Portland Joins Google’s Digital Inclusion Fellowship Program

Portland Joins Google’s Digital Inclusion Fellowship Program

Google Fiber Low Income Internet

Google Fiber customers in Portland have something to smile about after the company confirmed it will be adding the city to its program for expanding Internet access to low-income residents.

Other beneficiaries of the development will be people who go without speedy online connections.  The Digital Inclusion Fellowship program operates in partnership with a Portland organization, the Non-profit Technology Network.

It is already in the second year and awards fellowships in 11 cities to reach people without Internet access and help overcome the digital divide. Oregonlive.com reported that in Portland, the fellowship program will work with the Multnomah County Library and Free Geek as host organizations.

The library has just posted its fellowship opening, a one to two-year post responsible for enhancing existing digital literacy programming while building and expanding the capacity of community partners to deliver adult digital literacy programming.

Google Fiber contributes $1 million to support salaries and benefits for the fellows, and stipends for community organizations that participate.  The Digital Inclusion program operates in 11 cities. Portland is the only one of them where Google hasn’t committed to offer its superfast Internet service.

Even though there has been no official communication from the company in regards to this development, all latest indications have clearly painted an announcement in the offing. For instance, they have hired Portland staffers, won permission to string its fiber on local utility poles and begun applying for permission to build network hubs in the city.

Expanding the Internet’s reach has been a priority for Google Fiber since the service’s launch four years ago. Last month, it announced a new, $15 service in areas of its cities where unusually high numbers of residents go without Internet access at home.  Portland is preparing its own “Digital Equity Action Plan” to improve broadband connectivity for low-income residents.

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Windstream Takes Kinetic to Sugar Land

Windstream Takes Kinetic to Sugar Land

Windstream Takes Kinetic to Sugar Land

Windstream Communications has announced that Kinetic, the company’s next-generation television service, is now available in Sugar Land, Texas.

They will allow over 30,000 homes in Sugar Land to sign up for the new television service. Kinetic utilizes the company’s 100 percent fiber-backed network to provide an enhanced viewing experience. This new development is geared towards increasing their market presence in America.

Sugar Land is the third Kinetic market following successful launches in Lincoln, Neb., and Lexington, Ky., in 2015. The Kinetic launch came in the wake of Windstream announcing ultra-fast 1-Gigabit Internet service in Sugar Land. The two services make Sugar Land one of the most advanced and connected communities in Windstream’s consumer markets.

Sarah Day, the president of consumer and small business for Windstream said their customers should be braced for more goodies going forward. She reiterated their commitment to serve customers in the best way. “We continue to invest heavily in innovative technologies that allow us to offer services that meet our customers’ current and future needs,” she said in a press release dated April 11.

“With the launch of Kinetic today and the announcement of 1-Gig service last week, we’re offering the Sugar Land community access to an unparalleled in-home TV and Internet experience.” All customers interested in signing up for Kinetic are encouraged to call 1-877-481-9463, or visit Windstream.com/Kinetic.

Kinetic is powered by the Ericsson Mediaroom platform and offers a unique user experience coupled with features that subscribers want and deserve from a TV provider. With Kinetic, customers will receive fast, high-quality, interactive television with features like High Definition (HD) channels, video on-demand, kinetic on the go, instant channel change, wireless Set Top Box and free Whole Home DVR among many others.

Kinetic is available as a bundled service with Windstream’s High Speed Internet and telephone services. All bundle rates, which vary based on channel selection, include the features listed above. Rates for TV-only service start at $39.99.

 

Midcontinent Agrees to Acquire Dataware

Midcontinent Agrees to Acquire Dataware

Midcontinent Dataware

Midcontinent Communications has entered into an agreement to acquire Dataware, LLC, with an aim of increasing their foothold in the local industry.

Dataware is a firm that has provided data center space, and cloud and managed services since 2001. The deal includes two data centers located in Sioux Falls and Yankton, SD – giving Midcontinent the infrastructure to deliver business-class data center and managed services across the Upper Midwest.

Scott Smidt who leads the data center strategy and team as Vice President of Business Engineering and Operations for Midcontinent said the new development is a positive to their growing business. “The combination of the data center environments on top of our Northern Plains Network is an advantage for Midco Business, but even more so for our customers,” he said in a press release.

