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As promised, our backbone contractor was able to finish testing the last three zones before Christmas. All properties that are part of the RSF Covenant can now sign up for service. I would urge all our readers to do so right away. Race has a backlog of customers to work through and currently the first available site survey appointments (the first step in the process of connecting) are in February. 

The good news is that having a site survey over a month away gives you plenty of time to get ready for your site survey appointment. In my last article, I gave a lot of information about what to expect and how to get ready for the survey, and what questions you need to answer before the site survey (the most obvious ones being do you additionally want phone or TV, do you want their Wifi service and where do you want the side of house connection box to be placed).

Sticker Shock

The biggest consistent complaint I have heard is that Race is charging a pretty penny for performing house connections. Even if you have installed your own new conduit, I have heard people being charged $2/ft just to pull the fiber through the conduit, do the splicing, set up connection boxes, etc. Some people are seriously considering not connecting solely due to the high price of the install. 

From the few installation quotes I have seen, I would say that Race is charging, um, a “premium” fee. If I were running Race, I would take a hard look at whether it makes sense to charge, say an extra $500, on an installation when you’d get that back in 8 months of connection fees (Race has almost zero operational marginal cost when providing service for a new customer). But I’m not running Race, nor am I on the Association Board that might suggest to Race that we are not all millionaires. However if you are a millionaire, suck it up, pay the fee and consider it a community service (the more people sign up, the faster the Association will pay off the backbone construction loan).

All I can say is the service is blazingly fast and will be substantially better than whatever else you are using. It is also reliable, a fact which took on extra urgency for me personally when our non-Race Internet connection went down repeatedly on Christmas day just as everyone was trying to set up their electronic gizmos. On the plus side, I got to talk to my teenage son a lot more that day.

A Word About WiFi

Most people consume their Internet wirelessly these days. Their phone, tablet, TV, printer and even computer are connected via WiFi rather than via an Ethernet cable. 

Unless you have had a networking consultant design the wireless part of your home network, chances are that your WiFi is going to be the weak link for your Internet experience. Gigabit Internet doesn’t mean much if your most commonly used devices can only communicate at 50 Mbps over your wireless network.

For the do it yourselfer, I’ve documented some WiFi tips over on my personal web site.

Race has a solid WiFi solution that they can install for you. 

Finally, you can hire a networking consultant to design and install a robust WiFi solution. 

Do pay attention to your WiFi and wired network – they are critical parts of your communications infrastructure.

Wire Where You Can

WiFi is not as reliable nor as fast as a wired Ethernet connection. Make the effort to wire your main PCs and especially your printer(s) via Ethernet cable. Printers are unreliable from the get go with their stuck print queues, wonky print drivers and flaky hardware, add in WiFi connections that can drop in the middle of a print job, and you have a recipe for frustration.  

If installing new Ethernet wire, I’d recommend using Cat 6a cable – it works well at current 1 Gbps speeds, isn’t too pricey, and will work in the future if we upgrade our houses to 10 Gbps (very few houses have or need that speed today).

Many houses have existing Ethernet cabling of various types, typically Cat 5 or Cat 5e. Cat 5e is specified to work at 1 Gbps, so no need to replace that wire. And while Cat 5 is not specified to work at 1 Gbps, it often does work at 1 Gbps in a house environment if the wire runs aren’t too long. If the distance between the equipment and the hub is about 150 feet or less and if the wire was half decent Cat 5 wire, then it will often work at 1 Gbps. I recommend trying to use Cat 5 with gigabit Ethernet and see if it works.