Great Plains Communications Residential Blog

Keeping Your Family Connected

Tag: Wireless Internet

Common Wireless Troublemakers and How to Get Around Them

According to Internet Live Stats, there were 286,942,362 unique Internet users in the United States so far for 2016. And that is only 8.4% of the World Internet Users. No longer do we ask the question, “Do you use the Internet?” But rather, “How many devices do you have?” The phone has gone from the wall to our pockets, connecting us to the World Wide Web as well as our tablets, desktop computers, and gaming devices.

With each of these devices come possible interruptions or Wireless Troublemakers that can deteriorate your wireless connection. Great Plains Communications wants to shed some light on common wireless troublemakers that could be affecting your home connection.

 

Common Wireless Troublemakers:

  • Microwaves – When in use, microwave ovens emit signals that are on the same frequency that wireless devices communicate on. These signals will lessen or even completely knock out your wireless signal strength due to competing for the same space. Moving your wireless router away from your microwave should reduce the effects.

 

  • Baby monitors – As with microwaves, baby monitors use the same frequency that many wireless devices do, and they can overlap your communication between your devices and the router. Moving these devices away from your wireless router or any wireless devices should reduce the interference.

 

  • Wireless telephones – Cordless landline telephones also operate within the same bandwidth that wireless devices do. Keeping the bases and the handsets for these phones away from your wireless devices should reduce their effect on your internet usage.

 

  • Walls, doors, and other large objects – Wireless signals from your wireless router are not powerful enough to make it through thick walls, heavy doors, concrete floors or ceilings. For best performance, you should try to put your wireless router in an area of your home that has the least surrounding walls or the least amount of structures between your device and the wireless router.

 

  • Distance from the AP to the end device – Wireless signal strength decreases the farther the wireless traffic needs to travel back to your wireless router. Instead of a corner or basement location, try placing your wireless router in a central location in your home to ensure no part of your house is too far away for the signal to travel.

 

 

Important Wi-Fi Terms to Get to Know

Access Point (AP): Equipment that connects wireless devices together, usually to the Internet. An example of an access point is your wireless router

SSID: Name of a wireless network, which is configured in the access point

2.4 GHz Frequency: Most commonly-used wireless frequency with excellent range; often “crowded” with wireless user traffic and “noisy” with interference from devices such as microwaves, baby monitors, and wireless phones; good for lower-bandwidth applications (e-mail, web browsing, etc.); has three non-overlapping channels (1, 6, and 11).

5 GHz Frequency: Most new APs and devices will now support this frequency. Good range and getting better; excellent bandwidth and getting better; has several non-overlapping channels (36, 40, 44, 48, 149, 153, 157, and 161).

 

The Importance of a Password-Protected Network

It is very important to keep wireless networks secure. Having an open wireless connection means anyone in the area can connect without a password or other credentials. Besides sharing service bandwidth, anything people do while connected through the service will look like it came from the owner of the open wireless network. All wireless connections, including those for guests, should have security configured.

Find Out What Your Wi-Fi Can Get You in 2015!

Imagine lying in bed and the simple motion of reaching for your cell phone has become something more similar to reaching for a remote. Your Wi-Fi is now a connection from your bed to your coffee maker or the kitchen to your washing machine downstairs. Inventors are pushing onward with the “Internet of Things,” creating more and more devices with capabilities of connecting to your home Wi-Fi. Great Plains Communications wants to tell you about three of our favorite ‘Smart’ products that your Wi-Fi could bring you in 2015.

 

–          ‘Smart’ Coffee Maker

  • The Mr. Coffee smart coffee maker provides a 10-cup pot and the convenience of being controlled from the WeMo app. By using the mobile software on your phone or tablet, you can schedule brewing, turn it on and off or monitor the status of your current pot. This product can be found at stores such as Walmart, Target and Kohl’s. Everything tastes better with Wi-Fi.

–          ‘Smart’ Thermostat

  • Wi-Fi programmable thermostats have been around for a couple years now, but are really starting to pick up in popularity as people gain a better understanding of the product. The Honeywell products provide a way to stay connected and informed on your home at all times, no matter your location. Using their Honeywell Total Connect Comfort system, you will be able to change the thermostat settings and temperature, receive temperature and connection alerts as well as manage multiple thermostats from one account and one mobile device.