“Businesses already benefit from the reliability, redundancy and capacity of our wholly owned and operated fiber-optic network. Soon, they can use that network to access their secure data housed in a Midco facility.” Even though details of the agreement are not in public domain, it’s understood to be a win-win situation for both parties.

Actually, Midcontinent will continue to serve Dataware customers as it expands its service line near-term and long-term to include additional managed business IT services. The company is assessing opportunities to expand the data center strategy into other cities. That will be a trend-setting move for other industry players who are still lagging behind.

“As we look to the future, we may examine opportunities in additional Midco markets presently underserved by large data centers, such as Fargo and Grand Forks, and then move our focus to other key Midco markets,” Steve Grosser, the EVP for Midcontinent said.

Midcontinent data centers are considered Tier II facilities, meaning they deliver on service-level commitments while also offering a cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes.

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Verizon Taking Mobile Spectrum to Rural Areas

Verizon Taking Mobile Spectrum to Rural Areas

Verizon Taking Mobile Spectrum to Rural Areas

Verizon Wireless is putting in all the effort towards covering as many rural areas as possible with its mobile spectrum.

In their latest offensive, the company has put in place strategies to help expand its mobile spectrum to rural America. At the end of it all, they are targeting increasing the number of markets up to 466 nationwide.

With the help of XLTE, Verizon Wireless is targeting to increase bandwidth and in turn, keep their loyal customers happy. The move is seen by market analysts as a reaction to constant complains by customers who insist on getting much better services. For some time, it appeared like their concerns were being wished away.

Now that Verizon has come out to address the issue, it’s hoped that market dynamics in America will change for good. “While XLTE network enhancements are invisible to the customer, the mobile experience is not. XLTE Ready devices automatically access both 700 MHz spectrum and the AWS spectrum in XLTE cities. Customers with 4G LTE devices operating solely on the 700 MHz spectrum in XLTE markets also benefit from the extra capacity created by XLTE Ready device traffic moving to the AWS spectrum,” a statement from the company read in part.

It is not clear the timelines they have put in place to have achieved this but it’s expected to take very minimal time. “It will all depend on the type of reception we get out there. If it’s positive, results will come fast but if it’s lukewarm we might take longer than expected,” an anonymous insider at the company said.

The rural markets they are targeting include McCook, NE, Waterville/Augusta, ME, Lewiston-Auburn, ME and Victoria, TX. While Verizon has been somewhat mum on the upgrades to XLTE, these markets were the focal point of first quarter 2016. Since these markets have already been enabled, there’s nothing you need to do to your device, or to your plan, to take advantage of the improvements.

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XO Communications Enhances Hosted PBX Solution

XO Communications Enhances Hosted PBX solution

Hosted PBX Solutions

In a bid to enhance the experience of its customers, XO Communications has enhanced its Hosted PBX (HPBX) solution.

They have achieved that by expanding the native video conferencing capabilities and integrating several of the leading Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems as well as Skype for Business. The integration of key CRM systems such as Salesforce stimulates user adoption by automating certain functions.

Furthermore, integration enables phone calls to be placed directly from CRM systems and automatically accessing customer records upon call connection. The Skype for Business integration allows users to leverage seamlessly all Skype collaboration tools while connecting phone calls through the HPBX platform.

Business customers leverage the XO HPBX service through the reliable and secure XO network. In addition to desktop HPBX phones, XO offers users the flexibility to access unified communications features on their computers and other mobile devices. “With this release, XO meets the emerging demand for UC head-on, expanding beyond the video, audio, and web capabilities that have become table stakes in today’s UC marketplace,” Bill Haskins, the senior analyst and partner at Massachusetts-based market research firm Wainhouse Research said.

“In order for an enterprise to fully leverage their UC solution, it must confidently support both internal employees and external customers and guests, independent of which voice delivery technology is being used. Add CRM and Skype for Business integration and XO deliver a flexible UC platform positioned to maximize worker productivity, which is what unified communications is all about,” Haskins added.

Jake Heinz, the senior vice president of marketing and product at XO Communications said; “As more businesses adopt HPBX services, they continue to look for ways to ensure rapid user adoption. XO is pleased to advance the integration of CRM systems with our HPBX service which makes it easy for workers to quickly leverage the full features of unified communications and their CRM systems.”

