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WiFi

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 

KRACK Attack – What You Need to Know

By DC Access Security, WiFi

That loud sound you heard last week might have been the crack from the feared KRACK attack hitting the internet. KRACK can invade all wifi connected, wireless devices (laptops, tablets, phones, etc.) and allow hackers to spy on your personal data and interactions online.  The good news is that the vendors we use to power the DC Access network equipment have already created patches and we have already patched our core network equipment.  Other tech companies and manufacturers are responding quickly to this security hole and are rapidly working on patches to protect our online security and safety.

In the meantime, DC Access wants to share with you some useful tips to keep your systems safe.

Windows

If you use Windows enabled devices, they are unlikely to be impacted by this vulnerability.  However, Microsoft already prepared a patch for Windows 10. If you have auto-updates turned on, the patch has already been installed on your device.

Apple

Apple is working on a KRACK protection update for all of its products. These updates should be available in the next few days. Keep an eye out for it – the patch will be available for download and auto-updates.

Google

Google is working on updates for Android phones. Updates should be out in a few weeks.  The wildcard with Android phones, however, is that each cellular provider will control when (or if) phones get updated.  Pay attention to notices from your cellular provider for information about software updates.

Please remember, though, to be careful with other wireless devices that use wifi, including wireless cameras and baby monitors, among other devices. There may never be a hardware update available for these devices. And even if an update does become available, most do not have an auto update feature, so it is more difficult to disseminate the fix. The updates need to be installed manually. In order to best protect your data, when possible, use hard-wired versions of these devices.

DC Access is staying well-informed on this potential security breach and working hard to ensure your protection.  If you have any questions, please contact us at support@dcaccess.net.

Meet Jessica!

By DC Access Internet, WiFi

Jessica Thompson - Customer Service SpecialistOriginally from Philadelphia, PA, I grew up in Wilson, NC and different parts of Maryland and D.C. I enjoy going to concerts, museums, arts shows and cooking…. sometimes I’ll binge watch old episodes of Iron Chef and Chopped, and then challenge myself to whip up something similar to what I just watched.

I spend most of my time at DC Access answering calls from customers and assisting them the best way possible with anything from scheduling site surveys and installs to walking a customer through the steps of rebooting their router. Friday happens to be my favorite day of the week. We have weekly team meetings that allow us all to come together and dish out some of the great things going as well, whether its business related or personal. I appreciate this day the most because I also get the opportunity to learn things about all my co-workers, including Martha and Matt.

One of my favorite restaurants is Cava Mezze. I love going here with my friends or family for brunch. Amazing, each and every time. Also, Eastern Market on a Saturday or Sunday always makes it a good day. I love to take my dog for a walk in the area, pick up some flowers and produce from a local vendor and of course, stop by BullFrog Bagel. I recommend everyone to try the Smoked Salmon BLT…mouth-watering!

Tell Your Friends About DC Access

By DC Access Internet, WiFi

When you’re looking for a new hair salon or the best Chinese takeout in your neighborhood, your first resource is likely to be a trusted friend’s referral, right?  Who better to rely on for the best, unbiased reviews than the members of your community that use these services day in and day out.

Same goes for internet service.  Most people just assume that only the big guys provide internet service in their neighborhood.  We rely on positive referrals from our customers to help spread the message that DC Access serves the community.  We’d love for you to tell your friends about our unparalleled customer service and fast internet speeds.

Have you already told all your friends and family about us and still want to help?  You can leave reviews on Yelp and Facebook.  Both are a great way to reach friends and community members to tell them about your experiences with DC Access.

If your referral signs up for DC Access service, you will receive ONE MONTH OF INTERNET SERVICE FREE! So spread the word, help DC Access grow, and earn yourself a month of free service!

Celebrate National Day of Unplugging

By DC Access Internet, WiFi

At DC Access we spend most of our time getting our customers connected quickly and hassle-free.  But even we know it’s important to unplug every once and awhile and appreciate the real world around us.  We are happy to celebrate the National Day of Unplugging March 4 and we encourage our employees and customers to do the same.  We promise – DC Access internet service will be ready and waiting for you when you plug back in!

Now that your screens are powered down and put away, here are some suggestions for how you can spend your newly found free time.

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Introducing Our New Customer Portal

By DC Access Internet, WiFi

New! Easier Account Management

DC Access prides itself on providing hassle-free internet and superior service to our customers.  In that vein, we are excited to announce our new and more comprehensive online payment process.  Our new system allows you to set automatic payments, see transaction history, and review past invoices.

How Does it Work?
When your next statement is due, you will receive an email with a link to our new payment portal.

If this is your first time using our new portal, you will need to click on the green “Register for New Account” button.  Please note, this is a completely new system so your old DC Access payment login will not work.

Enter your email address in the lookup field – this should be the email address where you currently receive DC Access invoices.  Once the system finds your email, you will an email with further details for setting up your account.

After you create your account and login, you will see the main portal page.

Click on “Make a Payment” to designate a credit card or PayPal account for automatic bill pay, if you like.

Customers can also change their account information, at any time, by clicking on “My Details” on the top right hand side of the screen.

Our hope is that our customers find this new payment system helpful and easy to understand.  As always, if you have any questions or require further assistance please contact us at 202.546.5898 or support@dcaccess.net.

Meet Mike!

By DC Access Internet, WiFi

mikeryan-1Mike Ryan, a longtime member of the team, wears many hats at DC Access.  You might find him working on equipment repairs, systems installations, or assisting on various other projects around the company.

Mike grew up on the Hill and knows the neighborhood forwards and backwards. He grew up north of Lincoln Park and has lived there his whole life.  DC Access strives to hire neighbors who really know what it is like to live here on the Hill!

You might not know that Mike is a big paintball player – he tries to get out to play with friends every weekend.  Most of the time he ventures out to Virginia to play paintball, but he even has a team he plays with in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Talk about dedication to the sport!

One of the benefits of living on the Hill is access to delicious and diverse kinds of food.  Two of Mike’s favorite places to eat are Addis on the 700 block of H Street NE and Kenny’s BBQ Smokehouse on 8th and Maryland.  Both restaurants allow you to call head for counter pick up, so it’s easy for Mike to place an order for a quick lunch while he’s out serving our customers.

Be sure to say hi to Mike next time you see around the neighborhood to get more restaurant recommendations – or challenge him to a round of paintball!

Meet Tony!

By DC Access Internet, WiFi

Tony - DC Access Team

As a DC Access customer, chances are you have met Tony, our resident internet and TV installation expert for residential single-family homes and small businesses.  Tony Curseen has been a member of the DC Access team since 2010! Tony spends 99% of his time out in the field visiting customers and connecting them to DC Access service.  He loves getting up on the roofs of buildings in the city and looking down and out at the great view stretching before him.  When he is in the office, he enjoys getting updated on new developments at the company and getting out of the weather.

Tony isn’t just a DC Access employee; he is also a customer! He finds DC Access service incredibly reliable – and the best part is that he knows exactly who to call if there ever is an issue!

Tony is a DC native – he grew up on K St NE, just 6 blocks from where he lives now.  Tony is a family man – he has four kids and he loves spending time with them.  In his free time, Tony likes to escape the city and travel or go fishing.

Tony is a big fan of Indigo, a takeout Indian restaurant on K St NE.  For a more scenic day, Tony likes to spend time at the United States National Arboretum or the Fredrick Douglass National Historic Site in Southeast.

Tony is always ready and able to help DC Access customers have the best service possible.  Be sure to say hi next time you see Tony around the neighborhood!