that you can now choose expanded Cable TV, 6Mb High Speed Cable Internet, and Unlimited Local and Long Distance Calling, altogether for only $99.95 a month. This option will be available starting July 1, 2013.

Thank you for your business. We appreciate your loyalty.

We look forward to many years of providing you with the highest quality entertainment and connectivity. Please call customer service at 548 2345 if you have additional questions.


[1] Excluding applicable taxes and fees.

Syringa Wireless Calling and Texting Overages now Active in Billing System Again

For the past couple of years, Direct Communications has not been charging overages for calling or texting that exceeded your plan limits on your Syringa Wireless plan. Starting with the June 16 billing period, we will start to again include any applicable overage charges on your bill. These will begin to be tracked after May 16, 2013, since toll and overages typically appear on your bill showing charges covering the previous month.

What does this mean for me?

  • You may need to be more aware of how many minutes you are using each month to avoid going over your limit if you are making excessive calls. Call us if you don’t remember how many minutes of local calling, roaming and long distance you are currently paying for in your plan.
  • If you are currently using more calling minutes than are included in your Syringa plan, please be aware that you could now see your final bill increase. On our legacy $10 Amazing Phone plans, and our Total Connection $99 bundle plans, calling overages are $0.10 per minute. On the newer Syringa Signature plans, calling overages can be $0.75 a minute, depending on the type of call.
  • If you have become used to sending or receiving more texts than you have been paying for in your plan, you will now be charged $0.10 per text over your plan limits. Call us if you don’t remember how many texts are included in your plan.

Why the change?

A couple of years ago, both Syringa and Direct Communications changed to new, but different, billing systems, which were not very compatible. For this reason we were not billing calling overages. The billing systems have now been integrated again.

What do you need to do?

Pay attention to how much roaming and long distance calling you use each month. If you have family members using a $10 phone out of state, make them aware that they only have 500 minutes of roaming each month. Call us if you have any concerns about your plan or how many minutes you have been using but not being charged for in the past.  We look forward to providing you with many more years of great cell phone service at the best value in Idaho.

How many minutes have I been using?

Currently, we do not have a way to check how many minutes you have been using mid-month. Your total monthly usage will only be shown at the end of the month once the data is sent from the switch to our billing system. However, there are several ways you as a customer can keep track of your minutes day to day.

Below are various ways on different cell phone how to tract call usage:

Smart phones:

Tell them there are apps they can use, one is called “phoneusage”. They may need to learn how to download apps.

For non smart phones they will want to reset call/sms records on the 16th of each month to track for the coming month.

Samsung:

For calls go into menu and select calls then call timer

For sms go to messages

For data go to data counter

Motorola

For calls go to main menu, select recent calls, next select call times .

For sms go to messages

For data go to data volume.

LG

For calls go to call history then call timer

For sms go to messages

For data go to data counter

Other possible makes

Usually the call timers are where they view the calls they have made and the sms are usually under messages.

DirectCom is now a Netflix SuperHD Partner

Netflix SuperHD - from https://signup.netflix.com/superhd

Netflix SuperHD – from https://signup.netflix.com/superhd

Direct Communications faster streaming broadband just got even better.

Directcom is pleased to announce that our broadband service is now Netflix Super HD enabled.

This means that Directcom customers will now automatically be able to  watch movies and TV shows in Super HD on a supported device if your connection is fast enough. ( At least 8Mb/s download for best quality.) Super HD delivers the best Netflix picture quality yet, even better than regular HD, because of better encoding technology and an incredibly clear, smooth 1080p picture with less compression.

Super HD is only available via Internet Providers that are part of the Netflix Open Connect network. Our move onto the Open Connect Network was made technically possible by Netflix co-locating their servers in Syringa Networks main Central Office in Boise, Idaho this week. Each night, Netflix updates these servers with their highest demand content. Direct Communications, as an owner-partner of Syringa Networks, is now part of the Netflix Open Connect network.

What this does is move the Netflix content closer to the end customer.

Ron Asche, Engineering Manager for Syringa Networks explained the benefits by saying, “Bringing the Netflix content on Net has resulted in a drop in content latency and an enhanced user experience for Syringa Networks customers.  Additionally, having the content on our network enables Syringa Networks customers access to Netflix SuperHD and 3D content.”

Jeremy Smith, General Manager for Directcom in Idaho, says most importantly this will result in faster loading for customers while accessing Netflix content on our network. “There should be less buffering, and less waiting for the interface to load, because the customer won’t have to travel all over the internet to choose or stream a movie—it’s right here on our fiber network in Idaho.”

Faster streaming broadband means no buffering when watching online video.

Faster streaming broadband means no buffering when watching online video.

When Netflix first announced their Super HD network opportunity several months ago, Direct Communications attempted to sign up individually with Netflix as an Open Connect partner, but was unsuccessful at that time because Netflix required a larger customer count threshold before they would deploy their servers into the network. Fortunately , the combined customer numbers of all the Idaho independents together meant Netflix was willing to partner with Syringa Networks to deploy servers locally here on the Syringa regional network in Idaho, so all Direct Communications customers in Idaho can now benefit from being on the Netflix Open Connect network.

In addition to Super HD, Netflix is experimenting with 3D video, which will also only be available to customers of ISPs like Direct Communications who are on the Open Connect network.

Netflix now offers Super HD streaming on the following devices:

•Sony PlayStation 3

•Apple TV with 1080p

•Roku with 1080p*

•Nintendo Wii U

•Windows 8 App

•TiVo Premiere DVR

•Blu-Ray Players, Smart TV’s, Home Theaters, and Streaming Players with existing Netflix 1080p support*

Hopefully more devices will be coming soon, since , most notably, the Xbox is currently missing from this list.

To stream titles in Super HD, your Internet Provider needs to be connected to the Netflix Open Connect network. You can find Super HD titles by looking for the Super HD logo, on the movie description page on a compatible device.

At time of press, only DirectCom customers in southeast Idaho are Netflix SuperHD enabled. This feature is not yet active in Eagle Mountain.

Requirements to view in Super HD
from (http://support.unblock-us.com/customer/portal/articles/973404-netflix-super-hd)

– Your Netflix Bandwidth Settings

Your Netflix bandwidth preferences must be set to “Best Quality” otherwise you will not receive it. To find out how to check and change your Netflix bandwidth settings please see this support article.

– Your Internet Connection

Super HD requires an Internet connection speed of at least 6Mb/s, and 8Mb/s to view the highest available video quality. Please ensure you test your speed as detailed here. Some other factors will also affect your ability to stream in Super HD; wireless connections from your device to your router, traffic shaping by your ISP at peak hours – sadly these sort of factors lay out of our control.