–          ‘Smart’ Washing Machine

  • If you hate the constant annoyance of having to check to see if the laundry is done, the Samsung 4.5 cu. Ft. Front-Load Washer is something you might want to take a look at. Not only does it have a sleek design and handy touch screen, it also comes with its very own mobile app that can be downloaded onto a smartphone or tablet. From there you can keep track of all your washer settings and receive notifications when the laundry is finished.

Convenience is a feature of all three of these products, along with the many other Wi-Fi accessing gadgets available. With more connections and devices comes the need for faster Internet speeds. You can find more information on Great Plains Communications’ Internet services on our website or by calling our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

Mysteries of “The Cloud”?

What is “the cloud”? Most people think of it as a technological mystery, an untouchable place, a visible mass of condensed water vapor floating in the atmosphere. No matter how you visualize “the cloud” in your mind, Great Plains Communications wants to share some information on not only what it is, but what you can do with “the cloud”.

For starters, your files are NOT literally being sent up into the sky. “The cloud” refers to a process called cloud computing, which is simply the method in which files are transported from a computer, smartphone or tablet to physical servers, via the Internet. An example would be your e-mail. Web-based e-mail (Gmail & Yahoo) uses a cloud computing program, making it possible for you to check it from any location.

Other than e-mail, cloud computing is a good way to backup your music, photos, and documents. Most companies will even have a backup to your backup, by storing files on more than one server in more than one center. Say goodbye to the hassle of figuring out different ways to get pictures off your phone, cloud computing also makes sharing files as easy as creating a folder and choosing which device you want it to go to or who you want to see it.

“The cloud” isn’t such a scary and mystical thing, but rather a tool to make sorting, storing, and understanding today’s technology a little easier. A couple recommendations would be dropbox.com, a user-friendly site that is what it says, a drag and drop server there to help save and transport your files from different devices. There is also Google Drive, which is a good option if you already have a Gmail account. The Internet provides you with a multitude of options right to your devices, which gives you the opportunity to pick the one that best fits your needs. If you have questions on your Wi-Fi or Internet service, call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 and one of our representatives would be happy to help you.

Tips on Boosting Your Wi-Fi

We have come a long way from sitting down and writing a letter to a friend when we want to chat. Even the number of telephone calls are rapidly decreasing. Now-a-days, we connect through Wi-Fi. Gone away is the physical aspect of communication; instead we open a laptop, grab a tablet, or press some buttons on a smartphone. Without Wi-Fi, those actions would get us nowhere, and when our Wi-Fi starts to lag we get upset. Before you jump to blaming your Internet provider or electronic device, Great Plains Communications has some ways to ensure that your personal Wi-Fi is working at maximum capacity.

  • Location, Location, Location: Assess where your router is located within your home. Make sure to place your router as close to the center of your home as possible, to ensure every square foot of your home receives the same signal strength. Also, check how close your router is to things such as microwaves, land-line phones, and other devices that could interfere with your Wi-Fi connection.
  • Make Sure it’s Secure: Always be sure to protect your Wi-Fi from hackers and thieves by setting a secure password on your router. Change your passwords frequently for maximum security. If devices outside your home are using your Wi-Fi, this not only depletes your Wi-Fi signal, but it can open up your personal information to hacking.
  • Bring Back the Bunny Ears: Just as bunny ears used to boost your television connection, many routers will support external antennas. Just position your high-gain antenna for your router in a position to maximize your Wi-Fi signal.
  • Time for an Upgrade: With technology changing rapidly, it is important to maintain the best devices for maximum use. If you have had the same router for multiple years and nothing else seems to be helping boost your Wi-Fi, it could be time to think about shopping for a new model.

If you have questions on your router or Internet service, call 1-888-343-8014, Option 1 and one of our Customer Response Representatives would be happy to help you.

Three Reasons to Use a Home Wi-Fi Connection Instead of Mobile Broadband

Many cellular companies are now in the home Internet business, but are these services really as good as a fiber-based wireless network?  The short answer is: not really.  Here are three reasons why you should choose a wireless network powered by fiber-based network over Mobile Broadband.

First off, a few definitions.  A wireless (or Wi-Fi) network using a fiber or wire-based system is what our customers enjoy.  This type of Internet uses a wireless router in your own home to turn a wired system into a Wi-Fi network.  Mobile Broadband uses a cellular connection to provide an Internet connection.  These connections are inherently wireless and are not supported by a dedicated wired connection.

