PROTECT YOUR FAMILY BY SECURING YOUR HOME WIFI NETWORK.

A WIRELESS ROUTER IS AN OPEN DOOR TO YOUR HOME. PROTECT YOUR FAMILY BY SECURING YOUR HOME WIFI. 

Most people use a wireless router so they can use their handheld devices.  Wireless routers are great, but there are some very important reasons they need to be locked down with strong passwords:

  • An open WiFi router or sharing your router password allows others to do illegal things that will be traced with you. Direct Communications cooperates with law enforcement authorities to track down internet sexual predators and other criminals.  If the predator is parked near your house using your WiFi signal from their car, it appears to us to be coming from inside your home.  What will happen is that the authorities may kick down your front door and arrest somebody in your family for illegal activity like child pornography. (This has really happened to otherwise innocent people who let strangers use their WiFi.)
  • Outsiders can use your WiFi to attack others or to hack into other’s computers and accounts. With a strong antenna they can be a half mile away and still use your WiFi.  Again, the activity will register as happening inside your home.
  • A sophisticated hacker can take over your computers in your home and make them repositories and servers for child porn, stolen credit card numbers or any of a plethora of illegal information. You would not even know it was happening in many cases.
  • An open router allows outsiders to actually see what web pages and other content that you are looking at.
  • Allowing a friend or neighbor to use your WiFi connection and your internet account is a crime called “Theft of Service”. You are collaborating in this theft and jeopardizing your own service as well.

We can help you protect and secure your home network.  Call Direct Communications at 801 789 4999 and ask for tech support.  Our technicians can help you to lock down your WiFi router with a strong password so that you are safe

Idaho Customer Email Account Migration

More speed means more fun online.

More speed means more fun online.

Change for Directcom-hosted email service

For several years, we have been pleased to provide you with you complimentary Google email service branded as an icsofidaho.net or dcdi.net address. This email service was hosted in the background by Google, under a reseller agreement. Due to a decision by Google to no longer offer wholesale email services to ISPs, Direct Communications will no longer be able to offer Directcom-branded Google email to our customers. Please note: this change will not affect your Internet connection or ability to use any regular Google products.

What does this mean for you?

Your email address will remain the same. Only the background host, or in other words, where your email is stored, is changing. All @dcdi.net and @emcity.net email accounts must be changed from a Google interface, to a new email host, called Zimbra, which is hosted by NeoNova, or be shut down at the end of June 2015.

What should you do?

You will already have received an email sent from NeoNova. Please follow the instructions in that email to migrate your email to the new Zimbra email service. If you do nothing, you will eventually lose access to your email account once Google shuts off their email service.

Will it cost me anything to keep my @dcdi email address?

Because of the additional costs associated with this switch, customers who wish to keep their @dcdi email account will be charged $2.95/month (plus $.99 for each additional mailbox) for hosted email service,  beginning  on 6/1/2015.   Email service will continue to be FREE for internet customers subscribing to at least  20MB speeds.

If you wish to keep a free Google email account, we recommend you set up a new free Gmail account directly with Google instead, and you can import all your old mail into that new Gmail account. For instructions on how to do that, see http://directcom.com/eaglemtn/how-to-migrate-your-emcity-net-email-to-a-new-gmail-address/

Please call Direct Communications Customer Service at 208 548 2345 if you have any questions or concerns about this change.

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.

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

My Kingdom for a Wire

(How my internet speeds dropped from 100Mb when wired to 18Mb on wireless, and how I fixed this.)

A few months ago, I was very excited to report that I had defied all expectations, (take that Mrs Gordon in 5th grade) and reached almost the pinnacle of human achievement by obtaining 100 Mbps internet speeds at home. I am subscribing to 100Mb fiber optic service from my ISP, Direct Communications.

See https://blog.directcom.com/2012/12/05/life-at-100-mb-how-i-broke-into-the-1/

Recently however, that dream came crashing down when we needed to rearrange the living room to fit in a new second-hand couch. The main computer desk had to be moved to the other side of the room, where of course, the only place it could possibly go was also the one corner in the house that was not pre-wired with a ready Cat-5 cable (RJ45) jack, since that corner was supposed to be a future fireplace.  In my shortsightedness, when planning the construction I had thought, “Who would ever want an Ethernet enabled fireplace?” Silly me. Now of course, a few years later I can think of a hundred different reasons to have an Ethernet-enabled fireplace.