PLEASE NOTE: The Adaptive Bit-rate streaming algorithm that Netflix uses to stream in Super HD, should always ramp up to the highest bit rate encode available to you that fits in the resolution you’ve set on your device. This means that if your device is not set to 1080p you will NOT see super HD.

Please be aware that some Super HD eligable Roku devices do not currently display the Super HD logo (http://support.netflix.com/en/node/8731#gsc.tab=0)

Speed Increase for DSL Customers in Idaho

Faster streaming broadband means no buffering when watching online video.

Faster streaming broadband means no buffering when watching online video.

We will be doubling the download speeds for customers on our starting DSL package from 1.5Mb to 3Mb starting around mid-February of 2013. We are also doubling the upload speed from 512k to 1Mb for all customers currently on our 6Mb package.

However, along with this speed increase, we also need to make a price adjustment to our starting retail package, which will become 3Mb for $39.95 a month. This price increase will only affect those customers on the starting DSL package. The prices for all other speed packages will remain the same as they have been for the past many years. This change will happen starting at the billing period for March 2013.

StandAlone DSL will be changing to $99.95 for 12Mb. More about that later…

This is the first time we have ever had to increase an internet price in our long corporate history. For the past 10 years since we first introduced DSL service, we have only ever had the pleasure of giving our customers higher speeds for the same price they were previously paying.  Raising our starting package price was a difficult decision that we did not take lightly. We understand how vital having access to reliable and affordable high speed internet is to all of our customers, especially in our rural areas, where broadband has become the primary way of staying connected the world.

We wish we could have in fact lowered the starting DSL rate to make it even more affordable for more people, however, this decision was made at the federal administration level, who currently appear to have little interest in improving life for rural residents. The only way that operating rural networks is possible is through federal government cost-recovery programs. These programs subsidize the cost of building communication lines to remote areas, which is wonderful for all of us living out in rural Idaho, but, along with federal dollars of course comes the burden of federal regulation.

The FCC, through their rural management agency NECA, (National Exchange Carrier Association), declared that DSL rates must be increased to meet rising costs, so we had no choice other than to raise our retail DSL rate. In the case of standalone DSL, (internet without land line phone service) NECA has basically priced us out of the market for that. $99.95 is now the cheapest standalone data product we can reasonably offer, and from now on all customers who want DSL will be far better off paying for a landline–even if they don’t use it. This is exactly the opposite direction we were hoping the FCC would take on StandAlone data–we would love to be able to offer DSL on its own for people who really don’t want to pay for a land line, but apparently the good folks at the federal government have their own ideas of what people really want.

We hope that also doubling your speeds will help to reassure you that we really do want to provide real value for our customers. As a comparison, 3Mb, which will be our new lowest, or starter internet speed package, is actually the fastest available speed for DSL in most of the larger cities in Idaho.

Will I have to do anything to upgrade my speed to 3Mb if I’m subscribing to 1.5Mb now?

No—this upgrade will happen automatically in the background. We will simply change your account information in our servers to increase your speed from 1.5Mb to 3Mb. Once this happens, you will notice that downloading many things online will take half the time.

Why will the upgrade to 3Mb speed improve my quality of life?

Using the information highway today is very much like driving on a regular highway- most people want to go the maximum allowable speed. We have places to go, people to see, and we don’t want to waste time getting there. The higher your speed, the more things you can do online, faster.

Online Video Apps

Online Video Apps

Of course, the real advantage of more speed today is the number of devices you can connect and stream to at the same time. Many homes today might have a desktop, a few laptops, a couple of smartphones, and a tablet like an iPad or Kindle Fire, plus entertainment devices like an Xbox, a Wii, or streaming media playes like a Smart TV, Apple TV or Roku, or have Netflix on their Blu-ray player. Count them up—you may already have 5 or 6 Wi-Fi-enabled devices in your own home. If the new primetime at home consists of Mom catching up on The Bachelor on her iPad, while Dad is watching reruns of Shark Week on Netflix on his laptop, and the kids are on episode 103 of SpongeBob on the Xbox, that is going to require a very robust, constant feed with a lot of bandwidth (another word for internet speed.) Family time is just not what it used to be when everybody was staring at the same screen, but multiple screens require multiple internet video streams into the home, and that is where you really need more internet speed. If you have ever complained that you can’t watch Netflix on your TV and use your browser on your laptop at the same time, you need to upgrade to a higher speed, and now with Directcom you can choose as much speed as you will ever need.

1.5Mb? 3Mb? 20Mb? What do the numbers mean? How much speed do I need?

Internet transfer speeds are measured in kilobits per second and megabits per second, although those are not the same as the kilobytes and megabytes we use when we’re talking about hard disks and files. 1 megabit = 1024 kilobits, so simple math dictates that a 1.5 Mb connection will be about 3 times as fast as a 512 kb connection, and our new starter 3Mb DSL Broadband Internet connection is around 55 times faster than a 56k dial-up Internet connection.

When it comes to DSL speeds, loading simple web pages or emails with text only can be accomplished on any speed, but the internet is now so much more than text– think about music, video, animations, games and all the other stuff that makes the Internet so much fun. You will notice a huge difference in speed if you are downloading large files like pictures, music or video, where downloading a file on 3 Mb might take 1 minute, but 10 minutes on a 512kb connection.

But don’t worry about understanding all the numbers. What matters is how they apply to the kinds of things you’ll do on the Internet. Do you like to watch your favorite TV shows online? Download music, video conference with your family, play games, or do your shopping online? If you watch a lot of video, we suggest at least 6Mb to ensure a consistent, enjoyable streaming experience. 12Mb will allow you to download HD-quality video, or watch 2 video streams comfortably at the same time.

If you spend a lot of time online, you know that more speed is always going to be better. Please call us at 208 548 2345 if you have any concerns or questions about this upcoming change.

What We Saw at CES 2013

A few of us from Direct Communications were lucky enough to attend the annual CES in Las Vegas last week.  CES is the world’s largest annual innovation event, drawing more than 150,000 attendees (about half of whom must have been ahead of us at the breakfast buffet line at CircusCircus) and  3,250 exhibitors, who unveiled about 20,000 new products.
We attend because we try to stay informed about coming internet technologies that our customers will probably be using soon, and the good news for us as a fiber broadband provider is that all trends are definitely calling for more bandwidth usage and even smarter devices.  Here are a few cool gadgets we saw that will make life a little more convenient for all of us in the future.

