Optimize your Wi-Fi network

Most Internet issues are due to a wireless router. Slow speeds, frequent disconnects, and even security vulnerabilities can all be caused by a poorly configured or reset Wi-Fi network. In only some cases are Internet issues truly the cause of the Internet Service Provider (ISP). You may be experiencing some wireless router issues right now and not even know it. Every homeowner or renter will benefit from knowing how to manage and maintain their wireless router.

TP-Link AC1200 Wireless MU-MIMO Gigabit Router (Archer A6) Review | PCMag
PCMag

Selecting a good router 
Routers continually change and gain new features as technology progresses. Routers will usually last three or four years but should be replaced beyond that time. When purchasing a router, you should select a good brand, but you should not purchase the most expensive router you see. Gaming routers are expensive and have lots of new features, but the truth is that very few homes need a gaming router. Most homes will be happy with a router costing less than $100. When purchasing a router, check these important things: 

  • Good customer reviews 
  • Wi-Fi 6 support 
  • Dual band functionality (2 GHz and 5 GHz) 
  • Ability to configure wireless channels and wireless settings 

You do not need to spend much money to get a good router that has all these features. Higher end routers will support new features such as Wi-Fi 6E, 60 GHz, and tri-band functionality. All these fancy bells and whistles cost you more money and you do not likely need any of these features right now. As technology continues to improve, Wi-Fi 6E devices and 60 GHz electronics may start ending up in more homes; however, by the time this happens, you will need a new router anyways and these recent technologies will no longer be only supported in expensive gaming routers.  

Configuring your router properly 
Routers require configuration to work at top performance. You will need to get into your router and change settings to optimize your Wi-Fi network and ensure your home’s network is secured. There are many settings you may or may not need to change on your router. Every home is different and various ISPs have varying requirements about how routers need to be configured.  

ISP settings. The provider of your Internet may have specific settings you need to set in your router. You may not even be able to fully use the Internet unless you get these settings set first! Every single time you buy a new router or need to reconfigure your old router, you must be sure you are following your ISP’s guidelines. If you are not sure what, if any, settings need to be set then you should contact your ISP and ask them. 

Setting your administrator password. You must set a safe administrator password! When you set up your router for the first time or reconfigure an old router, you will usually be asked to create an administrator password. On some routers you may need to look through the menus to find where this password can be changed. This password is used when logging into your router to change settings. This password is DIFFERENT from your Wi-Fi password, and it should not be the same. You must never leave this password as “admin” or whatever the default password is. If anyone can access your network, and they have your administrator password or were able to easily guess the password, they may then change your Wi-Fi settings without you knowing, may be able to steal personal data, or cause havoc for your smart home. Setting a good administrator password is one of the easiest ways to better secure your home.  

Naming your SSIDs. The SSID is the name of your Wi-Fi network, and it stands for Service Set IDentifer. This is what you will see on your devices when you go to connect to your Wi-Fi. You should avoid using the default name. Depending on your home, you may or may not want personally identifying information in your SSID. You must keep in mind that anyone who is within range of your router will be able to see your SSID. Depending on who your neighbors are, you may want to go with a generic name such as “Pine Steet Home” or just “House WiFi.” If you are concerned about your privacy and security, then you should avoid using SSIDs that help identify you or your router or draw unwanted attention to you (e.g. “FBI Surveillance Van 3”). 

Dual-band routers have two different radios in them that may have different SSIDs. One radio will be for the 2 GHz band and the other is for the 5 GHz band. Most modern devices support both bands. The 5 GHz band is faster and preferred for watching videos, gaming, making phone calls, and doing other intensive network tasks. The 2 GHz band can be broadcast across a greater distance, go through walls better, and may be the only band supported by some smart home devices. Naming the 2 GHz band and the 5 GHz band with different SSIDs is best. This allows you to easily see which radio you are connected to and allows you to place devices on different radios if you need to. For example, you can place your smart home thermostat on the 2 GHz band and your TV on the 5 GHz band. Your router’s 5 GHz band will be more heavily used and should be your go-to network. You may decide to name your 2 GHz and your 5 GHz bands as “House Wi-Fi 2 GHz” and “House Wi-Fi,” respectively.  

Setting your Wi-Fi password. You should set a strong password for your Wi-Fi. You usually need to do this separately for your 2 GHz and your 5 GHz bands, so do not forget to check both bands! Many people choose to use the same password for both bands, but you may choose different passwords if you like. This password is used to gain access to your home network and so it should not be easy to guess. You also must avoid using the same password that you used for the router’s administrator login. Keep in mind that you may need to enter this password using things like TV remotes and tiny printer buttons which are never fun to use. You may choose to use only letters and numbers to make entering your Wi-Fi password easier on these cumbersome devices. Be sure to memorize this password!  

