702.346.5211

What is a Phishing and How to Avoid a Scam

Whether you realize it or not, you have likely been targeted or know someone that has been targeted by a phishing scam. They are the most common cyber incursion today with scam attempts steadily increasing over the past several years. Good news is you can avoid falling into phishing traps with a few simple best practices.

What is it?

Phishing is one of the simplest forms of a cyber scam —most often coming in the form of an email or text message. The goal is to gain your personal identification information. This means passwords, account numbers, credit card numbers, social security numbers or anything that can be used to take your identity. Although email and text messages are the most common form, phishing has spread to social media and messaging apps.

How does it work?

These messages usually try to masquerade as a company you know and trust. To better pass for the company and further gain your trust, they will add little details like the company’s logo to the message. Logos for major organizations are often available online for anyone to download and use. Scammers will even go as far as creating a landing page (if not an entire website) that looks like it would belong to that company.

The content of the message will vary, but most often with an end goal of leading you to a fake website or to unwittingly download and install malware. Be aware there are long game schemes as well. Hackers using fake social media profiles have been known to build rapport with a victim over several months or even years. Once that trust is established, a ploy is used to get personal information handed over to them.

What can I do?

Knowing what phishing attacks are gives you an advantage and promotes remaining guarded    —especially with emails from unrecognized sources. The vast majority of these attacks have red flags to look out for. Some key indicators include:

Poor spelling and grammar. Basic errors are common in messages. Official correspondence from major organizations are likely to be professionally written.

Suspicious website URLs. Fake websites are created to lead victims to. These websites (like the messages) will have details that seem off. Don’t brush it off. Take time to give the link a second examination and look for text that doesn’t seem to fit.

A strange sender address. This is something that usually can’t be faked. Even when everything in the email looks accurate, including a proper logo, professionally written message and correct company information below, the sender address could be the giveaway.

Offers too good to be true. “Your subscription is ending soon. Click below for a lifetime subscription for only 99¢ now available for a limited time.” If you find this in your inbox, chances are it really is too good to be true.

Below is an example of a previous email sent to our customers by a scammer. Look closely and see if you can find some indications this is a fake.

 

At a glance, this could pass for an official correspondence from Reliance Connects. It’s not until you look closely at the details that you realize there is something phishy about this email and doesn’t sit quite right with you. Well, you would be correct. We have highlighted some of the key indicators found in this message below.

 

 

 

One of the best things you can do is listen to your instincts. Even if you can’t peg exactly what is wrong or bothering you with the message. Call the company’s official number that you have used in the past and double-check the validity of the message. You could be doing yourself a huge favor.

 

 

What is my devices max wi-fi speed?

It doesn’t get much more frustrating than upgrading to a high-speed internet package and then experiencing sluggish performance when you connect your smartphone. It doesn’t mean the speed isn’t there and available for you. It may be your devices are not capable of supporting the speed you subscribed to and they are only giving you the best they can. If you run a speed test on each device, you might notice each device’s “best” might vary.

Wi-Fi

Think about Wi-Fi as speaking a language. Your router speaks this language to your connected devices. There are five different Wi-Fi languages with a sixth on the way. Wi-Fi 1-3 are the slowest of the Wi-Fi languages and are only found in older devices. Wi-Fi 4 and 5 are capable of much faster speeds and are found in new devices.

Whatever device you have connected, your Reliance Connects provided router is backwards compatible —basically meaning it can speak any Wi-Fi language. The problem comes when only one device can speak at a time.

Imagine a circle. At the center of that circle is your router. Surrounding it are all your connected devices. Just like most people, the router can’t understand all the devices at one. So, a talking stick is used. Each device can only communicate with the router when it holds the talking stick. Each device can only hold the talking stick for a specific amount of time before it has to pass it on and each device has to have a turn as long as it sits in the circle.