IMG_0096Just when you thought you had High Definition figured out– meet Ultra HD TV. (Also called 4K) This new standard was being presented at all the major TV manufacturers’ booths, and displays at a minimum resolution of 3,840 × 2,160 pixels. That kind of resolution will literally require four times the current bandwidth requirement to stream HD video, which is great news for all fiber optic internet service providers, such as Direct Communications, with no data caps. Good luck watching TV over wireless in the future! The resolution was really quite remarkable–a real difference to regular HD that must be seen in real life to know what you were missing. So, stop buying those Blue Ray disks–they are already obsolete.
Ultra-HD Video Camera

Ultra-HD Video Camera

There was only one device at the entire show that was capable of recording at ultra-HD/4K resolution–this camcorder, used by the only station in the world currently broadcasting at 4K, which was in South Korea. But the way things are going, looks like soon that new HD Canon camcorder you just bought your wife will be at the bottom of your junk closet along with that old Hi8. Just don’t buy any more electronics until about 2020.

Free network TV on your tablet– tIMG_0162his was a great idea from Belkin–now you can pull off-air broadcast channels directly onto your tablet without a TV subscription, using this little device that plugs directly into your tablet.
 IMG_0143One exciting development in the world of internet streaming was the number of new Android-based streaming devices. These will turn any TV into a smart TV simply by plugging the card into an HDMI port, and give you the ability to download any Android app, like Netflix, and basically just use your TV as a giant screen. This will open up a whole new world of online entertainment possibilities because of the sheer number of android apps on the market – the Google Play Store now offers over 700,000 mobile apps for the Android OS. Plus, many of these android cloud TV devices are a lot cheaper than existing players like Apple TV or Xbox.
IMG_0149Want to track your kid on your smartphone without having to insert a chip in his or her forehead? This is your ticket– the mini GPS tracking chip that you simply drop into your child’s pocket or backpack and you can follow them as a blinking light anytime on your Google map, just like in the spy movies. Available May 2013.http://www.imsmart.com/en/i-m-here/overview
Talking animal bluetooth speakerThis novelty toy will give more life to your phone conversations–a cute animal speaker that connects with your cell phone–the mouth even moves in sync with the audio stream.
BelkinThe Belkin @TV Plus is like a Slingbox but goes one step further. Plug this IP device into your cable or satellite box, and it will stream a video feed of what is showing onto your home wifi network, so you can watch that feed on any device via wifi. Good for watching your TV in the bath on your Kindle. It also provides an IP feed so you can access your video feed remotely anywhere just like a Slingbox, but the rep says it only costs significantly less than a Slingbox.
 IMG_0157Verizon demoed this handy live broadcast video system that is designed to replace a mobile satellite truck for producers. In order to be able to upload an HD video feed back to the office, they paired four cell phone radios together into a portable device so you can broadcast from anywhere you have a decent cell signal.
IMG_0156Field technicians of the future–this is going to be your standard headwear. A camera will provide a video feed of everything you are seeing back to the office, while a mini digital projector superimposes an image into your eye for any additional information from the office computer you might need, so they can show you to cut the blue wire instead of the red one.
IMG_0150Computer mice and USB sticks in any shape or size you like–as long as you like cars.
IMG_0147This was one of the award-winning new Smart TVs- the  Hisense 55XT780 Google TV “brings a revolutionary user experience to the living room.  Consumers will enjoy a new level of intuitive content discovery and viewing recommendations in addition to Chrome, Google Play, Search, TV & Movies and YouTube.” http://www.cesweb.org/Awards/CES-Innovations-Awards/2013.aspx?category=HomeAudioVideoComponents
IMG_0086Lexus was presenting their developing smartcar technology which someday may allow cars to drive themselves using internet connected GPS. This would have been a whole lot cooler if they had an actual working model driving around–looked pretty, but hard to know what exactly you were looking at.
  Just like in the sci-fi movies, now your windows can also be your 3D TV screen.
Audi booth
Audi booth

If there were a prize for the brightest booth at CES, Audi would have been the winner. Stepping into their booth induced an instant migraine.

Vocaloid – This is an interesting demonstration of how pop music of the future will be made–just type in the lyrics, program in a tune with midi, and the computer will sing the song for you.
 If you haven’t ever heard about the MHL standard, this is an easy way to mirror your cell phone or tablet onto an HD TV using just the USB port on your device. No HDMI port needed. IMG_0124
 IMG_0078Gibson is doing a lot of cool things to interface with your digital home recording workstation, including buying the KRK Rokit studio monitor manufacturer.
 
IMG_0095You have heard for a long time that someday fridges will be connected to the internet and do your shopping for you. This one from LG won’t actually order for you, but it will tell you when your milk has probably expired.
IMG_0133This was a new kind of toy–a real ball that you control with your tablet or smartphone. The lines between the real and virtual world become ever more blurred. Check out http://www.gosphero.com/”Sphero is a completely new type of gaming system. It’s the world’s first robotic ball that you control with a tilt, touch, or swing from your smartphone or tablet. You can drive Sphero, play tabletop and multiplayer games, hold Sphero in your hand to use it as a controller for on-screen gameplay, learn basic programming, and even explore augmented reality.”
 
IMG_0092This huge display wall of 3D TVs from LG was just impressive.
IMG_0163 Ubuntu revealed a new operating system for smartphones and tablets. Check out http://www.ubuntu.com/devices/phone
IMG_0111 Intel’s booth.
IMG_0106This new TV could be yours for the current low price of about $60,000. Actually, pricing has not yet been announced, but the 85-inchers are going for about $40,000. Perhaps in a few more years we can all have one.

Life at 100 Mb – How I Broke into the 1%

I always knew that someday I would make it into the 1%. I have been aiming to be a part of it since the day I arrived off the boat with just a suitcase in my hand. Unfortunately, I am not talking about my adjusted gross income,  which according to the IRS still puts me right amongst the riffraff, or for the true 1%, “rif et raf,” meaning  “one and all” in French.  But, now that I have 100Mb broadband speeds to my home, I can boldly claim to be part of the new 1% internet glitterati, which is almost as good.

