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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.

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).

Online Tracking: What it is and how to better control it

Posted on: September 11th, 2019 No Comments

Have you ever wondered why some online ads you see are targeted to your tastes and interests? Or how websites remember your preferences from visit-to-visit or device-to-device? The answer may be in the “cookies” – or in other online tracking methods like device fingerprinting and cross-device tracking.

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about online tracking — how it works and how you can control it.

Understanding Cookies

1. What is a cookie?

A cookie is information saved by your web browser, the software program you use to visit the web. When you visit a website, the site might store a cookie so it can recognize your device in the future. Later if you return to that site, it can read that cookie to remember you from your last visit. By keeping track of you over time, cookies can be used to customize your browsing experience, or to deliver ads targeted to you.

2. Who places cookies on the web?

First-party cookies are placed by the site that you visit. They can make your experience on the web more efficient. For example, they help sites remember:

  • items in your shopping cart
  • your log-in name
  • your preferences, like always showing the weather in your home town
  • your high game scores.

Third-party cookies are placed by someone other than the site you are on. For example, the website may partner with an advertising network to deliver some of the ads you see. Or they may partner with an analytics company to help understand how people use their site. These “third party” companies also may place cookies in your browser to monitor your behavior over time.

Over time, these companies may develop a detailed history of the types of sites you frequent, and they may use this information to deliver ads tailored to your interests. For example, if an advertising company notices that you read a lot of articles about running, it may show you ads about running shoes – even on an unrelated site you’re visiting for the first time.

Understanding Other Online Tracking

1. What are Flash cookies?

A Flash cookie is a small file stored on your computer by a website that uses Adobe’s Flash player technology. Flash cookies use Adobe’s Flash player to store information about your online browsing activities. Flash cookies can be used to replace cookies used for tracking and advertising, because they also can store your settings and preferences. Similarly, companies can place unique HTML5 cookies within a browser’s local storage to identify a user over time. When you delete or clear cookies from your browser, you will not necessarily delete the Flash cookies stored on your computer.

2. What is device fingerprinting?

Device fingerprinting can track devices over time, based on your browser’s configurations and settings. Because each browser is unique, device fingerprinting can identify your device, without using cookies. Since device fingerprinting uses the characteristics of your browser configuration to track you, deleting cookies won’t help.

Device fingerprinting technologies are evolving and can be used to track you on all kinds of internet-connected devices that have browsers, such as smart phones, tablets, laptop and desktop computers.

Controlling Online Tracking

1. How can I control cookies?

Various browsers have different ways to let you delete cookies or limit the kinds of cookies that can be placed on your computer. When you choose a browser, consider which suits your privacy preferences best.

To check out the settings in a browser, use the ‘Help’ tab or look under ‘Tools’ for settings like ‘Options’ or ‘Privacy.’ From there, you may be able to delete cookies, or control when they can be placed. Some browsers allow add-on software tools to block, delete, or control cookies. And security software often includes options to make cookie control easier.  If you delete cookies, companies may not be able to associate you with your past browsing activity.  However, they may be able to track you in the future with a new cookie.

If you block cookies entirely, you may limit your browsing experience. For example, you may need to enter information repeatedly, or you might not get personalized content that is meaningful to you. Most browsers’ settings will allow you to block third-party cookies without also disabling first-party cookies.

2. How can I control Flash cookies and device fingerprinting?

The latest versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Internet Explorer let you control or delete Flash cookies through the browser’s settings. If you use an older version of one of these browsers, upgrade to the most recent version, and set it to update automatically.

If you use a browser that doesn’t let you delete Flash cookies, look at Adobe’s Website Storage Settings panel. There, you can view and delete Flash cookies, and control whether you’ll allow them on your computer.

Like regular cookies, deleting Flash cookies gets rid of the ones on your computer at that moment. Flash cookies can be placed on your computer the next time you visit a website or view an ad unless you block Flash cookies altogether.

3. What is “private browsing”?

Many browsers offer private browsing settings that are meant to let you keep your web activities hidden from other people who use the same computer. With private browsing turned on, your browser won’t retain cookies, your browsing history, search records, or the files you downloaded. Privacy modes aren’t uniform, though; it’s a good idea to check your browser to see what types of data it stores.

But note that cookies used during the private browsing session still can communicate information about your browsing behavior to third parties. So, private browsing may not be effective in stopping third parties from using techniques such as fingerprinting to track your web activity.

4. What are “opt-out” cookies?

Some websites and advertising networks allow you to set cookies that tell them not to use information about what sites you visit to target ads to you. For example, the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI) and the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) offer tools for opting out of targeted advertising — often by placing opt-out cookies. If you delete all cookies, you’ll also delete the cookies that indicate your preference to opt out of targeted ads.

