Category Archives: Archives

New Support Policy

Due to the high volume of requests for support; all email, phone, and virtual (Zoom) support not covered by a warranty will be billed at our current hourly rate (prorated in 15 minute increments). Credit card payment* is required for email and phone/virtual support, while credit cards or checks are acceptable for on-site support.

To receive support, please identify the type of contact method that you would like to receive support through and contact Bonnie via phone at (703) 444-1733 or email at Bonnie.Little@HNS-ONS.com to establish a support ticket. Depending on the type of support required the following process will be followed.

Emails: Lew, Lew.Little@HNS-ONS.com will respond to your emails with your questions. The more information you provide, the easier it will be to reply efficiently. In most cases, 1-2 email responses will fall under the 15 minute minimum. Please note that there is no guaranteed response time with emails, though we do try to respond promptly to all requests.

Phone/Virtual: These need to be scheduled with Bonnie at Bonnie.Little@HNS-ONS.com. For virtual calls via zoom, she will set up the call and email you the zoom link. We suggest you use your phone for the call so that you are mobile and can show Lew the equipment when directed. Phone/Virtual service calls are scheduled around installations on a first come, first served basis.

On-site Support/Service Policy

We still offer on-site support/service for troubleshooting & resolution for those who prefer a technician at your home or place of business. In addition, if we feel that we can’t assist you through email, phone or virtually, we will recommend an onsite support/service call.

On-site Support/Service: There is a 1 hour minimum charge and onsite service calls will also incur a travel fee based on miles travelled to your location. The travel fee will be outlined during scheduling. On-site support/service calls are scheduled around installations on a first come, first served basis. In addition, if applicable for you, we can call you if a window of time large enough to perform a support/service call opens up. This “last minute” type of support/service call is location dependent as it typically occurs when an install nearby finishes early.

*We do not keep credit card information on file. Upon completion of an email, phone or virtual service call, we will invoice you through our merchant processor for payment. Questions about the invoice may be sent to Bonnie.

A Recap of H&ONS in 2020

We started 2020 off on a very high note for the Little family. In January, our daughter, Rachel graduated from the LA Film School and our son, Ian got engaged (wedding planned for June 2021). The whole family flew to Los Angeles to spend a week celebrating, only to come home to Covid.

On Saint Patrick’s Day, our daughter was on a plane home, terrified of being quarantined alone in her small apartment in LA, a hot center already for Covid. We backed off performing installations as we quarantined with her for a few weeks, but our business was considered an essential business, so we knew we had to step up and get to work on helping at least some of the people of Northern VA that needed networking and AV services.

We quickly created a Covid plan, including mask and glove wearing, disinfecting and no contact billing. While we had contracts with customers, we accepted a delay in their installations if they chose to wait until they were comfortable to allow us into their homes. We also encouraged our customers to try a virtual service call, when applicable. While we were concerned for the business, by April we were back to scheduling site surveys, and scheduling a lot of them. Kids were finishing school at home and parents were working, so homeowners were discovering the limitations of their networking system and looking for solutions. We also had to deal with delays in getting materials as global manufacturing and distribution slowed down, so we got our orders in and hoped that materials would arrive in time for the installation date.

We worked tirelessly to help as many homeowners as possible over the Spring and Summer but the demand did become overwhelming to the point of having to turn away prospective business. Before writing this article, we counted over 75 prospective jobs that had to be turned away in the past 4 months, because we were booked 6-8 weeks out for both site surveys and installations. We created a wait list, returning to those who were willing to wait and scheduling once we got caught up. We try not to schedule more than 6 weeks out since so much can change in 6 weeks.

As you may know, we are a small business. Lew performs the site survey, writes the estimate and performs the installation with the aid of a single subcontractor. We have been operating this way since 2015, when we chose to restructure the business. Fortunately, back then we also had 3 outside subcontractors to assist on jobs, so it was a smooth transition. Over the years it has become increasingly difficult to find people in this area that we can count on as a subcontractor (we have tried), other than Daniel, our long time sub.

During the pandemic, we chose not to hire additional employees or even try out new subcontractors since we would be risking our customers’ health and our own. We can control our contact with others, but not that of others.

So, we continue to help those who can wait for our small team of highly skilled network installers. Given we barely have enough time for new installations, service calls are even more difficult to address. We still perform quite a few virtual service calls late in the day, and when we can squeeze in an on-site service call, we do so. Lew has also responded to an enormous number of emails from existing clients, trying to aid them in improving or fixing their own systems. Unfortunately, due to the amount of time that was given to these email responses and phone calls, we must now implement a new support policy. (see NEW policy below). We truly value our clients and repeat business, but responding to email and phone questions now that we’ve served over 1200 clients has become so time consuming that we just can’t do it for free anymore.

In the meantime, we want to apologize to all those who we could not serve in 2020 and hope that they were able to find another company to assist them, even pulling from out of state if needed. We also hope that some of these people will try us out again in 2021 when things settle down should they still have an interest in home networking or AV services.

We really look forward to getting back to normalcy in 2021, serving some of our past customers and of course adding new customers in the Northern VA area.

Have a wonderful Holiday season and we hope to see you in 2021.

