Internet

Is a Femtocell a good way to get better cell reception in my house?

Greg from Dillon Beach, CA

Episode 1158

Greg has an issue with weak Verizon cellphone reception in his area. He wants to know if a Femtocell is a good option to fix that. Leo says it is if he has Internet in his house. Every cell phone company offers them, and they act as a kind of cell phone tower in the home, routing phone calls through the internet. But it depends on how much they want to keep him as a customer. If he asks for a customer retention expert and respectfully explain the problem, they may even offer him one at no charge. But if they try and sell him one, hold out.

Have you heard of Li-Fi?

Episode 1153

Jack from Thornton, NH
Light beams

Jack is wondering if Leo had heard of LiFi, which uses light to transfer data between the ISP and the computer. This is not the first time we've seen this kind of thing, and there are a number of ISPs that use microwave as well. Microwave and LiFi require direct line of sight. Leo says in theory, this makes sense, as it uses the same type of technology as fiber-optic. But there are issues with this, and this line-of-sight light could be interrupted by weather and other factors.

Can I turn an old printer into an internet enabled printer?

Episode 1141

Nick from Belmar, NJ
Printer

Nick has heard about a technology that could turn any printer into an internet enabled computer. Leo says that the current state of the art is wireless, and using AirPlay, he can Air Print. But if he doesn't have that capability, then XPrintServer can take a USB printer and turn it into a internet enabled and networked printer. If it's older, then it may or may not work. HP did have a technology called JetDirect which did it.

(Disclaimer: xPrintServer is a sponsor)

Why can't my Roku box get online?

Episode 1139

Jeff from Fallbrook, CA
Roku

Jeff has a new Roku box that he picked up on Black Friday, but it's not connecting. Roku says that the box has gone bad. Leo says it seems unlikely the device itself is bad. Jeff has the same problem with his internet enabled Blu-ray player. Leo says that means it isn't the devices themselves. It has to be the network or internet connection. Leo suggests restarting everything from the computer, to the cable box, to the router. Leo also suggests connecting it via hardwire to see if that solves it. If so, then there's a wireless issue.

What alternatives do I have to 4G internet in rural areas?

Episode 1138

Mark from Amherst County, VA
satellite dish

Mark uses Verizon 4G Wireless service and runs through 40GB in an afternoon with video conferencing. He also ends up roaming, so he's paying for that as well as overages. Verizon told him that FIOS would be coming, but Leo says that'll never happen now because they've stopped growing that out. It all has to do with a tug of war with the FCC over net neutrality.

Obama in Favor of Regulating Internet Service Providers As Common Carriers

Episode 1135

President Obama this week came out in favor of Net Neutrality by regulating Internet Service Providers as common carriers, giving the FCC the power to prevent paid prioritization. This means Internet Service Providers would not be allowed to charge extra for faster access to customers.

Net Neutrality: President Obama's Plan for a Free and Open Internet (WhiteHouse.gov)…
http://www.whitehouse.gov/net-neutrality

Does fiber work more like cable or DSL?

Episode 1135

Julian from Los Angeles, CA
Fiber

Julian wants to upgrade his internet with fiber. Does it work like Cable or DSL?

Leo says it's more like DSL. But it's likely that they are piggybacking on AT&Ts fiber. Leo says that DSL Extreme is a great service and if they're moving into Fiber, it'll be a good move. He won't be burdened by sharing bandwidth like with cable, either. It's actually better than DSL because it has better range from the central office. Leo also suspects that the Fiber doesn't go straight to his house, but to a head end that then transfers it to copper. That's not going to be as fast.

Diagnose Wi-Fi Problems

Wi-Fi can be a difficult thing to get right, especially when there are numerous Wi-Fi hotspots all around. Even at its best, Wi-Fi won't ever be as fast and reliable as a hardwired connection, and will occasionally suffer drop-outs. But there is a way to optimize your Wi-Fi network so it has less trouble keeping your devices connected.