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Comcast XFINITY has revealed a new feature allowing people to use their eyes to change the channel, set a recording or search for a show.

It will allow customers to sync an existing eye gaze tracking system or even a ‘sip and puff’ interface triggered by breath to the firm’s XFINITY X1 box.

“Changing the channel on a TV is something most of us take for granted but until now, it was a near-impossible task for millions of viewers,” said Tom Wlodkowski, vice president of accessibility at Comcast.

Comcast says it hopes the new system will allow people with physical disabilities like spinal cord injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) the ability to navigate their television using only their eyes.

The firm is one of dozens trying to make tech easier to use for those with disabilities.

For instance, Microsoft has set up its own lab to help gamers carry on playing using a variety of added sensors, and even created a special Xbox controller to make life easier for gamers with disabilities.

In the U.S., more than 48 million people live with physical or mobility disabilities and every day about 15 people are newly diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

These disabilities can often make seemingly everyday tasks more difficult.

“When you make a product more inclusive you create a better experience for everyone and we’re hoping our new X1 feature makes a real difference in the lives of our customers.”

To develop the feature, Comcast XFINITY has been working with Philadelphia resident Jimmy Curran.

He has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a condition that affects the part of the nervous system that controls muscle movement, and was among the first customers to get the new X1 eye control technology.

“Being independent is something I always strived to be,” he said. “I’ve been living independently since college. I’m living life and enjoying it to the fullest.”

“When I have company and we’re watching something, when they leave I’m stuck watching whatever they left on the TV.”

The new system allows Curran to launch and use the guide simply by looking at a control screen.

“I don’t need to rely on others to use the remote, and that is a liberating feeling.”

The system uses a web page remote control that works seamlessly with existing eye gaze hardware and software, Sip-and-Puff switches and other assistive technologies.

Meet Jimmy | See How Our Technology Is Enabling Him to Be More Independent - YouTube

Pictures and video courtesy of Comcast

The post Change the channel with a gaze: Comcast reveals new accessibility features appeared first on Allconnect Connected Home Blog.

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Signing up for Verizon internet services? You may be wondering what your equipment options are. Depending on which service you choose, you have a few options that could affect your monthly or startup costs.

With Verizon Fios, you have the option to rent or purchase a router through Verizon. Monthly rental fees start at $12 per month.* The one-time fee for purchasing their Fios router starts at $199.99.*

With Verizon High-Speed Internet, their DSL service, you have the option to purchase their Gateway router for a one-time fee that starts at $29.99.*

Both services, however, also give you the option to use your own router. There are a few advantages to using your own modem and router, provided you use the right equipment. So, let’s take a look at Verizon-compatible routers for Fios and High-Speed Internet.

*Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. Speeds may vary. As of 06/12/19. What are the Verizon Fios-compatible routers?

Since Verizon Fios uses a 100% fiber-optic network, the service does not use modems. Instead, it uses an Optical Network Terminal (ONT), which is essentially the fiber-optic version of a modem. So you can’t use your own modem with Verizon Fios, but you can use your own router.

Verizon says any router will work with your Verizon Fios ONT device. You will need to plug it into the ONT using an Ethernet cable and make sure the settings are switched from Coaxial to Ethernet. You may need to call Verizon to have this setting changed.

Verizon Fios speeds can range from 50 to 940 Mbps, so you don’t want to use just any router. Using one that isn’t built to handle your plan’s speeds will limit the performance in your home. Here are five routers that are compatible with Verizon Fios service and capable of supporting most or all available speed tiers.

Recommended routers for Verizon Fios service
RouterSpeedEthernet portsAntennasWi-Fi bands
ASUS RT-AC68U Whole-Home Dual-Band AiMesh Router1.3 Gbps (5 GHz)
600 Mbps (2.4 GHz)
435 and 2.4 GHz
802.11ac
Linksys AC1200+ Smart Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (EA6350)867 Mbps (5 GHz)
300 Mbps (2.4 GHz)
425 and 2.4 GHz
802.11ac
Nighthawk® X6 AC3200 Tri-band Wi-Fi Router1.3 Gbps (5 GHz x 2)
600 Mbps (@.4 GHz)
56Tri-Band
802.11ac
Tenda AC1200 Dual Band Wi-Fi Router867 Mbps (5 GHz)
300mbps (2.4 GHz)
445 and 2.4 GHz
802.11ac
TP-Link Archer C3150 V2 MU-MIMO Gigabit Router2.17 Gbps (5 GHz)
1 Gbps (2.4 GHz)
445 and 2.4 GHz
802.11ac

Pricing and availability for these routers may vary. Additionally, they may not be the best devices for your specific needs and internet plan. Before purchasing a new router or planning to use one you already own for your Verizon Fios service, call Verizon Customer Service to verify it is compatible and appropriate for your plan.

What if I have Verizon Fios TV?

Here’s where using your own router with Verizon Fios can be an issue. Most routers will not be compatible with your Verizon Fios TV service. As a result, your channel guide, On Demand and other Verizon Fios TV functions may not work properly. Additionally, TVs connected via Fios TV One Minis may not work at all.

To ensure you have a seamless internet and TV experience, Verizon recommends you use either the Fios Advanced Wi-Fi Router (Actiontec MI424WR Rev I) or the Fios Quantum Gateway Router (Verizon G1100). Both routers are available for purchase or rental through Verizon.