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Windstream Deploys Cloud Xpress in Chicago

Windstream Deploys Cloud Xpress in Chicago

Cloud Xpress

Infinera and Windstream Communications have announced the deployment of Infinera Cloud Xpress to provide pre-provisioned high speed connections between data centers in Chicago.

Data center interconnect represents a significant revenue opportunity for Windstream thus they are taking it seriously. The Cloud Xpress enables Windstream to efficiently serve its data center interconnect customers with hyper-scale density, operational simplicity and low power consumption.

In a press statement, Art Nichols who is the Vice President of Engineering Architecture & Planning at Windstream explained why they chose Infinera Cloud Express. “We selected the Infinera Cloud Xpress to provide data center interconnect services to our customers because it is an extremely simple and highly scalable plug-and-play solution,” Nichols said.

“Windstream is working actively with Infinera and several other key technology partners to employ SDN for creation and management of optical services across its metro and long-haul transport network in 2016.” With its initial Cloud Xpress deployment in Chicago, Windstream is connecting two data center locations within the Lakeside Technology Center at 350 East Cermak.

The deployment illustrates the value of a highly integrated, compact data center interconnect solution that is extremely simple to deploy and manage, even in relatively short reach applications. Joe Scattareggia, the Senior Vice President of Sales for Windstream Carrier Solutions said the deployment helps the company to easily meet needs of their customers in the rapidly growing modern world. “With our initial deployment of Cloud Xpress, we are able to meet the growing bandwidth needs of our customers needing connectivity to high demand Internet Exchange facilities like 350 Cermak,” he noted.

Infinera introduced the Cloud Xpress family in 2014 delivering a cloud-optimized WDM solution to cloud service providers, Internet content providers, Internet Exchange service providers and other large-scale data center operators. The Cloud Xpress family offers customers the choice of 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE), 40 GbE and 100 GbE client interfaces to meet their specific requirements.

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Verizon Wireless Scores Big in RootMetrics Report

Verizon Wireless Scores Big in RootMetrics Report

Verizon Wireless RootMetrics Report

A report released last month by RootMetrics for the first half of 2016 has placed Verizon Wireless ahead of its competitors in the overall performance award.

The main interpretation of the report is that Verizon customers in Boston are having the best time enjoying their services compared to other providers. RootMetrics is a self-regulating mobile analytics firm thus its reports and findings are held with high regard.

They use off-the-shelf consumer smartphones to test the network capabilities of all four major U.S. wireless carriers in six network performance categories across various geographies. Michele White, the Network Director for Verizon’s Northeast Market said they are pleased with the recognition that shows they are still the best in America.

“We are pleased that RootMetrics has recognized our continued dedication to building the best wireless network in the Boston area for our customers. This award paired with Verizon’s recent announcement to invest $300 million in a city-wide fiber network demonstrates our ongoing commitment to provide the best telecommunications services in the city.”

White noted that the award will help in laying the foundation for future wireless innovation, including the deployment of 5G technology. A total of 89 indoor locations across all competitors were covered in the report which had more than 61,000 tests conducted between April 3 and 9. Verizon also ranked first in network reliability as well as call performance. RootMetrics professional testers drove more than 4,000 miles throughout the Boston metro area in the recent study.

This is not the first time that Verizon is being feted by RootMetrics. They rated their wireless network as the leader among all major national wireless service providers for the fifth consecutive time during testing in the second half of 2015. Verizon also earned the most first place or shared first place data performance rankings in the nation’s top airports during second-half 2015.

 

Google Fiber Avery Pennarun Joins Board of Canadian Bank

Google Fiber Avery Pennarun Joins Board of Canadian Bank

Google Fiber

Pacific & Western Bank of Canada has announced the election of Avery Pennarun to its Board of Directors.

The election was conducted at their Annual General & Special Meeting held on April 27. A press release from the company said Pennarun brings to the Board a wealth of knowledge and experience in information technology.

Prior to his new appointment, Pennarun was working at Google Fiber Inc. in New York City as a Senior Software Engineer. He graduated from the University of Waterloo in 2001 with Honors, Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer Engineering degree.

