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5 Tips for Staying Connected at Home

Posted on: March 26th, 2020 No Comments

Hood Canal Communications Responds to COVID-19 With Internet Speed Increases, Temporary Closures

Posted on: March 16th, 2020 No Comments

All customers will receive access to high-speed broadband internet for six weeks while offices are closed to the public.

To meet the Internet needs of work-from-home individuals and students during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hood Canal Communications (HCC) has increased its minimum internet speed to 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) for six weeks, at no charge to customers.

“We hope that this will offer some relief to our customers who are stuck at home during this pandemic,” said HCCs’ General Manager Mike Oblizalo.

Using the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) guidelines, HCC estimates that families of up to four people will be able to use email, browse the web, video conference and stream simultaneously.

HCC is able to offer this unprecedented broadband access thanks to a major upgrade to its network facilities last year. In 2019, the company expanded its internet backbone, adding two geographically diverse fiber-optic cable connections, each capable of providing 100 gigabits per second (Gbps) of throughput to the public Internet. This network upgrade marked the largest connections to be deployed in Mason County, giving the company the fastest “backbone” Internet connection currently available in the area.

In addition to increasing HCC’s minimum internet speeds, the company has also put into place several relief measures for its customers. All pay-by-phone fees will be waived, to encourage access to the feature and discourage unnecessary contact. HCC is also proud to participate in the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge and will waive late fees for the month of March.

This speed upgrade and other customer relief measures are offered as solutions to the necessary closure of HCC’s offices to the public. Following the advice of the CDC and other government officials, unnecessary contact between employees and customers will be limited until further notice. Additional measures have been put in place to mitigate potential health hazards for technicians in the field.

“Our customers’ and employees’ safety are our top priorities,” Oblizalo said. “We’re proud to offer these relief measures to ensure connectivity and stability in these uncertain times.”

Spring Sun Outages

Posted on: February 27th, 2020 No Comments

Missing a channel? Seeing an error message? You may be experiencing a regular sun outage.

What are sun outages and how do they affect HCC cable customers? In both the spring and fall, the sun passes behind certain communications satellites once per day.

During this time, the energy from the sun will overpower the signal from the satellite, causing loss of signal, tiling and no reception at all on several channels. This can last 2 to 3 weeks and causes channels to go black for a brief period of time.  Initially, outages will be gradual and slight, and can last 15-20 minutes at peak times.

On your television you may see the error messages, “one moment please, this channel will be available shortly,” error code SOAOO, or “no signal” during the time of an outage.

So what is HCC doing about this? Unfortunately, there is nothing that we can do to prevent sun outages from occurring. All cable and satellite companies are affected by this semi-annual occurrence. We apologize for this programming interruption, and appreciate your patience during this time!

Channels that are not affected by sun outages are:

4   KOMO

5   KING

7   KIRO

9   KCTS

10 KZJO

11 KSTW

13 KCPQ

16 KONG

20 KTBW

21 KWDK

22 KBTC

24 Zap2it

31 ION

46 Local

319 Justice Network

321 Azteca

322 KCTS Create

331 Escape

341 getTV

342 CometTV

351 Antenna TV

355 Charge

356 Laff

357 This TV

Watch the brief video below, from another cable operator, that explains sun outages simply.

Tips for Optimizing Your WiFi Signal

Posted on: February 5th, 2020 No Comments

One of the most crucial things you can do is pick the optimal location in your home for your router.

Start with proper equipment

It all starts with choosing the right router or other equipment. Not all routers are made equal and the size and layout of your home will determine what type of wireless network you need.

For homes under 1,500 square feet, a single wireless access point should suffice. That said, if your router is several years old, you may want to consider upgrading to a newer model with support for wireless 802.11ac and dual-band support. This will give you the fastest wireless speeds possible and the best overall coverage. For bigger homes, it’s worth considering making the upgrade to a mesh network to offer consistent coverage throughout the entire house. Once the main access point is installed, if you find a far corner of your home doesn’t have solid wireless coverage, just add another node to that area. Problem solved.

Regardless of whether you have a single access point or a mesh network, where you place the primary access point still matters.

Where should you place your router?

When you first move into a new home or apartment, the modem is usually installed along the wall in one of the far reaches of the house. This is simply because that is where the line comes into the house. It’s tempting to just leave everything where it is, but it’s unlikely that this is an optimal location to have your router.

Pick a central location

Routers send the signal out in all directions, so if it’s left in the corner of your home, a significant percentage of your wireless coverage is being sent outside your home. It’s best to move the router to a central location to optimize the signal. Installing a router across the house from the modem may prove troublesome. It may require manually running a CAT5 cable under the floor or enlisting the help of powerline network adapters. But the improved wireless coverage will be worth it.

Raise the router

Routers tend to spread signal downward, so it’s best to mount the router as high as possible to maximize coverage. Try placing it high on a bookshelf or mounting it on the wall in an inconspicuous place.

Avoid other electronics

Try to pick a location that’s away from other electronics and large metal objects. The more walls, large obstructions and electronics near your router, the higher the chances are that something will interfere with the signal. One electronic to especially avoid is the microwave, which emits a strong signal in the 2.4GHz band, the same wireless band your router operates in.