What are the Verizon High-Speed Internet (DSL)-compatible modems?

Verizon’s DSL service gives you fewer options for compatible routers. Considering the low cost of purchasing a Verizon High-Speed Internet modem/router combo, it may be more cost-effective to buy theirs, unless you already own a compatible device.

Here are the Verizon-compatible routers.

  • Verizon HSI Wireless Gateway
  • Actiontec Verizon GT704WGB Wireless DSL Gateway
  • Verizon Westell 7500 DSL Wireless Modem/Router/ Model A90-750015-07

The Verizon HSI Wireless Gateway router is available through Verizon, but you may have to find the Actiontec and Westell Gateway routers from third-party retailers such as Amazon or Best Buy.

What’s the downside to using my own router?

While using your own router can save you some money, especially with Verizon Fios service, there are a few reasons why you might want to use their official router instead.

Opting to use your own router may disqualify you for upgrades, new offers and security updates offered by Verizon. Additionally, you may not be able to get the same level of tech support you would otherwise get when using a Verizon-provided router.

When shopping for a new router or considering using one you already own for your Verizon internet service, consider the costs plus the pros and cons of renting/buying a router vs. using your own Verizon-compatible router.

Want to get the most out of your internet service?

Whether you have Verizon or another internet service provider, we’re here to help you make the most of it. To maximize your experience, check out our other articles on top routers, tips for boosting your Wi-Fi signal and more.

The post Looking for a Verizon-compatible modem? We’ve got you covered! appeared first on Allconnect Connected Home Blog.

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Americans pay $60 a month on average for their internet, yet they’re still not happy with their service.

According to the latest report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), more than 30% of consumers are unsatisfied due to slow internet speeds, unreliability and poor video streaming quality.

“While many firms post gains this year, service is largely considered to be slow and unreliable, and competition is limited in many areas,” the report reads. “Most ISPs are still falling short of providing good service at an affordable price.”

That’s not altogether surprising — internet service providers (ISPs) have been the lowest rated industry every year that ACSI has tracked them — but it might be more correctable than you think. Here’s how you can improve your slow internet speeds.

Test what speeds you’re currently getting

If your Netflix is constantly buffering or that email is taking forever to load, you probably don’t need a speed test to tell you that your internet’s slow. Nevertheless, putting a number to your current situation can help you diagnose what steps you should take to improve it.

We recommend using our speed test to check what you’re currently getting. It’ll take less than a minute, and you’ll get two numbers out of it: your download and upload speeds. Compare these to the plan on your monthly bill. There are a number of factors that can impact speed — more on that below — but if the speed you’re getting is a fraction of what you’re paying for, it’s worth contacting your provider.

That said, despite their low standing with customers, ISPs do generally provide the speeds they promise. When we looked at data from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), we found that some DSL and satellite customers received lower-than-advertised speeds, but fiber and cable connections generally lived up their promises. To see how your provider stacked up, check out our full analysis here.

Find out how much speed you need

Internet speed refers to the amount of data that can be transferred through a connection at one time. How much speed you need depends on how many devices are going to be using the connection at once, as well as what type of activities they’ll be using it for.

The FCC recommends internet speeds of 12-25 Mbps for houses with multiple internet users or for frequent online streaming, but certain activities require more or less than that.

For example, you’ll need at least 25 Mbps if you plan on streaming in 4K Ultra HD, and some live TV streaming services like Fubo recommend at least 40 Mbps. Expect that number to go up for every device that’s connected as well — if you’re scrolling your phone while watching Netflix, say. For more information on finding your optimal speeds, we put together this comprehensive guide on the speeds required for every type of activity.

Improve speeds without upgrading your plan

If you’re not getting the speed you need, you don’t necessarily need to switch plans or providers. There are a number of things you can try first to improve your performance without shelling out more on your monthly bill.

1. Update your network security

Improving your internet speed might be as simple as updating your Wi-Fi password. Every device that’s connected to your internet takes up bandwidth, and internet leeches could significantly drag down your speeds. Make sure your router’s settings adhere to password best practices: keep it between 12 and 15 characters, incorporate numbers and symbols and make sure you don’t reuse it anywhere else.

2. Optimize your router’s settings

If you’re not getting the speeds your paying for, try playing around with your router’s settings. Some routers have options to prioritize things like gaming at the expense of speeds for multiple users. Simply resetting the router to factory conditions could have an impact.

There are more technical solutions you could try, as well. Changing the router’s fragmentation and RTS threshold settings to a lower setting can help data move more efficiently through your connection.

3. Change your Wi-Fi channel

If your router’s on a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi channel, you might try switching to a 5 GHz channel to improve your internet speeds by gaining more bandwidth and less interference. 2.4 GHz offers a greater range than 5 GHz, but this comes at the expense of faster speeds. If your router is limited to the 2.4 GHz band, try changing it to either channel 1, 6 or 11. These channels tend to get the least amount of overlap from things like microwaves and baby monitors, so you should experience faster speeds.

4. Reset your router

Sometimes the unplug-and-plug-back-in method really does work. Before you completely give up on your router or upgrade to a faster plan, try resetting your router. Just as restarting your phone can sometimes fix an unknown issue, giving your router a hard reset will often clear any dormant problems and boost your speeds.

