Rich Warren: Comcast boosting internet speeds

Rich Warren: Comcast boosting internet speeds

Free lunch may be a fantasy, but Comcast promises a fatter sandwich. If you're in one of Comcast's premium tiers, prepare for faster internet. Download speeds for the company's Xfinity Blast tier will jump from 75 mbps to 100 mbps, while Performance tier speeds will more than double from 25 mbps to 60 mbps. Performance Starter tier customers will see a similarly sized boost, from 10 mbps to 25 mbps.

Rollouts of the new speeds will begin now and continue through mid-December and will be available across Comcast's Greater Chicago Region, which includes Champaign-Urbana and throughout central Illinois. The increased speeds will be available to existing and new customers.

Maybe Mediacom will notice this and boost its speeds as well. Its upgrades usually lag Comcast by a year or so, since they don't compete.

Kaspersky response

A reader who wishes to remain completely anonymous sent this response to my column about Kaspersky internet security software: "I read your article in defense of the Russian company. Recently, it became known that the Russian 'security' department had been applying rules to Kaspersky. I knew this quite awhile ago as I had an 'incident,' which I will not explain. I, too used to subscribe to Kaspersky. The more one reads now in regarding their services and attendant spying, etc., the scarier it becomes. I am surprised that th U.S. government took so long to announce warning. I wonder about our security forces and entertain the thought that government is compromised by Russia."

I lack access to government research, but according to most reports, Kapersky may be caught up in the entire Russian influence story of last year's election, whether or not it actually was involved. Eugene Kaspersky, proprietor of Kapersky Labs, offered to open his books and software code to interested appropriate parties to prove his innocence.

Kapersky and Bitdefender generally score the highest in most anti-virus and malware testing. I have used Bitdefender, but at some point, it developed a conflict with my Windows 7 installation, so I replaced it with different protective software.

Some anti-virus/anti-malware companies advertise protection for your smartphone or tablet. Disregard this advertising. Apple and Android include built-in protection. The current incarnation of Android frequently scans all the apps on your phone for malware. Unless you insist upon going outside of the iTunes or Google Play stores to "side load" unapproved apps for your devices, it's highly unlikely (although not impossible) that you'll download malware. While Apple and Google on very rare occasions allowed a nasty app to sneak into their stores, they're pretty good about policing their online app marketplaces.

This does not mean you won't find irritating and annoying apps that might snoop on you in the iTunes or Google Play stores. It just means those apps won't damage your device or steal your data without your approval. Always read the fine print that comes with any app and also review the permissions it asks once you've loaded it. Most apps will continue to function, even if you deny them access to certain aspects of your phone and/or identity. For example, a weather app really doesn't need to access your contacts.

Apps make varying demands on your device. Keeping track of your apps and their requirements by reducing access or shutting them down can improve the performance of your phone and/or extend its battery life. Leaving apps loaded and running dramatically reduces battery life. If you don't use an app multiple times daily, don't leave it running in the background.

Thousands, if not tens of thousands of apps populate the Apple and Android universes. Some offer amazing benefits and functions; others are a waste. Most apps are free, while some cost between $1 and $50. Free sometimes means you get what you pay for, or you pay for free apps with screens full of advertising. Browse the app stores regularly, but never load more than you truly will use.

Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. Email him at hifiguy@mchsi.com.

Topics (2):Internet, Technology

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