Mat Harrison: Socketeer of the Year 2013


Mat Harrison, 2013 Socketeer of the Year   
Mat Harrison, a longtime Programmer at Socket, was recently named the 2013 Socketeer of the Year.

 
The Socketeer-of-the-Year award was started 9 years ago, when Socket's owners decided to honor one of the year’s monthly You-Make-The-Difference-Award winners based on their embodiment of our Core Values and Beliefs.
 
Mat joined Socket’s tech support team in October 2004 before moving to the programming department in 2005. He writes a variety of applications we use here at Socket to keep our customers running smoothly, and he also develops and improves elements of Socket’s website.
 
"Mat is one of Socket's best kept secrets. He shows up every day and lives our Core Values and Beliefs," said a co-worker who nominated him for the award. "I am always confident night and day we can depend on Mat."
 
"Even under a sizable normal work load, Mat always makes himself available to provide others with needed help," another co-worker commented. "He constantly fields questions and provides useful assistance and input."
 
Mat went to high school in Steele, MO and earned a degree in systems engineering from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock before moving to Columbia in 2004. In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with his dog, Rex, playing golf, home brewing and playing video games.
 
Deborah McDuffie, Runner-UpDeborah McDuffie of Socket
 

Socket's owners also honored Deborah McDuffie as a runner-up for the annual award.
 
Deborah originally started with Socket's residential technical support team before moving to the business center in 2009. Since 2012, she's been serving as a service delivery coordinator. She's instrumental in the delivery of our hosted business phone systems, doing everything from assisting with orders to training new customers on using the new phones and features.
 
"Deborah is consistently helpful and always looking out for the best interest of our customers," said a fellow Socketeer. "She is devoted to her work, her company, her co-workers, and her high standards."
 
When she's not hard at work for Socket, Deborah enjoys cooking. She's also involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism and enjoys researching and sewing 10th-14th century outfits to wear at historical events.
 
Congratulations and thank you to Mat, Deborah and to all Socketeers for truly making the difference for our customers at Socket. With hard-working attitudes and exceptional customer service, these individuals embody what Socket aims to be for the people we serve throughout Missouri.

 

How Does Fiber Work?


 Fiber optic cable
You've heard us talking a lot about the fiber-to-the-home network we've built in rural Boone and Callaway counties. And you probably know that fiber broadband brings high-speed Internet access to these rural areas.
  
But if you don't know how fiber technology actually works, it's worth taking a few minutes to learn because...well...this is pretty cool stuff.
  
To build the network, we buried thousands of feet of fiber-optic cable throughout the area. Each cable contains a bundle of glass strands that are each approximately the size of a human hair. A laser sends information (data/Internet traffic, phone calls and/or video) over those strands via signals of light.
  
A completely new line is installed from the right-of-way to a home or business. Construction crews bury the cable and restore the ground as much as possible. In most cases, it's difficult to tell any work at all has been done. 
 
At the home or business, a small Optical Network Terminal box (ONT) is used to connect the fiber to wiring inside the building. It's a small piece of equipment and is usually placed in the same area your existing utilities enter the home.
 
Although the same kind of services are delivered over fiber, it's not DSL, it's not cable and it's not wireless. (You can, however, use a wireless router to use the service wirelessly throughout your home.)
 
It's better than those technologies. Unlike traditional copper lines, fiber-optic cable can carry a signal across great distances rather than just a few hundred yards. This makes it especially effective in rural areas. Fiber-optic cable is also less susceptible to external interference, like bad weather.
 
Fiber is also considered by many experts to be "future-proof" because its high-bandwidth capabilities will accommodate the continued growth of the Internet. Homes and businesses are able to transport massive amounts of data at very high speeds and connect multiple devices at once.
 
We're extremely excited to bring state-of-the-art fiber technology to mid-Missouri. To learn more about how fiber works, download this flyer. You can learn more about Socket Fiber at www.socket.net/fiber.
 

Net Neutrality: What is it, and why does it matter?