100mb speed test result

100mb speed test result

If you don’t believe that internet speed is the new status symbol, replacing both the BMW and paid-off mortgage to let people know that you have arrived, just look at how the Washington liberal elite are making the National Broadband Plan their new priority. The current administration has looked at rural America, and seen how we fat cat country folk have been gorging ourselves on broadband, building “elite,” “premium” and “unnecessary” fiber optic networks to sparsely populated areas, while the more deserving cosmopolitans in the great cities of this nation languish on archaic, dilapidated copper networks that the Big Telecoms have not bothered to update since the 50’s. Consequently, city folk struggle to get 3Mb speeds in many cases. The average broadband connection in the United States is only 6.6 Mbps downstream, according to Akamai’s latest State of the Internet Report. To correct this gross injustice with some smart social engineering, the administration has declared, nay—decreed, that 100Mb speeds must be the goal for broadband to urban areas, but that 4Mb is good enough for simple rural folk. There may of course be political motivation behind this, due to the demographic distribution of where the current administration’s votes come from, but, regardless, it is clear that even at the very top of the Ivory Towers, they now recognize that to have arrived you must have 100Mb speeds.

It wasn’t easy for a poor immigrant like me to break into the 1%. Like many people in that other elite 1%, it may in the end have come down to a lot of luck, and being in the right place at the right time. The first thing I had to do was move to an area served by a rural telecom with the funding to build out their fiber optic network, and then unwittingly build a home so remote, so far away from the existing copper network, that the only option was to break out a strand from their main fiber backbone and bring it directly to my home. In this way my new house became the first in Idaho to have fiber to the home. This event was published in the Idaho State Journal back in 2006. At the time, I was cruising on the fastest available speed of 12Mb, which was unprecedented back then. A couple of weeks ago I ordered our newly available 100Mb speed package. But, although I now had that speed to the fiber optical network terminal on my home, my old reliable Linksys router simply could not handle the awesomeness of those speeds. The maximum output to my computer, Xbox and other direct-wired ethernet devices on my home network was only about  35Mb. As for the wireless devices like the Kindle and Droids, forget about it. Clearly the router was holding me back, so it had to go.

So, I consulted with my friend Jeremy Smith, who is also my neighbor and boss, and one of the few people I know in our small town who is a bigger internet geek than me. He showed me his Cisco E2000 router, which has the rare feature in a consumer-grade router of having Gigabit ports. I found a refurb model on Cisco’s website for only $39, so it was a no-brainer to upgrade to a new router. As an important side note, this E2000 is not Cisco/Linksys newest router—it’s an older model. They now have a lot of fancier ones with the ability to broadcast multiple guest networks at once and such, but they didn’t think to build Gig ports into them because, after all—who caters to the politically incorrect 1% anymore? But, the Gigabit ports are the key. If you are subscribing to higher speeds and not getting the full potential out of your internet—that is the first place you should look. Regular 10/100 ethernet grade ports will not get you to 100Mb. The second I plugged in my new Cisco Gig router into my network, I was able to get the full 100Mb download speeds to my wired devices. My upload speeds were only set to 5Mb on purpose, because that is the current residential upload offering here in Idaho, but in theory, over fiber, Direct Communications has the ability to deliver the full symmetrical 100Mb up and down.

My next dilemma was, now that I have arrived, what do I do with my 100 Mbps internet connection? I have faster speeds than 99% of the country—I need to do something important online. So, naturally, the first thing I did was take a screen shot of my speed test and post it to my brothers to make them jealous, because they still live in speed-deprived metropolises like San Francisco and Salt Lake City . I learned this trick from our customers on our corporate facebook page, who have shown me the importance of posting speed tests online. The thing about having obscenely fast speeds is that the speed, just like making even more money for the financial 1%, becomes an obsession—it becomes necessary to keep running speed tests just to make sure you are still in the 1%. So, that was also an obvious way to use my connection—run more speed tests and pat myself on the back each time.

The latest national report on bandwidth usage in the USA from network solutions provider Sandvine, says that the average household now uses about 52GB per month, or about 81 hours of streaming video, and that Netflix is responsible for 33 percent of all downstream traffic. As already stated, I have never wanted to be average, and over the past couple of years, I would estimate that I have been personally responsible for at least 2% of all download traffic in the USA due to my Netflix usage. We dropped out satellite years ago when we figured out Hulu was free and Netflix also had free streaming.  But, now that I am in the 1%, it’s time to step up my streaming video usage. Using my elitist training in statistics and standard normal distribution, I calculated that if the national average was 81 hours of streaming video, (guessing a generous standard deviation of 20 hours) to become part of the streaming 1%, I would only have to consume about 128 hours a month of streaming video. That is just over 4 hours a day, which really is not a lot of online video, especially by my family’s standards. I use that on my Kindle over breakfast.

So, I looked to become a little more exclusive, but even to be a one-in-a-million consumer, you only have to watch 178 hours a month, or 5.9 hours a day. Clearly, America is not watching enough online video—the bar is currently very low. Our baby alone is probably using that much up each day just watching Dora on Netflix. She is more like a one-in-a-billion consumer of internet media. This sounds good, but is probably not something to put in Parenting Magazine.  Perhaps to feel more like an elite 1%, we should do something more extreme, like put an internet-enabled TV in all of the bathrooms–luckily I already took the precaution of wiring our Jacuzzi tub with ethernet for just such an emergency.

Of course, the real advantage of more speed today is the number of devices you can connect and stream to at the same time. In my home we have an Xbox, a Wii, a Roku, two desktops, some laptops, a couple of smartphones, and a tablet. That’s only about 8 devices. I know people who have a lot more devices than that in their homes, especially if they have a lot of teenage kids. If the new primetime at home consists of Mom catching up on The Bachelor on her iPad as she runs on the treadmill, while Dad is watching reruns of Shark Week on Netflix, and the kids are on episode 103 of SpongeBob on the Xbox, that is going to require a very robust, constant feed. Family time is just not what it used to be when everybody was staring at the same screen, but multiple screens require multiple IP streams into the home, and that is where we as the 1% truly shine. I sometimes hear customers complain that they can’t watch Netflix and use their VOIP phone at the same time, and I can only shake my head in pity, because they are only subscribing to 1.5Mb speed. If I am to fulfill my responsibility as part of the 1%, I clearly need to invest in even more screens, and I need to keep them all streaming simultaneous, whether anybody is watching them or not.

I have noticed with the financial 1%, that it is difficult for them to fathom how regular folks live. After a while of being rich, they tend to assume that all people live the way they do. They will say things in conversation like: “I don’t understand why you are going camping for your family reunion. Why don’t you all just go on a cruise like a normal family?” Hopefully I will start to become that way with my elite internet service. For example, I already just assume that everyone watches ESPN3, Hulu, Netflix and orders new releases on Amazon Instant Video like I do, or at the very least make use of remote Slingbox at an undisclosed location. I question why the masses are still wasting their limited income on old-fashioned satellite, or worse—visiting that bacteria-infested Red Box. But, I recently tried to watch a BYU game on ESPN3 at a relative’s house in Salt Lake City using my remote access account, and it was an absolute nightmare—not even worth watching over their 4Mb internet connection. The resolution and quality adjusts to your internet speed, and this was so pixilated that I could barely make out the opposing teams colors. I am used to watching ESPN3 on the Xbox at home in full HD, with no buffering, and a crystal-clear picture even better than HD satellite, because they use more compression in their digital feed than our direct internet feed does.