Selecting the right channel. The Wi-Fi spectrum is divided into channels, and you need to ensure your router is operating on channel free of wireless interference. The 2.4 GHz band is divided into 11 channels in the United States but only three of these are non-overlapping. Most channels overlap in the 2.4 GHz band. To separate wireless radios far enough apart to avoid interference you are limited to using only three channels in the United States, Channel 1, 6, and 11.

2.4 GHz Channel Planning
Extreme Networks

The 5 GHz band is divided into 24 non-overlapping channels in the United States, making it much easier to separate 5 GHz band broadcasts and reducing wireless interference. Wikipedia has a great article identifying the wireless channels. You may use cell phone apps such as Ubiquiti’s WiFiman to see the wireless spectrum around your home and see what channels are in use. You should place your router on a channel that has little to no interference.  

Setting up a new network, all new devices - need best config | Ubiquiti  Community
Ubiquiti Community

Wi-Fi 6E (also known as 802.11ax) adds 59 additional non-overlapping channels in the United States from between 5.9 GHz and 7.1 GHz. Devices that operate in this band are still being developed. 

You should know to identify which channels are already busy around your home using tools such as Ubiquiti’s WiFiman. You should then find a clear channel in both the 2 GHz band and the 5 GHz band and set your router to work on those channels. You should periodically check in on what channels are in use in your area since this can easily change over time.  

Wireless interference causes your network to slow down. If your router is set to Channel 6 in the 2.4 GHz band and your neighbor’s router also is set to Channel 6 in this same band, then both routers will compete to communicate with their respective devices. The result? Both you and your neighbor will see slower speeds and may even see losses in connectivity.  

Choosing the proper channel width. Not only are there various channels that routers can be set to but there are also different channel widths. What is channel width? This is the amount of spectrum the channel is using. A larger channel width can deliver higher speeds but uses more of the available wireless spectrum to do that. Should you use the largest possible channel width to make sure your router goes fast? Absolutely not! If you do this, you expose yourself to more wireless interference and cause more problems for your neighbors. You may see slower performance as a result.  

You should use the smallest channel width possible to deliver the maximum bandwidth from your ISP. Typically, a 20 MHz channel width can deliver around 70 Mbps. This means you should only use 20 MHz channel widths unless your ISP provides more than 70 Mbps. If your ISP provides you with 200 Mbps, for example, then you may select a 40 MHz channel width. By restricting yourself to the smallest possible channel width you will better manage the congestion in the airwaves and help keep your router running at peak speeds.  

Available channels on the 5 GHz Wireless network – Keenetic
Keenetic

Isolating smart home devices. Many homes now have smart devices which can be a security risk. These devices may be light bulbs, thermostats, cameras, doorbells, and more. These devices connect to your Wi-Fi and then connect to the Internet. Many of these devices operate on the 2.4 GHz band only. A lot of smart devices may be more suspectable to security vulnerabilities and can be hacked more easily than your PC, for example. This means a hacker could gain access to your home network through your smart light bulb! Many security experts recommend that smart home devices should be isolated to their own network for this reason. How can you do this with your router? There are many options. One of the easiest methods is to use the guest network feature found in most routers. This allows you to create a separate SSID with a separate password to use for your smart home devices. The benefit of doing this is that it will be more difficult for your smart home devices to access other things on your home network if they are attacked. You may also set up a second router altogether for your smart home devices. 

Dealing with factory resets. The most widespread problem with many routers is that they may become reset to factory defaults. This may be due to a power outage, a power fluctuation, someone pressing the reset button, or other reasons. When a factory reset occurs, the router’s settings may be erased. All the hard work you invested in configuring your router can be erased. This can be very frustrating. All your devices will also stop working since they cannot connect again if the wireless SSID and password are changed. Thankfully, this is not that hard of a problem to fix. You simply need to reconfigure your wireless router if this happens. If your SSID and your Wi-Fi password exactly match the way it was before the reset occurred then your devices should automatically reconnect. If factory resets become a common occurrence for you, you may need to purchase a new router.  

Making your presence status work for you

You have many different presence options to use within the 3CX VoIP phone system. A presence status shows whether you are available, busy, away, or doing something else. By setting up your presence options to reflect your unique work needs, you can maximize the way your phone system works for you.  

