Technology at Home Part One – Choosing the Best Internet Package

The COVID-19 pandemic has tremendously impacted nearly every aspect of our daily lives. This includes the way we rely on internet technologies for work, entertainment and condo board communications, especially while social distancing at home. As our reliance on these technologies increases, institutions from around the country have observed a spike in phishing attacks, malicious impersonation, and the spread of malware in personal computers and mobile devices.

In an effort to help our clients and their families stay safe during these difficult times, FirstService Residential’s in-house technology experts recently assembled a list of best practices and technology tips for working at home, improving password security, identifying potential scams and selecting personalized internet packages.
Part one of this series offers tips on selecting the right internet package and wireless network for your apartment.

Internet Service Providers in New York City

The largest internet carriers available in New York City include Verizon, Optimum, Spectrum and RCN. Each of these providers offer a multitude of internet packages that can be quite dizzying to sort through when shopping around for an upgrade or as a new customer. The most important thing to consider when customizing your internet package is the type of technology used to power your online connection and how many devices are connected to your internet at the busiest times of day.

The most popular connection types include DSL, Cable Internet, and Fiber Optic service, each of which come with unique advantages and downsides you will need to consider.

DSL Internet Connection

DSL, short for digital subscriber line, is an internet technology that uses existing telephone lines to deliver internet service which means that new wires are often not required to deliver service into your home. Because DSL relies on existing phone lines, this option is available across 90 percent of the country and is typically the most affordable internet package. However, unlike dial-up internet service, DSL will not interrupt or tie-up your voice calls and is much faster.

As an additional perk, DSL customers will have a “dedicated line” meaning that your neighbors’ internet activity will not affect the speed or bandwidth of your service. Speeds are more dependent on your proximity to the service provider’s main distribution point. Therefore, customers in rural or sparsely populated areas may want to reconsider buying into a DSL internet package.

Some providers also implement data caps or monthly limits on how much high-speed internet is available per account. Once that limit is surpassed, the service provider may throttle or slow-down the speed of your internet. Slower speeds are a literal drag when streaming your favorite movies in high-definition or when trying to conduct your annual condo/co-op board meeting using ZOOM, WebEx or another teleconferencing service. With many board meetings moving to these telecommunications platforms, it’s more important than ever to have a fine-tuned system for keeping your meetings organized and on track. Click here to learn crucial dos and don’ts for keeping your board meetings on-track while at a distance.

When it comes to the resilience of the cables required to deliver DSL internet service into your home, these cables are prone to storm damage and may need to be replaced depending on the age of available phone lines or following a high-wind event.

Overall, DSL is a good option for residents, board members and small families looking for a cost-effective service to connect their homes to the internet and are not too concerned with speeds that may be required to run a business or to support a great number of devices.

Cable Internet

Compared to DSL, cable internet is available to 89 percent of the country including most areas of New York City. This type of connectivity is supported through the same wires coaxial cables commonly used for television service instead of a telephone line. This means that in the event of a downed telephone line or an interruption in telephone service, your internet will not be effected.

Cable internet is substantially faster than other forms of broadband internet including dial-up, DSL and satellite services. This means that you can view and transfer photos, music and video content including board meetings at higher speeds. While higher speeds will mean higher costs for residents interested in cable internet service, many residents argue that the additional investment is well worth it, especially considering that many board members and residents are now working from home and cannot risk any dropped calls, missed meetings, or garbled connections.

As an added bonus, cable internet providers will often sell “bundled” internet packages that include discounted rates for television and phone service as long as the same provider is used to power these devices.

On the other hand, available connection speeds will often depend on how many users in a specific area are connected to the Internet at the same time. Often referred to as “internet rush hour,” peak usage times can range from 7 p.m. until as late as 11 p.m. During these hours, many residents experience slow internet speeds when browsing or downloading content.

Fiber Optic Cable Internet

Fiber Optic cable internet is the fastest type of internet connection available to New York City residents. With this type of connection, internet data is transferred via light signals that travel through thin glass wires. Fiber Optic internet also tends to be more reliable than DSL and is not subject to service interruptions related to weather, proximity to the internet service provider, or damages to power or telephone lines.

The age-old idea that “you get what you pay for” really comes into play here as Fiber Optic internet is by far the most expensive service option. However, considering the novelty of Fiber Optic internet technology, this type of service is only available to about 25 percent of the country.

For co-op and condominium board members who do have access to Fiber Optic Cable Internet, this service is your most robust option for internet connectivity.
 

Choosing the Best Wireless Router for Your Apartment

Even the fastest internet package requires a quality router and set-up to provide a strong Wi-Fi signal for your devices to connect to. Most internet service providers will supply you with a wireless router that might get the job done, but there are stronger, more powerful routers available to residents who are looking for alternatives.
For starters, count how many devices that need to be connected at the same time. If you live with your spouse, multiple children, or perhaps a teenager, you may have upward of a dozen devices connected at any given time. This includes personal laptops, televisions, cell phones and even a variety of smart home devices. In many cases, the more devices you have connected at once will slow available internet speeds and the performance of your router.

When it comes to improving your signal, the location of your router is one of the easiest modifications to make. It is a common notion to have your wireless access point in a centralized location. While this is correct, there are a couple other things you can do to improve the performance of your wireless router. You want to place you wireless router in a high location, because wireless signals are radio waves and they move better downward and outward far better than upward from the floor or the bottom shelf of a bookcase.

The technology experts of CNET have put together an extensive guide on purchasing a router for your home and everything you need to know about upgrading your network. Click here for expert tips on how to buy a router.
 

Stay Tuned for Part Two of Our Home Networking Series

As a full-service property management company, FirstService Residential is committed to offering you guidance on how to stay safe both during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic. The second part of our Technology at Home series will review how to protect you and your loved ones from popular phishing schemes, high-end phone attacks, and password security.

We also invite you to explore our COVID-19 Resource Center, a collection of the latest webinars, articles and websites from sources you can trust. Click here to find out more