Cybersecurity: How to keep your children safe!

The Internet is a great resource for you and your family. At the touch of a button, you have access to a world of knowledge and entertainment. Sadly, the internet is also a dangerous place to hang out – particularly for children. Nearly 60% of teens have received an email or instant message from a stranger – half of them have replied. With summer approaching, the potential for children to wind up on dangerous sites increases since kids have more free time and that usually means more screen time.

So what can you do? Just to get started, let’s list some things you can do almost immediately to help keep your kids safe while they’re online.

It won’t take a lot of time to try these suggestions, and while we’ll talk later on about setting up parental controls through your Race router, the following steps can give you some peace of mind until you can do so.

    1. Place computers in a common area of the house:
      Don’t allow kids to have a computer in their room. You’d be surprised by how much the mere presence of a parent who may or may not be looking over a child’s shoulder while they use the computer can keep a child in line. They have no way of knowing if your eyes are good enough to see across the room, now do they? Make sure the computer’s screen is visible from other parts of the room and isn’t turned toward a wall.
    2. Set reasonable time and usage limits:
      Set rules about what your child can and can’t do when on the internet. Set time limits on their computer use. If they say they’re researching homework, maybe you don’t include that in the time limits – but make sure they’re using it for homework.
    3. Discuss the dangers of the web with your child:
      Sit down and discuss the dangers of the internet. Talk openly and honestly about what’s out there and the kind of stuff they want to avoid. Forewarned is forearmed.
    4. Teach them to protect their privacy
      While they won’t fully understand the consequences of revealing personal information online, you should still make sure your children know:
      * Never to give their name, phone number, e-mail address, password, postal address, school, or picture without your permission
      * Not to open e-mail from people they don’t know
      * Not to respond to hurtful or disturbing messages
      * Not to get together with anyone they “meet” online.
    5. Keep the youngsters out of online chat rooms, and do your best to reinforce the old rule, “never talk to strangers.”:
      Chat rooms are a popular place for sex offenders to meet their prey. If possible, keep your kids out of chat rooms altogether. Make sure your child knows that no matter how nice an online “friend” may seem to be, they are still a stranger, and may not be who they appear to be. ​
    6. Know Passwords:
      Be upfront with your children that you will need to have their passwords for all of their devices and for all of their social media sites. Once you have the passwords, check these sites regularly to see what your child is seeing and posting.
    7. NEVER let your child upload or download photos without your permission:
      Online predators will often send photos supposedly of themselves or request photos of the child.

Turn your ISP into your ally
Before buying any safety product, experts recommend that you work with what you’ve got, starting with your Internet service provider – hopefully that is us at Race Communications!

Your Gigafy Me router includes free parental controls that can limit children’s access to websites and communication features (e-mail, instant messaging, chat) by the time of day and other variables. If you don’t have a router rental through Race, give us a call to have that added or if you have any questions about these features.

AT&T and Frontier – feeling the burn from declining customers?

Despite being the only service provider in many parts of the country, Frontier’s stock dropped a whopping 62% in 2017 – and 2018 isn’t looking much better for the company. In fact, earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that Frontier was considering a sale of landline assets in California, Florida and Texas that the company acquired from Verizon. A Frontier sale of the Verizon lines would appear to be a rather desperate act aimed at improving the company’s capital structure.

However, it seems that Frontier isn’t the only telecom in trouble. AT&T’s stock has dropped to lows not seen in about six years, and shares are down roughly 12 percent since the session before its last quarterly announcement. The stock has fallen about 19 percent for the year. This may be why AT&T eliminated their SSR position earlier this week, potentially leaving over 4,200 without a job. This and other job cuts come after the telecom giant received a significant boost from the GOP’s tax law. This has put the company in the spotlight with the labor group, The Communications Workers of America (CWA).

The group estimates that AT&T has cut 7,000 jobs since the tax bill went into effect this year. They accuse the company of using its tax savings to enrich its shareholders and executives rather than investing in workers.

So what’s the deal? Why are these two companies struggling amidst tax cuts and government grants? It is clear that cord cutting has slowly been draining customers from the cable industry in recent years. The numbers have been growing each year, going from 105,000 pay television customers lost in 2013 to nearly 1.5 million in 1017.

