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Your Mobile Network Is More Important Than Your Device

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I received the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with line of service from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise positive feedback. All opinions are my own.  

 

At the rate new devices hit the market it can be hard for consumers to keep up. That recently sparked some thoughts of mine on the infrastructure in place to support them. Weather you have an iPhone 6 or a Samsung Galaxy S5, you want your service to be fast and reliable. Manufacturers argue over processors, networks argue over coverage. What makes coverage different between carriers? How is my speed affected by location? What is bandwidth? Any of these questions sound familiar? They are all relevant to how fast your mobile device operates when it’s connected to your cellular service. Let’s take a look at all of these questions.

Coverage Between Carriers

Over the course of my ‘tech life’ I’ve had four different carriers; U.S. Cellular, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. Back in the day when I had my first phone, the internet didn’t even work very well on my computer so we didn’t have smart phones. It was all about dropping calls, we didn’t even have texting. Coverage was horrible, I dropped calls constantly and it was crazy expensive to even have a phone. With the evolution of networks and the digital device landscape, now no matter what cellular network I’m on, it’s faster than dial-up used to be. I’m not going to go into the difference between GSM or CDMA, because I don’t want this to turn into a boring wiki tech discussion.

Now with 3G and 4G speeds, networks can support a lot faster speeds than ever before, if you’re IN the network. My current carrier is Verizon. They have the most coverage and the largest network. I recently switched because I was dropping important business calls with my other carrier, who shall remain nameless. Since switching I haven’t dropped any calls. It might be important to add that I have used multiple smartphones on all of these networks. One thing I’ve learned is that an iPhone is an iPhone, and a Blackberry is a Blackberry. You could have a brand new iPhone that performs badly in the area in which you live. You could also have an old Samsung Galaxy S4 smart phone that performs well because of your location.

 

Location

Where do you use your phone the most? At home? At work? Outside? These are all important when trying to decide how well your network works. Most people don’t worry about their data speeds at home or work because almost all the devices being made today have Wi-Fi capability. It’s just like anything else, it isn’t a problem till it is. If you’re stranded on the side of the road, you need that call to go through, for real. I can’t comment on other networks, because I’ve been with Verizon for a while now. All I can say is, be sure you phone is going to be able to get reception on where ever your daily commute takes you. Of course it’s nice to always be able to use your data when you’re away from Wi-Fi as well.

Bandwidth

As I said earlier, I don’t want to get too technical, but I think the word bandwidth is something everyone should be able to define. I once had an acquaintance who worked in the mobile industry, and every time he was in a meeting and couldn’t answer a question or didn’t understand what was being talked about, he would say “I’m not sure what the bandwidth limitations are on that”. It got him by for many years, because even people in the industry didn’t understand it.

Merriam-Webster defines bandwidth as follows:

:  a range within a band of wavelengths, frequencies, or energies; especially :  a range of radio frequencies which is occupied by a modulated carrier wave, which is assigned to a service, or over which a device can operate
:  the capacity for data transfer of an electronic communications system <graphics consume more bandwidththan text does>; especially :  the maximum data transfer rate of such a system <a bandwidth of 56 kilobytes per second>

Examples of BANDWIDTH

  1. The modem has a bandwidth of 56 kilobytes per second.
  2. Graphics use more bandwidth than text does.

Now that we have cleared that up, what does it have to do with your network? Everything. Here is where the fight for data comes in to play. Anytime you use the data connection on your cellular device, it uses up bandwidth. Every streamed video, every music download, every tweet uses up your carriers bandwidth. Which means they have to spend more money maintaining and growing their network capabilities. It’s either that or stop taking subscribers, but that’s not very good business.

We are all usually aware of how much data we use, because if we go over, we have to pay a premium for it. Some carriers cap your data, and there have been many reports of companies throttling their customers data as well. Pay attention to slower speeds later in the month. If your carrier is giving you unlimited data, make sure the speed doesn’t change based on your usage. These are tough questions to get answers to, but they are necessary to ask if you are unhappy with the speed of your device.

 

bandwidth supply and demand

Bandwidth Supply and Demand via MobileDevDesign.com

Smart Home Music #VZWBuzz

Smart Home Music

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I received the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with line of service from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise positive feedback. All opinions are my own. 