5. Replace your router

Oftentimes the thing slowing down your internet is the router itself. Wireless technologies improve every year, and a once state-of-the-art router can quickly become archaic. Put simply, if it’s more than a few years old, it’s probably time to replace.

If you rent your router from your internet provider, call them up and ask for a newer version. If they won’t do it — or if you already own your own — it’s worth investing in a new one. We put together a list of the best wireless routers here, along with everything you need to know to choose the right one for your home

The post 30 percent in the U.S. say their internet is too slow. Here’s how to fix it appeared first on Allconnect Connected Home Blog.

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When it comes to making decisions about your home services, getting feedback from real consumers can often be the best source of information. But as popular review places like Yelp, Google and especially social media sites become oversaturated with customer complaints and spam for remote jobs, credible sources like the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) are more important than ever.

Each year, the ACSI — the only national cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction in the U.S. — surveys almost 300,000 consumers to score TV, internet, fixed-line telephone, video-on-demand and video streaming providers on key components of service and whether or not they’re keeping customers happy. And based on industry averages, TV providers are missing the mark, tying for last with the internet industry across 10 economic sectors and 46 industries.

The report is pretty lengthy, but if you’re looking to get the breakdown on TV and TV only, we’ve got you covered. Check out how popular TV providers scored and learn about some service trends you can expect in the next year.

Top TV providers of 2019 by customer satisfaction

In ACSI’s report, numerical scores of 0 to 100 were given to multiple major TV providers based on subscriber feedback while one score was assigned to “all others” to encompass the rankings of smaller companies. Here are the best TV providers by consumer satisfaction score from April 2018 to March 2019:

Honorable mentions

Optimum (Altice USA) earned the #6 spot with a score of 61/100, while Cox and Charter Spectrum tied for #7 with scores of 59/100.

The subscription TV service industry received an overall average score of 62 which is exactly the same as the previous year despite fluctuations to individual scores. AT&T’s U-verse TV continued to lead the pack with a score of 69 out of 100, down 1% from last year. Verizon Fios and DISH Network placed second and third, respectively, with scores of 68 and 67 — the same as 2018.

AT&T’s DIRECTV experienced the greatest bump in customer satisfaction, with a 3% increase, while Suddenlink, formerly known as Alltice USA, saw the greatest decrease in their overall score, with a 55 out of 100 (5% decrease).

In what may come as a bit of a surprise, a group of smaller TV providers, labeled as “All Others,” rounds out the top five companies with a score of 62 out of 100, while larger, more well-known providers — including Spectrum, Frontier and XFINITY — received scores in the upper 50s.

How are TV providers ranked?

The ACSI collects data from thousands of consumers each year in order to evaluate the customer satisfaction of over 400 companies in 46 different industries. Each industry is judged by its own set of metrics which can be anything from product quality to experience with customer service call centers.

Here’s a look at how the best TV providers were determined and scored this year and how the numbers compare to last year.

“Quality of mobile app” and “Reliability of mobile app” are new metrics for ACSI as consumers move toward online live and on-demand streams instead of traditional live viewing.

TV industry trends to watch Customer satisfaction with TV providers stagnates

Scores for traditional TV providers have remained at an average of mid-to-low 60s for a whopping six years with little to no movement. As sales continue to decline and more consumers look to streaming services as cord-cutting options, providers will need to make a major change to compete.

“Traditional telecom providers have tried to step up their game, but they’re not providing original content the way video streaming is, and in part they suffer guilt by association — if customers aren’t satisfied overall with Comcast, they’re probably going to ding Comcast’s on-demand service too,” says Managing Director at ACSI, David VanAmburg.

Despite stalled customer satisfaction ratings and declining sales, most, if not all, aspects of traditional TV are still in major need of some upgrades to compete with On Demand and live TV streaming services. Although subscribers note HD picture quality as a top priority and a benefit of traditional TV service, satisfaction with even this feature of service is on the decline.

Video streaming services are surpassing TV providers

Out of five telecommunications industries, video streaming service leads the way in customer satisfaction and continues to experience improvements year after year. Video streaming earned a score of 76 out of 100 while traditional TV service tied with internet service providers at the bottom with a score of 62.

As more streaming services populate the market, industry watchers are wondering if TV providers will recover at all. In 2018 alone, traditional TV sales declined by 3% as subscribers turned towards more satisfying and cost-efficient online options.

Subscribers note bill simplicity, service reliability and quality of mobile app as key features that give video streaming services a competitive edge over traditional TV.

“Video streaming services significantly outperformed subscription TV. Streaming services don’t have the hidden fees and six-month rates that subscription TV does, not to mention they’re cheaper and simpler. But because consumers don’t have many options when choosing a subscription TV provider, those businesses don’t see a lot of risk in customer dissatisfaction, and we’re unlikely to see dramatic changes any time soon,” says VanAmburg.

Take a look at how video streaming compared to TV and other telecom services from 2018 – 2109.

Check out the full ACSI report to see how your TV, internet and home phone providers scored and discover more trends you can look forward to in telecom for the coming year.

The post ACSI’s scores are in: See how your TV provider stacks up appeared first on Allconnect Connected Home Blog.

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A DNS, or Domain Name Server, is what helps translate human-friendly URLs into computer-friendly IP addresses. This is what enables your devices to connect to the internet and access the content you want to see.

