Friday, October 25, 2013

Bad Routers and Internet Providers

(This is about routers and router support.  For internet service connection problems, tap or click for my prior posting on choosing internet services.   If your internet service fails and you do not get help, switch to another service.)

A router is a switch which connects your devices with Internet.

You would not expect to need to call in an electrical engineer or someone who calls himself an electrical engineer to replace a light switch in your rented apartment.

Yet that is exactly what happens with routers here.

Again, the router is a box which directs Internet to your computer or iPad or even printer.

You are too often expected to call in an outside computer fixer to whom the visit is a fool's errand at no profit. And routers frequently fail.  They need to be configured.    Ideally they need to be matched to the service.

This is a big disappointment and frustration to those excitedly learning to use iPads and those of us who help them and may have recommended learning to use them.

Internet service is also becoming more and more essential to our well-being. It is becoming the primary way to handle our medical and financial communications and records. It is especially important for seniors who may have no better way of communicating and decreasing mobility.

It is just taking time for this to be understood by some Internet service providers.

What to do? I had five residents contacting me at breakfast the other day with router problems.

There has to be a simpler way, and there is.

With Comcast you can simply hand the problem to to Comcast by letting them supply you and support a router. There will be a charge. You can also obtain a service contract.   Their routers are matched to their service.

With Windstream they automatically supply and support your router. They sell you and support that router. 

Freedompop supplies your router.

(I have just been able to sign up with T-Mobile to use my smartphone as a router for 4.5 G and $15 per month. If you have such, it might be all you need.)

With Senior TV you are unfortunately on your own, a big downside for this otherwise acceptable service.

A good alternative if no other remedy is available is to obtain a simple practical low cost proven router as opposed to a newer yet unproven more technically complicated and expensive state of art router.

In other words keep it simple.

Just read Amazon buyer comments to find out which ones are reliable and which ones are not. The newer ones may not even be certified yet.

I use a D-Link $30 device which works perfectly. Substituting such a device for a suspect router can show whether the router or the service is failing.  Tap or click to read about it or try it.

This is a better solution than having residents work with dozens of different computer fixers, some qualified and some not, who do not want the work anyway and charge a hefty fee.  I am aware of only one I could comfortably recommend, at $90 per hour.

Routers are complicated devices. There are too many of them. All of them are complicated to configure. I have learned to program half a dozen different ones but it takes a lot of time and it's not worth my trouble. I need to spend my time helping people help themselves. It is not worth outside trouble and the high cost of it either.

It is much simpler to plug in another when one fails. If the backup does not work, then you suspect that your internet service is just plain not working, even if they insist that it is.   Ideally the service provider would at least loan you one to try, or even rent you one.

Obviously it would be a lot better if we all used the same router. In my IT days I required that it be possible to drop in replacement equipment instantly to avoid outages. Generally that means standardizing the equipment.

All the providers above require that except Senior TV. Putting seniors at risk for a more and more necessary service is certainly not acceptable.  It is really irresponsible to put seniors at risk for loss of internet functionality.

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