Those funny-looking antennas matter

Some routers have no antenna at all, but some have up to eight. These antennas help direct the signal. If there are two or more antennas on your router, don’t position them all in the same direction. Instead, make them perpendicular to one another — position one horizontally and the other vertically. Or slightly change the position of all the antennas to cover a wide range of angles.

Try mapping the signal

In worst-case scenario situations, it may prove useful to map out the signal in your home to see where there might be gaps or problems areas in your coverage.

If you’re considering upgrading your router, be sure to call HCC first. For homes with children, make sure to explore the parental controls of your router, too.

This article was originally published by cnet.

Career opportunity: Equipment Inventory & Recycle Technician

Posted on: January 17th, 2020 No Comments

We’re expanding! Join a growing, local telecommunications team.

Equipment Inventory & Recycle Technician

This position reports to the IT Administrator and is primarily focused on equipment inventory, maintenance, cleaning, and recycling. Performs a variety of duties related to Broadband, Cable Television, and Telephone equipment including proper documentation and coordination with other departments and personnel. Also responsible for proper care and use of vehicles, tools, equipment, and common work areas.  May perform other duties as assigned.

Minimum Qualifications:

*    High School Diploma or Equivalency
*    Valid Washington State Driver’s License
*    Able to obtain a Current First Aid/CPR certification
*    Proficient in Windows operating systems
*    Must be available to work on-call shifts, overtime, and weekends when necessary
*    Must be able to work independently and efficiently
*    Must be self-motivated, detail oriented, and organized
*    Must have excellent customer service and communication skills

Desirable Qualifications

*    Experienced with computer/network  troubleshooting and repair
*    Familiarity with Cisco and Linux OS

Interested applicants can email resume to careers@hoodcanal.net.

Employment Opportunity – Telecommunications Install & Repair Technician

Posted on: December 31st, 2019 No Comments

Growing communications company is seeking a full time Telecommunications Install & Repair Technician. Position requires installation and repair of all necessary cable/telephone/fiber-to-the-home/network wiring, in and out of the customer premise and also the hardware from the distribution system to the customer’s equipment for the reception of cable, broadband and telephone services. Additionally, maintaining and repairing outside plant facilities. Great benefits package for employees. Salary DOE.

 

Requirements: Minimum of 2 years of Telecommunications installation experience

  • Minimum of a High School Diploma, valid WDL and clean driving record
  • Excellent computer skills. Proficient in Internet related applications such as email clients and web browsers.
  • Great oral communication skills for direct customer interaction
  • Must be punctual, reliable and able to retain newly learned information
  • Must be willing to actively learn new skills and expand knowledge. Satisfactorily accomplish multiple tasks. Interpret a variety of instructions. Work independently and efficiently to meet deadlines. Familiarity and experience with construction techniques. Familiarity with networks and telecommunications issues.
  • Must be self-motivated, organized and detail oriented
  • Must be drug free

 

If you wish to mail in a resume, please send to CS Manager, PO Box 249, Union, WA 98592. Please NO walk ins or phone calls. Hood Canal Communications is a drug free, equal opportunity employer.

 

An open letter to our customers regarding FOX networks

Posted on: December 27th, 2019 No Comments

In the 85 years we have offered cable television service Mason County, we have seen extraordinary changes in our business. We began in 1934 and today, through a continuing investment in technology, hard work and our dedicated work force, Hood Canal Communications delivers advanced broadband services including cable channels and internet service to our community.

 

As your local TV provider, we are part of your community. We hear from customers all the time – whether we’re pumping gas, at a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, or even at a school event. We are your neighbors and Mason County is our home. Our goal is simple: we are committed to providing quality services that exceed your expectations in voice, video, data and customer service.

 

You may have heard that we are currently in negotiations with FOX – owner of FOX News Channel, FOX Business, FS1 and more. TV providers, such as HCC, negotiate agreements with cable and broadcast networks for a fee per channel per month per customer for their programming.

 

The fees that we pay for these networks account for the bulk of our customers’ monthly cable bills. In the past, these fees were set in private business negotiations and customers rarely knew those negotiations were taking place. But in recent years, those negotiations have become more public as multi-billion-dollar media companies like FOX have tried to leverage the popularity of their programming to demand unreasonably high fees – whether our customers want them or not.

 

Our goal is to protect our customers from significant programming fee increases and offer you a wide variety of programming choices. This has become increasingly difficult when media companies like FOX make unreasonable demands for us to continue to offer their stations and networks. We believe it’s our responsibility to take a stand and fight on your behalf for fair and reasonable agreements.

 

HCC is in active talks with FOX over the amount they want to charge us for their broadcast stations and cable networks. They are demanding a significant increase in fees for the same exact stations and networks you already receive. As your local TV provider, we are on your side in the fight against unreasonable prices.

 

We want you to know that you are not at risk of losing FOX cable networks prior to December 31, 2019 when the contract expires. However, after the deadline, Fox may force us to remove their programming taking it away from our customers. We’re working to resolve these differences and believe that it’s important to explain to our customers the story behind these changes. We welcome our customer to join the conversation and to learn more at TVOnMySide.com.