When people change their DNS, it’s usually to enhance either performance or security. (Or both!) And while there are many paid options to do it, we’re always fans of freebies. Below, we’ll take a look at what to consider when switching your DNS and the 14 best free DNS servers to do it with.

What to consider when switching a DNS

A few things to note before we dive in:

  • Default DNS vs. third-party DNS – When you have internet service, your internet service provider (ISP) has a default DNS which your network uses to connect to the web. ISPs can collect data on customers and their internet activity. A third-party DNS can do the same, though it becomes more difficult to attribute the connection to specific individuals or households.
  • Free DNS vs. paid DNS – Beyond the obvious financial difference between a free and paid DNS, free options typically have fewer features. A paid DNS will have more advanced security and performance functionality, as well as better customer support and more customization options. Generally speaking, a free DNS will work for most purposes.
  • Public DNS vs. private DNS – A public DNS is available to the general population and it typically comes from your internet service provider or a dedicated DNS provider. A private DNS is typically used by companies to give employees easier access to internal-only websites/IP addresses. Typically, you’re on a public DNS at home and either a private or public one at work.
Best free DNS servers of 2019 OpenDNS

208.67.222.222

Owned by Cisco, OpenDNS has two free options: Family Shield and Home. Family Shield is good for parents who want to make sure their kids can’t access inappropriate content. Home focuses on internet safety and performance.

Cloudflare

1.1.1.1

The “fastest DNS resolver on Earth,” Cloudflare’s free DNS service has:

  • Unmetered mitigation of DDoS
  • Global CDN
  • Shared SSL certificate
  • Three-page rules
  • Unlimited bandwidth
1.1.1.1 with Warp

1.1.1.1

A Cloudflare subproduct, 1.1.1.1 with Warp is designed for mobile devices. When you download the app on your smartphone or tablet, it “replaces the connection between your phone and the internet with a modern, optimized, protocol.” They also pledge to never sell your data.

Google Public DNS

8.8.8.8

Google’s own DNS product is also free. It focuses on “speed, security, and validity of results.” It only offers DNS resolution and caching — there is no site-blocking with Public DNS.

Comodo Secure DNS

8.26.56.26

Comodo Secure DNS’s cloud-based Dome Shield Gold package is free (up to 300,000 monthly DNS requests). This gets you:

  • Protection against malicious domain requests and IP responses
  • Security from advanced threats like phishing, malware, malicious sites, botnets, C&C callback events, spyware, drive-by-downloads, XXS-injected sites, cookie stealing, anonymizers, TOR encrypted files and web attacks
  • Multi-location, multi-user and the ability to control network protection remotely
  • Block pages and domain filtering
  • Mobile apps
  • Reporting
  • Off-network protection
Quad9

9.9.9.9

Quad9 emphasizes security, privacy and performance — the company was founded on the goal to make the internet safer for everyone. It blocks malicious domains, phishing and malware while maintaining your anonymity. Quad9 is constantly expanding to new regions. Right now, it comes in at No. 6 on the DNS Performance Analytics and Comparison ratings.

Verisign Public DNS

64.6.65.6

Verisign touts its superior stability and security features, plus the fact that they don’t sell user data to any third-party companies or for selling/targeting ads.

OpenNIC

13.239.157.177

At its core, OpenNIC is an attempt to combat censorship. Volunteer-run, this free DNS server makes the entire web accessible to everyone. They also prevent “DNS hijacking” which is when an ISP takes over commonly mistyped URLs.

UncensoredDNS

91.239.100.100

Completely run and funded by founder Thomas Steen Rasmussen, UncensoredDNS is based in Denmark. It’s a great option for those local to FreeDNS, complete with security features, performance enhancement and reliability.

CleanBrowsing

185.228.168.168

Both free and paid versions of CleanBrowsing are available. The free DNS server focuses on privacy, especially for households with children. It comes with three free filters and blocks most adult content.

Yandex DNS

77.88.8.7

This Russia-based option has a whole list of features:

  • Performance – Gets you faster access to the web
  • Protection – Blocks malware and bots
  • Content filtering – Prohibits access to adult content
UltraRecursive DNS

156.154.70.1

Neustar’s UltraRecursive DNS is also a well-rounded option. It offers performance enhancement with quick query resolution and a reliable infrastructure. It also blocks malware, malicious websites, phishing, spyware and bots (plus DDoS protection). It’ll also block inappropriate or adult content.

Alternate DNS

198.101.242.72

Sick of seeing so many ads online? Alternate DNS is the solution for you. They maintain a database of known ad-serving domains and send a null response to block ads before they connect to your network.

AdGuard DNS

176.103.130.130

AdGuard DNS also focuses on ad blocking. It also blocks counters, malicious websites, and adult content.

Conclusion

The best free DNS server for you depends on what you want to get out of switching your DNS and where you’re located. If you’re a bit tech-savvy, check out this tool to compare each DNS provider for your location.

The post Best free DNS servers of 2019: 14 options to check out appeared first on Allconnect Connected Home Blog.

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Ever heard of the term “domain name” when browsing the internet? There are approximately 351.8 million of them.

Essentially, a domain name is a website address. Website owners must register their domain name with a hosting company before they can build and launch their site at the desired URL.