This has affected AT&T and Frontier in different ways. AT&T owns both DirecTV and its own U-Verse service. It lost 554,000 DirecTV satellite customers in 2017 and dropped 624,000 U-Verse subscribers. But AT&T also gained 114,000 broadband subscribers, which helped further offset its cable losses.

Frontier did not fare as well. The company lost 184,000 cable customers in 2017. Even worse, it did not post any gains in broadband and dropped 330,0000 subscribers.
This raises an interesting question: What happens if Frontier can’t afford to keep its antiquated network up and running and what does that mean for California consumers?

The company has offered no indications that it’s eyeing cutbacks to network investment or service. Even so, “California consumers should be very concerned,” said Christine Mailloux, an attorney with the Utility Reform Network, an advocacy group.

“All wireline companies are losing customers,” she said. “But they still have obligations that have to be met.”

The Federal Communications Commission requires that any phone company “planning to discontinue or reduce domestic wireline service” must notify customers in advance and continue providing service for up to 60 days after making its intentions clear to authorities.

At the state level, the California Public Utilities Commission defines Frontier as a “carrier of last resort.” That means the company must meet a variety of obligations as a provider of basic phone services, such as reliable voice connections and free 911 access.

Frontier and AT&T are California’s two largest carriers of last resort. About 14 other smaller companies hold the designation in various communities statewide.

Constance Gordon, a spokeswoman for the state PUC, said a carrier of last resort would have to apply to the commission for any financial assistance, such as charging customers higher rates.”And if the carrier were closing down completely, it would need to have a migration plan to ensure that customers have service throughout the exit process,” she said.

That would mean making sure customers find a home either with another wireline phone service provider or with a cable or wireless company.

According to AT&T, the number of California households with landlines has declined by 85% since 1999. But carriers of last resort are nevertheless required to maintain full capacity for their phone networks as if every home still used copper phone lines. This will change as wireline demand disappears. In the meantime, thousands of seniors and low-income people depend on landlines for their communications needs, and they can’t simply be abandoned.

State officials and telecoms will have to oversee a smooth transition from 20th to 21st-century technology. Perhaps AT&T has the size and clout to survive this challenge.

As for Frontier, that remains to be seen.

sources:
https://www.telecompetitor.com/rumored-frontier-sale-of-verizon-lines-a-desperate-act/
http://thehill.com/policy/technology/399214-labor-group-targets-att-gop-candidates-over-post-tax-bill-job-losses
https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/04/24/better-buy-frontier-communications-corporation-vs.aspx
http://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-frontier-verizon-landlines-20170718-story.html

“GIGAFY PHELAN” MARKS TENTH CASF GRANT FOR RACE COMMUNICATIONS.

The $27.6-million-dollar grant was awarded after multiple challenges and months of delays.

San Francisco, CA: On Thursday, July 13th, 2017 The California Public Utilities Commission voted four to one yesterday to approve the “Gigafy Phelan” grant, which will cover 60% of the cost of building a brand new fiber to the home network in the Phelan, Pinon Hills and Oak Hills regions. The single no came from commission president Michael Picker. The grant will provide fiber-based gigabit internet to over 7,600 households in a 98 square mile coverage area.

The decision to approve resolution T-17525 and award Race Communications the grant comes after years of planning and months of deliberation. Commissioners admitted that this was a difficult decision for them after a late challenge from Frontier came in April 2017. Frontier claimed it was in the process of upgrading services to 85% of the proposed project area using CAF-II funding, a federal program put in place to upgrade broadband in rural services. Unlike the CASF fund, CAF-II funding is limited to incumbent carriers and expenditure is not limited to construction.

After some research by CPUC staff it was determined that the upgrades proposed by Frontier would not meet the current minimum standard and would only serve 60% of residents at best, leaving many of the residents without adequate broadband. These findings echo what many residents already knew. In attendance at the Commission Voting Hearing were five longtime residents of Phelan who urged the commission to vote “yes” on resolution T-17525. The residents shared similar stories of poor or no connectivity and how the lack of service had negatively impacted their life and their community.