October 6, 2014

Net Neutrality has been in the news a lot lately, but it’s a complex issue. Even the experts don’t know exactly what will happen next or what the potential implications could be. If you’re trying to get up-to-speed on the issue, we’re here to help.  
 
What is it?
 
Net Neutrality is the premise that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally by service providers and the law.
Basically, if you think of the Internet as a “series of tubes,” it’s the idea that no one should be able to block or halt what goes through them – not even the people who own the tubes.
 
There are several reasons Internet service providers would like to have that control, though. Comcast had filed suit with the FCC in order to slow down peer-to-peer sharing programs – the most common way of pirating movies, among other things. Other ISPs said they wanted to prevent a small subset of customers from using the majority of available bandwidth (see our post on data caps for more details).

According to “Hands Off The Internet!” - a now defunct site that was primarily sponsored by AT&T - governments should have no regulating powers over the Internet strictly on principle.
 
So why is Net Neutrality all over the news right now?
 
In 2010, Verizon challenged a ruling made by the FCC. On January 14th, 2014, Verizon won its case, effectively throwing those rules out.

Those rules were the FCC’s “Open Internet Order,” which specified that no wired Internet carrier could prioritize or discriminate against Web traffic. ISPs would be treated as “common carriers”; that is, they’d be treated the way a phone company is. Phone companies can’t prioritize one customer’s phone call over another.
 
The key term there, though, is “treated.” The FCC had not actually classified ISPs as “common carriers.” So when Verizon took the case to court, they won based on the fact that the FCC cannot enforce their new rules if ISPs are still technically classified differently than phone and utility companies.
 
So is Net Neutrality dead, then?
 
For now, yes. However, since the rules were thrown out on a technicality, the FCC could reclassify “Internet services” as “telecom services.” This would give the FCC the leeway to impose common carrier obligations and reinstate their rules. Their other option is to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

The one part of the Open Internet Order that was upheld says providers have to disclose their procedures for managing traffic.
 
What could happen if Net Neutrality stays dead?
 
ISPs will have full reign to slow down, block, or prioritize any traffic they want.
In other words, a provider could charge extra for users to access Youtube, Facebook and Gmail. Or it could strike a deal with Hulu to block all traffic to its competitors, like Netflix.

The appeals court that decided the Verizon case agreed. In their decision, they noted that “a broadband provider like Comcast might limit its end-user subscribers’ ability to access the New York Times website if it wanted to spike traffic to its own news website.”
 
Would that really happen, though?
 
In 2005, an ISP in North Carolina blocked users from VoIP services (Internet based phone calls) because it competed with their own landline phone services. They eventually unblocked their users and paid $15,000 to the US Treasury to have the FCC drop its inquiry.
 
In 2012, AT&T blocked all iPhone users from accessing “FaceTime”, a built-in voice/video application, unless they signed up for a new higher-tier data plan. After public interest groups threatened to challenge them with the FCC’s Open Internet Order, AT&T backed down and removed most of the restrictions.
 
In 2013, during court arguments, Verizon described how they wanted to enter into commercial agreements with “edge providers” (that is, websites) since they were already providing a service to those websites – allowing Verizon customers to access them.
 
What can be done, then?
 
As long as Net Neutrality stays in the news, it’s much harder for it to be ignored or forgotten by politicians. And the easiest way to keep it in the news is to keep people informed.

Socket remains committed to the principles of Net Neutrality. Like we’ve said before, it’s your Internet. Use it!
To contact an FCC chairperson, visit http://www.fcc.gov/leadership.

Socket Fiber Story: Jessica Lairmore


Jessica Lairmore - Socket Fiber Customer 
Taking classes while raising a family is no easy task. Just ask Jessica Lairmore of Millersburg. She began taking online classes from Moberly Area Community College in January 2012 and now takes business courses online from Columbia College.
 
When she first started out, she used a cellular data plan to access course materials and videos online, take tests and submit assignments.
 
“It took hours to download things for class, so I’d have to build that into my schedule,” says Jessica. “I’d get booted offline in the middle of a test and would have to explain to my professors what was going on.”
 
