Why Farms Need Broadband, Too


According to a recently published USDA study, more farmers in rural areas are adopting Internet access. Additionally, there's also a positive correlation between a farm's Internet connection speed and their revenue.
 
However, it's estimated that around 30% of US farms and ranches still lack access to fast broadband Internet - a sharp contrast to the 8% that lack access in more urban areas. 
 
It's always been clear to us at Socket that broadband access isn't just a luxury - it's a necessary part of doing business. The USDA report makes clear that farms with broadband access are using their connections to help run their operations, and as faster broadband speeds become more widespread, preventing a "digital divide" between rural and urban areas will be more important than ever. 
 
We're proud of the work we've done to bring Fiber broadband access to large parts of rural Callaway County. But our work isn't done - and we'll be pushing to bring Fiber access to even more parts of Mid-Missouri.

Jason Vander Veen - Socket's You-Make-the-Difference Winner for July!


Jason Vander Veen with Socket

Congratulations to Jason Vander Veen, Network Design Specialist, on winning the You-Make-The-Difference award for July!
 
This is Jason’s fourth time winning the YMTD award in as many years, and he’s won it with a different job title every single time.
 
After becoming Socket’s Technical Support Supervisor just a few months after joining the team in 2011, Jason became the new Residential Supervisor after taking charge of Customer Service as well. (Yes – that’s BOTH departments. Simultaneously.) Then, after spending some time as a Service Delivery Coordinator in the Business Center, Jason moved into his current role as our Network Design Specialist, which means that he helps research and plan out different areas to build fiber to, among other things.
 
What we’re saying is, Jason’s gone through a lot of business cards.
 
Although he graduated from Jefferson City High School, Jason has always been a true son of Michigan. Originally from Grand Rapids, Jason never lost his love for his home state. In his free time, he enjoys camping, fishing, and board games. Although free time is probably a little scarce at the moment – in addition to their kids Gavin and Adilyn, Jason and his wife Kim just added baby Lily to the family a few weeks ago.
 
"Jason has always gone above and beyond for any customer," said a co-worker who nominated him for the award. "From handling difficult customers, to designing fiber plant; Jason is the man."
 
Congratulations, Jason!

Watch Out For Pop-Up Survey Scams!


We’ve recently gotten some reports of a pop-up claiming to offer free gifts or prizes on Socket’s behalf. These are 100% scams, and are not tied to Socket in any way.
 
Unfortunately, these types of scams are relatively common, and not limited to using just Socket’s name to elicit trust. Here’s some ways to spot this scam and similar ones:
 

Don't click it! This scammer is just using a template with fill-in-the-blank spaces.
This ad is NOT from Socket.

How it works:
 
Most people are aware that pop-up ads can be suspicious. So scammers attempt to make their ads look legitimate by adding in some personalized information – either related to a site you’ve recently visited, or information that can be gathered through your IP address. This info includes general geographic information (like your city or zip code), as well as your Internet service provider.
 
However, these ads can’t get too detailed – they still have to be generic enough to apply to everyone the scammer might want to target. So all this personalized information will be fill-in-the-blank. If a pop-up is claiming to be from a company you trust, but doesn’t include any logos or information other than a fill-in-the-blank company name, it’s probably a scam.
 
Other warning signs:
 
Not all survey scams will look exactly like this one. But there are a few things many of them share in common:
 

  • “Too good to be true”: Getting a free iPhone in exchange for a five minute survey is an incredible deal – one that should make you suspicious. Always be cautious of sites that offer any sort of prize. If they really had that sort of money, their ad would probably look a little more professional.
  • Missing Info: Is there an "About Us" page, or a physical address where you could find this company? Look for some sort of proof that the company actually exists, and isn't just a single webpage that could disappear overnight.
  • Generic: Rather than try for personalized information, some scammers will use “details” that actually apply to nearly everyone. For instance, scammers love mentioning your recent visit to Walmart.
  • Payment Required: Never, ever, ever enter in your credit card number or banking information. You should never have to give someone money in order to receive a prize. (No, not even for shipping and handling.)