Lew & Bonnie Little

Do you need a cell phone booster?

In addition to improving your WiFi at home to strengthen your Internet signal, you may find a need to strengthen your cell phone signal. While your cell phone provider will tell you that you can tap into your WiFi, it doesn’t always give you enough or any additional cell phone coverage.

If you are struggling with being able to talk on your cellphone, you may need a cell phone signal booster. The basic principle behind signal boosters is to create an additional antenna within your home for your cell phone to attach to before capturing the signal from your carrier. This signal will clean and amplify the signal coming in and going out from your tiny cell phone antenna that isn’t strong enough.

Boosters work with weak signals, but not when you have no signal at all.  The cell booster does not increase the signal strength that is received at the physical location of the house.  It only relays the outdoor signal to inside the house, i.e. if there are only 2 bars of signal strength while standing outside of the house, the performance level of the cell service inside the house will still be 2 bars even if the signal strength meter shows 4 bars.

If you have no signal outside most carriers offer a Micro Cell that connects to the household interconnect connection for service.  These devices are typically locked down to a particular carrier. (AT&T will not work on a Verizon Micro Cell as an example)  We have even seen where they will only work with cell numbers that are associated with the same billing account that the Micro Cell is on.

If you want to go the route of getting a booster, stick with these companies that have been certified by the FCC: Cel-Fi, HiBoost, SureCall, and WeBoost.

Our preference has been the SureCall booster, specifically the Fusion 4Home.

Fusion4Home features 2XP technology which doubles the uplink transmission power to maintain your cell signal throughout the weakest cell signal environments. Assembled and tested in the USA with outstanding build quality, award-winning technologies, omni-carrier compatibility, and world-class support, the Fusion4Home is a quality booster for around $500.00.

There are other boosters, some which can cost around $1000 and some less than $400, but we found that this product competes well with them for medium sized homes.

Holiday Electronics

8K TVs

Several manufacturers now have 8K TVs; Samsung, Sony, LG, etc. Most are selling for more than $2700. Is it worth getting an 8K? Until content is available in 8K, you are fine with a 4K or OLED TV. That said, there really isn’t much new in TVs, so we recommend you look for deals in 2020 models, even most 2019 models have the latest technology and capabilities.

Audio

If you are looking to buy new speakers this holiday season, look first at the purpose. Sound to enhance a TV, we recommend either surround sound (which will require installation unless you want to see wires all over the room), or a sound bar that can be mounted under your TV or sit below it. If you go with a higher end sound bar, such as the Bose 300. You might also want to add in the subwoofer if you truly want the effect of surround sound.

Sonos is still a great choice for wireless audio and does have 2 new products coming out, the Arc & the Beam. The Arc isn’t shipping till end of November so you will be playing it close to wait for this as a gift.

Gaming Stations

Xbox will release the next-gen Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S on November 10, 2020 for $499 and $299 respectively. The PlayStation 5 will be released on November 12 at $499 for the standard console, or $399 for the digital-only version.

Other technology

Ring has everything from doorbells to full home security systems now. While their products are mostly wireless, keep in mind that you need a very strong Wi-Fi network to have them function at their highest capabilities. You might compare with Nest, which are generally wired products. Keep in mind that both Ring & Nest have monthly fees. Read before you buy.

Smart Home Hubs: Amazon’s new Echo 4th gen. can do everything but cook you dinner. Right now it sells for $99, but expect some deals as we get closer to Christmas. The Echo Show 10 is around $250 and competes with the Portal which has less capabilities but sells everywhere now for around $130. There is also the Google Nest of products starting at $90, which has similar capabilities. Look in our November newsletter for a comparison of these Hubs.

Is Your Home’s Network Infrastructure In Order?

Covid-19 has forced us all to spend most of our time at home. Whether working, going to school or entertaining ourselves, chances are that you will be doing all or most of these at home for some time to come.

We have already heard on the news the disparities of broadband coverage in some areas of the country and while we do live in a strong broadband area in the DMV, that doesn’t mean you are not subject to networking problems.

While your Internet may have been fast before, it may now be slowing down due to all the people in your home using it at the same time. In addition, the broadband coming into your home slows down from the Internet provider during times of the day when usage is very high, something you can’t do anything about at all.

That’s why you need to have the strongest internal network possible. “Products do not create a strong network infrastructure, designing a custom infrastructure for your home is the best solution” says Lew. Lew’s been creating residential networks for more than 17 years now and while he may use a certain line of products to create the network, he has found that no two homes are alike in what will work. One home may need nothing more than additional hard wiring, while another home may need multiple WIFI access points. Most require a combination of hard wiring and network expansion via access points and in some cases even extenders.

There is a huge waste of time and money spent on products that don’t fit the infrastructure and they can even cause more trouble by confusing the network you already have in place.

This virus isn’t going away anytime soon and even after there is a vaccine, many businesses will still be asking some of their employees to work from home either temporarily or for the long haul. Colleges have added more online classes, so don’t be surprised if they keep these going to help reduce the cost of education for those who can’t afford the room and board college experience. Even our school system may make changes that include more online learning.

That means you need to get your home’s networking infrastructure in order.