When all the connected devices are speaking the same language, it works great! Especially if that language is Wi-Fi 5. All of this is happening in milliseconds and when devices are speaking Wi-Fi 5, that talking stick gets passed around so fast, you don’t notice any lags. However, things begin to slow down when you have one or more devices in the circle that speak a different language than the rest. Because the router communicates with only one device at a time, it now has to take the time to switch the language it’s speaking to communicate with that device and then take time to switch back. This alone can eat up to 30% of your subscribed speed. This is because the talking stick is moving so fast around the circle, the router is constantly having to take a moment to switch languages.

Connected Devices

A connected device’s age, type, and software it’s running all factor into what speeds it can support. The chart below will give you a general idea of what speed each device is capable of, based on the type of device and language it speaks.

 

How Does Wi-Fi Work?

We use it every day. We get frustrated when it lags or doesn’t work. Wi-Fi has become an integral part of the way we live. But do you really know how it works? There is actually a lot going on in the airspace around our home that we can’t see or hear. Understanding how it works will help you get the most out of your internet package.

The Router

To connect your wireless devices to Wi-Fi, you need a router setup in your home. Modern day routers have come a long way and now actually often encompass several devices into one device. An ethernet cable is plugged into your router that brings the internet to your home.

Routers are often updated and improved to handle faster speeds and communicate between devices more efficiently. Recently, new routers can communicate to multiple devices at a time as well as on different frequencies. This helps eliminate over-crowding and brings optimal speeds to all capable devices.

Wireless Connection

Once the router is setup and you begin connecting wireless devices to it, you can now access the internet! The router communicates with your devices through radio wave frequencies of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. 2.4 GHz can provide coverage for a wider area but is often slow. 5 GHz provides coverage for a smaller area but can bring you faster speeds. Newer routers and devices are dual-band which means they can work on either frequency. This is especially helpful because the 2.4 GHz airspace is often over-crowded. Other devices such as baby monitors, microwaves and garage door openers also communicate using the same frequencies and can disrupt or slow down your internet speed. 5 GHz offers more private space dedicated to you and your devices. The only problem is it has a harder time travelling through solid objects like walls or bookshelves.

Speaking Different Languages

All connected devices speak a certain language. Languages range from Wi-Fi 1 (the oldest and slowest language) to Wi-Fi 5 (the newest and fastest language.) Older devices tend to speak slower languages while newer devices tend to speak faster languages. Your Reliance Connects provided router can understand each of these languages. If you have too many connected devices all trying to communicate with your router at the same time, you will begin running into speed issues. Especially if you have connected devices speaking different languages. Although your router can communicate with each one, the router still needs to take some time to switch the language it’s speaking to understand the device that is trying to communicate with it.

You can use the analogy of the talking stick. All connected devices get a turn with the talking stick, even if it’s just to pass it on. They can only communicate when they are in possession of the talking stick. On top of that, each device is only allotted a certain amount of time with the talking stick before having to pass it along. If it does not finish what its communicating, it needs to wait until it gets the talking stick back before continuing.

Reliance Connects is now offering a high-powered dual band AC Wi-Fi router for a low monthly charge. This means worry free replacement and gives our support team more tools to assist you if you do have troubles. What’s even better is your Reliance Connects provided routers are configured to automagically switch devices to less crowded frequencies as needed. This means each device has more opportunity to communicate. Coming soon, we’ll have an app so that you have more control over your home. Set parental controls, do speed tests, change your Wi-Fi password and more!

If you have any issues with your router, please contact our Help Desk. The Reliance Connects Help Desk is available Monday-Friday from 7am-9pm and Saturday-Sunday from 8am-5pm. If there are any problems that come up with a rented router, please don’t hesitate to call us.

In Estacada & Corbett 503.630.8909

In Mesquite 702.346.0040

In Elkton, Haines and Antelope Toll free 1-866-894-4657

 

Covid-19 Update April 3, 2020

Dear Customers,

We are reaching out to remind you Reliance Connects is here to serve you during these unprecedented times. Our offices are staffed to assist you but remain closed to the public for the well-being and safety of you and our employees.