But computers don’t speak the same language as us, so those domain names need to be translated into something readable and computer-friendly. That’s where the DNS server comes in.

What is a DNS server?

A DNS server matches domain names with IP addresses. Domain names are human-friendly web addresses, like allconnect.com, and IP addresses identify each of those websites with a computer-friendly numerical code, like 123.546.7.8.

What does DNS stand for? You can call it a Domain Name System or Domain Name Server.

How does DNS work?

Every device that is connected to the internet has its own IP address. DNS servers use name servers, which essentially act as a directory of IP addresses and domain names. These name servers also dictate how each domain name maps to an IP address. There are tons of different name servers which store this information, as a single master name server would be massive and unwieldy.

Plus, domain names can each map to several IP addresses. Think about it this way: Many people access the Allconnect® website at any given moment, and each of these individuals uses their own device.

So when a human enters a web address, a DNS will match it with the IP address which computers can interpret. This routes your connection to the appropriate destination (the website you’re trying to get to).

Why change your DNS

You know how you might change your IP address with a VPN to gain access to content which is restricted from your geographical location? Similarly, changing your DNS masks your location. The difference is, a VPN actually reroutes your connection through a different region, while a DNS simply tells the server that you’re in a different location. Because of this, a VPN also offers more privacy through encryption, which may also slow your connection.

So, the reasons you’d want to change your DNS? Here are a few:

  • Access content on the web which is restricted in your physical location (like Netflix)
  • Speed up your internet connection (sometimes third-party DNS servers are faster than the default)
  • Maintain a safe web browsing experience for children
  • Protect your devices and data through third-party DNS servers with added security features (mainly focused on anti-phishing)
  • Your internet connection isn’t working, and you suspect it’s a problem with the DNS
What to do if your DNS is down

There are different indications that your DNS server is down, and it’ll require a bit of diagnosis on your end if you want to DIY the fix. Some HTTP status codes, such as 502 errors, 503 errors and 504 errors, could all indicate a problem with your DNS.

If you suspect your DNS server is down, there are a few basic ways to confirm or even fix the situation:

  • Connect with a different device – If you’re only experiencing issues on one device while all others can connect without a problem, it’s probably device-specific.
  • Try a new browser or window – All devices having an issue? Open a new web browser or try a different web browsing program/app.
  • Reset your modem and router – This can restart the entire connection which is often all you need.
  • Connect with a hardwire – Plug into your Ethernet cable to see if it’s just the Wi-Fi that’s giving you a hard time.

If you still have a problem after taking the above steps (or you received a “DNS server unavailable” message), it could be your DNS.

Clear the DNS cache

On Mac:

  • Navigate to Applications.
  • Click Utilities.
  • Double-click Terminal.
  • Run the following command: sudo dscacheutil -flushcache
  • If the command succeeds, the system does not return any output.

On Windows:

  • Open the Windows Command prompt.
  • In the open prompt, type ipconfig /flushdns
  • You should receive a message of your success as confirmation when the cache is cleared.
Change your DNS

On Mac:

  • Navigate to System Preferences.
  • Click on Network.
  • Click on Advanced.
  • Go to the DNS tab.
  • Click the + sign at the lower left to add a new DNS server.
  • Type in the numbers of a public DNS server (you can get this from a third-party DNS server).
  • Click OK.
  • Select Apply.

On Windows:

  • Navigate to Network and Internet settings.
  • Click on Change Adapter Settings.
  • Right-click on your active network connection and select Properties.
  • Left-click on Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and select Properties. (If you use IPv6, change that as well.)
  • Click Use the following DNS server addresses: and type in a new DNS server address (you can get this from a third-party DNS).

The post DNS Server 101: What it is and how to change it appeared first on Allconnect Connected Home Blog.

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When it comes to customer service, there are some companies, like Chick-fil-A or Trader Joe’s, that go above and beyond and it shows in their American Customer Satisfaction Index scores, the country’s only national cross-industry measure of consumer approval.

Others, like traditional TV and internet service providers (ISPs), are not known for their customer satisfaction. In fact, both industries tied this year at the bottom of all ACSI rankings across 10 economic sectors and 46 key industries.

“While many firms post gains this year, [internet] service is largely considered to be slow and unreliable, and competition is limited in many areas. Most ISPs are still falling short of providing good service at an affordable price,” according to the full ACSI report released in May 2019.

Top 5 ISPs based on customer satisfaction
  • Verizon Fios – 70/100
  • AT&T – 69/100
  • Optimum – 63/100
  • XFINITY – 61/100
  • Cox – 60/100

Internet service provider customer satisfaction rankings for 2019

ISPs overall received a score of 62 out of 100 as the industry standard benchmark for 2019, the same as last year. Leading the pack was Verizon’s Fios service earning a 70 out of 100 again for the second year in a row. AT&T internet was right behind with a score of 69 out of 100, an increase of 1% over 2018.

Out of the 11 ISPs evaluated, plus a group of smaller internet service providers grouped together as “All Others,” eight saw a 1% to 6% increase in their overall customer satisfaction scores in 2019. One provider, Verizon mentioned above, stayed the same while another three saw their scores decrease 2% from last year.

Mediacom, which provides internet service to about 2.34% of the U.S. across 22 states, according to the FCC, saw the greatest improvement in their customer satisfaction rating. They jumped from 53 out of 100 in 2018 to a 56 in 2019, a 6% increase.

