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Clarifying Cable and Router Types: Ethernet, Coaxial, and Fiber

By DC Access Internet, WiFi

Occasionally customers want to reuse their old internet equipment when setting up service with DC Access.  Minimizing e-waste is great, but not all equipment is the same and can work with DC Access.  Let’s clarify the main types of data connections used on devices that work with DC Access equipment.

Ethernet is the standard for data transmission.  This is the type of cable DC Access uses to connect rooftop antennas to routers and routers to home plugs or other “hard-wired’ devices. They have 8 conductors terminated in a clear plastic housing (often with a black or colored boot over the clear part) that will give an audible click when installed properly.  You may see terms such as Cat5, Cat 5e, Cat 6; these are standards which define the maximum speed the cable can pass.

Here you can see the icon for Ethernet connections, an Ethernet port and cable termination for Ethernet cable.

Peter Trieb, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; Eyreland, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

Coaxial is most often used to deliver video in the form of cable television services or from an antenna, and may also be used for passing data.  When used for data, this type of connection and cable is most often used by cable companies such as Comcast, Charter, Cox, Frontier etc. It is terminated in a threaded metal connector with a single conductor or wire extending from the middle of the cable.  It must be screwed onto the terminal on the back of a device such as a cable modem or television. This type of connection will not work with DC Access equipment. 

Here you can see a coaxial cable.

AleiPhoenix, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, cropped

Fiber Optic uses bursts of laser light to carry data.  An example of a typical fiber interconnect is shown below.  This type of cable is used with a Fiber connection such as Verizon/AT&T’s FIOS or Google Fiber.  Usually, once the fiber connection terminates in the user’s home, an Ethernet cable is used to interconnect the router.  If you are switching from a fiber provider, your current router will not work with DC Access.

Examples of a combination cable modem/router, an ethernet router:

routers

Note the round, shiny bottommost post on the router on the left, this is for a coaxial connection.  The router on the right shows ethernet connections in blue and yellow (along with white usb ports for additional devices).

Wifi, what?

By DC Access Internet, WiFi

 

At its most basic W-Fi is a way to share information wirelessly. The technology is certified by a non-profit alliance that sets standards, including radio frequency, power, security encryption protocols and more, so that any wi-fi device can “speak” to another.

Wi-Fi works best when the connected devices have a ‘line of sight,” another way of saying there is nothing in between your router and device.  Wi-Fi connections are weakened to a greater or lesser extent by anything between the radio and connected device. Examples of things which may weaken your connection include interior or exterior walls, furniture, appliances, people’s bodies and more.  

There have been 6 generations of wi-fi technology that have been used in consumer products. They are named a, b, g, n, ac, and ax.  With the last 3 recently renamed Wi-Fi 4, 5 and 6 respectively.  The latest generations offer faster speeds, improved efficiency and better resistance to wireless interference in high-density scenarios (like our neighborhoods).  DC Access currently deploys Wi-Fi 4 and 5 routers to our clients.

The latest generations of Wi-Fi use multiple frequencies; 2.4 GHz, 5 Ghz, and in Wi-Fi 6E 6 Ghz. The 2.4 Ghz band has long range and good wall penetration, which is both good for your connection and bad in terms of interference from neighbors.  The 5Ghz band is weakened more rapidly by walls, so you’ll see less interference when using your “.5g” network. The 6Ghz band offers the fastest possible speeds but is not in broad use yet.

While the different generations of wifi can pass data between them, the speed for any attached device will be capped at the limit of the slowest link in the chain, from your connection to the router or device.  So if you are set to our Essential Plus service level, your maximum speed will be limited to around 25 Mbps downloads regardless of how fast your wifi connection is.