Mobile technology is advancing daily, and so is smart home music. Lots of social media geeks are also really into music. This is a match made in heaven because as tech evolves it allows us to experience our music in ways of which we’ve never thought.  You can now stream your music from your phone or tablet to your stereo or portable speakers. 

One of the biggest advancements has been in wireless sound. It is a favorite of many. No one enjoys all the wires on your walls and floors, which in the past was the only way to do it. I even ran wires through the walls or under my carpet, or out the door to the patio by the pool. No more. Now there are tons of options to set up you home for tunes anywhere in or out of the house. The Bluetooth technology allows us to now enjoy music anywhere without any wires.

The best thing about wireless Bluetooth speakers, is that they work with nearly all smartphones. Today it doesn’t matter if you are an Android or iOS fan, both are normally supported. Most even work with Windows Phone and BlackBerry too. Not bad when trying to figure out your smart home music. Many of these can be bought from the same place you get your smartphones, Verizon.

How to Pick the Right Bluetooth Speakers

Audio quality is very important when making this choice. Sound is not always outstanding, but there are some speakers out there that are very good. Even if you aren’t concerned with how the music sounds, you will most definitely have guests at some point who will. Great sound can make or break a social gathering.

Battery life is another important factor, so think about how long you’ll be using them each time they are charged. When jamming inside, you can plug directly into an outlet, but outdoors or on the move your speaker will need to be charged. Battery life can range between 5 hours and 15 hours depending on the size of the speaker, and what your budget is.

Volume. Let’s be honest, we all have a song we love to blast loud. When checking out various speakers be sure to stretch them out to a volume you are comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to crank it, cause you know you will want to sometimes when you’re at home.

Smartphone Apps to Play Your Music

There are too many to list, so lets just talk about the best ones. Let’s start with the native apps. In iOS it’s iTunes, and the software is great. You can make playlists, or use Genius mode if you want a more effortless experience. The limitations of course are that you are locked into Apple system, unless you like that.

If you are an Android user, Google Music is the way to go. It’s seamless, and all you have to do is sign into you Google account from any device (even iPhone)! The upload speeds are fast, but if you are importing a large library it will still take a while. Once you’re done though, it’s always there.

Pandora is hugely popular for the casual listener. It allows you to choose a song and then it will predict what you’d like to hear next. It also has a paid version to skip the ads. Pandora also allows you to create your own stations of different types of music you like.

Last but not least, Spotify. This service has been under fire lately from artists for their compensation. That tells me that the service if very popular. It is the most social of all the services. They allow you to follow users, artists, and playlists. Similar to Pandora, they have a paid service that’s ad free, and a free service. The search function works great and their catalogs are huge.

There are lots of apps available to help us listen to our music. None any cooler than IFTTT.

IFTTT is a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement:

If this, then that. We call 'this' the Trigger, and 'that' the Action. Together, it is a Recipe.

IFTTT is pronounced like “gift” without the “g.”

Social media experts love this service, but now the masses are starting to use this service. All you have to do is hook up your accounts to it, then start browsing recipes that will make your life easier. Since we are on the topic of music, I’ve posted my favorite music related recipes below:

Change My Hue Lights to Match the Album Art of What I’m Listening To

When You Check in at Home Turn on Your Radio

Email Me When Google Play Releases Free Music

This is also a good resource when taking control over your smart home music experience, IFTTT recipes for music lovers https://ifttt.com/recipes/collections/28-recipes-for-music-lovers

Support Military Families on #GivingTuesday

It’s #GivingTuesday let’s support military families by gifting them the resources they need to navigate the challenges of #military life.  Our troops and their families do more for us than you’ll ever know. Please Like, Share, tweet & give at http://GiveToOurTroops.com #GiveBack

The Ultimate Social Blog believes in social good, and nothing is better than giving back. There are lots of good causes out there, and we support many of them. This one in particular is special to us because of the sacrifice military families have to make on a daily basis so that their loved ones can serve and protect the country in which we live. All of us know one, or know someone who knows someone that is in a military family. Think about them today and support military families.

As you go through your day, please take a few seconds and share this wonderful cause, on whatever social network you currently use. It also doesn’t have to be online. Word of mouth is powerful. Short conversations with people you interact with throughout your day can have a big impact as well, all you have to do is ask them if they have heard about it. Below is an outline of what #GivingTuesday is, taken directly from their website:

WHAT IS #GIVINGTUESDAY? 

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

 

Give to Our Troops

Give to Our Troops