Frequently Asked Questions
- Rebooting – What do you mean by “rebooting your receiver?” I know how to reboot my computer, but how do I reboot my receiver?
- File Size – How big of files can I download? Can I download movies and TV shows?
- Speed – How fast is my connection?
- Download Time – What does the speed really mean? How long does it take to download a 10 MB file?
- Security – Is the Muir Beach LAN network secure?
- Alternatives – What alternative Internet services exist for Muir Beach?
- Support Line – I’m having trouble with my connection. How do I know if it is on my end or yours, and what can I do?
- Backup Dialup – You mention I should keep a backup dialup account. Why?
- Email Settings – What settings do I use for getting and sending my email?
- Shared Connections – I have other people renting a portion of my house. Can they share my account?
- Wireless Router – I would like to have a wireless router set up inside my home. How should that be done?
- Billing – I’m going to be away for a few days this month? Or, there was a service interruption during the past month. Will my bill be pro-rated?
- Leave On? – Should I leave my receiver on and plugged in all the time, or turn it off when not being used?
- Foliage – Tree branches or other plants have grown up around the receiver. Does it matter?
Rebooting – What do you mean by “rebooting my receiver?” I know how to reboot my computer, but how do I reboot my receiver?
You simply need to unplug the AC power supply that powers your receiver. That is either an AC adapter power supply that plugs into your electric wall outlet, or a power cord that plugs into your electric wall outlet and then leads to an inline AC adapter power supply that sits on your floor (we have two different styles). You can further identify it by following the Ethernet cable that comes in from outside your house from your outside-mounted receiver. That Ethernet cable will lead to a small splitter box, with two Ethernet cables plugged into it and one electrical power input. It’s that electrical power input you want to disconnect briefly – either at that small splitter box or at the electric wall outlet (or power strip if you have one).
Just unplug that power adapter or power cord and plug it right back in. The receiver automatically reboots within 60 seconds. That corrects the problem 90% of the time.
In fact, many people have installed a lamp timer at the plug to automatically turn the power off and on for 1 minute each day, like at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. That is a very good investment
The community shares a single (albeit commercial grade) connection so we do have to be careful about one neighbor not overloading the system. For an extra $15/mo., you may stream movies and do other high-volume tasks on the Internet. This increases the daily allotment from 0.5 GB/day to 6 GB/day Here is a link to some approximate file sizes.
We have arranged for a connection that permits, for the overall LAN, 200 Mbps. The speed experienced by each user will vary depending upon location within our system, but it is typical to have 5,000 Kbps (kilobits per second) download speeds and greater than 1,000 Kbps upload speeds (this compares with 28 Kbps typical for dialup accounts). Your speed is not expected to vary depending on the number of neighbors using the system simultaneously as we are only using about 5% of available capacity. Click the following link to test your speed (when connected via Muir Beach LAN) Speed Test.
|Speed(Kbps)||Time for10 MB File|
Note, however, that not all websites can keep up with our fast connection so the speed that they deliver the file to you may be the limiting factor.
Yes. All of our nodes use fully encrypted data transmissions. In addition, when you log on to secured websites, your browser will use SSL encryption suitable for banking and other sensitive transmissions.
Sigward and Leighton were both users of HughesNet satellite when they started the LAN, and were unhappy with the slow speeds, long latency (repeated pauses each time a link is selected), and storm outages inherent in satellite Internet service. Unfortunately, few services exist for Muir Beach because the costs of running cable or new phone lines to Muir Beach and the relatively few number of households out here.
Satellite runs $60 to $90 per month for actual rates of approximately 600 Kbps download / 70 Kbps uploads (they advertise up to 1,000 or 1,200 Kbps but state that actual experience is 600 Kbps). Equipment installation runs approximately $400, and there may be a $400 early termination fee. The repetitive pauses that come from the 45,000 mile distance to the satellite is an important consideration – in other words, latency approximates 400 ms versus the LAN’s approximate 8 ms.
Covad Communications provides a low-speed alternative DSL service that provides downloads and uploads of 144 Kbps (yes, no zeros are missing). The cost with a one-year contract is $130 per month.