I am probably never going to be in the financial 1%. In fact, I suspect  I don’t even know anybody who is part of that 1%. But, I am finding it’s not easy being part of any kind of 1%, and I’m beginning to feel a slight empathy for them because of our shared experience. There’s the taunts, the derision from co-workers, the protests and the whining from regular folks complaining about their lesser service, the threat of government redistribution of bandwidth hanging over our heads, and the boredom of having unlimited resources at your fingertips. I can’t even enjoy the mobile data on my cell phone anymore—it is ruined forever for me. How could I ever go back from 100Mb? I will never be able to move into a house without fiber again. My options for relocating are going to be extremely limited from now on. Sometimes I just miss the old fashioned phone—it is tiresome having to dress up for video-conferencing all the time. I’m trying to be a good representative of our elite super-broadband caste, but I don’t play games; I don’t look at porn; I don’t download or upload anything illegal. I don’t even Bit Torrent. I wonder what the proletariat would do with 100Mb? Even though it means I will just be one of the masses again, we are going to have to give 100 Mb to all of them someday. Hopefully by then I will have 1 Gig speeds.

Report on last weekend’s Power Surge-Related Outage

This past weekend, several hundred Directcom residential customers were out of service after a massive power surge, which occurred at 4am Saturday morning, when City Power was turned back on after a maintenance outage to work on the city’s power grid. The surge damaged the circuitry in about 300 customer power adapters which power the fiber electronics box on each home. Our crews completed the immense task of replacing all the damaged transformer units on customer homes and bringing all affected customers back online by about 5:30pm on Sunday evening, after working around the clock through the weekend.

We are now back to regular trouble ticket procedures. If your connection is still down, please call tech support at 801 789 4999 for troubleshooting. We understand there are probably still a few fiber customers out there who are not online for various reasons, but it should not be because of the outdoor equipment not having power anymore. A simple reboot of your internal router will probably solve most problems at this point.

This power outage has obviously been far more disruptive than we expected. We actually fortunately had about 150 power units on hand as part of regular inventory and for emergencies, but when the power came back on, after the surge our system registered about 490 alarms from fiber ONTs (optical network terminals) on customer homes. This number just kept growing as the morning wore on, and the batteries on those ONTs ran out, so our techs had to sort through those alarms. Our general manager drove through the night to Oregon and back to pick up every power unit in stock at a supplier there, to make sure we had enough to replace all the damaged customer power units.

By Sunday night when the alarms were all taken care of, our techs  in the field had replaced about 300 transformers that were burned out by the power surge.

Directcom construction crew with new reflective jackets so they won't be run over by any jogging strollers in Eagle Mountain.

Directcom construction crew with new reflective jackets so they won’t be run over by any jogging strollers in Eagle Mountain.

Thank you to our amazing techs, many of whom have been going non-stop since 4am Saturday morning, and have just done a fantastic job, visiting literally hundreds of homes. The fact that they were able to bring everyone back online by Sunday evening after a disaster of this scale was a super-human effort. If you see them give them a big hug. They are pretty battle-fatigued at this stage. They gave up their Saturday and their Sunday with their families to get our customers back online, and probably deserve a bonus.

What actually happened? The fiber electronics, called an ONTs (optical network terminals), that convert the digital light pulses into an Ethernet signal are mounted on the outside of your home. These electronics are powered by a battery.  (This battery is designed to last for about 8 hours to power your home phone during an emergency situation, even if the power is out.) This battery is usually continually being charged by a transformer which is directly wired onto the city power meter. When the city power came back on after the outage, this surge fried the transistors in about 300 customer transformers/inverters. Although the ONT electronics  were still fine, the computer inside the box was not getting any power,  so the customer could not get an internet connection. To restore the connection, we had to replace the damaged transformer.

The other question on the mind of those customers who were affected is probably—why this time? The city has had power outages before. The number of customers who were knocked out by the outage is obviously a concern to us. We expected some minor problems, as this is always possible with power surges, but this particular power outage caused more widespread damage than we expected with customers’ power supply equipment. We are not yet sure why this particular power outage was so destructive to electrical equipment, but we will be certainly be investigating, asking some questions of our suppliers and changing procedures to make sure this does not happen again.

We chose to power the units this way for two primary reasons.

1)      We decided to pay for the power ourselves rather than having you the customer pay for the power to run the ONT, even though in truth they do not use much power.

2)      We wanted to be able to access the ONT anytime for maintenance purposes, without having to intrude into customers homes.

Many of the transformers that were damaged were older units. The manufacturer assures us that this technology  is getting better and more resistant to surges. We are now on the 3rd generation of this model, so hopefully newer customers will already be immune to surges.

This situation could obviously have been avoided if those ONTs had not been directly wired to the city power, so we will revisit how we do that. One possible solution would be to have an electrician install an outdoor electrical receptacle, wired back through the wall into the customers internal power, next to each ONT. Another solution, which we will already were planning to be launch soon, is to switch to a new ONT that also has a built-in wireless router feature, but would be installed inside a customer’s basement or garage rather than outside.

We really appreciate your patience as we worked through this situation–we know how frustrating it is to be without internet service. Our goal is to be up 100% of the time. Unfortunately this outage was caused by environmental  factors outside of our control, namely a freakishly powerful power surge. We obviously have more work to do to surge-proof your equipment, and that work will start Monday morning. Thanks for supporting your local broadband company. We appreciate your loyalty.

Idaho Customers: Upgrade Your Speed and Get a Free Kindle

Kindle – the worlds favorite e reader

Current Broadband Customers: Click here to Upgrade your speed and get a free Kindle E-reader.

Just in time for Christmas—the perfect gift for your family—faster internet plus a new Amazon Kindle, so you can study, read and get more books online, faster.

Upgrade your internet speed to at least one tier above what you are currently paying, sign a new one-year commitment, and agree to keep that same speed until the end of 2013, and we will send you a new Kindle E-reader. Offer valid for upgrade service requests between Nov 16-Dec 28, 2012, only. 

What’s  a Kindle E-reader?