Your system has five presences to choose from. Three of them have names that are permanently set by 3CX and cannot be changed: Available, Away, and Do Not Disturb. The other two are custom presence statuses that can be named by you as a user or by your 3CX administrator: by default, they function as Available 2 and Do Not Disturb 2. You can change the behavior of each one of these five statuses to suit your needs. As a user, you may change basic presence settings. As an administrator, you have even more control over what a presence status can do. 

Here is an example of one way to configure the five presence status options: 

In this example, you can see the first three status options have custom status messages to help show what the status means. The two custom status options at the bottom have their names modified to show what they mean. You cannot change the names of the first three statuses, only the last two can have their names changed. 

Changing 3CX user settings

You can control the behavior of each status within your 3CX user settings. From within the 3CX web client, click on the three dots (…) and then select Settings.  

Once inside Settings, select the Status tab to make changes to your status settings. You will be able to independently change each status.  

The settings themselves are very intuitive, and you may play around with them to see how they perform. You may input a custom name on the last two status options.

Changing 3CX administrator settings

If you are a 3CX administrator, you have a few more options at your disposal. First, you will need to login to the 3CX Management Console. Please know that most SyncWave customers do not have access to the Management Console by default. Once inside, select Users and click on the user you want to modify. Next, select Forwarding Rules from the top menu. You will then need to select the status you want to modify within the drop-down menu. 

You will have more options to modify here than in the web client view. For example, you can set the status to log the user out of calling queues whenever the presence status is selected. This is handy for office-based workers who may need step away from queued calls for a bit but remain available for calls from their coworkers. 

you may input a custom name.

Finally, you may configure exceptions to the rule. For example, if you want to make sure that Jane Smith can call you even when you are on Do Not Disturb, then you can configure an exception for Jane Smith. You may do this within the 3CX web client. Simply go to Settings -> Status -> Exceptions and click on the + icon at the top. 

From here, you can setup rule exceptions for when certain people, such as Jane Smith, call you. 

3CX gives you lots of power to make the phone system work for you! Dig into the Settings to better understand the five status presence options, to change them to suit your needs, and even set up exceptions if you want to make sure that certain people can always call you.  

September 23, 2021 | Dominic Hasbrouck


SyncWave is Going Green

As SyncWave continues to grow, the company is striving to be more environmentally conscious.  Recently, SyncWave rolled out its GoGreen initiative, an effort to reduce the business’s environmental footprint in a wide variety of ways.

One significant change that the company is making is reducing the use of paper. The company will now charge $1.50 for every paper invoice that the company sends to its customers.   According to the environmental organization Forest Ethics, around 40% of industrial logging goes towards paper production.  Russell Manning, the president and founder of SyncWave, hopes that more customers will choose to switch to electronic invoicing, which is more convenient and environmentally sustainable.

In addition, the business has implemented and expanded on other ways of going green.  Mike Varenhorst, Sales Manager at SyncWave, personally collects and then recycles the many cardboard boxes that the company receives from shipments.  As a result of his efforts, hundreds of pounds of cardboard are recycled each year, instead of going into a landfill.

SyncWave is also exploring ways to use more LED lighting, both in its building and on its towers.  LED lights are more costly but use far less power and last much longer than fluorescent and incandescent lights.  The company is also minimizing its gasoline use as much as possible by strategically scheduling appointments to be geographically close together.  It is estimated that around one-hundred gallons of gasoline are saved each week by using this fuel-efficient approach.

Lastly, the company is attempting to eliminate electronic waste by returning, repurposing, or repairing many of its old or defective electronic devices.  Right now, almost no electronics are thrown away, and defective devices that cannot be repaired are being collected for recycling.  This represents yet another way that SyncWave is being environmentally conscious.

SyncWave continues to be on the cutting edge delivering high speed Internet to its rural customers in Mason, Manistee, and Oceana counties, the business is also striving to be more environmentally sustainable.  By reducing paper use, recycling cardboard, converting to LED lights, improving logistics, and recycling electronics, the company is moving forward with its GoGreen initiative.

Current SyncWave customers can sign up for emailed invoices by calling us at 231-845-1065.

Gamers Love SyncWave

Imagine yourself entrenched in the greatest Capture the Flag game ever in the history of all time.  You have made it through all of the craziness of the field to get to the opposing team’s flag.  Just as you are about to grab the flag, your screen freezes.  In that exact moment, the other team is able to grab the other flag and scores a victory.  This is precisely what happens to many online gamers.  The failure is not due to a lack of skill, but a lack of Internet speed.   SyncWave can save the day for many gamers by eliminating “lag” from occurring.

