July 23, 2024
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July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A New Year, a New Internet Provider?

Throughout the years, I have connected to the internet everything from dial-up DSL to satellite data connections. I fondly remember I was the talk of my apartment building in Brooklyn because my company was paying for DSL. That was a big deal because you did not need multiple phone lines. The wealthier people had dedicated internet lines that were dial-up. There was a time your line was busy because you were on the internet. You would have to beep or call a neighbor to tell your friend to get off the net. That’s how it was just 18 years ago.

If you are in a remote area and have no options, this column is moot. Mainly this is a comparison between FiOS Verizon or high-speed cable (Optimum, Comcast and Time Warner). I may flip between the names but it’s really cable and Verizon FiOS. The setup is really the same: they run this ugly black or white thick cable called coaxial. Quite amazingly, that coaxial wire has been the choice for providers for years. It’s durable, fast and can withstand cold, heat, etc.

If you have older FiOS, see if they can upgrade your modem to have a coaxial connection but a network wire that connects to the WiFi router. This may help if you want to install a firewall for internet filtering.

Most providers are looking to take over the in-house wiring that has been run by the provider prior to your switch. If you are in a new home, they will try to charge you to run the new lines. Fight that—it’s pretty outrageous to pay for an internet install to then pay a provider a monthly service bill! It’s crazy, but most of us will pay the install charge.

Cable and Verizon make their money on the monthly install, yes. But look at your bill—do you notice a rental fee? You rent those cable boxes, modem, router and even the remotes. I had DirecTV—I loved the concept of no wires. DirecTV has a Genie option that supplies WiFi to these little boxes that mount behind your TV—no coaxial. Perfect for crown molding or mounted TVs. If you are a reader I highly recommend streaming to smart TVs. All you need is an HDMI port to connect the DirecTV Genie or streaming devices.  I’m more of a streamer now, and found paying for TV wasn’t worth it.

Then I switched to Cablevision; the speeds were great and were an easy setup. Though, recently, I have seen some lower speeds while working from home. Rebooting the modem and router was getting tedious. Yes, that’s right; even we IT people have to reboot the modem and router.

Cablevision will let you use your own router. Though I had a very cheap router that I received from Cablevision a while back, they charged me $3 for 10 years. I got rid of that modem in the first year.

Cablevision is on a shared environment, meaning all of your neighbors on the block are sharing the same connection. Hence, at peak hours, the internet seems slower. A huge plus is that Optimum has WiFi hotspots all over the New Jersey area. One can connect to these WiFi access points just by being a subscriber.

With my need for higher speeds I switched to Verizon FiOS recently. The connection FiOS uses is fiber optic—these speeds are carried over media that trumps Cablevision. My column doesn’t allow for a deeper understanding of the technology both carriers use, but suffice it to say FiOS fiber optic cable actually has glass in the wire. That makes the initial install much longer, but once the circuit is installed the speeds are amazing. FiOS recently started to use fiber optic cable that can’t be bent around your home.

Considering how many of my readers use FiOS, it’s clear Verizon has finally gotten it right. Most users are lost on how to connect all the equipment. Even when the circuit is installed, clients call my company to hook up the PCs and printers. Recently, my installer was a nice gentleman who is 62 and still climbs the poles. The tech took the time to ensure all of my devices were on the WiFi and all my TVs connected to the boxes; even the remotes he got working. I am a bit more savvy than most clients and was able to help him connect my PCs. I was impressed by how concerned the tech was that I was on the WiFi. As he explained, now clients stream and need higher speeds.

Some items to note: If you are leaving the providers, make sure you return everything—the modem, routers, cable boxes and even the remotes. You will be charged if you do not return these items. Optimum will send a tech to disconnect your devices and give you a receipt. My Optimum tech was so nice, I assured her I would send her a copy of my column. Turns out the router I received 10 years ago was replaced many times. I was charged $5 a month rental. Make sure you pay your balance in full, as you may return to the providers and don’t want to have a balance. Make sure you call the providers and have them disconnect your service. I usually wait until the new hardware is installed before I make the switch.

Lastly, if your wife is as easygoing as mine (love you, honey), the actual hardware that brings the circuit into your home—not the modem, but something called the ONT, is usually installed in the basement. If you need to reset the hardware you need to run down. In my case, the ONT kept getting wet and I lost all my service. Verizon has a desktop ONT that, if you insist, can be placed in a more convenient area. My ONT is in my home office. Saves me time if I need to reset anything and the equipment is now away from the elements.

Verizon currently offers speeds up to 500mb upload and download. You will pay a fortune, but for a home-based business it’s amazing that these speeds exist.

Truth be told, you will be fine with either provider. You can leverage the providers to see who will offer you better deals. The switch-over is pretty painless. Though you should plan on working from home that day.

There is a great commercial where John McEnroe is talking to a Verizon tech and he flips his smartphone to show the tech how he has the equipment connected. The days of getting a box with some cryptic instructions are over. Both providers are being trained to install everything and make sure your devices connect. Some of the providers will give you amazing WiFi routers with guest access, if needed.

How far we have come; now internet is more important than a landline phone. I still opted to get a landline, mainly for our children’s schools and for endless lotteries I seem to be winning every day.

If you are running a home-based business, both or either carriers may work for you. Some of our clients opt to get both carriers in case one goes down. That’s extreme, but I see the thought process.

I’ve been able to procure discounts to both providers for the next month. Email [email protected] and I will send you the contact info. This would apply to both home and businesses.

Shneur Garb is the CEO of the Garb IT Consulting Group in Teaneck, NJ. Shneur is also a public speaker on internet filtering and security. Questions can be sent to [email protected].

By Shneur Garb

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