Crossing the Digital Divide – by Joseph Feigon

Do you have Internet access yet?  Lest I confuse anyone, the Internet, World Wide Web, Web, Net, are one and the same. I’ll keep it to ‘web’, easier to type. Read more…

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Crossing the Digital Divide (v140) December 2018


by Joseph Feigon for the Observer

It’s that time of year, scrambling to finish projects, everyone and their brother collecting receipts and invoices in anticipation of tax season, bookkeepers and business owners alike scurrying to update equipment and validate backups. You have a current backup, right?

We live in, what Jim Shields of Laytonville County Water District, calls the West Zone.  The West Zone includes the Rancheria, Mulligan Lane, lower Branscomb Road, and the streets around our “Lake”. The North Road neighborhood is Laytonville’s highest density community. Internet options are currently limited – we love trees, but they can pose a near impenetrable barrier for fixed wireless solutions.

My wife and I use different cellphone carriers; AT&T and Verizon. Both work, one is often better than the other. My wife was receiving complaints that her voice was breaking up, and call quality was abysmal. I suggested she restart her phone. Once restarted, she recognized the option: “enable wifi calling” was selected. She deselected, and in doing so, had zero complaints of call quality for the remainder of her workday.

What does this mean?

When you select (intentionally or otherwise) to enable wifi calling, you have informed your phone (and your carrier) that your calls should go out via your wireless network. If you’re paying for “minutes” on your cellphone, this can be a great way to save money and still use the phone, however, the quality of service you receive is no longer controlled by AT&T, US Cellular, T-Mobile or Verizon. If you have a *good* Internet connection, e.g., one with low-latency and ample bandwidth, you shouldn’t experience any degradation of call quality. If you have Hughes or Viasat (Exede), call quality will drop, substantially. Here’s why: satellite Internet service is a high-latency network service –almost 1 second roundtrip between you phone and the satellite. Comparing call quality to a wifi signal connected to a low-latency (under 30milliseconds) is radical –one service results in choppy calls, echoes, and dropped words, the other, ‘as if’ you were on the cellular network.

I get it, there ARE places in our community where the only outside link is Hughes or Viasat, and for those users, being able to use wifi calling is the difference between making a phone call and having to drive into town. Where there are connectivity options, being able to choose the best/fastest connection lends a great deal of flexibility to your digital exposure. But what about quality of service, and why don’t the carriers provide you with a simple pre-call warning: “you’ve opted to use wifi calling, however, we see severe latency on your wifi network which will result in poor call quality.” Off-loading network traffic also means the carrier is wiping their hands of any call quality responsibility. What are your thoughts?

VoIP (Voice-over-Internet Protocol) is a mature, widely used network solution for homes and businesses across the globe. Cheaper, faster, and generally more reliable than phone service over aging copper lines. Where Internet options are robust, VoIP is great. Where latency is high (800ms-1000+ms, like satellite service), VoIP can be painful, and reminiscent of the long distance phone calls of the last century. We live on the other side of the digital divide, slowly, but surely, we’ll have robust solutions for most of the community, and mistaken “enable wifi calling” will not doom your calls to echos, drops, and mumbles.

Happy Holidays!

Control the things you can and keep the surprises to a minimum.

The “Digital Divide”…what is it?  How big is it?  Which side am I on?  These are important questions which can impact your education, job, economics general well-being.  

The Digital Divide is the gulf between individuals, households, businesses, and geographic areas in regards to access to, use of, and impact of information and communication technologies.  Simply put, the divide between those who have broadband and those who don’t.  There are many components of this divide, the most apparent in rural areas being lack of access.

Joseph Feigon is a technical wizard, and he is here to help you Cross the Digital Divide with his blog below.  Joe and his wife Mara moved to Mendocino county from San Francisco about eight years ago, and started building their own business:  business management/bookkeeping (Mara), and IT solutions for individuals and small businesses (Joseph).

Joe’s experience with telecommunications dates back to the era of divestiture, when he sold phone systems and voice processing platforms to small and large businesses alike.  As speed increased and fiber began to replace T-1 lines he moved into video and data.  He rode the Internet wave and helped individuals and businesses to connect and access the Internet to fulfill their personal and business goals.  He assisted several Bay area municipalities replace their aging PBX’s or Centrex systems with contemporary, VoIP based solutions to embrace exciting new technologies.  