Luckily, Jessica’s Internet connection is now accelerating her online learning rather than holding her back.  Last August, she signed up for high-speed fiber Internet from Socket. She’d heard about the new technology and even knew a couple of relatives who’d signed up. In September, the service was installed to her home.
 
“The installation went really well and the yard looked great. You could hardly tell anything had been done.”
 
The 10 Mbps fiber connection is considerably faster and more reliable than Jessica’s previous Internet service. It’s also great for her kids, who like to use the computer to play games and do homework. 
 
“It’s all been so easy. We’re always able to get right in,” she says. “Nothing ever freezes up. Everything is instant.”
 
But best of all, Jessica has been able to expand her learning using online tools and resources.
 
“I can do more than the bare minimum now,” Jessica says. “If something interests me, I can look at other websites or check out videos on the subject. It’s made a huge difference in what I can learn.”
 
Learning more, expanding horizons and spending less time on slow Internet? We think fiber deserves an A+ for that!

Learn more about Socket Fiber.
 
 

Help Spread the Word About Socket Fiber!


 
Refer a Friend, Get $25
 
Already signed up for fiber broadband from Socket? If so, we hope you're loving the service.
 
If you do love it, would you mind doing us a favor by telling your friends and neighbors?
 
With Socket's Referral Program, we'll send you a voucher for $25 off your Socket bill each time a new customer mentions your name when signing up.
 
Plus, your friend will get a $25 credit when signing up. So it's a great way for them to try the service.
 
There's really no catch and no limit to how many friends you can refer.
 
Just tell your friend to give us a call at 1-800-762-5383 and mention your name when signing up. That's it.
 
Thank you for helping us spread the word that fiber-optic technology is now available in your area!

 

Ready for Warmer Temperatures?


 
Happy New Year!
 
We've been busy installing new customers over the past few months after the final portions of our coverage area officially opened for sales this fall.
 
However, the weather lately has not been ideal for installations. Our construction crews are not able to bury lines directly to new customers' homes because of the frozen ground.
 
We're hoping they won't be out of commission for long, though. The minute crews can be working again we will have them do so.
 
If you aren't signed up yet, give us a call at 1-800-762-5383 so we can put you on the list to get connected once the weather improves.
 
You can check out our packages and pricing or get answers to frequently asked questions about fiber.
 
In the meantime, we're crossing our fingers for warmer temperatures and dryer weather!
 
 

A Special Holiday Thank-You!


Thank you!

As many of you know, our employees recently collected funds for the Walker family, who suffered a tragic house fire last month in Millersburg. Thanks to the generous contributions of so many, we were able to deliver gifts on Christmas Eve, in hopes of making the holidays a little brighter for this family.

Thank you to everyone who donated, and to the Columbia Best Buy and Fulton Moser’s for helping with the cause. If you’d still like to help the family, please send us a direct message and we’ll put you in touch with the right folks. 


James Hicks - Socket's You-Make-The-Difference Winner for December 2013


It’s not surprising that James Hicks, a business technical support agent, was chosen as Socket’s You-Make-The-Difference award winner in December. He’s been nominated numerous times by his coworkers, in nearly every department he’s been a part of.

 

This is also James’ second win; he had previously been awarded the title in November 2011, just a few months after starting at Socket as a residential tech support agent. In his current position, James helps business customers with any service issues, as well as helping serve as a resource for his fellow agents, even in other departments.

 

“Time and time again he has gone above and beyond to help not just his department but other departments with anything requested of him. He is always willing to take time out of his busy task schedule to train others,” said a fellow coworker. “He doesn't just show them {how to perform tasks}, he also explains why it works the way it does.”

 

James is originally from Kenoma, MO, and moved to Columbia in May of 2011. He is one of Socket’s go-to experts on classic video games, science fiction novels, and turn-based strategy games.

 

“It’s an honor to win,” said James. “Also it’s great timing with the parking spot, it’s really cold out.”

 

Congratulations, James!

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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