Cookies are used for many purposes — for example, to limit the number of times you’re shown a particular ad. So even if you opt out of targeted advertising, a company may still use cookies for other purposes.

5. What is “Do Not Track”?

Do Not Track is a setting in most internet browsers that allows you to express your preference not to be tracked across the web. Turning on Do Not Track through your web browser sends a signal to every website you visit that you don’t want to be tracked from site to site. Companies then know your preference. If they have committed to respect your Do Not Track preference, they are legally required to do so. However, most tracking companies today have not committed to honoring users’ Do Not Track preferences.

6. Can I block online tracking?

Consumers can learn about tracker-blocking browser plugins which block the flow of information from a computer to tracking companies and allow consumers to block ads. They prevent companies from using cookies or fingerprinting to track your internet behavior.

To find tracker-blocking plugins, type “tracker blocker” in your search engine. Then, compare features to decide which tracker blocker is best for you. For example, some of them block tracking by default, while others require you to customize when you’ll block tracking.

Remember that websites that rely on third party tracking companies for measurement or advertising revenue may prevent you from using their site if you have blocking software installed. However, you can still open those sites in a separate browser that doesn’t have blocking enabled, or you can disable blocking on those sites.

(This article is courtesy FTC’s consumer information. Find the original article here.)

Fall Sun Outages

Posted on: September 3rd, 2019 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. 

Starting in late September, 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!

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

HCC Increases High-Speed Internet Connection

Posted on: August 28th, 2019 No Comments

Initiative marks major improvement to Mason County’s Internet infrastructure

Left: Mike Oblizalo, VP and General Manager
Right: Rick Buechel, President and Owner

HCC announced today that it has completed a yearlong project to upgrade its network facilities by adding two geographically diverse fiber-optic cable connections, each capable of providing 100 gigabits per second (Gbps) of throughput to the public Internet. Hood Canal’s network upgrade marks the largest connections to be deployed in Mason County, giving the company the fastest “backbone” Internet connection currently available in the area.

The company’s backbone infrastructure upgrade compliments HCC’s ongoing Connect Cushman grant announced in late 2017, when Hood Canal Communications received $2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service Community Connect Grant program to build a broadband network serving Lake Cushman. The utility provider contributed another $352,000 for the project.

“We’re thrilled to announce this level of connectivity to Mason County,” said HCC’s vice president and general manager Mike Oblizalo. “This vital infrastructure is a major step forward for rural broadband and connecting our community with the rest of the world.”

Unlike the high-speed Internet connections in customers’ homes, so-called “backbone” connections are used to connect a local Internet service provider’s network facility to the rest of the world. This backbone connection allows customers to access websites and other online resources anywhere in the world. Hood Canal Communications first looked at increasing the speed of their backbone connections over a year ago, with an eye on future growth in their existing customer base and a desire to create the infrastructure needed to support further economic growth in the area. Working in collaboration with engineers at their “upstream” network provider, Wave Broadband, the company undertook to design and construct two new fiber optic connections with physically diverse paths, connecting their network facilities in Union, Washington to Port Orchard and Tukwila, Washington, respectively. 

The new high-speed internet connections will support Hood Canal’s existing 5,500+ broadband subscribers with improved network performance and reliability, while also positioning rural Mason County as an attractive destination for commercial growth and new business development. The increased connection speed gives Hood Canal Communications the opportunity to expand their network’s “co-hosting” facilities, with enough bandwidth to power remote servers for any high-tech companies that might consider establishing a corporate foothold in the area.

Jennifer Baria, Executive Director, EDC Mason County

“Living in a rural area can provide you with some amazing opportunities: lower cost of living, space, peace and quiet, lower stress, lower crime, and generally a more active lifestyle. However, economic stability and growth today requires a few basic needs and one high-speed connection truly a necessity, not a luxury,” said Jennifer Baria, executive director of the Economic Development Council of Mason County. “Giving our rural communities broadband access and developing greater capacity helps ensure that we can connect worldwide, utilize educational opportunities that enable us to find future entrepreneurial success, and succeed in the online economy. Access to broadband rises opportunities and unemployment falls. The EDC is in full support of capacity development of this vital piece of infrastructure!”

Career Opportunity: Install & Repair Technician

Posted on: August 23rd, 2019 No Comments

We are 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 interested, email resume to: careers@hoodcanal.net or mail a resume 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.

Designed & Produced by:

 Pivot Group marketing agency