Support was not limited to the residents of the proposed grant area – once Frontier submitted their late challenge, Race Communications received support from elected officials and anchor institutions across the region as well as the state of California. Many of these had been supporters since 2014 when the project first became a reality after CEO, Raul Alcaraz confirmed that Race intended to submit a CASF application for the area.

Alcaraz was pleased with the decision and issued the following statement “After years of hard work from so many different parties we are excited and proud to see a well-deserved project get the approval necessary so we can get started. We have experienced first-hand the value of the CASF program and all that it brings to those who are involved. We look forward to Gigafying Phelan.”

The project is Race Communications’ tenth CASF grant. Phelan will be the second community in San Bernardino to receive service from Race, with Red Mountain (Part of the “Five Mining” project) being the first. In all of its projects, Race offers fiber-based internet plans that start at $25/month with their gigabit service costing just $60/month. Race also offers affordable, fiber-based phone and TV services in all of their project areas.

Face to Face with Race: Eva Borras

When you get your welcome call from Race Communications, have you ever wondered who’s on the other end? Most likely, you’re speaking with San Francisco native Eva Borras, who loves giving customers the best service. Read more to find out how she spends her days at Race.

How long have you been at Race?

I have been at Race for a year and one month.

What’s your official title?

I believe it’s called Customer Service Representative [laughs].

What exactly do you do at Race?

I take inbound calls that are non-technical. I’m really not technically inclined…so I  leave that to the guys [laughs]. I can schedule installations, I do all of the Welcome Calls for the new orders that come into the cue.

I do a lot of spreadsheet maintenance to keep the team up to date. I do order completions as it gets closer to the end of the month. Sometimes, things get overlooked and I go through the orders and provisions in the install cue, to make sure any order that has been completed, really has been completed.

I also do line number porting [which is how customers are able to keep their home number when they switch from providers].

And then, anything else that may come up, but roughly that’s everything I do off the top of my head.

What’s your typical day like?

My typical day is usually very busy. I mean I’m always busy and if I’m not busy, I’m looking into the system to find things that may need to be corrected or updated. All of us are moving so quickly, and there are things that go by the waist side, so I’m always on the search to correct things.

Whether I’m busy with outside info, calls and all that, I am finding things to do to make sure that everything we’re doing is top notch.

What three words can you use to describe Race?

That is a hard one [laughs]. I have more words than three. I knocked it down to: We are definitely awesome, progressive. We are competitive, reliable and friendly. That’s what I think of Race.

Bonus Question: What’s your favorite movie?

You’re going to laugh. It’s an older movie. It’s the 3-D animation, it’s called Up. If you haven’t seen it, go see it. I cried during the whole movie. It was wonderful. It brings out the sentimentality of life and what we’re here for.

The value of Fiber Internet

When someone goes house-hunting, they have their needs, their wants, and their deal-breakers. In addition to good schools, low crime and a nice location, high-speed internet service, is becoming more of a need than a want.

Cities and towns across the country are beginning to see next generation internet access as a necessity, citing its impact on property values, rents, and overall economic health.

Take Provo, Utah, for instance. With the introduction of gigabit internet (provided by Google Fiber), residents are seeing faster internet, more reliable service, and increased home values. The median price of a home in Provo in 2014 was $182,750, an increase of over 15% in 2011 when homes were selling for a median price of $158,950.

Ashley Jensen, a successful real estate agent in Provo, has seen a lot of positive changes in her city the last few years, including a complete renovation of the city’s downtown area and many new businesses. Since 2011, the number of homes sold in Provo have increased by 26%. Ms. Jensen attributes this to new mayor, John Curtis and the business boom brought on in part by better connectivity.

In addition to increased home value, a study by the FTTH council suggests that gigabit internet may have a positive impact in other areas such as a decrease in unemployment, improving medical technology and creating new education applications.

Studies have shown that students with broadband at home study more, watch less television, and improve their grades. With fiber internet, teachers and lecturers could simulcast their lessons to a classroom across town – or across the country. With the advent of 3D broadcasting, imagine if students could inspect a visualizations of the planets orbiting the sun in the solar system, projected right out into their classroom.

Jensen says she has seen an influx of Silicon Valley transplants to the area, and believes they are choosing to live in Provo because of the city’s innovative spirit and desire to provide the right tools and resources for success to it’s residents and businesses.

Download a copy of the study here.