Kindle is designed for purely for reading; it’s small, light, and fast. Less than 6 ounces – lighter than a paperback, fits in your pocket. Reads like paper with no glare, even in bright sunlight. Download books in 60 seconds with built-in Wi-Fi. Holds over 1,000 books – take your library wherever you go. Supports children’s books and includes new parental controls. Seehttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008GG93YE/ref=fs_sz for Kindle details.

Kindle is still the world’s favorite electronic reading device, and is a fantastic educational tool. You can e-mail documents – including Word, PDF and more – directly to your Kindle and read them in Kindle format. Your kids will enjoy reading books, and searching Wikipedia and the Web. Kindle supports children’s books with Kindle Text Pop-Up, and comic books with Kindle Panel View which allows you to read a comic book panel by panel.

Here’s how our Christmas Kindle promotion works:
Current phone or TV customers who do not yet have broadband with us may qualify for the Kindle Fire promo. We are also offering a free Kindle E-reader to the first 50 existing or current Directcom Broadband  customers who upgrade their internet speed this month. Here’s how it works: Upgrade your internet speed to at least one tier above what you are currently paying, sign a new one-year commitment, and agree to keep that same speed until the end of 2013, and we will send you a new Kindle E-reader.
If you are already on our highest available speed for your area, give yourself a pay on the back—you have been enjoying faster speeds than everybody else. This promo is designed to get people to try new products or speeds they may not have tried without an incentive.

When will I get my new Kindle? 
We will ship the Kindle to one of our offices for pickup within 30 days of your new service upgrade. We will call you when your Kindle has been processed, registered to your account, and is ready for pickup. You will sign to say you have received your Kindle. After that point, the Kindle is your responsibility—we cannot support it. Directcom is not responsible for installation or support of your Kindle or Amazon account. All warranties and technical support will be your sole responsibility by working through the manufacturer. If you have trouble with your Kindle, call Amazon for support or replacement. You will create an Amazon account when you register your Kindle. Amazon provides a 1-year warranty on your Kindle, and details are available on your Amazon account page.

Call Direct Communications at 208 548 2345 if you have any questions about this promotion. We look forward to sending you your new free Kindle.

This speed upgrade promo is available  to Idaho customers only. Offer valid for new broadband service requests between Nov 16-Dec 28, 2012, only. Two-year service commitment required.  Offer expires 12/28/2012. OAC. While supplies last. First 50 customers only. Kindle will be provided within 30 days of hook-up. Offer available to existing residential Directcom Internet customers in Direct Communications’ cable or DSL service areas in southeast Idaho only. Rates do not include applicable taxes and surcharges. new 1-year term service contract. You also agree to keep subscribing to your new chosen speed for at least a year. This means no speed downgrades until the end of 2013. If you terminate your contract early or downgrade your speed early, you will be subject to early termination fees plus pay back the full retail cost of the Kindle.

Fiber Technology and Your Future

In the coming months you will see our crews working in your neighborhood. These are exciting times for our company and our customers. We are building more fiber routes every day, all over southeast Idaho. We just installed a new all-digital switch, built for the information age, that runs on Internet Protocol. We have access to as much bandwidth on our fiber backbone as we need through Syringa Networks. We want you to enjoy your time online. We want you to be able to work from home if you choose. If you are not with Direct Communications, your local broadband company, you are missing out on being part of the best broadband network in the state.

Fiber optic cable conduit ready to be buried in Rockland

Fiber is the future of communications technology. Fiber optic cable contains strands of optically pure glass, thinner than a human hair, which carry digital information over long distances. Digital signals are sent as pulses of light down the glass fibers, without interference or limitation. Your home will be connected using the most advanced communications technology currently available: Fiber Optic Cable. This digital transport system is faster, clearer, more reliable, and will give you the bandwidth to access the digital communications services of the future, and today’s IP-based broadband apps such as digital streaming TV , VOIP, video conferencing, home security systems, remote appliance management, and of course residential internet speeds up to 100 Mbps.

We are now in the process of steadily upgrading older neighborhoods that were previously on copper, to fiber. Arbon is complete. We have a 5-year plan to convert all of our exchange areas from Bear Lake to Rockland to 100% fiber to the home. This is obviously going to be an enormous project, requiring millions in investment dollars, but we feel that each person in our rural exchange areas deserves fiber to the home.

This is our community too, and we are committed to ensuring the economic vibrancy of our rural towns, and help provide a great quality of life for all of our customers. I see fiber optic cable as being non-negotiable to ensure the economic future of rural America, not just for our customers, but also for us to stay relevant as a communications provider. Some politicians in Washington feel that rural Americans don’t need as much speed as people in cities. I would argue that rural folks need high speed internet even more than their city counterparts because we are so remote, and fiber is the only way you can push a good, unlimited broadband signal out far enough to reach all of our customers.

Jeremy Smith
General Manager, Idaho, Direct Communications

Having access to unlimited broadband is the future to economic development and personal educational opportunity in this global information economy. Fiber optics are the future of communications, because both copper and wireless will eventually max out on the bandwidth people will require. Eventually, all media will be delivered as internet data. You will be ready for that future.

Please be patient with us as we roll out this plan to bring you better broadband service.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Smith
General Manager- Idaho
Direct Communications

 

The Fiber Optic Advantages Are Clear

SPEED
The fastest connection speed known to man – up into the gigabits. We currently offer an unmatched 100Mb residential speed to our customers.
RELIABILITY
Fiber to the home uses a pure ethernet connection back to your ISP, without needing intermediate equipment like a modem. This results in a much more stable, reliable service, which means no downtime for you. Fiber to the home virutally eliminates most equipment issues, and downtime typically experienced by internet subscribers.
UNLIMITED BANDWIDTH
Unlimited carrying capacity means NO CAPS. The bandwidth, like speed is only limited by the processing power of the electronics on each end of the fiber. We will never cap your data usage, or throttle your speeds. Stream as much video as you like without ever worrying about overages.
DISTANCE
Unlike copper, there is no resistance in the fiber optic cable, so the signal can travel much further distances. This means we can now serve even the most remote customers.
LESS INTERFERENCE
Because it’s literally light being transmitted, there is no interference from electromagnetic noise such as radios, motors, power lines, or other nearby cables. This means a clearer signal and better broadband connection for you. Even lighting strikes, which can be transmitted by copper cabling, are not transmitted by fiber-optic cable.
LESS MAINTENANCE
Fiber optic cables costs less to maintain than traditional copper lines, saving us all time and money.

Fiber optics are the future of communications, because both copper and wireless will eventually max out on the bandwidth people will require. Eventually, all media will be delivered as internet data. You will be ready for that future.

Fully Symmetrical Fiber Broadband Speeds are Here

Now make your fiber broadband fully symmetrical for only $10 more a month.

