Discover your Broadband Provider
Accessing Broadband in the Eastern Sierra
TAPPING INTO DIGITAL 395
Digital 395 is one of the most sophisticated broadband networks in the nation and provides more bandwidth to the Eastern Sierra than we could possibly use. But most people don’t really understand how to access Digital 395 though and tap into all that bandwidth. That’s ok – we’re here to help!
Digital 395 is what’s known as a Middle Mile network. These types of networks are designed to bring service into a region, but not deliver it right to your doorstep. Instead most customers rely on a Last Mile Internet Service Provider (ISP) to get you access to that internet.
Making Sense of the Options
The first, and most important, thing is simply knowing who provides service in your area. If you don’t already know that, scroll back to the top of the page and type your address into ‘Search for Address…’ dialog on the right hand side.
There are a number of ISPs in the Eastern Sierra who leverage Digital 395 – Suddenlink, Race Communications, Schat.net, Frontier, or Lone Pine TV. These providers tap into the Digital 395 backbone at designated locations and then build their own networks to your home or business and essentially serve as a middleman to get you connected to Digital 395.
There are several difference factors to consider when choosing a provider, and each provider is a little different in terms of what type of service they provide, and how they deliver it to your location. We break that down in the sections below.
Most people only need to concern themselves with the speeds a provider is delivering. Speeds are typically described as [Upload]/[Download] – for example 5mbps/50mbps.
Providers typically advertise the download speed which describes how fast the internet works in transmitting data when you are retrieving it from a website or other online source. If you are streaming a movie, downloading pictures, or reading email you are relying on your download speed to get that content to you. The graphic to the right describes the amount of time needed to perform various tasks based on your download speed.
Upload speed is another important consideration with your internet circuit. This describes the amount of time required to ‘push’ data up to the internet. If you are uploading a video or sending an attachment on an email these require upload speed.
It is also important to consider how many people will be using your internet connection, and what they will be doing with it. Streaming movies and playing games can demand a decent amount of bandwidth. Functions like video conferencing and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones expect a reasonably steady flow of bandwidth. Mix these demands together and it’s possible that someone will be impacted. The best strategy is to buy more bandwidth than you think you need so that you have a bit of a buffer – even though a competing use may cause a blip in your service you’ll still have enough speed to not really be impacted.
Most people don’t need to bother themselves too much with the details of broadband technology, but it is worth noting a few of the high points.
The main thing to recognize is that wireline (whether that’s fiber optic, coax, or regular old phone lines) generally offers better service that wireless, which is typically better than satellite. Again, there is a lot of nuance wrapped up in that statement so exceptions do exist, but if you can purchase wireline service we recommend that option over wireless mainly due to reliability and the speed which can be delivered.
Without getting into all the technical details around why, fiber is typically considered the ‘gold standard’ for broadband infrastructure as the data moves unimpeded across the line, and the electronics which power the network tend to be higher performing than those associated with copper lines and indicative of more modern networks. It is also worth noting that most DSL and Coax based broadband networks are designed around shared utilization, meaning that your speeds will likely vary depending on how many people are using the network at the same time as you. Bandwidth is essentially divided among users so when demand is high, speeds may be lower than during off-peak periods.