Providers, where customer satisfaction decreased 2% year-over-year, include Optimum, Suddenlink and Spectrum. Both Optimum and Suddenlink are owned by the same parent company, Altice USA.

How are internet service providers ranked?

The ACSI has been collecting data on ISPs since 2013 using more than 30 data points to evaluate the industry. Some of these key metrics include “customer expectations, customer perceptions about the value and quality of their actual experiences, customer complaints and customer retention.”

The ACSI conducts interviews annually with hundreds of customers on recent experiences with their internet service providers and specifically asks for their input on a set of critical elements that include:

  • Reliable speed and service
  • Interruptions/outages
  • Data transfer speed
  • Peak-hour performance
  • Video streaming
  • Variety of plans
  • Email, data storage and internet security
  • Understanding the bill
  • Store/service center staff courtesy and helpfulness
  • Store/service center transaction speed
  • Quality of mobile app
  • Reliability of mobile app
  • Call center
  • Website

Trends among internet service providers’ customer satisfaction

Using data going back to 2013, we can start to see some trends among ISPs. Since that time, the industry standard benchmark has decreased from 65 out of 100 in 2013 to 62 today.

In fact, out of the 11 ISPs evaluated, plus the group of “All Others,” only two providers — AT&T and Optimum — have managed to increase their customer satisfaction ratings over the years. Every other provider has dropped 1 to 8 points since 2013 (or since 2015, for a few providers).

What’s interesting for 2019, is that for the internet service industry overall, where providers saw the most gains were in mobile app scores, where interacting with a person was not required. In fact, the ACSI specifically pointed out that Mediacom — which had the most improved score of 2019 — has a “best in class” mobile app according to its users.

Overall, mobile apps for the internet industry received 78 out of 100 for quality and 77 out of 100 for reliability. This was the first year the ACSI asked about mobile app experience.

Across the industry, the only customer experience benchmarks to not stay the same or improve were those related to in-store experience or billing. Scores of “Courtesy and helpfulness of store/service center staff” and “speed of store/service center transaction” both decreased by one point year-over-year, while “ease of understanding bill” also decreased one point.

According to the full ACSI report, though, in-store services aren’t the worst aspect of ISPs. Their inability to offer more plans and call centers are ranked last.

“The worst aspects of the customer experience, however, remain the lack of internet plans (edging up to 65) and service via call centers. While call center satisfaction is the low point across most telecom industries, ISPs sit at rock bottom (60) — despite slight improvement,” the report states.

Additionally, despite internet service providers making progress increasing speeds and performance, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Three benchmark points related to performance — “internet speed reliability (consistency of speed and service),” “overall data transfer speed” and “performance during peak hours” — received a 69 out of 100.

“Video streaming quality” also received a score of 69, while the “ability to keep service interruptions and outages to a minimum” scored a 68.

The future of customer satisfaction for internet service providers

While individual providers made marginal improvements year-over-year, the industry as a whole has been struggling to improve — let alone even maintain — their customer satisfaction scores.

Mobile apps and websites appear to be helping the industry, but it’s clear that internet service providers need to make investments in customer satisfaction not only within their own industry but across U.S. industries as a whole.

The post U.S. broadband backlash: Study says internet providers last among all industries appeared first on Allconnect Connected Home Blog.

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  • 44% of households with an income under $30,000 don’t have broadband
  • Lower-income Americans are relying more on smartphones for internet access
  • However,  29% of lower-income Americans don’t even own a smartphone

Less than 60% of low-income Americans have access to broadband at home, a study has warned.

A shocking Pew Research Center study revealed new digital divide data that found over 44% of U.S. households with an income of less than $30,000 a year don’t have home broadband services.

It shines new light on an ever increasing issue — a huge chunk of America is unable to get online.

With everything from applying to jobs to education increasingly relying on digital technology, many warn it will lead to major problems for America’s poor.

While recent FCC figures claim the gap is shrinking, the Pew digital divide data finds a widening split based on those who are able to pay for it.

The Pew study also found 29% of low-income adults don’t own a smartphone — which many use to get online — and 46% don’t own a traditional computer.

By comparison, families with an income of over $100,000 or more a year almost all have access to broadband, smartphones and computers, with the majority having multiple devices.

Roughly two-thirds of adults living in high-earning households (64%) have home broadband services, a smartphone, a desktop or laptop computer and a tablet, compared with 18% of those living in lower-income households.

Researchers also found that the number of Americans who rely on a smartphone for internet access is increasing dramatically, having almost doubled since 2013.

It found 26% of adults living in households earning less than $30,000 a year are “smartphone-dependent” internet users — meaning they own a smartphone but do not have broadband internet at home.

This represents a substantial increase from 12% in 2013.

In contrast, only 5% of those living in households earning $100,000 or more fall into this category in 2019.

The divide is even sharper in rural areas, according to the Pew figures.

Roughly two-thirds of rural Americans (63%) say they have a broadband internet connection at home, up from about a third (35%) in 2007, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in early 2019.

However, the FCC claims it is making progress.

The nation’s digital divide is narrowing as more Americans than ever have access to high-speed broadband, according to the FCC’s 2019 Broadband Deployment Report.