18Mb speed test result while using wireless-N

18Mb speed test result while using wireless-N

So, now I had my main desktop computer, which is a new Dell XPS, sitting in a location where there was no wire. I didn’t think it would be a big deal since I knew my computer had a built-in wireless N card, but to my horror, when I ran a speed test after setting everything back up, while I used to consistently clock 100Mbps speed tests when directly wired to the basement router, the fastest speed I could now get over wireless was only about 18Mbps.

The computer’s internal wireless-N card was a DW1501 Wireless-N WLAN card, which, according to Dell’s product  user guide, is supposed to have a network data rate of up to 270 Mbps for a 40 MHz bandwidth channel and 130 Mbps for a 20 MHz bandwidth channel. Most reasonable people would agree that 18Mbps was not close to either of those numbers.

My wireless router is a new Cisco E2000, with Gig Ethernet ports, which had no problem supplying 100Mb internet speeds to the same computer when it was wired to the router, but now I was left with a fraction of those heady speeds. Of course, even at 18Mb I could still stream HD just fine to that computer, but what’s the use of paying for 100Mb speeds if you can’t see those on a speed test? It’s a matter of principle!

Just to be sure there wasn’t just something weird with my desktop going on, I did a speed test on my Dell Studio XPS laptop to see if I could get any higher speeds with that radio, but sadly, 25Mb was the fastest internet speed I could get on my laptop.

Wireless connection properties

Wireless connection properties

Now, this frustrating situation lends itself to the age-old question, if a computer is not showing the full advertised internet speed I am paying for, am I actually getting that speed? This is a question, or more often, complaint, sometimes leveled at ISPs by customers, who run speed tests from their PCs or phones or tablets and then conclude that they are being cheated if the results do not match what the ISP says it is providing . On the one hand, all the other wired devices in my home, the Xbox, the other older desktops, were still getting the same speeds as before. My tablets and phones on Wi-Fi were also still behaving just the same as before, indicating that they were still sharing the same 100Mb fiber optic speeds from Direct Communications that my router was handing out before. And yet, there it was, staring me in the face, that horrible speed test result which could not be denied or ignored, gnawing at me day and night.

What was to be done? I I could not bang a new hole in the wall to feed a new cat5 cable down to my distribution center in the basement, especially since I had already finished the part of the basement underneath the new computer desk location. I clearly could not survive on a wireless connection to my PC. That’s when one of the techs suggested a life-saving device- a simple wired switch that I could use to extend my existing wired network after construction. I searched on Amazon for the most popular home Ethernet switch that had Gigabit ports (because, as I discovered with my previous old router, unless your equipment has gigabit ports, it will never deliver 100Mb speeds. Any router or switch with only 100Mb ports, even wired, will not deliver more than about half that speed.) The most popular switch was the NETGEAR GS105 ProSafe 5-Port Gigabit Ethernet Desktop Switch, for $39.99, which arrived in 2 days and was very simple to install.

Netgear 5-port Gigabit desktop Switch

Netgear 5-port Gigabit desktop Switch

I simply unplugged the Ethernet cable to my Xbox, plugged that cable into the new switch, and plugged in new Ethernet cables from the switch to my PC and Xbox, and now even have a couple of ports left over for any new devices I may want to direct wire to the router.

I immediately ran a speed test on my PC, which now had a wired internet connection again, and was very pleased to see that needle go straight up to 95Mb.

Wired to the router speed test result

Wired to the router speed test result

I am not a network tech, but here is what I as a fan of fast speeds learned from this:

Lesson1) If you are serious about speeds, wire all your devices directly to the router. Wireless is the enemy of speed, no matter what the wireless card specs claim.

Lesson 2) A simple network switch can very easily and cheaply extend your internal wired network without sacrificing performance.

Lesson 3)Even though I was not seeing 100Mb to my computer, I was still getting 100Mb to my home from my ISP. All I needed was better network equipment to see those speeds again. The bottleneck was the wireless limitations inside my own equipment.