(This means your upload speed matches your download speed.)

Gamers: send bullets as fast as they are coming at you.

Creators: upload your videos and photos in seconds instead of hours.

Everyone: Back up your precious data and hard drives to the cloud.

Fiber, fiber, burning bright

In the forests of the night,  

What aspiring geek or guy   

Could utilize thy fearful symmetry?

-With apologies to William Blake

As more and more customers work remotely from home, and even regular folks upload fearful amounts of data in the form of home movies, pictures and online back ups, the need for higher upload speeds has increased dramatically over the past couple of years. Customers have recently been asking for higher upload speeds, and we have heard you.

For example, Kyle Andelin commented on our facebook page: “100Mb download speeds are exciting, but what are the upload speeds going to be? I’m always jealous of family and friends from nearby cities who have 10 down/10 up, and we still seem to have such a limited upload speed.”

He later explained: “If you need a point as to why upload sleep is important, just think about all the online backup solutions out there. Between Mozy and other offerings, or Norton and its integrated solutions, it’s really not realistic to try to upload 25GB worth of files at 100KB/second. That’s the better part of a week to complete a backup.”

We are pleased to announce that our fiber to the home customers can now choose fully symmetrical broadband speeds!

Our network is state-of-the-art fiber optic cable.

Starting Jan 2015,  Eagle Mountain fiber customers can now Amp Up any broadband package to full symmetry for just $10 more per month. So, for example, if you are currently paying $59.95 for 30Mb down with 5Mb up, you can Amp Up to 30Mb down with 30Mb up for $10 more, so your new total would be $69.95 for 30/30 speeds. Customers who really want to create havoc online can now even choose any upload speed up to 100Mb upload, and download speeds up to 1GB.

In the past, upload speeds were limited by two major things: the engineering specs associated with ADSL, which didn’t allow much more than 1Mb upload, and NECA (national exchange carrier association) federal regulatory specs that put limits on our upload offerings. I recently asked a prominent local telecommunications engineer about this at lunch, who explained how this situation came to be. For some reason which we in marketing will never be able to understand, when the engineers who designed the electronics  that power the internet put together their specs for DSL routers and servers, they decided that people did not need as much upload as download speed. They presumed that the regular folks would always be pulling more data from big content providers than pushing it back to the cloud. That assumption went into all the manufacturing specs and for years most network electronics were built that way, until it became impossible to mass produce or order electronics that could handle symmetrical speeds. It was almost like a VHS versus BETA situation, where the inferior product ended up being the one that was mass produced and became the standard.

Upload is still more expensive than download, and probably always will be, but the good news is that fiber overcomes most of the upload technical limitations. The electronics that deliver ethernet over fiber have thankfully been designed to deliver fully symmetrical speeds to commercial customers, and residential customers are now the lucky beneficiaries of that forward thinking.

The second obstacle was the NECA tariffs, which dictated to federally-supported local exchange carriers (small telcos) like us, how much we had to charge for each megabit of speed, and how many megabits we were allowed to deliver for download and upload. We had been begging them for years to give us more options, so that we could be more competitive.

Thankfully, NECA has recently become a lot more forward-thinking, and given us more room to offer better upload speeds, which has opened up the path for new symmetrical speeds on fiber.

Unfortunately, the technical limitations on copper remain, largely due to the equipment design. VDSL gives us slightly better capabilities for customers still on copper, but sadly still not much more than 2Mb currently. There are a couple of options with copper—we could try do an entire network upgrade and replace all of the current VDSL equipment with some newer electronics that could possibly raise the upload speed. This would require hundred of thousands, even millions, of dollars. There are other creative engineering solutions like bonding several pairs of copper together, where available in a neighborhood, to deliver ethernet over copper, but that has a limited range anyway, and also requires new electronics on each end which would cost each customer several thousand dollars.

Ben Hayes, our commercial accounts manager, has been assigned to work individually with copper customers who are looking for higher upload speeds, and would work with the engineers to find these unique customized solutions. This would be a premium service though. 2Mb upload is still our regular limit for VDSL-  that is what we are comfortable advertising.

One other option copper customers will have is to use the new Wi-Fi network we are building out to blanket Eagle Mountain for upload purposes. All broadband customers will have free access  to this network for at least one device, with the option of adding as many devices as you like. Your upload speeds on this wireless network will only be limited by your device’s radio capabilities, and the available bandwidth on the tower, since it, like all wireless service, will be shared bandwidth. However, it will not be a secure network—it’s wireless, so if you are worried about uploading sensitive private data, this option may not appeal to you anyway.

The only real solution, and the current operating plan, is simply to replace all copper lines with fiber to the home, because we would rather put our investment into fiber construction than replacing our VDSL equipment. Only fiber will be able to get us all to fully symmetrical speeds over the long run, and by full symmetrical we mean speeds like 100 down and 100 up. We will convert the entire city to fiber as quickly as we can. Our crews are working around the clock to replace the copper with fiber optic cable to each home.

Amp Up your upload speed to full symmetry with your download speed

To make your speeds symmetrical today, call our office at 801 789 2800.

END OF SYRINGA AMAZING PHONE PLANS COMING SOON

Sadly, the time has finally come to end our discounted Syringa Wireless Amazing Phone service plans.

Due to recent changes in federal support programs for rural wireless service providers, our discounted Amazing Phone service plans will be retired, beginning in January 2013.

Unfortunately, in November of 2011, the FCC announced changes to the Universal Service Fund that will eliminate funding for many “high-cost” services in rural markets. This is just another example of how the so called “national broadband plan” is actually making things worse for rural residents. This important rural cost-recovery funding was the source of the discounted pricing, and now this funding has been taken away from Syringa Wireless. You can learn more about these changes at www.usac.org

We have appreciated your loyalty as our wireless phone customers these past several years. You were the ones who decided to try Syringa Wireless when it was first launched as a project by several local Idaho rural phone companies. Syringa Wireless built over 80 towers in the most rural areas of southern Idaho, usually in small towns and places that had never had cell phone coverage before. We introduced these discounted “amazing phone” plans to get our customers in our rural markets to try our cell phone service—it was a low-risk, low cost proposition for you, and it worked. Most of our customers now have cell phones—for many of you, your first cell phone ever. We suspected that the USF funding for this program wouldn’t last forever, but we did not expect it to be eliminated so suddenly. Anyway, now that you have found how much you enjoy mobile phone service, we hope you will continue to support our Syringa Wireless service.