It shows the number of Americans lacking access to a terrestrial fixed broadband connection meeting the FCC’s benchmark of at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps has dropped from 26.1 million Americans at the end of 2016 to 21.3 million Americans at the end of 2017, a decrease of more than 18%.

However, the methodology used in the report has been called into question, and a major overhaul of the system is in place.

The post America’s broadband divide: Under 60% of low-income homes have high-speed internet access appeared first on Allconnect Connected Home Blog.

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You got a great promo deal from Cox but now you find you’re paying more than your budget allows. How did this happen? Well, be forewarned there’s some small print that keeps your Cox bill higher than you anticipated.

From government taxes to add-on fees for the channels and services you really want, you may find your costs quickly soaring.

To help you get to the core of your true charges, we’re here with a guide to some of the most common fees you might find when paying your Cox bill — whether you’re a TV, internet, phone or home security customer.

As always, be aware that the actual fees you’ll pay will depend on where you live and can vary from state to state.

Cox TV fees

Cox TV customers can expect to see a lot of confusing additional charges on each monthly bill along with the price of service.

From regional sports network fees to FCC and franchise fees, it’s quite an array of costs … and it all adds up.

Here are the most common TV fees that may appear on your Cox bill, along with what they actually mean.

The Cox TV feeWhat it really means
Broadcast SurchargeA monthly fee for providing local broadcast stations. This includes charges from broadcast stations to carry their channels and could increase.
Regional Sports SurchargeA monthly charge for providing local sports networks. Amount varies based on your area and could increase during the term of your contract.
Installation feeA one-time cost which varies based on the type of plan you purchase as well as whether you choose to do it yourself or have it done professionally.
HD Receiver feeA monthly cost for the tuner needed in order to access HD channels.
CableCARD feeThis monthly charge is for those who don’t need a Cox digital receiver (TiVo owners, for example) but need the CableCARD in order to access certain HD programming.
Cox TV activation chargeA one-time charge that depends upon the type of plan you purchase.
State and Local Communications Services sales taxTaxes imposed locally or by the state for TV communications services.
State and Local Gross Receipts and Utility taxesTaxes assessed locally or by certain states. This fee may vary from state to state and by locality.
FCC regulatory feeThe annual charge collected by the FCC to help offset their costs.
Cable TV franchise feeA charge paid to local governments for use of the public rights-of-way, streets and areas within the municipality.
Public, Educational, Governmental Access feeA charge associated with providing local access channels.
Optional or additional Cox TV fees

In addition to the above charges, which apply to all plans, you’ll see added charges based on the extras you choose. Customers that opt to add premium channels and multiple TVs to a Cox TV plan can expect to see additional monthly fees associated with each feature.

Cox TV optional feeWhat it really means
Mini Box feeA monthly charge for any additional receivers you need in the home (and you’ll need one for each additional TV you plan to use beyond the one using the main receiver).
Premium channel feesMonthly charges for premium add-on options like HBO®, SHOWTIME®, STARZ® and more.
DVR Service feeThis monthly charge is added if you need Cox’s DVR service and varies if you need a two-channel or six-channel recorder.
TV PaksAn additional monthly charge for customized channel packages. Includes sports, Latino programming, movies and more.
Cox Internet fees

If you’re shopping for Cox Internet, there are a few other fees you’re going to see.

Cox Internet feeWhat it really means
Panoramic Wi-Fi Modem rentalA monthly charge for use of Cox’s internet equipment.
Installation feeA one-time cost which varies based on if you choose to do it yourself or have it done professionally.
State and Local Communications Services Sales taxTaxes imposed locally or by the state for data communications services.

If you’re looking to cut back on Cox Internet costs, consider buying your own Cox cable modem to trim monthly rental fees.

Cox Voice fees

Many of the fees and taxes associated with Cox Voice are not unique to this provider and are similar to the state and local fees you receive with TV service. That said, customers should be aware of the additional surcharges that’ll be coming with their phone service.

Cox Voice feesWhat it really means
Installation feeA one-time cost which varies based on if you choose to do it yourself or have it done professionally.
Long Distance and International CallingWhile domestic long-distance calling is covered, you’ll have to pay an additional monthly fee for these services.
Carrier Cost Recovery feeFees accessed by federal, state and local governments on businesses that offer voice services. This fee may change and is not government-mandated.
State and Local Communications Services sales taxTaxes imposed locally or by the state for voice communications.
State or Local 911 feeA charge to fund local and state governments 911 and other emergency services. Fees vary by states and locality.
Federal Excise taxA tax required by the federal government on some types of voice services.
Cox Homelife fees

Cox also provides a home safety option for customers, with two different tiers. Take note — because each of these plans requires a high-speed internet connection, you need to have an internet plan in order to participate. In addition to that cost, there are several other fees you might see in your monthly Cox bill.

Cox Homelife feeWhat it really means
Installation feeA one-time cost for a service that must be done professionally. No self-install available.
Activation feeThis one-time charge occurs when you begin service on the higher plan.
Touchscreen equipment feeA monthly rental charge for customers who opt for the higher plan.
Smoke CO monitoringThis is an available, but not required, add-on fee for customers who opt for the higher tier of the Homelife service.
Conditional Cox fees

Lastly, there are a handful of other instances for which you might see some additional charges to your monthly Cox bill.