Lesson 4) If you are building a home, wire everything and every corner. Don’t believe your builder if he says everything will be wireless someday inside the home. You never know when you might want more speed, and what the bandwidth demands of our future appliances will be.

Wired Connection properties

Wired Connection properties

Are There Any Limitations To DSL Service?

While we offer 100 Mbps to customers with fiber to the home, our current limit on DSL is 20Mbps. Customers often ask why can’t we push out 100 Mb to their home over copper lines, like we can provide over our fiber optic lines.  We are also sometimes asked by DSL customers why they may not always be seeing the full 20Mb they are allocated on our servers. This article is an attempt to answer these questions, by explaining what some of the factors affecting DSL service are.

Many of the limitations associated with regular DSL service lie simply in the physics or nature of metals.

Copper is of course a metal, and although the data being sent over the line is a digital signal, it still travels electronically as a wave over the metal line. However, a real wire is always a more superior way to deliver data than wireless, for obvious reasons. Any kid who has picked up a tin can with a string attached to it knows that.

Distance

Signals degrade over long distances. That is just a law of nature. Copper is a good conductor, but it’s not a perfect conductor. Inside any metal line, there is resistance as the electronic waves travel through the metal. Because of this fact, there is a limit to how far DSL can travel from the main telephone switch. Usually it can only go 2 or 3 miles at the most before you need to build another office to repeat that signal. A regular analog telephone conversation can be pushed out much further, because signal degradation is not as critical, but to deliver internet data , with the digital packets being sent in very precise, technical ways, any kind of interference, loss of signal or degradation is going to cause problems.

The wonderful thing about  fiber optic cable is that it overcomes many of the limitations of metal. Fiber carries an all-digital signal, so is better suited to today’s digital communication devices. Also, there is no interference from electric lines or magnetic fields like you experience with copper, so the signal is clearer, which will result in a better transfer over great distances. There is no resistance in the fiber optic cable like metal lines have, so the signal can travel infinitely, because it’s light, not an electron flow, so we can now serve customers who live far away from the central phone office with products like broadband, which is vital in the rural areas. Fiber optics will open up whole new markets of people who previously were too far to pick up a DSL signal over copper.

Anyway, with that said, it is possible that in an all copper network, homes closer to the main office would probably get better DSL signal than homes very far away from the office. In Eagle Mountain, this is not usually a problem—we have fiber to all of the neighborhood nodes or DSLAMs (digital subscriber line access multiplexer, pronounced dee-slam). About half of the homes in Eagle Mountain now have fiber to the home, but even where the final loop from the DSLAM to the home is still copper, that is just a very short little section of copper, so distance doesn’t often come into play. But, in our more rural exchange areas in Idaho, where a farm might be 15 or 20 miles from our central office, without fiber opics, that home could not get DSL. Homes at the edge of our range of 2 or 3 miles from the DSLAM are not going to be able to get our full 12Mb or 20Mb that we offer on DSL, but they might get a portion of that.

 Signal Frequency

Did you know that DSL (which stands for Digital Subscriber Line) was originally developed to deliver video over a telephone line? Back in the 1980’s, the telephone companies were looking for ways to use the extra bandwidth that was unused in their copper lines. A typical copper telephone line has about 1100KHz of bandwidth frequency available. The plain old telephone service was only using a fraction of that frequency—a maximum of 3.5KHz. We already had this fantastic network laid to each home, and so thought we could use all the extra space in the line to deliver television digitally to the customer. (Telephone companies are still looking for cost-effective to do this in 2012.) Anyway, luckily for telephone companies, a fantastic thing came along in the mid 90’s called the Internet. Suddenly, a real customer need developed for DSL—we could use that extra frequency to deliver data to connect people to other computers all over the world. DSL as we know it exploded into various different specs to deliver data more effectively. So, the DSL signals travels on the same line as the telephone signal, but at higher frequencies, and it takes up a lot more of the bandwidth in the line. (This is why we still hand out those DSL filters, so you won’t  hear the high-frequency noise of the DSL waves on your telephone.) However, there is still a technical bandwidth limit on just how much you can fit through the line at once, due to the nature of waves.

