A Large Adjustment (Home Internet/TV)
So, over the last week, we had a tectonic shift in how The Internet manages to reach our house. The changes were technological, material, and locational. It also changed pricing structures and service availability that had a cascading effect with how we get the smorgasbord of television channels we have access-to.
To wit, we moved from AT&T Uverse (DSL) to AT&T Fiber.
Uverse was run over Copper Phone Lines to, what I understand, was a nearby Fiber trunk and got us around 50-60 MPBS… half of which was reserved for “cable” which was really video-streaming of local and premium channels using little Cisqo boxes that behaved like the cable/dvr boxes of yore. It was rolled out to great fanfare around 20 years ago and was able to compete with the Charter supplied coax and cable boxes and even though it was more expensive, we liked it because AT&T was generally a nicer outfit to deal-with in terms of service response/responsibility. Charter soon released Spectrum which was really fast coax speed (as coax will always supply better/clearer/faster signal than phone lines) but it was so unreliable (seemed to cut out every other time it rained) we continued to pay more for slower but reliable speed. It was able to support most of the streaming my husband and I wanted to do… and would work for work things… but it was always a bit shit sometimes when it came to trying to watch something on TV if the cable box hadn’t been turned on in a while (the only box we ever got replaced was the DVR and we’re pretty sure it was because the little hard drive in it started to die) or if we tried to watch more than one HD stream at a time.
Fiber is… faster. We started with a 350MBPS Up/Down and increased it to 1GBPS up/down for a nominal fee increase. This fiber is two orders of magnitude faster than Uverse (DSL) even at slow speeds and it’s symmetrical so we get as fast of an upload as we do download. Before if we were streaming more than two things from the Internet (I’d accidentally leave twitch on my desktop and then go watch netflix on TV while the hubby was watching something on his computer…) We’d start to notice lag and crappiness and have to go gather whatever was hogging the line that we didn’t need to have on… that doesn’t much matter anymore.
Because we could theoretically stream to every device with a screen at the same time… we realized we didn’t need to keep the UVerse cable TV (that was sequestered from our normal internet to make sure that streaming to four different devices wouldn’t choke out the conference call) and we started looking into actual cable replacement for local and premium channels… and settled on YouTube TV. A big part of that was a promotion with our cellphone provider which made it pretty cheap and allowed us to re-get most of the paid channels that we had with Uverse (starz, cinemax, hbo). There was also a promotion for the lower level of Paramount+ (I am okay with the occasional commercial to watch my Star Trek stuff), and we were already paying for Netflix, Disney+, Youtube Premium Family (which also gives us Youtube Music), CrunchyRoll (more for hubby) and MotorTrend (more for me). The only thing we theoretically might need in are very specific networks for some show we want to watch (AMC+, Shuddr, Hulu) and even those it will probably only be for a month or two. I don’t have the numbers yet… but I imagine our cost will actually drop in the next month or two. When I get the actual numbers, I will compare and give a percentage update later.
So, more stuff for less money is a big part of the push. Another thing we decided to do was move all of the Used By Both Of Us networking equipment out of my office closet and into an enclave nestled behind the master TV in the living room.
Since I work from home most of the time, the ‘guest’ bedroom where we had the DSL phone line come in pretty much became my home office and where I spend a lot of my time… and there was a lot of friction between me and my husband about different mess tolerance and territoriality. What would happen over and over and over again is: the internet goes out, hubby ventures into what I feel like is ‘my’ closet, complains about the ‘mess’, which makes me get snippy because my anxiety interprets it as him being hypercritical and violating boundaries, and a terrible row ensues. Now, if there is some sort of Internet Emergency or we want to tinker/upgrade networking stuff… all of the hardware is in a “common” space. The other problem is that the back office closet was on one wall of the house rather than centrally located… so there were definitely times that IoT devices on the other side of the house would struggle to stream video or music, so moving the default home of the Wireless access point to the middle of the home made sense. Now, if there is some sort of Internet Emergency or we want to tinker/upgrade networking stuff… all of the hardware is in a “common” space.
Another big change is that now the Coaxial cables routed throughout the house are inoperative. One of the cool things about UVerse is the (Otherwise crappy) DSL modem could shunt the portion of the internet reserved for UVerse TV to the UVerse set-top boxes via coax. That means that you wouldn’t have to re-wire hard-lines to places where you were already likely keeping your TVs. The Uverse boxes could also use CAT# “Ethernet” cables… but having the option to use cable was nice. Now, the devices we are going to use to stream the smorgasbord of TV service providers are shaping up to be chromecasts and GoogleTVs… and those operate usually over wireless unless you buy little charging dongles that can also plug into wired ethernet. Thus, my husband is gradually running Ethernet cables to co-exist alongside the coax cables behind most TVs with the hope of keeping as many streaming devices off the wireless network as possible (which, we figure, will dramatically improve the WiFi and streaming experience through several technology shifts.)
The next thing we are keeping an eye on is good, futureproofed networking… we are hoping to get something that will hold up through a few new fiber modem upgrades (from 1 gig to 2 gig to 5 gig, etc) and can swap out wireless access points as the specs change without having to swap the entire gateway/router. Then again, if the front runners for such tech are ridiculously expensive no matter what, then we’ll get something nice that will hold together until we simply HAVE to upgrade it… and then have the money saved up to do it again.
Either way, brave new world and all that. Oh, and lots of snuggling the dog who hears someone tromping around in the attic and I can only imagine assumes the squirrels are back for revenge for how concerned she gets.