Sunday, December 16, 2012

Choosing a New Internet Provider?

Be sure you ask the right questions.

I’ve gotten a couple of calls in recent months from family and friends who have changed providers and suddenly found themselves without Wi-Fi. I always start by asking them the same questions;

Does your new router/cable modem have Wi-Fi? To which they usually answer; how can I tell?

Okay, did your new provider leave you with Wi-Fi credentials, ie: SSID and WEP Key/Password, and if not, is that info listed on the router’s label? The answer to this is usually; hmmm, there’s a lot of numbers on the label…

At this point I politely cut them off and say; I’m going to need to stop by. When I do, I often find that their new gear doesn’t support Wi-Fi, and it seems to happen most often when people switch over to Comcast.

I’ve got Verizon FiOS at home, and you know what they say; once you go glass, you never go back, but some people don’t have that option. If your only choice is between Verizon DSL and Comcast Broadband, sooner or later you’re going to make the switch to Broadband.

The problem is, Verizon provides Wi-Fi with all of their products; get internet service, get Wi-Fi. With Comcast, it seems you need to specifically ask for Wi-Fi, as their standard cable modem doesn’t have built in Wi-Fi, only their “Advanced Wireless Gateway” does, and if you don’t ask, oh well…

Smart phones, tablets, laptops, smart TV’s, we’ve become very dependant on Wi-Fi these days. It’s become ubiquitous, something we expect and take for granted. Data invisibly streaming all over the place; it’s amazing when you stop to think about it.

Whoosh; there go our Thanksgiving pictures on their way up to my wife’s iPad, buzzing past me as I sit wirelessly streaming my iTunes library to my entertainment center. It’s a brave new world.

As I said, we really take it for granted, until someone pulls the plug, that is. When the Wi-Fi goes down, or you lose it when you switch providers, it’s a real problem, but not an insurmountable one.

Comcast will ship you their Wireless Gateway, for a fee, if you find yourself in this position and you call and complain, or you can just set up your own Wi-Fi router, which I recommend. It’s relatively easy, and is a more flexible solution for homes/businesses that present Wi-Fi coverage difficulties.

Below are some links to previous posts on both our website and blog that will help you setup and tweak your basic home network and boost your Wi-Fi signal, but the most important takeaway here is; when you’re thinking of switching providers, ask them if they provide Wi-Fi.

Choosing a provider

Setting up a home network

Wireless Network Settings and Solutions

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