If you need to make a payment, we want to remind you of your options:

For the first 2 options you will need your account number, please check your statement or call or email us for assistance.

  • Login to Smart Hub via our website under Billing
  • Download our Smart Hub app
  • Call to sign up for ACH/Auto pay with your checking account

If you are experiencing a financial hardship due to the impact of COVID-19, we are adjusting to allow extra time for you to pay. Please call or email us to communicate your needs or to set up payment arrangements.

If you have any questions or need help accessing your account online, or need to discuss your account- please contact us at info@rconnects.com or call your local office.

  • Estacada Office: 503.630.4213
  • Corbett Office: 503.695.2202
  • Elkton Office: 541.584.2224
  • Haines Office: 541.856.3661
  • Mesquite/Arizona Office: 702.346.5211
  • Antelope 541.489.3402

In the days ahead, we will continue to monitor federal and state mandates and the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on our industry. We thank you for being a valued customer and we are proud to serve you.

Your Reliance Connects Service Team

Covid-19 Update March 20, 2020

Dear Customers,

What a week it has been! The health and welfare of you our customers and our employees continue to be of the utmost importance to us. We remain open and will continue to provide service to you throughout this event.

We are still asking our customers to please refrain visiting the offices in person, if possible. There are many ways to communicate with us outside of a personal visit:

Email us at info@rconnects.com or Call your local office at the numbers listed below:

  • Estacada Office: 503.630.4213
  • Corbett Office: 503.695.2202
  • Elkton Office: 541.584.2224
  • Haines Office: 541.856.3661
  • Mesquite/Arizona Office: 702.346.5211
  • Antelope 489.3402

Call tech support:

  • Estacada/Corbett: 503.630.8909
  • Mesquite/Arizona: 702.346.0040
  • All other areas: 1.866.894.4657

Call in to make payments with your bank card or checking account. We will continue to be sensitive to customer needs. If you need more time to pay or need new service at your home, please call us.

We want to remind you to support local, order takeout, buy gift cards, order online from your local vendors when possible. Your local Chamber is a good resource to get information of open restaurants.

We live in an amazing community and we are confident we will get through this together. We appreciate your understanding and support while we continue to navigate this new uncharted territory.

Thank you for being a valued customer of Reliance Connects

Covid-19 Update March 17, 2020

Dear Customers,

Over the past few days, we have all seen an impact within our communities due to the effects of the potential presence of COVID-19. As this situation evolves, all of us are assessing how to best keep ourselves and those around us healthy and safe.

Our staff has already taken steps to ensure that all our customers continue to receive reliable and dependable service during this time. It is important to let you know that we have put into place proactive and measured steps to maintain our goal of providing reliable service.

We are asking our customers to please refrain visiting the offices in person, if possible. There are many ways to communicate with us outside of a personal visit: 

Email us at info@rconnects.com or call your local office directly.

  • Estacada Office: 503.630.4213
  • Corbett Office: 503.695.2202
  • Elkton Office: 541.584.2224
  • Haines Office: 541.856.3661
  • Mesquite/Arizona Office: 702.346.5211

Call tech support.

  • Estacada/Corbett: 503.630.8909
  • Elkton/Haines: 1.866.894.4657
  • Mesquite/Arizona: 702.346.0040

Payments can be made by:

  • Downloading and setting up your Smart Hub account here
  • Calling our office with your bank card or checking account information.
  • Dropping them into the external box at any time.
  • Sending them through the US Mail.

We also ask that if you have a pending installation or other in-home appointment and have a household member not feeling well or suspect that you or anyone in your home may have been exposed to the virus, please contact our office to reschedule our technician to install the service in your home for a later date.