A few key points to keep in mind:

  • A wired connection will almost always be faster and more secure than Wi-Fi.
  • Minimizing obstructions between your router and device will likely improve the performance of your connection.  
  • 5 Ghz frequency is weakened by walls, so the connection will have less interference and more stability than the 2.4.
  • Having a faster wi-fi network may help your connection, but it can be limited both by speeds elsewhere in your network (your slowest/oldest device) or from outside interference (other routers broadcasting on the same frequency)

Sources and Additional Reading

Ars Technica The Ars Technica semi-scientific guide to Wi-Fi Access Point placement 2/23/2020 – https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2020/02/the-ars-technica-semi-scientific-guide-to-wi-fi-access-point-placement/

Fowler, G.A. (4/29/2020) Bad WiFi is slowing you down. Fix yours without spending a dime. Washington Post – https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/04/29/best-wifi-fix/ 

Microsoft Wi-Fi problems and your home layout – https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wi-fi-problems-and-your-home-layout-e1ed42e7-a3c5-d1be-2abb-e8fad00ad32a 

Wi-Fi Alliance – https://www.wi-fi.org

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi 

Ransomware

By DC Access Internet, Security

RANSOMWAREIn 2021, several cases of Ransomware attacks on large companies, organizations, and government agencies have occurred. Ransomware has become a significant issue in technology, resulting in billions of dollars lost in the past couple of years.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device. It uses encryption, which generates a pair of unique keys created by the attacker to encrypt or decrypt files. Typically, the software is dispersed through spam emails, advertising, or targeted attacks.

A ransom is demanded to be paid in order for files to be decrypted and become accessible. Attackers using Ransomware threaten to publish individuals’ personal data or block access to the use of files, databases, and/or applications until the ransom is paid. Ransomware largely affects businesses, limiting access to data needed for daily operation. It is created to spread across an entire network/database to incapacitate the entire business.

How can you prevent Ransomware incidents?

  1. Only open emails and websites from trusted people and organizations.
  2. Do not click on any embedded links in emails and do not give out usernames and passwords to any one. One of the most common ways hackers gain access to private networks is through a process called Phishing. Phishing is the act of someone who pretends to work for the company calls/emails/texts asking can you provide them with your login credentials.
  3. Be sure to maintain current offline, encrypted backups of your data.
  4. Regularly test your backups.
  5. Use and maintain security software on your devices, including antivirus and anti-spam software.
  6. Only use secure wireless networks. If you do use a public wifi network, make sure you are also using a VPN on top of that connection.
  7. Create and maintain a cyber incident response plan, including notification procedures for a ransomware incident.

With the increase in Ransomware attacks, it is important, especially for businesses, to stay informed and take precautions to prevent incidents.

DC Access Participates in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

By DC Access Press Releases
Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

On May 15th, the Federal Communications Commission launched the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program) in an attempt to help households in need afford internet service. The EBB Program provides broadband and device benefits for low-income customers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband services for eligible customers and up to $75 per month towards eligible households on Tribal lands. Customers will also be able to receive a one-time discount of up to $100 towards equipment purchased from providers including laptops, desktops, or tablets, if they contribute between $10-$50 towards the purchase.

Who is Eligible?

A household is eligible if one of the following criteria are meet by a member living in the household:

  •  Qualifies for FCC’s Lifeline program
  • Approved for free or reduced price school breakfast/lunch program
  • Experienced substantial documented loss of income since February 29, 2020 – total household income in 2020 below $99,000 (single filers) and $198,000 (joint filers)
  • Received a federal Pell grant in current reward year or qualifies for low-income or Covid-19 program by FCC approval

* Existing Lifeline subscribers do not need to fill out an application for the EBB Program*

We are happy to announce that DC Access is an FCC Provider and participates in the Emergency Broadband Benefit. We are committed to helping households stay connected, despite financial hardships. Existing and new customers can opt for our service, choose from our plans, and receive up to $50 per month towards their DC Access service.

If you meet the criteria and would like to receive DC Access service, first apply online at http://getemergencybroadband.org/ and then contact us at 202-546-5898 or support@dcaccess.net.

For Additional information, please visit https://www.dcaccess.net/emergency-broadband-benefit/.

AMAZON SIDEWALK

By DC Access Internet

AMAZON SIDEWALKSince the beginning of the pandemic, more people are working from home and using their home internet more frequently. This makes internet security more important than ever. Here at DC Access, we want to keep you alert and help you prioritize your internet security at home. 

On June 8TH, Amazon is launching Amazon Sidewalk, a service providing a shared network that claims to help smart devices work better. Sidewalk will form a shared wireless network capped at 500MB per month by taking a small portion of your internet bandwidth to pool together to provide services to you and your neighbors. Essentially this can take away from the speed of your internet for other devices, such as computer use, streaming, and gaming devices. For more details, see this related article.