There are two primary metrics used to measure Internet speed.  First, the amount of megabits per second (Mbps) measures the amount of bandwidth available on a connection.  Second, latency is an important factor that many Internet providers don’t even talk about.  Latency is the time that it takes for data to travel from your device to an Internet server, then back to your device.  Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms), and the lower the number the better.

SyncWave has some of the lowest latency around, meaning that gamers’ entire planets are saved from doom, every single day.  Still, what does that mean?  In performance comparisons to local area satellite, DSL, and similar Internet companies, SyncWave outperforms in every case by large margins.  The company’s wireless Internet even rivals Charter Communications in terms of low latency.  In recent side-by-side comparison tests, SyncWave’s service offered a 11-15 ms ping, while Charter offered 21-101 ms ping.  With online gaming, low latency is most important.  With 3-6 Mbps of bandwidth and SyncWave’s low ping times, you can have an amazing gaming experience.

When gamers choose Internet in surrounding counties, they choose SyncWave.  The company’s wicked fast Internet and low ping times allow gamers to command and conquer in their most desperate hours.  Frag hard and play on, knowing that SyncWave has your back when it comes to gaming!

Announcing Phone Service

We are pleased to announce an addition to our service offering, phone service is now available! Our service lineup covers the needs of residential, business, and enterprise customers. As always we offer no contracts and no hidden fees, unlimited calling to US and Canada along with the ability to keep your number. The customers in our pre-announcement group are already enjoying 25%-60% in savings over their prior service provider.

SyncWave now offers a number voice services to fit most market segments; this includes home phone service, small business phone service, business hunt groups (one number feeds multiple lines) for businesses wanting to keep their existing multi-line phones or phone system, new turnkey hosted phone systems tailored to your business, as well as onsite phone systems. The features and customization we can offer add professionalism, increase workforce agility, route call traffic efficiently, and much more. We also support VOIP softphones (a phone on your computer or smartphone) which can fully integrate into your hosted or onsite phone system.

Our voice services can be utilized both on and off SyncWave’s network; connections such as DSL, cable, and fiber from other ISPs are suitable mediums as well. When contacting us to order service, we have several options available for installation. Our consumer phone connections can be pre-programmed and sent to you as part of a self-install kit, you can pick up these kits in our office or we can send a technician over to install the service for you. Commercial and enterprise phone systems requests are best handled via a business consultation.

Network Upgrade

SyncWave is excited to announce a significant capacity upgrade to its network.

At approximately 6:00 AM on Friday, March 10, the company installed advanced routing technology on its core network. This upgrade completes the second phase of a series of upgrades happening to the company’s wireless network over the course of this year.
Through continuous improvement, SyncWave is able to deliver high-quality Internet that is both reliable and fast. Demand for Internet is constantly increasing, and SyncWave is ready to meet the demand. According to Cisco, a multinational technology company, Internet traffic is expected to increase by 22 percent by 2020. Tablets and smartphones are projected to have a combined 97% Internet traffic growth rate by 2020. As you can see, the demand for bandwidth will only increase. SyncWave is committed to keeping up with demand and delivering great service.
A third phase to network upgrades is currently planned for later this year. SyncWave embraces the idea of continuous improvement and seeks to bring the best possible service to its customers. If any customer has any questions or concerns, they are encouraged to contact the business at (231) 845-1065.

Sources:

http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/vni-hyperconnectivity-wp.html

EBB Program

SyncWave is helping to make broadband more accessible and more affordable to eligible households that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB).

The EBB Program became available nationwide on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 and allows qualifying households to receive up to a $50.00 per month discount on their Internet bill. Households on qualifying Tribal lands may receive up to a $75.00 discount.

The EBB Program is temporary and will end once federal funding is exhausted or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declares the end of the COVID-19 health emergency.

The EBB Program is made possible through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Oversight and administration are handled by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).

Who is eligible?

A household is eligible for the discount if a member of the household meets any one of these criteria:

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
  • Is approved for the free or reduced price school breakfast/lunch program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision,
  • Experienced substantial documented loss of income since February 29, 2020 with a total household income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers,
  • Received a federal Pell grant in the current award year, or
  • Qualifies for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 relief program, subject to FCC approval of that provider’s eligibility process.

How to sign up?

Eligible households may enroll by going to https://getemergencybroadband.org/ https://getemergencybroadband.org/ and following the information on the website. After doing this, households must then contact SyncWave or their other Internet service provider to receive the discount.

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