For now, we will continue to practice social distancing. Our office and staff stand ready to serve you. Our goal is to keep our staff healthy so that they may continue to provide you with Internet, Video and Voice services for all your entertainment and connection needs throughout this time. The best way for us to do that is through the outlined safeguards above.

We appreciate your understanding and cooperation while we all navigate this challenging time.

Thank you for being a valued customer.

Sincerely,
Reliance Connects

What do I do if I am not getting the speed I subscribed for?

You just finished upgrading from a 12Mbps package to a 50Mbps package, but how do you really know you’re getting what you’re paying for? Most people turn to taking a speed test through a third party. An internet speed test will give you an idea of how fast your connection is in the moment you take it. We will cover the factors that go into receiving an accurate speed test result and what you should do if your results are lower than the range you should be receiving.

The Speed Test

Before answering the title question, lets begin by talking about how a speed test works. The third party will first determine the closest test server they have to your location. Once that has been determined, the test will send a “ping”, which is a small packet of data, to the selected server. The test server then sends the ping immediately back. The test is measuring how long it takes for the ping to be sent and get back and how quickly it can upload/download the data in the packet.

There are several services out there that can perform this test. One of the more reliable reported by CNET (2019) is Ookla’s speed test, which gives you the option to change the test server being used. This is important because the test will send the ping to that server. If the server is on the other side of the country, you can expect the test to report a slower result. This is why you will often get varying results from different third parties because they use different servers.

The Factors

To get the most accurate results, you want to take the test on a completely clear network. Taking the test while you are streaming video, downloading anything or have a lot of other connected devices using up some of the bandwidth will result in a lower result. Remember, the test will be testing the available resources. Less is available when you have other devices or activities happening on your network.

The way your device is connected is also a factor. Hard-wired connections to your router will automatically boost the amount of speed you have available. Wireless connections lose some of this when the Wi-Fi signal needs to travel from the router to your device. Especially if it has to travel through a lot of material or a long distance. If you do test on a wireless device, choose a location with the least amount of interference. This usually means being right next to your router.

Your equipment plays a large factor as well. Older devices or devices that do not have the latest software updates will not run as efficiently. Learn what speeds some devices are capable of here. For higher speed packages, such as gig speed service, you will need an upgraded router capable of handling those speeds. Old routers can often limit your speed availability dramatically. Reliance Connects offers compatible routers that can be rented for a small additional monthly cost.

Contact us

If you have taken all these recommended measures to get an accurate speed test and still are receiving a speed lower than you feel you should have, please do not hesitate to call our help desk. We can troubleshoot the issue with you. If you are using our latest router, we have insights into your service that will help us correct issues. When contacted, we will start a ticket and get someone out to your location if that is what is needed to correct the problem. Fiber is a stable connection and customers should expect to get up to the speed they are subscribed to. The Reliance Connects Help Desk is available Monday-Friday from 7am-9pm and Saturday-Sunday from 8am-5pm.

In Estacada & Corbett 503.630.8909

In Mesquite 702.346.0040

In Elkton, Haines and Antelope Toll free 1-866-894-4657

What is Gig Service?

You have probably heard that Reliance Connects is now offering speeds of up to one Gig. Exciting, right? Whether you are streaming videos in 4k or playing multiplayer games online, Gig service with Reliance Connects can do it all. This service is a great fit for the modern family that often has more than a dozen connected devices.

Although Gig service is available to nearly everyone, it does not mean everyone can use it. There are certain minimum requirements your home devices need to have to be able to deliver the higher rates of speed. To put it into perspective, the smallest speed package Reliance Connects offers is 50Mbps (Megabits per second). A gigabit is equal to 1,000 megabits. That is 20x faster than our lowest speed! Below we outline what is needed for your devices to be able to handle the higher rates of speed.

Equipment

You will get the most speed with a hardwired connection to a gig-compatible router. The ethernet cable used for that connection needs to be at least Cat5e or Cat6 (not Cat5). Cat5 does not have the higher throughput capability that Cat5e or Cat 6 has (meaning less data can travel through at a time).