Telephone dialup is at best 28 Kbps uploads and downloads, but the distance to Muir Beach results in 14 Kbps connections. Cost with www.maglobe.com t is $15 per year and is good to have in the event of outage on the LAN – the $15 includes 28 hours of dialup time.
As mentioned, Muir Beach LAN’s service provides 1,000 to 3,000 Kbps downloads, and 1,000 to 2,000 Kbps uploads for a cost of $40/mo. with no installation charge and no contract or termination fee.
See a list of steps and advice on our Troubleshooting page, including calling our support line at 415-381-8900 which includes a message on the status of the LAN. The Troubleshooting page also has independent techs you can call to help with your home network or computer issues.
As mentioned elsewhere, this is a local effort by some interested neighbors. When the system goes down or your receiver fails (both happen regularly!), we can only get to fix the problem as our schedules permit. Also, we stock an inventory of backup equipment, but sometimes the component we need is only available by UPS. So, we strongly encourage that you maintain a backup means of accessing the Internet. Usually that means just keeping the dialup account you had before the LAN. But, most ISPs do have a low volume rate for occasional access where the monthly charge drops from around $25/mo to about $12/mo. In addition, we have used a low-cost ISP with success – www.BasicISP.net, that charges $6.95 per month and has a local Mill Valley dial in number. Set this up while your connection is working and then you won’t be in a pinch when our connection has a problem.
Our first preference is for you to use your email provider’s “webmail” in order to get and send email – that will work by far the best with the LAN. If you must use an email client like Outlook, Outlook Express, Entourage, Mail, etc., please follow the specific instructions posted by your email provider on their website. Please also be aware that Port 25 is usually used by spammers so many Internet carriers (like the ones used by the LAN) will periodically block it. For this reason, almost all email providers have alternative ports to Port 25 available for use – definitely always use those alternative ports. If they do not, then try using Port 587 for your outgoing email settings, along with selecting “authentication.” If you end up needing to contact your email provider’s technical support, please ask for the settings you would use at a typical hotspot, like at an airport or Starbucks – those will work fine with the LAN. All this is avoided by using the webmail your email provider makes available for accessing and sending email, so that’s why you will probably prefer using webmail. Web-based email services like Gmail and Yahool also work extremely well with the LAN.
Connection Sharing – I have other people renting a portion of my house. Can they share my account?
We charge per household. In terms of defining a “household,” here’s what we have decided upon: If you share the same kitchen, you’re a single household. If, however, some cook or get their meals elsewhere, those residents or tenants would be a second household in terms of our monthly charge. Please let us know if we should add a second account. We have tried to be consistent throughout Muir Beach so we will appreciate your understanding with this policy. Within each “household” you are welcome to have as many computers and users as you please.
Muir Beach LAN doesn’t usually get involved in setting up wireless routers inside people’s homes. We suggest you purchase one at Best Buy or Office Depot and follow the setup instructions. They are usually very easy to set up. That being said, a wireless connection inside your house is always going to be less reliable than a wired connection. Even if you have a wireless router, we suggest you connect your computers to it using a wired Ethernet cable whenever possible.
We do require, however, that you password protect your wireless signal (using WEP or WPA) and that you have a network name (SSID) that we can recognize (like your last name or street address) so we can reach you if your signal happens to be causing interference with the LAN (it’s much easier for us to help you change to another channel than for us to change the channels of all our devices!). The password protection is important so that your neighbor’s laptop does not accidentally connect to your personal network.
Billing – I’m going to be away for a few days this month? Or, there was a service interruption during the past month. Will my bill be pro-rated?
No. It’s a flat monthly rate whether you can use it a little or for the whole month. This keeps it simple and low cost.
Definitely leave it turned on all the time, even when on vacation. It only uses about as much electricity as a night light, and we need to have it on when we make settings changes and updates from time to time. If we find it off when the settings changes are being made, often the receiver will not work afterwards until someone comes by your house and does it manually – something we like to avoid.
Yes – the receivers need direct line of sight to our nodes, so prune away anything that grows in that line of sight. It might work fine until it rains, and then once the foliage is wet it will absorb the really faint signal. Unfortunately it’s much harder to do that sort of yard work when it’s rainy and cold out…