Finally, if in doubt, call the company in question from a verifiable phone number. A few minutes could save you an identity theft headache.
 
Curious about some other tricks we've seen spammers try to use? Check out our previous post on phishers.

How is Fiber High-Speed Internet Like a Fireplace?


The short answer: both will increase your home’s value by about $5000, according to a new study.
 
This isn’t new to us. We hear this all the time from real estate professionals, developers, contractors and even residents selling their homes. They all tell us they get more money out of a home when it has fiber high-speed Internet.
 
In fact, we’ve even been told that access to fiber high-speed Internet can be the deciding factor in whether to buy a particular home or invest in a business location. Business owners say they increasingly need fiber high-speed Internet to run their company and stay competitive. In the same vein, people looking to move into a new area will tell their real estate agent they have to have high-speed Internet available for their home business, their kids’ education or even their television viewing.
 
The study, done by the Fiber to the Home Council, found that a fiber high-speed Internet connection to your home increases its value by, on average, $5437. Check out the study in the article here.

Socket Sends Director of Business Improvement to International Fiber to the Home Conference


Socket recently participated in an international fiber to the home conference in Anaheim, CA, with the purpose of continuing to bring fiber Internet to Missouri that operates on the leading edge of fiber Internet technology.
 
Kurt Bruemmer, Socket’s director of business improvement and control, attended the three-day Fiber On Fire conference to share information with other top actors in the fiber Internet field.
 
Some of the topics included advances in creating and deploying fiber networks, strategies to meet customer bandwidth demands and ensure customer needs are exceeded, how to educate customers about the advantages of an all-fiber network, and the latest in fiber technology, hardware and best practices.
 
Bruemmer’s role is to continuously improve Socket’s processes and procedures. He leads Socket’s strategic planning efforts to deliver first-class telecommunications products and customer service. During this conference, Bruemmer participated in discussions about best practices in delivering services over fiber. He also met with vendors who can provide top equipment, materials and other services related to building and maintaining Socket’s fiber network.

Shaun Crawford - Socket's You-Make-the-Difference Winner for June!



 
Congratulations to June's You-Make-the-Difference-Award winner, Shaun Crawford!
 
Shaun is one of our Field Technicians, and most of his work involves repairing and splicing fiber. That can mean anything from highly delicate work with hair-thin wires, to labor-intensive hauling and digging in the hot sun – and regardless of what gets thrown at him, Shaun does it without complaint.
 
After starting at Socket in May 2014, Shaun ended up moving over to the Field Services department just a few months later. Judging by their nominations and votes, his fellow field techs are glad to have him.
 
"He goes the extra mile to get things completed for Socket," said a co-worker who nominated him for the award.
 
Shaun is originally from Osage Beach, and is working on a CIS degree from Columbia College. When he's not being awesome at Socket, he enjoys drumming, skating and reading.
 
"I'm happy someone from Field Services was honored," said Shaun. "I really like the people I work with here, and everyone is really cool."

Major Improvements to DSL Service


Socket is investing substantial time and resources toward improving its DSL services through the use of new technology and equipment. While many in the telecommunications industry are trumpeting the death of copper for delivering high-speed Internet, Socket continues to find ways to meet its customers’ needs where copper is the most cost effective way to provide service. Known as VDSL, for “Very High Bit Rate DSL,” the upgraded service enables Socket to offer improved connection speeds to businesses and homes.
 
Socket began testing its VDSL service in late 2014. The upgrade required Socket to install new equipment at every point where its service originates. The new cards, coupled with new modems able to interpret the VDSL signal, give Socket VDSL customers top speeds of 50 Mbps, with averages landing somewhere between 20-30 Mbps. Compared to the 10-15 Mbps average speed that regular DSL, or ADSL, provides, this is a significant jump.
 
“In terms of our Internet service, speed is of utmost importance to our customers,” said Carson Coffman, president and co-owner of Socket. “We’re continuing to build our own high-speed fiber-optic network throughout Missouri by laying our own fiber. But we still find cases where this new VDSL offers speeds which are more than fast enough to satisfy our customers’ needs today.”
 