1. A Home-Based Connection is safer in severe weather: When severe weather strikes, many take to their Internet and Smartphones to find out if their friends and families are OK and to find out more information.  If there are too many calls and data requests being made over the entire mobile network, then Mobile Broadband may slow down significantly or stop working completely.  Since a wired connection isn’t carrying much voice traffic and has more bandwidth to access, this is a far smaller concern with a home Wi-Fi connection.

2. A Home-Based Connection is better supported: For Great Plains Communications’ customers, there is no comparison between the service provided by our technicians and Mobile Broadband companies.  Our technicians live in the communities they serve.  That means that they can react to service issues in hours instead of days or even weeks.  When using a national Mobile Broadband service, it is nearly impossible to be a priority.

3. A Home-Based Connection is better for the future: Scientifically, there is only so much data that can be transmitted over Mobile Broadband.  As demand continues to grow, the speed that you will be able to attain will shrink, not grow.  Wired Internet is only getting faster and speeds will continue to increase well into the future.  You can see the proof in our faster speeds across Nebraska.

There are many reasons to trust an Internet connection from Great Plains Communications over those offered by Mobile Broadband.  These are three that we feel truly affect our customers.  If you have more questions, visit http://gpcom.com/residential/internet for more information.

6 Tips for Keeping Electronics Safe in the Summer Heat

As portable devices such as laptops, iPads and smart phones continue to increase in use so does the potential for these devices to get fried in the summer heat.

Here are a few simple ways to protect your electronics this summer season:

  1. It may sound like common sense, but don’t leave your electronics inside your car during the summer months.  If you must stow your devices, place them in the trunk or underneath a seat where the sun can’t reach them and they will stay at least a little cooler.
  2. Keep devices in the shade when not using them.  If you are lounging by the pool or at a BBQ, make sure that you have a shady place to put devices when not in use.
  3. Take care when using them, too.  If you are going to be using the device for a long time, it’s advisable to find a shady area to protect your device from the summer sun.  You can also try a cooling pad.
  4. Store your device in a foamed neoprene cover.  The same material that is used to create wetsuits conducts heat far less efficiently than cotton or other natural fibers. That lack of conduction means that your device stays much cooler than if left out in the open.  Certain kinds of plastic can also help.
  5. Don’t leave the screen out in the sun.  It’s true that e-readers like the Kindle are glare-free and can be used in the sun, but when it isn’t in use, don’t let the screen sit out.  Spending too long in the sun can bleach the screen.
  6. Be vigilant at home, too.  Keep electronics out of direct sunlight.  Also, if you are prone to turning off the air conditioning in your home while you’re away, think about setting the thermometer to 80 degrees instead to ensure that your home doesn’t get too hot for your devices to handle.

 

Surprising Factors Affecting Your Internet Speed – Part One

While it’s well-known that your broadband speed is one of the biggest indicators of how fast you are going to be able to browse the web, there are several factors that can stop you from benefitting from your current speeds.  No matter what speed you receive, avoiding the issues below will help you maximize your online experience.

Since there are a lot of factors that affect your Internet speed, we have broken it into three parts: wireless issues, computer issues, and website issues.  Check back soon for parts II and III.

Part I – How your wireless connection can affect your speed

  • You are unwittingly providing Internet for your entire neighborhood If you run wireless Internet in your home without securing your personal network, you run the risk of others using your network.  This additional demand on your connection can significantly reduce the speeds that you receive.
    Make sure that you secure your network and use a password that isn’t easy to guess. Even if you think that your neighbors aren’t the kind to steal your connection, it’s still important to take precautions.  With so many devices enabled with wireless capability, including mobile phones and handheld gaming devices, others may not even know that they have jumped onto your network.

  • You have more devices online than you know – Handheld and stationary gaming devices, computers and laptops, mobile phones; all of these use wireless Internet connections now and can slow down your overall speed.  When many devices are all getting and sending data over one connection, the total “space” on that connection available for each device shrinks.  So if you are trying to stream a movie and notice it’s buffering a lot, make sure that your connection isn’t getting too many requests.
  • Your wireless router or modem is outdated – If your wireless router’s speed is low, then your high-speed Internet isn’t able to provide access to your wireless devices with optimum speed. The new standard for wireless routers is 1 GB.  This will allow you to provide the best connection to your devices.
  • If your modem is aging, it could also be the problem.  All electronic devices eventually wear down due to issues such as accumulated heat damage.  As your modem wears, it will also have a harder time sending and receiving information and that can significantly slow down your speed.