In today’s world and “information overload” it takes effort to keep our digital literacy skills up to speed.  Joe is here to help us with his “Crossing the Digital Divide” columns. We are are grateful that he is sharing his knowledge with the residents of Mendocino County and viewers of the Broadband Alliance website.

You can also find Joe’s columns published weekly in the Laytonville Observer paper.  If you want to contact Joe, please use the Alliance contact request and we will pass your inquiry to Joe.

(NOTE: Joe is a resident of Laytonville, and some of his columns are specific to that area.  The ones included here are those columns that have a wider audience appeal)

Volume 1 – Crossing the Digital Divide (1/7/2016)
Volume 2 – Keep it Safe (1/14/2016)
Volume 3 – Here & There, Hardware and Backups (1/21/16)
Volume 4 – Rules of the Road (1/28/16)
Volume 5 – Free Stuff (2/16/16)
Volume 6 – Real Privacy (2/23/16)
Volume 7 – Your Net (3/4/16)
Volume 8 – Real Time Communications (3/10/16)
Volume 9 – Internet of Things
Volume 10 – Should I Fix it?
Volume 11 – Windows
Volume 12 – When to Turn What Off
Volume 13 – Two-factor Identification
Volume 14 – Shortcuts
Volume16 – plumbing
Volume 17 – Certifiable
Volume 18 – Cloud Cushions
Volume 19 – Oh No!
Volume 20 – Open Sesame
Volume 21 – Roaming
Volume 22 – Kate Wolf Festival
Volume 23 – Clean Power
Volume 25 – Chips
Volume 26 – Stress
Volume 27 – Mobile
Volume 28 – Really
Volume 30 – Bring it On
Volume 31 – Smile You’re On Video
Volume 32 – Little Things
Volume 33 – Option A
Volume 35 – Voice (Open Source)
Volume 36 – DDoS
Volume 37 – Hacks
Volume 38 – Readiness
Volume 39 Privacy
Volume 40 – Control
Volume 41 – Leaks (Bluetooth)
Volume 42 – Shopping
Volume 43 – Mind the Kids
Volume 45 – Teen Safety
Volume 46 – If Only
Volume 47 – Snippets
Volume 48 – TV-OD
Volume 49 – Replacements (Chromebooks)
Volume 50 – Gnu
Volume 51 – Check Please
Volume 52 – Check Point
Volume 53 – Tripod
Volume 54 – One Number (VoIP)
Volume 55 – Mac Attack
Volume 56 – Patch Tuesday and security updates
Volume 57 – Transparency
Volume 58 – iThings
Volume 59 – Numbness
Volume 60 – Beginnings
Volume 61 – Raspberry Pi
Volume 62- Latency vs bandwidth
Volume 63 – Google Hack
Volume 64 – Protect yourself from Ransomware
Volume 65 – Scareware and Ransomware
Volume 67 – Five unsettling cyber threats
Volume 68 – Bring your own Device
Volume 69 – Overheating
Volume 70- Maybe
Volume 71 – Blocked
Volume 72 – Net Reality
Quincy Larson – I’ll never bring my phone on an international flight again
Volume 74 – Heat
Volume 75 – Trial by Fire
Volume 76 – cc cleaner
Volume 77 – VoIP
Volume 78 – Use It
Volume 79 – Why IP?
Volume 80 – Time for a Change
Volume 81 – Career Technical Skills
Volume 82 – Problem Solving
Volume 83 – Hello
Volume 84 – PUP
Volume 85 – Rocketscience
Volume 86 – There’s more (Install updates!)
Volume 87 – Choice (The 7 Layers of the Internet)
Volume 88 – How to Primer (Google Drive)
Volume 89 – Basics (Social Media etiquette)
Volume 90 – FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt)
Volume 91 – Stress Not (and Back up)
Volume 92 – X-Ray (all you can spy on)
Volume 93 – All Queued Up
Volume 94 – Open the Pod Doors, Hal
Volume 95 – Duplicity
Volume 96 – Obfuscate
Volume 97 – In the early morning of Saturday
Volume 98 – Homework (History of VZ )
Volume 99 – This, too
Volume 100 – Freedom
Volume 101 – Ageless
Volume 102 – Plastic Wrap
Volume 103 – Spoof
Volume 104 – Today
Volume 105 – Nag
Volume 106 – Phishfry
Volume 107 – In-house
Volume 108 – Lookout!