Devices included in Sidewalk are Amazon Echo devices, Ring Security, outdoor lights, motion sensors, Tile trackers, pet locators, and smart locks. Sidewalk aims to help the user’s devices when they are out of range of their home Wi-Fi by keeping them online. Amazon believes the network will allow users to locate lost keys or missing pets and set up and fix devices remotely. It also benefits ALL Sidewalk-enable devices in your community, not just yours.

Sidewalk will be a default setting for all Amazon smart home devices, automatically enrolling each device to participate in network sharing. Owners of those devices have the option to disable Sidewalk at any time. You can update your Amazon Sidewalk preferences in two ways, from the Control Center on the Ring App and Settings on the Alexa App. 

Using the Ring App

  1. Open the Ring App on your device
  2. Tap the 3-lined icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen
  3. Go to the Control Center
  4. Turn Sidewalk on or off

Using the Alexa App

  1. Open the Alexa App on your device
  2. Select the more icon at the lower right-hand corner of the screen
  3. Select Settings 
  4. Select Account Settings
  5. Select Amazon Sidewalk
  6. Use the toggle to enable or disable Sidewalk

If you have linked your Ring and Amazon accounts, your Sidewalk preferences on either Alexa or Ring App will apply to all of your eligible Echo and Ring devices. Therefore, if you decide to opt out of Amazon Sidewalk on the Ring App, it will apply to your Echo devices as well.

While there are benefits to this experimental project, DC Access believes that the potential security risks out-way the positives. For now, we would recommend opting out of Amazon Sidewalk.

Hardwire Your Devices

By DC Access Internet

We all enjoy the portability of our electronic devices. But having your devices hardwired can have its advantages. Hardwiring your device consist of an Ethernet cable connecting to the PC directly to a port on the router or access point. Although wiring your devices may prevent mobility, you will be grateful for a faster, more reliable, network and internet connection. View the following steps on how to on hardwire your device.

Hardwire A Windows Laptop

  1. Plug-in one end of the Ethernet cable to the RJ45 port on your laptop.
  2. Plug-in the opposite end of the Ethernet cable to an available port on the router.
  3. Wait while the device and the router establish a network connection.
  4. View the taskbar at the bottom right of your Windows desktop to verify a network icon confirming the connection.

Still having trouble? Visit the laptop’s brand website for further instructions.

Hardwire a Apple Mac Laptop

  1. Plug-in a Ethernet cable to connect your computer’s Ethernet port to a router.
  2. If your computer doesn’t have an Ethernet port, try using a USB to Ethernet adapter, or a Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet adapter.
  3. To verify a connection, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Network.

Still having trouble? Visit Apple’s User Guide for more help.

Hardwire a Smart-TV

  1. Locate the Ethernet port on the back of your TV
  2. Plug-in an Ethernet cable from your router to the port on your TV
  3. Select Menu on your TV’s remote and then go to Network settings.
  4. Select the option to enable wired internet
  5. Verify the connection.

Still having trouble? Visit the TV’s brand website for further instructions.

Double Rescan to Strengthen your Broadcast Frequency

By DC Access Internet

How’s your digital TV reception? Is the broadcast frequency giving you trouble? If so, here are some quick, easy, steps on rescanning to get completely free of your TV’s old frequency.

  1. Detach the antenna from your digital TV.
  2. Without the antenna attached, rescan the digital TV by following the onscreen instructions. (You can also check your owner’s manual for instructions.)
  3. For 60 seconds, unplug the digital TV from the electrical outlet.
  4. After the 60 seconds, plug the antenna back into the digital TV and plug the unit into the electrical outlet.
  5. After everything is plugged back in, rescan the digital TV again. (Refer to your owner’s manual for instructions again, if needed.)

Rescanning more than once after the DTV transition should lessen any issues. According to, WETA TV Broadcast Frequency Change FAQs, “The FCC recommends that everyone rescan their television immediately if you have developed reception trouble due to the FCC-mandated broadcast frequency transition or, especially, if you have lost power or have moved your set to a new location in your home.” By following these 5 simple steps, you can improve the strength of your broadcast frequency.

Have questions about your current installation or would like to sign up for DC Access digital TV services? Contact us at 202-546-5898 or support@dcaccess.net and our DC Access team will assist you.