 

Thank you for being a loyal HCC customer.

How to Get the Best Speeds from Your Broadband Connection

Posted on: December 23rd, 2019 No Comments

Today, people use the internet for just about anything that you can imagine. Whether you are shopping online or streaming a movie, you want your internet connection to be as fast as possible. Here are some tips that can help you achieve the fastest internet speeds possible.

Connection Types

There are a number of ways to access the internet; however, some are more reliable and more secure than others. Years ago, the way to access the internet was through a telephone line, which was called “dial-up.” This method took a very long time to connect and oftentimes offered a poor connection. Today, most people access the internet via a Wi-Fi connection, which can be very convenient but which may not be the securest or the most reliable. For the most secure as well as the most reliable internet connection, it is always better to plugin directly to the modem via a hard line. Having direct access like this can also help you achieve faster speeds while browsing, gaming, et cetera. If you want to use multiple devices, you might need to reconsider your internet options and upgrade to a higher speed that can handle all your devices. If your signal speed is negatively impacted by the geography of your house you can also invest in a Wi-Fi signal booster to improve the speed in those areas where the signal is weaker.

Drive Types

When it comes to playing video games on your computer, having the right drive is crucial for any gamer. While hard drives allow you to store more data, solid state drives are more durable, use less energy and allow for faster loading. It’s recommended that you use a solid state drive to reduce load times and lag, especially while streaming or playing video games. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of a mission on “Call of Duty” and to have your system start lagging.

Decrease Your Load

One of the major reasons for having a slower internet connection is that you simply have too many devices connected. Turn off devices that you are not currently using so that you are not draining the connection. You will be surprised by the difference that this one little thing will make in your internet speed. Also, be mindful of some apps that do not require the internet in order to work. There is no need to have the Wi-Fi option on your device if the app you are using doesn’t require it.

These are just some of the ways that you can increase your internet speed. Another thing that helps with your connection is to turn your modem off, to wait for a few seconds, and then to restart it. This can help give your internet a kick in the butt and help it to move a lot faster than it previously was.

How Much Bandwidth Does Your Business Need?

Posted on: December 18th, 2019 No Comments

Nowadays, with so many people operating businesses online, having a speedy yet reliable internet connection is one of the keys to success for an online enterprise. In order for you to allow your customers, as well as your employees, to be able to access information or navigate your site with ease, having the proper bandwidth is essential. If you are unsure of how much bandwidth you should have for your business, here are a few things you should consider.

It Depends

The amount of bandwidth your business needs will be determined chiefly by how many users, as well as devices, will be accessing the network. A small sole proprietor business, such as a mom-and-pop shop, may only check emails or occasionally use Wi-fi and may only need a small amount of bandwidth to operate at a decent speed. According to Cloud Advisors, businesses that exist mostly in the cloud will have more bandwidth requirements. Needing easy and smooth access to the data anywhere is necessary to ensure the best operations. Tech industries require massive amounts of bandwidth, and their networks are usually accessed via mobile as well.

Evaluating Your Needs

Activities such as email, VoIP calls, internet research and much more each have their own number of bandwidth requirements in order to function properly. Think about all the tasks that are performed in your office that require internet access as well as how many people will be doing these jobs at once. In order to maintain a decent internet speed, multiply the amount of bandwidth that you have by the number of your employees, and then double that. This should allow you enough wiggle room with your bandwidth regardless of what activities are being performed. If the number of tasks outweighs the amount of bandwidth you currently have, then you know you need to get more.

Look Outward

If the network is congested by too many users being on it at once, then even if you have a decent amount of bandwidth, you may still experience some lagging and slow connection speeds. According to Fusion, most networks can support about 250 devices, but if they all require high bandwidth, the number may be lower. For this reason, you should have a network that is capable of handling many connections at once in order to help prevent this from happening. You may also need to check your hardware as well by making sure your devices can support the number of Mbps that your internet connection allows.

If you are experiencing a slow internet connection, try checking to see if your hardware is up to date first. Also, consider the number of people accessing the network in your office and what duties they need to perform. This should help you figure out if you need more bandwidth or if you should upgrade your devices.

Need help with your internet? Check out our tutorials!

Email Phishing Warning

Posted on: October 25th, 2019 No Comments
It has just come to our attention that a phishing campaign designed to collect WebMail login credentials is underway.  We’re sending this email to make sure users are aware and cautious of emails that seem suspicious.

What is phishing?

Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. 

How do I recognize phishing?

– 
In examples we have seen, the phishing email advises of system maintenance and requires the recipient to confirm their email credentials.
Upon clicking the link, a page resembling HCC MagicMail’s WebMail lite login form is displayed and used to harvest login credentials.

What do I do?

If you suspsect you’ve received a phishing email, do not enter your credentials into the form. If you see this unusual activity, please let us know, including logs and samples if possible.
We believe this campaign may also be targeting other webmail systems as well, and as always we recommend customers be reminded to secure their settings and double check the source of such notices and verify the validity of SSL certificates of any web page requesting their login information.
If you have any questions regarding this email or other emails you receive, call technical support at 360-898-HELP (4357).

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