What router do you recommend?
We get asked this question quite frequently. We are hesitant to say "buy this one" since every experience is different and every budget is different. Through our experience with our current membership, we see some trends:
Most home routers are difficult to set up properly and come out of the box with poor default choices
Interference in the home (usually caused by neighbors, walls, microwaves, etc) often results in poor WiFi performance and slow speeds
Using one router / WiFi access point and expecting to get good results in a home larger than about 1,000 square feet (or multiple floors) will often result in poor WiFi performance and speeds and an inconsistent experience
Cheap WiFi routers work fine for 25 Mbps packages and small homes but tend to loose performance in larger homes
You often get what you pay for
There has been a ton of research, testing, etc done on home routers and wireless access points so instead of telling you what you should buy, we'll point you in the direction of some of that research. Most, if not all, of these can be bought on Amazon. Some are available at Best Buy or Staples.
What if you have a home larger than around 1,000 square feet or has more than one floor? We really recommend going the "mesh" route at this point. This is basically a system that uses multiple WiFi access points that you place around your house. They talk to each other on a "private" channel and then spread your coverage (and speed) through out the house. This is not the same as buying WiFi repeaters. Do not confuse the two. WiFi repeaters are about the worst thing you can install and expect faster speeds or better service. In fact, most of the time, repeaters make your entire network perform worse.
Mesh systems are fairly new but are gaining popularity because they work and tend to have much more user friendly set-ups, often done through a smart phone app.
Take a look at https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-wi-fi-mesh-networking-kits/ for a great review on mesh systems. We have members using the Orbi and the Eero systems with very good results. Yes, these are more expensive than buying a basic WiFi router - but they really are worth it in our opinion.
If you are going for a single router to service your house, one of our favorites router is the Synology RT2600. Why do we like this? It has excellent WiFi performance and a more user friendly interface that can do so much more than be a basic router. It has been reviewed by a number of networking professionals who also approve of it. It is on the pricer side of routers - but consider this a top of the line mid-range router and an excellent high end router:
If you use the link above to purchase, the co-op will get a small percentage.
Also, read our "What Speeds Should I expect" FAQ for more information about in home WiFi.
What if I want to use a telephone service but not pay Century Link?
Au Wireless service does support a large number of VoIP (Voice over IP) options. These are often devices that plug into your Internet connection and into your phone line - allowing you to use your old "land line" phones and often keep your existing land line telephone number but cancel your Century Link phone. It brings your telephone service in through the Internet connection.
Typically much more cost effective than a traditional land line
You can often keep your old number
The features included with many VoIP systems are much greater than with Century Link (emailing voice mails, call forwarding features, integration with Outlook and other email clients, etc).
No contracts or reliance on Century Link
Excellent call quality
Most are compatible with e911 (enhanced 911) for emergency calls
Requires a constant Internet connection
When the power goes out and you loose Internet, your phone service will go down as well
Here is a small list of VoIP providers that some of our members have used:
Google Voice (requires a 3rd party phone adapter)
If you have experience with any others that you are satisfied with, let us know.
What if I want to watch TV??
There are a bunch of options here for those that want to be a cord cutter.
1) Put up an antenna
This is the easiest and typically cheapest solution. Living in Golden, we are close to the TV towers and generally get great reception. There are dozens of free “over the air” TV channels out there that a simple antenna plugged into your TV can receive. And, the HD quality is much better than what you get from Comcast or DirecTV.
If you want to be able to record (DVR) free TV, we like the Sling TV box. We have an offer that will save you some money and it give a little cash back to the co-op if you use this link. This is a box that you plug the antenna into and then plug the box into your TV. You can record live TV, watch Netflix and other premium services all with a clean interface. Perfect if you want to record network TV shows. It also gives you access to traditional “cable” networks via our Internet connection.
2) Netflix, Hulu, DirecTV Now, etc
Use one or more of these popular subscription services. These will give you access to thousands of movies, TV shows, etc. For more of a traditional “TV” experience, check out either DirecTV Now or Sling TV. Use that Sling link and we get a tiny kick back from Sling and you get a discount. These services give you what you might be used to with Comcast but via your Internet connection.
3) Live sports???
It gets a little more tricky with live sports. If the event is on the big networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox), you can usually get those for free with an antenna (option 1). If it is on a regional sports network (AT&T SportsNet, Altitude Sports, etc), these are very difficult to watch without a cable or satellite TV package. This is due to the fees those networks pay to carry those sporting events. It costs millions of dollars a year for AT&T SportsNet to carry the Colorado Rockies, for example. The way AT&T SportsNet gets income is by you subscribing to their channel on Comcast or DirecTV. They are not allowed by contract with Major League Baseball to put those games on the Internet. If your team is NOT in Colorado - say you are a Chicago Blackhawks fan - you can subscribe to the NHL streaming package using their app and get the games over the Internet. But local teams are blacked out here so you pay for the cable package. Sorry.