A Discussion about the Internet Feed, Security and Virus/Adware/Spyware/Malware

The Internet Feed

The “Worldwide Web” (www.something.com etc.) is composed of all of the world’s servers which connect to you in basically seven ways.

The first and slowest is through dial-up phone lines. The maximum speed through a dial-up connection is 56KB and you can’t use your telephone when you’re on the internet.

The second avenue of connectivity is DSL (Digital Subscriber Line). DSL also uses phone lines, also called “twisted pairs”. There is about a three mile operating distance from the phone company’s CO (Central Office) after which the digital performance deteriorates rapidly. That’s why many rural communities (without cable) can get dial-up only.

The third choice is via satellites. Hughes Internet is one of the satellite internet providers and it is somewhat popular in rural areas especially when there is no other choice. The satellite download speeds are slow, particularly when it’s cloudy, and their upload speeds are miserable.

The fourth choice uses what is called an “Air Card”. It plugs into the USB port of your laptop and then connects to the cellular phone towers for internet access. Air Cards are handy for travelers, but they are not very fast, don’t work everywhere and are fairly expensive.

The fifth choice is Wi-Fi hotspots found in libraries, airports, restaurants and hotels. The operating range is very short, not much more than 100 feet. Many Wi-Fi hotspots charge for using it.

The sixth choice is coaxial cable from providers such as Comcast. Coaxial cable is very fast for download speeds, but typically the upload speds are a fraction of the download speeds. One of the biggest drawbacks to Comcast, other than their prices, is that they are generally oversubscribed. Think of a big water pipe feeding a town. If everybody takes a shower at the same time, the water pressure goes way down. If more houses are built using the same size water pipe, it gets worse. Their contract with you clearly states: “Speeds Not Guaranteed”.

The seventh and fastest way to connect to the world is by fiber-optics. Fiber-optic cables offer almost unlimited speed capability and they are almost everywhere other than rural areas. Quest Communications buried thousands of miles of fiber along railroad tracks all over the country thirty years ago, and local fiber connectivity is growing every day.

For an in-depth discussion of this technology, go to: Optical fiber cable. Worthy of note is that the speeds (also called Bandwidth) of a fiber connection are scalable according to need. You don’t have to run another “circuit”. We simply tell the provider to “turn up the dial”. We pay a little more for more speed, but there is zero additional infrastructure expense to do so.

How Ethx Connects You To The Internet

When we install an antenna on your home, it talks to our radio system (Access Points) somewhere in your community, typically at a central location such as a clubhouse, maintenance building, or office.

They don’t look like big cell site towers. In fact, our Access Point radios need to be only high enough to be able to be seen from the antenna on your home.

We use very high speed radios that communicate to the outside world far faster than the feed coming into the community. For example, our customer radios go up to 300Meg/second. It’s as if you had an actual fiber-optic cable coming directly into your home, but much cheaper.

As you may know, the growth in technology is exponential. With the advent of “Smart TVs” (The combining of internet browser and TV into one unit) and so many IPads, Kindles, etc., high speed connectivity is a necessity.

In recent years video streaming services such as NetFlix, Roku, Apple TV...and the use of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephones, such as Ooma, are becoming more prevalent and are less expensive than cable programming bundles and/or dedicated telephone landlines.

VoIP phones are very popular for seasonal residents for two major reasons: 1. You always get to keep your phone number, and 2. Your phone works anywhere you have high-speed internet service. Simply plug your phone into your router and you have dial tone. When you move to another location, plug it in to your router and you're back on line. No need to call your phone company for "seasonal" connects and disconnects. (They're not good at that anyway!)

All of these services, particularly Video Streaming, require high speed connections. Those of you who already have video streaming know about “buffering”. This occurs when the movie provider cannot send you the next few minutes of your movie fast enough because your internet connection is too slow. You have to wait until there is enough received information before it will start again. What you don’t see is what’s happening in the background with upload speeds. When you’re watching a movie, the Roku or Netflix box tells the central service (from which it comes) that it is ready for more. There is constant behind-the-scenes chatter going on. This is where high upload speeds (as provided only by Ethx) are very helpful.

There are also many other things happening in the background such as virus protection programs that try to stay constantly on top of the bad guys in the world before they get to you. Good upload speeds, as in fiber, are a great hidden benefit to you even though you’re not aware of it. High upload speeds (only with fiber) actually make download speeds work even faster.

Internet Security

We are often asked about security while doing credit card and bank transactions. People are concerned about being hacked and their funds looted. There are also many viruses, and malware/spyware/adware issues to deal with.

First of all, the security of your transactions happens between your computer and the bank/creditcard’s server. Normally, when you are looking at most sites, you will see in the address bar up top: http://www.msn.com for instance. There is no security involved in browsing most sites. However, when you go to your bank’s website to look at your account or transfer money, you will see an extra “s” in the address bar, such as: https://www.yourbank.com. What’s happening here is that your computer and the bank’s servers talk in highly encrypted formats, usually 128 bit encryption. For an in-depth discussion of this type of encryption, go to Key size. It’s pretty deep, but there if you want to learn more.

Secondly, Ethx uses sophisticated Routers and high-end carrier-class Firewalls to help protect the system against attacks and sniffing attempts from the global environment.

Adware, Spyware and Malware

Adware is a way to throw pop-ups in front you to get you to buy their products.

Spyware is composed of those nasty people in the world who want to steal your credit card numbers, your bank account info, and your address book so they can sell lists to spammers.

Malware is a catch-all group for those hackers who want to hurt you.

There are many free virus and adware/spyware/malware protection services. One of the best anti-virus programs is www.avast.com. Also use www.safer-networking.org, (Spy-Bot). Both offer free versions as well as more automatic and advanced versions.

Another great program to root out the bad guys is: malwarebytes.