Wire Gauge

Very simply put: the larger the copper wire, the more physical space there is available to pump signal through. While gauge is rarely a problem with lines that we have installed ourselves, we have run into problems in houses or neighborhoods where a builder, developer or homeowner originally laid the line themselves. Let’s face it—developers and contractors like to cut costs wherever they can, and unfortunately some home builders didn’t always have the customers future bandwidth needs in mind when they laid the telephone line to the home. We do what we can once we take ownership of these lines to overcome these problems, but often they are hidden, since these lines have been buried for years, and there were no maps or records of what is in the ground in some older neighborhoods.

Splices

A splice happens when you join two lines. Splices are done by humans, and so aren’t always perfect. Thus, the more splices in a line, the less effectively it delivers data. In Eagle Mountain, there may still be some older homes with lines containing  splices made a long time ago by people who were not as well trained as our techs are today. We correct these when we find them, but if you are not getting your full bandwidth (say you are only getting 15 Mb when you signed up for 20Mb) a faulty splice somewhere near your home could be the problem.

Condition of the Loop

A loop refers to the last portion of the copper line between a neighborhood node and the homes. As already stated, some end loops are in better condition than others, depending on how they were constructed.

The Cloud/Internet

Many times, people will assume that their home broadband service is being slow, when in fact the bottleneck or slow speeds are somewhere else in the world. When you are sitting at your home computer, and you connect to a remote internet site, your connection to that computer, or server is taking various routes around the world, with a single request for a download being passed through ten, twenty, or more, different companies and ISPs. (Internet Service Provider.) There really is no way to know what routes your request has taken. The server hosting the website is usually in another state–maybe even in another country. The internet is simply millions of computers, servers and routers connecting, and who knows what condition their lines are in. The server you are reading from might only be connected to their local ISP with a 1.5Mb T1, or even worse. You, and us as your local broadband provider, have absolutely no control over what happens in the cloud. Even if you are on a 100Mb connection from your home to the telephone switch, if you are busy talking to a web server that is only connected to the internet by a 1.5Mb connection, the fastest speed you are going to transfer data from that website is 1.5Mb. All you can control is how much speed you subscribe to at home from your local ISP—give yourself the best chance to have a good experience online.

Bottlenecks

The limitations associated with delivering broadband is not only the physical line—the real limitation is the processing power of the routers, servers, or electronics at each end. When you connect to a remote server, the speed at which you can talk to that computer depends on how many conversations that server (or site) can handle at once. Even companies like Facebook, who invest millions of dollars on server farms to host their sites, have times when their service crashes, or slow days because the electronics on their end can’t handle the number of connection requests coming from people all over the world. There may be a bottleneck in the backbone somewhere along the line too—not enough fiber connections or processing power on some remote router on a particular line between Las Vegas and Seattle that some upper tier carrier has subscribed to.

Customer Internal/Home Network

Although customers hate it when their ISP claims the problem is inside their home, the reality is, for a majority of connection problems and trouble tickets, the problem is either user error, or faulty or incorrectly networked equipment inside the home. The usual suspects for slow speeds are modems and wireless routers. No matter what the manufactures claim, cheap consumer grade switches and routers, especially when they are broadcasting a wireless signal, do not always deliver the speeds they claim. To get the best out of your home router, wire each device to your router with a CAT5 ethernet cable. This will make a huge difference to your speeds. A more expensive router with more processing power will also make a difference, especially if you are connecting multiple devices simultaneously and each kid is trying to stream Netflix on a different device.

Despite any of these limitations, DSL is still a premium product, and after fiber, absolutely the best way to deliver consistent broadband data to any home. In Eagle Mountain we recently upgraded from ADSL2+ to VDSL so that we could crank up both the download and upload speeds to copper customers, and the technology to distribute DSL will keep improving, opening the way for more bandwidth. Potential customers often ask us when we are going to install fiber to their home, and they say they will switch to our service once fiber is there. The irony to this, however, is that often once the fiber is installed, they usually end up requesting either our 8Mb, 14Mb, or 20Mb service—all of which are currently available on regular DSL service. Only our 30Mb and 50Mb speeds are exclusive to fiber to the home customers.