Brian Kirmse, president of Witt Print Shop in Columbia, recently upgraded to Socket’s VDSL service. He says the upgrade has drastically improved his business processes. “Being a commercial print shop, we deal with very large files every day from our clients,” said Kirmse. “With this upgrade, our uploads and file transfers go so much faster. That has saved us time, and for our business, time is money.”
 
VDSL, just like ADSL, is affected by how far a particular site is physically located from where the signal originates. The closer a particular home or business is to the point of origin, the faster the signal. Socket uses a complex algorithm to predict whether the service is available to potential customers and what Internet speeds they can expect.
 
Socket now offers high-speed Internet service for both commercial and residential clients. Packages start at $40 monthly and offer speeds up to 50 Mbps. To find out what’s available for your business or home, visit www.socket.net/prequalify.
 
 

Socket Sends Representative to International Research and Development Conference


Socket participated in an international research and development conference in Washington D.C. Its goal: to continue to operate on the leading edge of telecom and Internet technology.
 
The conference, called SIPNOC for Session Initiation Protocol for Network Operations Centers, focuses on the advancement of Internet Protocol or IP communication products and services. Brian Taylor, Socket’s Outside Network Administrator attended the three-day conference among the top minds in technology world.
 
Taylor helps manage Socket’s network, troubleshoots problems and researches and develops new technologies. During this conference, Taylor participated in discussions about the challenges of deploying and implementing SIP-based communications technology, and learned about best-practices and strategies which enable successful and profitable operation of SIP-based services and application.
 
SIP is a form of VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) that can, for some businesses be a cost-effective alternative to traditional telephone service. Businesses can also utilize SIP to route calls between extensions at different location. Learn more about SIP.

Socket Sponsors the 2015 Fulton Street Fair!


Socket was proud to help sponsor the 12th Annual Fulton Street Fair last weekend, and we had a blast handing out balloons and throwing candy in the Grand Parade!
 
While there, we were able to talk to Fulton residents about our expanding Fiber network, and how they could add their area to our list of potential places to build next. We were also able to tell our current Fiber customers about our new television service, featuring over 150 channels!
 
While rain initially threatened, the clouds cleared up just in time for the festival to open. Warm weather made it the perfect weekend for live music, fantastic food and an amazing crowd.
 
If you missed this year’s festival, get the next one on your calendar! Visit www.fultonstreetfair.com to learn more.

Sam Johnson - Socket's You-Make-The-Difference Award Winner for May!


Congratulations to this month’s YMTD award winner, Sam Johnson!
 
Sam is one of our Service Delivery Specialists, but finds himself with a variety of titles, depending on what needs to get done. His primary responsibility is to get new customers’ services working, which can involve everything from building out the service, configuring all the equipment for it, and walking our field installers through how to set it all up as smoothly as possible. That’s in addition, of course, to whatever else might pop up, like battling email spam or driving out to fix failed equipment.
 
“I don’t know that there’s any such thing as a ‘typical day’ for me,” said Sam.
 
In his free time, Sam enjoys playing video games, being outdoors, and “anything automotive.” Spur-of-the-moment trips around Missouri and the surrounding states have become a more common occurrence these days, too.
 
An Electrical Engineering graduate from the University of Missouri, Sam ended up applying on the recommendation of his friend and roommate at the time. As it turned out, Sam already knew quite a few Socketeers from his days at Rock Bridge High School. “It’s been an interesting place for a reunion… from the people I’ve reconnected with, plus the ones I’ve met here, I’ve learned from some of the best people imaginable [at Socket].
 
“It’s an honor to win this award for a second time,” said Sam. “It’s nice to know that my work’s appreciated!”
 
Congratulations, Sam!

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Who is Socket

Founded in 1994, Socket is a Missouri-based telephone and Internet service provider with the largest service area in the state.

Socket is a privately held company that provides families and businesses a choice for local and long-distance phone and Internet service. We combine the highest quality customer service with in-depth technical knowledge.

Our network serves more than 20,000 residents and businesses in more than 400 Missouri cities, and our customers enjoy simple billing and quick, friendly service.
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