Of course Syringa Wireless service is still available at regular prices.  Click here to see that pricing. We feel these regular contract prices are still better than the big national corporations, which along with our better local customer service, creates better value for our rural customers. You will even still be able to get a phone plan for $25 a month. We trust that you will continue to choose Syringa Wireless for all your mobile phone needs. We will continue to improve our coverage in your area. In fact, Syringa will soon be launching unlimited 3G service in the Bear Lake area. We know of no other cell phone company that provides unlimited 3G service in our areas. As for 4G—no matter what the TV ads say, there are no national providers that currently have 4G in the rural markets we serve in Idaho. We hope to beat them to it.

What does this mean for you?

If you are currently under contract with the $10 Amazing Phone Plan, your pricing will be honored through the end of your contract period, even if it goes beyond January 2013.

If your contract has expired, or expires prior to January 2013, you may:

–        Continue paying your current rates on a month-to-month basis through
December 31, 2012. After that date you will have the option to choose from
any of our regular available service plans.

–        Upgrade now to a new phone and a new plan at our standard prices.

Please call us before then, so we can guide you through your new available cell phone options.

One great option, if you live in Montpelier or our other cable areas, is our new Cable Triple Play bundle that includes cable TV, high speed internet, and a Syringa Wireless phone with 1000 anytime national minutes altogether for only $99.95.

If you live in our phone exchange areas, we have another great new bundled option for you:

Our new Total Connection Bundle includes 6 Mb DSL internet, a home landline phone, and a Syringa Wireless Mobile Phone with 1000 national minutes, all together for only $99.95. This is a great way for you to keep your landline plus enjoy an affordable mobile phone. You can add all your favorite mobile features at regular Syringa prices, like unlimited texting for $15 and unlimited mobile data for $25.

We look forward to providing you with many more years of great cell phone service. Please call us today at 208 548 2345.

The News-Examiner- Directcom to Offer First 100 Mbps Residential Broadband Service in Idaho

Published Sep 19, 2012, by The News-Examiner in Montpelier, Idaho.

Directcom to Offer First 100 Mbps Residential Broadband Service in Idaho

Directcom to Offer First 100 Mbps Residential Broadband Service in Idaho

Fiber Optic Cable means more speed.

Direct Communications will become the first major internet service provider in Idaho to offer 100 Mbps service to residential customers, when they roll out a 100Mb package to customers starting in September 2012.

These unprecedented speeds have been made possible by the expansion of Direct Communications fiber optic cable to the home service, which the company began installing in 2006 to a limited number of new homes, where it made more sense to install new fiber than copper lines. However, over the past two years, Directcom has begun a systematic upgrade of all the lines in their telephone exchange areas, replacing aging copper lines with new fiber optic cable all the way to the individual customer homes. Once the fiber is in place, there is unlimited potential for more speed. 100Mb is about as much as most modern consumer-grade electronics equipment can handle.

Jeremy Smith, General Manager for Direct Communications operations in Idaho, explained why the company was aggressively pursuing converting to an all-fiber network: “I see fiber optic cable as being non-negotiable to ensure the economic future of rural America, not just for our customers but also for us to stay relevant as a communications provider. I simply don’t agree with the current Federal Administration’s philosophy that rural Americans don’t need as much speed as people in cities. Everybody needs good internet service; in fact I would argue that rural folks need high speed internet even more than their city counterparts because we are so remote, and fiber is the only way you can push a good broadband signal out far enough to reach all of our customers.”

Brigham Griffin, Directcom Marketing Director stated: “The time is right for 100Mb in Idaho. What we have seen in the past is that each time we offered higher speeds, we had a certain number of customers willing to pay for that service, so the demand is there, even in rural Idaho. A couple of years ago some people in the industry thought we were crazy to offer 20Mb speeds in our very rural market, but customers will find a way to use it. We don’t question why they need it—my job is just to help them to use as much broadband as possible, because that is what will keep them as our customer in the long-run.”

Smith is excited for the future of the company. “We are building more fiber routes every day, all over southeast Idaho. We just installed a new all-digital switch that runs on Internet Protocol, and is built for the information age. We are directly interconnected by fiber to our next tier provider, and have access to as much bandwidth on the backbone as we need through Syringa Networks. We want our customers to enjoy their time online. We want them to be able to work from home. We want to provide a better experience than the wireless competition. Why not provide 100Mb speeds?”

Calix ONT electronics card

The 100 Mb package will only be available to customers with fiber to their homes. Directcom previously offered speeds ranging from 1.5Mb to 20Mb, so the new 100Mb package is a significant jump in speed. However, Smith believes some customers will be eager to pay more for a 100Mb connection in rural Idaho. “Broadband has become the most important utility in many people’s lives. Even when the power goes out, which sometimes happens in Rockland, my high speed internet still works, which is great, because at least we can keep watching Netflix on our laptops. ”

Farr says the only concern he has about launching this 100Mb package for residential use is that it will not yet be available to all customers, and he worries that will make people very restless to know when fiber will get to their home. “We have a 5-year plan to basically convert all of our exchange areas from Bear Lake to Rockland to 100% fiber to the home. Arbon is complete. We started on Rockland this year, and will be completely upgraded to fiber over the next 2 years. Bear Lake is the biggest project and that will take longer, but we already have a few subdivisions there completely converted to fiber, including The Reserve and Cottle Communities in Fish Haven. This summer we also buried new duct to about 30 homes in Canyon Estates in Fish Haven, and we hope to complete splicing the fiber there by the end of this year.”

The most important factor that makes fiber a superior communications medium is bandwidth. Fiber optics are the future of communications, because copper and wireless will someday max out on the bandwidth people will require. Having fiber will soon be vital to compete in the information age. In the future, all communications and media will be delivered as internet data.

Fiber optic cable conduit

Smith concluded: “This is our community too, and we are committed to ensuring the economic vibrancy of the rural towns that we serve, and a great quality of life here. Having access to unlimited broadband is the future to both economic development and personal educational opportunity, and someday, each home that wants to be part of the global information economy will probably require minimum speeds of 100 Mbps. We just wanted to get a head start.”

Directcom in Idaho State Journal – “Bringing the cable home.”

Published in the  Idaho State Journal, Sep 12, 2012.

“Arbon Valley just became a lot less remote thanks to an upgrade of its phone system to fiber optics. Every resident in Arbon now is able to receive broadband access.” Click on the link below to read the article.

http://www.idahostatejournal.com/members/article_0c6e26ce-fca1-11e1-887a-001a4bcf887a.html

This story covers our completion of the Arbon fiber to the home project. Good job to all the techs who spent several years working through rain, snow and wind to bring fiber to the good folks in Arbon.