Cox Conditional FeeWhat it really means
Early cancellation feeProrated fees incurred with the early cancellation of a Cox contract. Typically will apply to Homelife customers and bundle offers.
Late payment feeFees incurred for late payment of a Cox bill. Amount varies by location.
Cox Complete CareA monthly fee for 24/7 technical support across internet and security services. Includes some in-home work and repair as well. Customers are not required to subscribe to this service.
Frequently asked questions about Cox fees Does Cox require contracts?

Cox does not require its customers to sign contracts in some cases. But there are a few accounts (most notably, the Homelife plan and various bundle offers) that call for a contract to be signed in order for service to begin. Those can range from 12 months to two years.

Is it true that Cox offers a la carte TV channels?

Not quite. There are a few premium channels (HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME, etc.) you can add individually, while other channels come in customized “paks.” These are pre-set groups of channels you can select to get a lineup closest to the one you want for your subscribed plan.

If I select a Cox bundle with TV, internet and digital voice, can I make a phone call while still watching TV?

Cox broadband services allow you to do multiple functions at the same time. Making a phone call should not interfere with browsing the internet or catching up on your favorite shows.

Looking to cut back on your monthly home service fees? Call our internet experts today to learn more about Cox deals and competing providers in your area.

The post Here are the hidden costs on a Cox bill (and what you need to know about them) appeared first on Allconnect Connected Home Blog.

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Should you buy or rent your modem? It’s a question as old as the internet. Mediacom will rent you a modem for $11.50/mo.*, but you can also buy one on your own for around $50 to $100. Add that up over a few years, and you can easily save hundreds on your internet bill.

Unfortunately, whether you’re new to Mediacom’s internet plans or you’re a longtime customer, purchasing your own modem can be a confusing process. When you rent, a Mediacom technician makes sure you have compatible equipment; when you buy your own, the onus is on you. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make the right decision and find a Medicom-compatible modem.

*Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. Speeds may vary. As of 06/10/19 Top Mediacom-compatible modems

Before choosing the correct modem for your internet, you’ll need to know what kind of download speeds you’re getting. (If you’re unsure, you can use our speed test here.)

While you can purchase a modem capable of handling higher speeds than your plan’s getting, they’re usually more expensive. The key is to make sure you’re not getting a modem that tops out at speeds lower than the internet plan you’re paying for.

Here are a few options that are compatible with Mediacom’s service.

1. ARRIS SB8200 Modem – $$$$

This is the gold standard of modems, and it’s also one of the most expensive on our lists. That’s because it meets DOCSIS 3.1 standards, the latest industry requirements for high-speed internet. This means it will not only work with your current setup, but it’s also equipped for major upgrades to your internet speeds in the future. The ARRIS SB8200 can handle speeds up to 10 Gbps — five times faster than the fastest home internet currently offered (2 Gbps, available from XFINITY in select areas).

Needless to say, this modem is fast enough for every internet plan that Mediacom has, including its top tier 1 Gig option. Customers who bought the ARRIS SB8200 have largely been satisfied; it’s earned scores of four or higher out of five on both Amazon and Best Buy.

2. ARRIS SB6190 Modem – $$$

ARRIS’s SB6190 modem is a nice middle ground for customers who pay for one of Mediacom’s top plans, but don’t necessarily need the best-in-class capabilities of the SB8200. The SB6190 is only certified for DOCSIS 3.0 standards, so it’s not as up-to-date as the SB8200. That said, it’s still fast enough for all of Mediacom’s internet plans, capable of handling speeds up to 1.4 Gbps.

The modem earned high marks from customers for its easy installation and steady signal performance. If you’re looking for a high-speed modem, but don’t want to spend more than $100, the SB6190 is a solid choice.

3. Zoom Telephonics MB7220 – $$

If you’re looking for a more reasonably priced modem that doesn’t need to reach the blazing speeds of the top two picks, the Zoom Telephonics MB7220 is a solid choice. It advertises up to 343 Mbps download speeds, but Mediacom recommends it for plans in the 60-200 Mbps range.

Customer reviews on Amazon note that the MB7220 was simple to set up and immediately improved internet speeds in many cases. If you plan on upgrading to a faster internet plan in the future, it might be worth opting for one of the top options. But for most houses, the MB7420 will do just fine.

A complete list of modems compatible with Mediacom

The modems listed above are great choices that work with all of Mediacom’s plans, but you have plenty of options if you’d rather shop around. Here’s a complete list of modems that have been tested by Mediacom and have proven capable of meeting the speeds they advertise.

Model nameMax download speeds (Mbps)Cost
ARRIS SB61901,400$$$
ARRIS SB820010,000$$$$
Motorola SB6141343$
Motorola SB6121172$$
Motorola SB6183686$$
Netgear CM10001,000$$$$
Netgear CM11002,000$$$$
Zoom Telephonics MB7220343$
Zoom Telephonics MB7420686$$
Zoom Telephonics MB86006,000$$$$
Mediacom routers

If you decide to purchase your own modem instead of renting one from Mediacom, you’ll still need to buy a wireless router. Fortunately, you’ll have a lot more choice in your router. Just make sure it still meets the maximum speeds that you’re getting with your internet plan.

For more information on getting the most out of your internet, check out our modem and router guide on maximizing your Wi-Fi at home.

The post What’s the right Mediacom-compatible modem for you? appeared first on Allconnect Connected Home Blog.

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