His background includes four years as EVP, Software Development at AMSDMS Software Inc. which is a subsidiary of PWC Capital Inc.  David Taylor, President and CEO of the Bank welcomed Pennarun to the new posting. He said Pennarun is well experienced and they could not have settled on a better candidate than him.

“I am delighted Avery has joined our Board; his significant experience in information technology, background in designing banking software, and his in-depth knowledge of our banking systems is very valuable to us as we continue to lead the industry with an innovative, branchless banking platform and propel Canada’s growing Fintech Industry.”

Pennarun is expected to take a leading role in propelling the bank to new heights amidst heightened competition from the local banking industry. The bank has made it clear they are keen to tap on his experience. Pacific & Western Bank of Canada, a highly versatile and technologically proficient Canadian Schedule I chartered bank, operates using an “electronic branchless model”. It sources deposits, consumer loans, commercial loans and leases electronically.

PWB also makes residential development and commercial mortgages it sources through a well-established network of brokers and direct contact with its lending staff. PWB’s common shares trade on Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol PWB.

 

FCC Wants to Understand Mobile Device Security

FCC Wants to Understand Mobile Devices Security

Mobile Device Security

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has upped its intelligence in a bid to better understand, and ultimately to improve, the security of mobile devices.

As such, FCC has joined the Federal Trade Commission to accomplish that. Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief Jon Wilkins has already sent a letter to mobile carriers asking questions about their processes for reviewing and releasing security updates for mobile devices.

At the same time, the FTC has ordered eight mobile device manufacturers to provide the agency with information about how they issue security updates to address vulnerabilities in smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

“As consumers and businesses turn to mobile broadband to conduct ever more of their daily activities, the safety of their communications and other personal information is directly related to the security of the devices they use,” said a press release from the FCC. “There have recently been a growing number of vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems that threaten the security and integrity of a user’s device, including “Stagefright” in the Android operating system.”

The FCC estimates that almost 1 billion Android devices globally are affected by security breaches. “Consumers may be left unprotected, for long periods of time or even indefinitely, by any delays in patching vulnerabilities once they are discovered.  To date, operating system providers, original equipment manufacturers, and mobile service providers have responded to address vulnerabilities as they arise.”

There are, however, significant delays in delivering patches to actual devices—and those older devices may never be patched.  The Commission will continue its longstanding partnership and work cooperatively with the FTC on this issue. Responses to the letters will inform discussions with industry about possible solutions and be shared with the FTC.

A number of manufacturers are not comfortable with the new move by FCC but the commission says there is no turning back.

 

Synology RT1900ac Router Review

Synology RT1900ac Router Review

Synology RT1900ac Router Review

Review by Dan Karas – 5/30/2016

My experience with a new Synology RT1900ac router (Actually two, I returned the first). Purchased At Amazon.

Owning a Synology NAS, I was happy with the performance, features and continuous SRM software upgrades that Synology provides. When I was in the market to upgrade my old wireless router, I decided to try out the new Synology router. This is Synology’s first attempt at producing a consumer router and here is my take.

I ordered a Synology RT1900ac from a third party vendor on Amazon due to the fact that Amazon was out of stock at the time. This turned out to be a mistake. While configuring the Synology router’s Country settings, I could not find the U.S. listed in the drop-down options. I selected Canada and continued to configure the router. Here are the email responses that I received from Synology support when I complained about the United States missing from the menus.

Dan,
The reason that U.S. is missing is because you do not have the U.S. version.
You need to return the router to whomever you bought it from.
 
U.S. editions have something along the lines of ‘Freedom Edition’ in the name.
Other models are for non-U.S. usage per federal regulations.
Essentially return the unit and ask that seller, or another, if their model is for U.S. use or not.
 
Thank you,
Emil H.
Synology Support

I responded with this,

Hi Emil,

Router seems to be functioning fine with country code set to “Canada”.  Bought router online, would be a pain to return just to have US in country codes.

Are there any other functional differences between US and other versions of this router?

Thanks,
Dan

And received this response from the Synology support staff,

Dan,

If you are in the U.S. and running services for a non-U.S. country area, then that is technically illegal by federal law.

The FCC has not passed the router used in non-U.S. countries for U.S.-based usage.

