Internet

What's the difference between a TV converter box and a cable internet box?

Episode 1490

Paul from La Jolla, CA
Cable

A TV converter box is the set top box that comes with a cable subscription, and it takes the signal coming in through the copper cable and turns it into something the TV can understand. He would use the converter box to switch channels. The internet box is a bit different, and would give him the cable internet access. Often times companies will combine the two and offer a converter box and a cable modem. He would get more channels on the hybrid cable TV and internet box, but he'd have to pay for the internet access to use that.

What's the cheapest way to cut the cable?

Episode 1487

James from Downey, CA
https://www.att.com/

James has had it with cable and wants get rid of it and stream. Leo says for most people, the best choice is to get broadband from the cable company, and then get TV from something like YouTube TV or Sling TV. The other choice is DSL, but there will be varying degrees of success depending on how far away from the main hub one is. With DSL, it slows down the farther one is away. Fiber is the other choice, and may be the best solution of all. But its coverage is spotty. High speed wireless is coming and once that hits, one can completely cut the cable.

Should I replace my router?

Episode 1479

Brian from Indio, CA
eero.com

Brian wants to know why he should replace his router. Leo says that routers wear out, like when they are getting hot. That's an indicator it's working harder to push the traffic where it needs to go. He'll want to look for a router that that updates its firmware. He'll also want a reliable manufacturer who cares about updates. Leo also recommends a MESH router, which are great for homes that have issues with WiFi reception.

Get a mesh system at Eero's website (sponsor of TWiT)

How can I keep track of my bandwidth?

Episode 1469

Al from Upland, CA
Ubiquity Edge Router X

Al recently signed up for satellite internet because he lives in a rural area. DSL was an option, but it was very limited. He has to be very conscious of data use. Is there a way to keep track of how much data he uses? Leo says that Windows 10 keeps track of data used, and his cell phone will give him an idea as well. His ISP may have a way to do it, and may even send him an email warning when he's approaching his bandwidth cap. Personally, the best way to do it is through the router. Many routers keep track of this information in the menu settings.

How can I get around work's locked down internet?

Episode 1462

Rick from Irvine, CA
Computers

Rick's wife is trying to get around her job's internet restrictions with a VPN. Is there any way to do that? Leo says probably not. They will likely have it locked down to the point where she can't get around it. Leo recommends using her mobile phone in hotspot mode. She should turn off Wi-Fi though because she'll still be under their policies even when she's on her phone using the Wi-Fi. The company has the right to not only prevent her from using her own devices on their network, but also to spy on her. So she should be careful.

RIP Net Neutrality

Episode 1448

Ajit Pai

In a strict party-line vote, the FCC voted 3-2 to kill Net Neutrality rules, in spite of overwhelming support to protect it. Leo says that while the rules were in place in 2015, we've really had it since the beginning. Leo says he believes the smaller ISPs will probably still keep the spirit of Net Neutrality, but he believes the bigger companies like Time Warner, Comcast and others will probably charge Google, Facebook, and others for access to their customers. He doesn't believe at this point that customers will see a direct impact, though.

Is there a better alternative to internet than my business solution?

Episode 1444

Hans from Los Angeles, CA
Cell tower

Hans is having issues with poor internet service in the mall where his store is located. He only gets 1.5 MBps for $85. Leo says that's awful. Leo says there's bound to be better options in his area, but he's stuck there in the mall. Leo says that's a scam where the mall makes an exclusive deal with an ISP and he's stuck with no other option. Maybe he could get several tenants together and go directly to the landlord of the mall and demand they offer a better option.

Why does the Amazon Echo stop streaming?

Episode 1410

Tamar from Los Angeles, CA
Amazon Echo Dot

Tamar has an Amazon Echo Dot. She'll be listening to streaming radio and then it will just stop working. Leo says that he's had the same problem and it could be that it hears the word stop and stops. But it could also be that the stream stalls and the Echo gives up. Leo discovered that when he used the Echo Show and could see the error message. When a stream stops, it could be a random stop of the stream to force it to restart. This is largely due to having to pay royalties for music that they play. But if it's stopping suddenly and after just a few minutes, then that's not normal.

Why Net Neutrality Is So Important

Episode 1407

Net Neutrality

We've been talking a lot about Net Neutrality, which is the idea that bits should flow along the "information superhighway" without being artificially impeded by an internet service provider. If the internet is an information superhighway, then the internet service provider is the exit ramp. It's how that stuff going back and forth across the world gets to your home. But wouldn't it be annoying if there were toll roads across town, and you'd need to pay a toll to get the internet to your house? If in order to get access to certain websites, you'd need to pay an additional toll?