Reliance Connects offers a router that can be leased that works seamlessly with Gig service. If purchasing your own router, these are the specs you will want to make sure the router has:

-Dual-band AC wifi (supports 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands)

-400mW power radio(s)

-Gigabit ethernet ports (10/100/1000)

-4T4R antenna array for 5Ghz band (also called 4×4 MIMO); 2T2R antenna array for 2.4Ghz band (also called 2×2 MIMO)

-Dual core CPU @ 1.0Ghz or better

Make sure your system also has the latest version of Windows or Mac OS X. At the time this is being written, the latest version of Windows is Windows 10 “1909” which was released November 2019. The latest operating system for Mac is macOS 10.15 also known as “Catalina”. This was released October of 2019. Apple usually only continues to support the two most recent versions of their OS.

Interference

Keep in mind mobile and other wireless devices won’t receive the same speeds that hardwired devices will receive. This is in-part due to interference. For example, if you are in your bedroom upstairs on your wireless laptop and the router is located downstairs, hidden in a cabinet, that Wi-Fi signal will need to travel through a lot of materials to reach your device in your room. The farther a signal travels, the weaker the signal becomes. You can learn more about optimizing your home Wi-Fi signal strength here. Though wireless devices can’t support the full speed of gig service, they are still capable of getting high-rate speeds that are more than enough for any online activity.

Limitations

Although download speeds up to 900 Mbps are possible with a hardwired connection, maximum Wi-Fi speeds could be limited by your device’s age and model. Other factors could include how many Wi-Fi-connected devices are in use, website traffic and content provider server capacity. The speeds listed are a maximum under ideal conditions, your speeds may vary.

Here are some examples of what you might expect with Gig service.

 

If you would like to learn if your home is in a Gig-capable area or have questions, please don’t hesitate to give our office a call at 702.346.5211 or stop by anytime!

 

What is a Solar Outage?

It’s not surprising that many people don’t notice or know when a solar outage occurs. After all, it only occurs twice a year for a very short period. With the next one occurring in the next few weeks, this article will dive into what exactly a sun outage is and address some common questions.

What is a Solar Outage?

Twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, the sun passes directly in line with Earth communication satellites in geostationary orbit (which basically means satellites in space that move around the Earth at the same speed the Earth is spinning). These satellites are in Earth’s equatorial plane which is the midpoint between the two poles. The sun is a giant source of broadband electromagnetic radiation that over-powers the weaker broadband signals being broadcasted by the satellites to the Earth. The satellite dishes on Earth that normally receive the signals from the orbital satellites instead pick up the much stronger signals coming from the sun. These signals overwhelm the satellite decoders leading to a television signal disruption. What you end up seeing are pixelated images or a blank screen.

How long does it last?

This typically last between 10 and 45 minutes. The amount of disruption varies by location and size of satellite. Luckily, this happens during the day while most of us are at work. It can happen anytime between 11:00am and 5:30pm. Though, if you do happen to be home catching up on your favorite daytime shows, you will be impacted by this event. Once the sun is down, there are no problems. You can expect this to happen each day through the duration of the equinox, normally about a week or so. Again, this happens twice a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall.

Can I stop this from happening?

No. This is an inevitable event twice a year that we mostly need to bare. Unfortunately, it is out of the control of Reliance Connects and ask for patience as your service will return gradually as the sun continues its path across the sky. The worst disruption occurs when the sun is directly aligned with the satellites and lessens as it continues to move.

Will all my services be affected by this?

No. This will only affect tv service. Internet and phone services will remain intact during the solar outage. This event is not unique to Reliance Connects and will affect all TV service systems receiving signals from those satellites.

If you feel something else may be interrupting your service during this time or that it is lasting longer than it should, please do not hesitate to call us.

In Estacada & Corbett 503.630.8909

In Mesquite 702.346.5211