Wednesday, October 21, 2015

In Syria, Virginia, a sign advertising rural satellite Internet


A little day trip found me in Syria, Virginia, about 10 miles from Old Rag Mountain on the east side of the Blue Ridge, and seeming rather like another world, even with men’s dorm.  There was also a fall mountain festival and an inn nearby. 

But there seemed to be no service from Verizon, at least on my iPhone.  And I saw the sign above advertising rural satellite Internet from Exede
  
In Sperryville (20 miles to the north, still just east of Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge), Verizon comes back at the 3G level. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

New York City highrise landlords have to scramble to keep tenants wired for good cell service

   
Yes, I have thought about the possibility (from mid-2016 on) of living in New York City again (see main blog, June 9, 2015, where I whimsically talk about the New York Mets, with some prescience, it turns out).  But one big problem, particularly in the more “affordable” outer boroughs, would be making sure that full cable, high speed Internet, and cell service (and backup hotspot) all work well.

 This may be a bigger issue than I would have expected, and I will have to be careful before signing anything.

The Real Estate section of the Sunday New York Times “Sunday Business”, p. 8, offers a long article by Michelle Higgins, “The Message: Loud and Clear: High-rises ad cellphones don’t mix. But no service, no tenant. The fix? New wireless systems”.  Online, the title is “The Cellphone Imperative: If I can’t text, I’, moving”, link here

I would presume that Donald Trump, with his background in air rights, has taken care of this in all his new condo buildings. (Yes, it would be fun to live near Columbus Circle and Lincoln Center in his building if I could afford it --m and that's Yankee territory.) 
      
I do have some tech-and-music friends, mainly in Brooklyn, who don’t report any problems, but they may be living in brownstones in less-tall buildings.  (Yes, they love the Mets.)

In hotels in Manhattan, I usually don’t have a problem.  (However, at the Hotel Pennsylvania, I think in 2012, I had reserved a room that offered free Internet but had to ask for a room change to get it. )  Usually, the iPad or the iPhone hotspot works OK deep inside the hotel, so the hotels do seem to have wired themselves for good cell service (at least from Verizon, my carrier).  (One smaller midtown hotel gave me exactly the same room both times I was there!)
  
Cell phones usually don’t work well in most sections of the NYC subway (as of December 2014, but check this WSJ story) , and are starting to work better in many lines of the Washington DC Metro (usually in stations when stopped and in some of the tunnels).

 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Verizon seems aggressive in charging wireless Internet customers for large amounts of data use -- why?


Verizon, which still seems to have the largest wireless Internet coverage network across the country, is doing everything it can to discourage unlimited data transfer access, charging more now for the remaining consumers on it.  And generous data limits tend to be expensive, with additional charges for hotspot use and additional tablet or iPad use.  Brian Fung explains in an Oct. 8 article in the Washington Post here.

Why is data transfer so much more expensive with wireless than with cable or Fios Internet?  The question is significant because I use hotspot a lot on the road (hotel networks are less secure and sometimes don’t work – the “Ovation” network didn’t work in a stay in Columbia SC at a Quality Inn near Fort Jackson a few weeks ago – just before the storms and floods – and I was told to try moving the laptop around, it might work in other places on the property.  I didn’t get around to trying that (I’m willing to believe it would have worked), as I just simply used iPhone hotspot – and was warned I had gotten up to 75% of my plan.
  
My experience is that Internet that doesn’t require a physical land connection is simply more reliable, or more likely to be available in a pinch.  Comcast Xfinity actually does stay up during thunderstorms, but on weekdays there are sometimes annoying stops (with the Cable saying simultaneously “This channel will be available shortly” on its own BSOD) – which I can only attribute to maintenance work in the area causing signal drop-offs and short outages.  I have a smaller digital TV which simply gets the 2009 broadcast signal to an antenna placed near a picture window, to have TV during long outages – but that doesn’t help with some channels like CNN or ESPN.

 

Friday, October 02, 2015

Mobile emergency location has not been as good as it needs to be


I wasn’t aware of the fact that location services with smart phone technology in emergencies still has left something to be desired.

In the Entrepreneurhip section (p. B9) of the New York Times Business Section Thursday Oct. 1, Glenn Rifkin covers “a lifesaving phone app inspired by a brush with tragedy” here.  It’s called RapidSOS, and it deals with the way emergency cell phone calls are routed among towers, to a response center that may not be as close as with a landline call. 

The precipitating incident was a wintertime outdoor fall in Indiana.