Watching TV is not the same as it was when you were a kid anymore. In fact, it’s barely recognizable. Add to that the changes that the internet has brought to home, business, school, work and play and you’ve got a whole new world that is changing dramatically. At the center of it all lies something we’re very familiar with – understanding how best to connect to the world as it is today.
We’ve written about this a few times in the past and are not surprised at all to let you know that 2017 was the year that cord-cutting finally became mainstream. Fed up with high prices and bloated packages, millions of Americans continue to sever their relationship with traditional cable services, instead choosing streaming services that deliver low rates and the ability to get everything they want – and nothing they don’t.
Kristy CooperThe one thing you need before cutting the cord
Even though we live in a time where virtual reality is becoming commonplace and people are buying tickets to Mars, it’s hard to believe that there still exists a “digital divide” between rural and urban areas when it comes to internet access. According to the Wall Street Journal, approximately 39 percent of America’s rural population – about 23 million people – do not have access to internet with speeds that can support email, web surfing, or video streaming for more than one device at a time. That’s compared to only 4 percent of urban dwellers who lack fast internet.
Some internet service providers promise the moon to rural internet users, encouraging them to commit to long-term contracts and high fees with the promise of impressive speeds, yet they fail to follow through and deliver. Just recently HughesNet users complained online that the company’s network is struggling to provide advertised speeds of “up to 25 Mbps,” with users sharing in DSL Reports online forums that they’re often relegated to mind-numbingly slow speeds between 384 kbps and 1 Mbps.
Kristy CooperOvercoming a serious problem for rural internet users
This last year has been one to remember when it comes to disasters across the United States. From fires and floods to hurricanes galore, the importance of being prepared was demonstrated time and again as we watched communities struggle to survive. But while most of the attention was focused on assembling emergency supplies like food, water, first aid kits, flashlights and batteries, not much is being said about digital disaster planning.
Forget about natural disasters. Something as simple as an electrical fire or broken water pipes can prove devastating for everyone from small business to solo entrepreneur. Even families are at risk of losing access and control of sensitive files and financial accounts in an emergency.
Kristy CooperHow to prepare for a digital disaster
The repeal of Net Neutrality is a hot topic in America, and many of our customers have reached out to find out how we feel about it. Here at Softcom we believe that everyone should have the same opportunities to access the internet, no matter where they live, without us getting in the way of you getting the content you want. In short, what does this mean for our customers? That we’ll continue to provide the best internet access and services to each and every customer without any net neutrality shenanigans. Or, in other words…business as usual!
Cancelling expensive satellite and cable company contracts, aka cutting the cord, and moving to internet-based streaming is continuing to grow at an outstanding rate. In fact, the speed at which people are leaving traditional pay TV is on track to be the biggest upset of the year. In the last quarter alone, approximately one million pay TV subscribers in the U.S. cut the cord and moved to internet-based streaming services. Even ESPN viewers, formerly some of the most loyal fans around, are jumping ship with the company losing more than 10 million viewers in the last few years. This shows a growing trend of consumers who either don’t watch sports, or are tired of the high price that comes with access for it. In fact, one recent survey suggests that 56% of remaining ESPN viewers would drop it in a heartbeat if it meant saving the estimated additional $8 price tag the sports network adds to cable subscriptions each month.
Kristy CooperCord-cutting rates continue to skyrocket
This past year has been filled with milestones for us. One of the most satisfying is the remarkable bond we’ve built with our customers since we launched 25 years ago. As we move into a New Year we’d like to thank you for your insight, feedback and support along the way. Throughout the year you’ve let us know what is interesting and important to you through every click on our blog, website or social media. In fact, we thought it would be fun to round up the Top 10 most popular articles of the past year. If you missed any, here’s your chance to catch up.
Kristy CooperYou clicked – we listened! Most-read articles of 2017
If you still have some shopping to do for the holidays, and plan to get much of it done in the comfort of your own home, you’re not alone. Americans let their keyboards do the talking this year by racking up record numbers for online shopping sales that show their love for finding what they need whenever and where ever they want, as long as it’s via the internet. With numbers like $5.03 billion in online sales on Black Friday and $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday alone, it’s no surprise that 79% of U.S. consumers say they prefer to shop online.
While online super stores like Amazon and WalMart claim a large share of online sales (about half of U.S. households are estimated to have Amazon Prime subscriptions), small businesses and online entrepreneurs are also doing well. In fact Adobe Analytics is predicting this holiday season to have a record-breaking $100 billion in online sales.
Kristy CooperInternet Online Shopping Experiences Explosive Growth This Year
Softcom customer Elisa recently shared her story of why she left Softcom – and then returned just 3 weeks later. Life on a rural farm had its perks, but reliable internet access wasn’t one of them – at first.
“We started out with dialup in the early years and it was like getting email by donkey back then. Life on a farm these days does require internet access. I get my news online, stream Netflix, even take online exams or do work for classes I’m taking, all requiring reliable internet connections. I was watching TV one day and noticed an ad by HughesNet, which promised super-fast speed Internet for rural communities. I called them and they promised speeds of 25 mbps for the same price as I was paying Softcom, so I signed up.”
Kristy CooperWhy Elisa left Softcom – and came back
This year has definitely been one for the books – and we’re not done yet! Our 25th anniversary is this year and we’re pretty excited about what we’ve accomplished – and planning for even more. We’ve rounded up some fun facts you may not know about us, and a few sneak peeks into the future. And up front, we’ve just got to say, thank you! Throughout all we do, it’s customers like you who make is all worth it. We’re truly grateful for your trust and loyalty and look forward to many more years to come.
In the early ‘90s, two old college buddies sat in a poorly-lit garage. Both with serious business and tech skills, both with a vision for providing much-needed technology services and support in the rural area they’d grown up in. In 1992, Kevin Triplett (President and CEO) and Scott Martin (Senior VP) began this company providing computer networking and application development consulting. Soon after, they were joined by Dean Barbera as COO. In 1994, Softcom became an Internet service provider, providing dial-up Internet service and domain hosting to residential and business customers throughout California, Nevada & Utah.
Ignoring emails from financiers in Kenya promising shipments of gold is pretty easy. But when an email arrives from a business you work with, a close friend, or colleague asking you to click on a link about your job, your account, or this weekend’s party, what do you do? Over the years, phishing emails have matured from obvious, laughable scams to sophisticated emails that cleverly conceal their deception while seeming to come from trusted sources. And no matter how smart or savvy we get about them, they just keep on coming. In fact, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), phishing attacks in 2016 shattered all previous years’ records with a 65% increase from 2015 and a 5,753% increase over the past 12 years.
Phishing scams work by tricking you into clicking on a link or attachment that can infect your computer or take you to a website that looks real, but isn’t, and can steal your private information. According to the APWG, 100,000 new phishing attacks get reported every month, and thousands of people fall for them.
Kristy CooperUnderstanding email phishing & how to outsmart it
We believe that everyone deserves fast, reliable internet service no matter where they live or work. Softcom brings the experience, infrastructure, and technology to stand behind our vision. And we’re laser-focused on giving our customers the fast connections, exceptional customer service, and simple, affordable pricing they deserve.