How do I set up my new e-bill account online?

We are pleased to have  upgraded to a new billing system this month. This new system will give both you as a customer and us a lot more features that will make the billing process more convenient. However, there will be a couple of changes you need to be aware of, and some action is required on your part:

Your new bill format (starting August) will look slightly different. It will also be mailed from our new billing system vendor in Nebraska, instead of from our office in Rockland. You may not recognize the new envelope, so don’t throw it away by mistake.

Your account number will change. You will receive a new 9-digit account number, which you will see on your new statement.

If you are a current Ebill customer, or pay your bill online, you will need to set up your online account again in our new online billing site, managed by PayDQ. All of these services can be conducted 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is a safe way to save time, money and frustration. Best of all, this is a free service.

The buttons you click from our homepage will stay the same—but the page you are directed to afterwards will look slightly different.

Idaho Customers: To set up your new account now, go to http://www.directcom.com/directrocklandWelcome.htm.

Eagle Mountain Customers: To set up your new account now, go to http://www.directcom.com/eaglemtn/directcedarWelcome.htm

You will need your new account number to register as a new user, so we will only make the new site active on our homepage after the August bill has been sent out. You will receive a paper bill again until you register on the new ebill site. You will need to register as a new user to set up your ebill again. Once you are registered, you will now have the ability to view your current statement online, pay your bill with either a credit card or checking account, set up automatic payments and choose the date you want the payment withdrawn each month and view up to 13 months of past statements.

You will have 90 days to register for your new ebill account, after which we will begin charging again for a paper bill. (Telephone customers won’t be charged to be sent a paper bill.)

How do I set up my new e-bill account online?

Go to directcom.com and click on “account online” then “Idaho”, if you are an Idaho customer. If you are an Eagle Mountain customer, you would choose “Utah.”

You will be directed to a welcome page that says: “Welcome to the new Direct Communications automated bill payment system.” Click on “continue.”

You will then arrive at the Payment Center Log on screen.

Click on “Not signed up yet? Click here to register.”

You will then need to enter your new 9-digit Account Number (which will be on your new paper bill) preceded with a “0.” This will make it into a 10-digit number, which is required by PayDQ. (eg: if your account number is 123456789, you will put a 0 in front so that your 10-digit number is 0123456789.) You will also need to enter a one-time preset Security Code to register for the first time.

This security code will be “799” plus the last four digits of your main number, if you are an Idaho customer.

The security code will be “797” plus the last four digits of your main number, if you are an Eagle Mountain customer.

Your main number is the primary telephone or network number associated with your account, and will appear on the bottom right hand side of the first page of your paper bill. You will need to check that you have read the terms of use, then click “continue”.
(If you need help registering for the first time, please call our main office for customer service and billing, and we can provide you with the necessary login information and guide you through the setup process.)

You will then be in a registration form where you will have to enter your email address, (this should be the address you want your monthly ebill alert sent to) and choose a new username and password for your online billing account.

Your username cannot have any spaces. Your user name is case sensitive, must be between 6 and 16 characters in length and there are no spaces or special characters allowed. Enter a valid password. Password must include number(s), upper and lower case letters, and must be atleast 6 characters in length. Finally, password cannot be one of the last four passwords used. Once you have successfully completed the required fields, and hit “submit,” you will be taken to a “registration complete page,” and asked to sign back in.

Also, if you have successfully created your account, after a few minutes, you should get an email confirmation from no.reply.directcom@paydq.com, at the email address you entered during the registration process.

The next time you log into your online account, you will log in with your own chosen username and password.

Once inside your account you will be able to see your latest statement, view past statements, set up autopay/schedule monthly recurring payments from a financial account of your choice, make a one time payment online, and do lots of other easy, convenient things. For help with using or setting up your new online account, visit our FAQ page at https://webapps.paydq.com/macc/Faq.do

What won’t change?

Monthly payments should still be sent to the same address.

Payments are still due on the 15th of each month.

Thanks for your support. We appreciate your business and hope you will be patient with us as we implement these changes.

If you have any questions or concerns about your new bill, or how to set up your new ebill, please call us at 208 548 2345 (Idaho customers) or 801 789 2800 (Utah customers)