My recommendation would be to stay legal.

Return the unit and request one designed for the U.S.

Whatever choice you make in this matter is up to you, however.

Thank you,

Emil H.

Synology Support

Synology Router Return:

I contacted Amazon and they quickly issued me a refund for the non-US Synology router and provided a postage paid return label. Luckily Amazon now had the Synology 1900ac router in stock and it was even $20 cheaper than the price I had paid for the non-US version. Since I have an Amazon Prime account, I received free next day delivery of the router.

Setup of the RT1900ac was very easy and there is no Country selection on the US version of the Synology router. I did not see ‘Freedom Edition’ as the Synology support email had suggested, however the sticker with the router’s MAC address and serial number clearly shows the US as can be seen in the pictures below.

Non-US Synology RT1900ac

Non-US RT1900ac

As you can see in the picture the US marking is missing. The US model is shown below.

US Synology RT1900ac Router

United States Synology Router

Okay, enough rambling about the US and International version differences.

Synology RT1900ac Router Review

Here is what the Synology router looks like.

Packaging:

RT1900ac Box

RT1900ac Box

Synology Router Packaging

Synology Router Packaging

The router comes well packaged in a rather plain looking cardboard box. The three WiFi antenna are rather large as can clearly be seen in the pictures.

Whats in the box?

Inside the Synology Router Box

Inside the Synology Router Box

Inside the box, you’ll find:

  • Synology RT1900ac Router
  • Clip-on Vertical Stand
  • AC power Adapter
  • Three Antennas
  • Ethernet Cable
  • Quick Installation Guide

RT1900ac Connections & Controls:

RT1900ac USB and SD card slots

USB and SD Card Slots

 

The Synology RT1900ac router includes USB and SD card slots for adding network storage that can be set up like a NAS and accessed from any devices or network users that you choose.

Removable Antennas & On/Off Switch

Removable Antennas & On/Off Switch

WPS & WiFi Disable Switch

WPS & WiFi Disable Switch

The Synology RS1900 includes 3 huge removable antennas, a Power switch, which believe it or not is unusual on consumer routers. The router also has a WPS button for quick WiFi configuration on supported devices and a manual WiFi disable (On/Off) switch that lets you manually disable wireless connections with the simple flick of a switch.

4 Port Gigabit Switch

4 Port Gigabit Switch

4 Port Gigabit Switch

A 4 port Gigabit switch is included for your home network Ethernet connections. You can always add additional Gigabit Ethernet switches to expand your wired network.

Synology Router WAN (Internet) Port

WAN (Internet) Port

Like most standalone wireless routers, you just connect the output from your ISP’s modem or interface to the blue WAN jack on the rear of the Synology Router.

The router can be configured and managed from a Synology smartphone app (DSRouter) available for Android and iOS, or from a PC or laptop. Synology has a convenient Quick Connect ID feature that manages DDNS settings, enabling you to connect to your router from virtually anywhere, even when your WAN IP address from your ISP changes.

 

Synology Screens and Apps:

Synology Help Screen

Synology Help Screen

Just like their NAS, Synology provides comprehensive help screens to explain the RT1900ac Router settings and features.

Synology Router Packages

Synology Router Packages

Synology also provides installable software packages for the RT1900ac router that can enhance it’s usefulness. Anyone who has used a Synology NAS should be familiar with these features.

Synology 1900ac Router SRM

Synology Router SRM

Conclusion:

Overall I am very satisfied with the performance and features of the Synology 1900ac router. I get great range in a 1850 SF home.

With any wireless router, placement and configuration are critical to maximizing your WiFi range and performance. I moved my router from the laundry room in a far corner of the house to a high spot on a plant shelf i the center of the house. I had to run two CAT6 Ethernet cables between the laundry and the plant shelf in the den since I didn’t want to move my cable modem  and  Ethernet patch panel from the laundry room. One Ethernet cable provides the WAN connection from the cable modem and the other feeds a Gigabit switch that provides LAN connections to the rest of the house.

The Synology RT1900ac Router sells for around $150 on Amazon. When i wrote this router review the Amazon reviews rating was 4.5 out of 5 stars which is excellent. To check availability and current price click this button.

Synology RT1900ac Router Current Price

 

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