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Cloud-Based Gaming Means Big Bandwidth Usage

Faster broadband speeds fuel optimal online gaming.

Gamers are counting down the days for the release of the long-awaited PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X next month. In the lead-up to the release of the next generation of consoles, both companies have allowed players to utilize cloud gaming technology, indicating that the cloud may be the future of gaming.
Cloud-based gaming services have a huge upside. They give users instant access to hundreds of games with 4K resolution and crystal-clear surround sound. They can stream to any of their devices, even smartphones, which means users can pause a game on one device and pick it up seamlessly on another. But all these benefits come with a price. High-def streaming monopolizes bandwidth, which means those with slower connection speeds may not be happy with their experience.
Google burst on the scene last year with its cloud-based service Stadia. Sony and Microsoft are now jumping on board with Playstation Now and Game Pass.
Each of the platforms operate similarly in that a monthly subscription provides instant access to a vast catalog of games. With Google, Microsoft and Sony all vying to be the Netflix of online gaming, you should review your network connection to be sure you enjoy a fast, smooth gaming experience.
Streaming 4K quality games requires a tremendous amount of bandwidth to operate in high-def with low latency. A broadband connection of at least 35 Mbps, upload and download, is recommended for operation. Keep in mind that is just a minimum recommendation — and that doesn’t factor in other devices using your connection. Some users have reported the graphics are not as sharp at lower speeds, and even those with 100 Mbps can experience noticeable input lag, though their graphics are better.
That’s not to mention the other people in your home. If you want to stream a movie or make a video call in another room while someone is using the game system, you’ll need a connection big enough to handle it all.
Users can also expect cloud-based games to drag on their Wi-Fi networks. And those with older routers may need an upgrade if they want optimal performance. In fact, Microsoft recommends users connect with a wired connection and “limit the use of other network-connected devices to get the best experience.”
Game streaming services require a tremendous amount of bandwidth to ensure high-resolution gameplay with low latency.
For most platforms, users will want at least 35 Mbps for 4K resolution and 5.1 surround sound. To get up to 1080p resolution, you’ll need at least 20 Mbps in addition to the usage from any other connected devices in the home.
Google has created a test page to test your connection speed to see what type of resolution you can expect in Stadia. You can also check your speed at TestMy.net or highspeedinternet.com.
Although cloud gaming is still in its infancy, there are several indicators that the future of the game industry might be heading in this direction. After all, remember what Netflix was like 10 years ago? If you or someone in your home plan to use your new console for cloud gaming this Christmas, be sure you have enough broadband speed to enjoy your high-def gaming.

Smithville Spotlight: Tiffany A., Scheduler

When asked to describe her time here at Smithville in three words, Tiffany A., Scheduler, replied “educational, rewarding, exciting.” Since joining the Smithville team in 2019 she’s learned so much about our service and installation process and has a passion for providing a great customer experience.

Before we learned about her role at Smithville, we asked some hard-hitting questions to get to know her better:

    • Hometown: Lawrenceville, Georgia (raised in Spencer, Indiana)
    • Favorite TV Show: Probably a tie between Schitt’s Creek and What We Do in the Shadows
    • Favorite Movie: Not a movie exactly, but I love the Planet Earth documentaries
    • Favorite Food: Sushi
    • What she likes to do in free time: Compose music, play guitar, hang out with my son and husband
    • Dream vacation destination: Ireland
    • Favorite quotes: “To achieve great things two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.” -Leonard Bernstein and “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” -John Cage

 

As part of our Scheduling team, Tiffany plays a critical role for our customers and makes sure service gets installed accurately and in a timely manner. It’s much more than scheduling a time, though. The Scheduling team takes an order for service and makes sure all steps are required and in place to get customers connected. “My day is a mixture of inbound and outbound calls. In both instances, I am determining what needs done to get a customer set up with service. Duties range from scheduling customers, assisting technicians, talking with the supervisors, answering all emails, and projects assigned by our supervisor related to information gathering, updating information, and various orders and tickets.” The work of taking an order and making sure it gets installed correctly is a large task that requires a lot of knowledge. “Most people would be surprised by the amount of knowledge that is required to work here. We have to be very informed about the technology and installation process.”

Tiffany’s time at Smithville has been rewarding and has offered the opportunity to learn new skills. Working on new projects and processes have been welcome challenges. “The most rewarding thing since joining Smithville has been helping train my team on new software and projects. I have worked with my supervisor to implement new processes for providing services to renters and I was able to create the process and means to get that started.”

Tiffany appreciates the opportunities available at Smithville for growth, and that’s one of the big reasons she joined the team. “I feel like I can grow at Smithville. Many of my other jobs did not give opportunities for movement to different positions. You could go slightly upward but staying in the exact same role but with more responsibility. At Smithville, I feel like I can move into other departmental roles and find my best fit. Also, the company environment is much more friendly and family like. I feel like I am a valued member of the Smithville team.”

We’re looking forward to Tiffany’s future growth at Smithville and know that customers appreciate her hard work. She said it best when describing her passion for being at Smithville:  “My favorite part of working here is feeling like I have the ability to make positive change within and outside Smithville.”

Smithville Security Voted #1 in Best of Btown Awards

 

We’re thrilled to announce that Smithville Security was voted #1 in The Herald-Times Best of Btown Awards! Overall 9,266 people cast a total of 167,084 votes for their favorite Bloomington-area businesses in a wide range of categories in June. This was a 156% voting increase over last year. This award means so much to us because it’s selected by people in the community we serve. We’re so grateful to our customers for putting their trust in us to protect their homes and businesses.

To celebrate we are offering free basic installation and equipment on our smart home security starter package, a $625 value. Simply use promo code “Smart Home” when you call to receive this limited time free installation offer. Whether you are looking for a solution to protect against intruders, alert you to potential hazards or just welcome you home after a long day, we have the perfect solution for your home and business. Call today at 800-742-4084 or visit us online at smithvillesecurity.com.

Smithville Spotlight: Claressa E., Corporate Trainer

When asked to describe her time here at Smithville in three words, Claressa E., Smithville’s Corporate Trainer, replied “growth through relationship.” Growth relates to her own personal development, but also that of Smithville employees. Her passion for training employees, developing skills, and helping to grow careers is evident.

Before we learned about her role at Smithville, we asked some hard-hitting questions to get to know her better:

  • Hometown: Evansville, IN
  • Favorite TV Show: One Piece
  • Favorite Movie: Too many! Top picks would all be something Sci-Fi
  • Favorite Food: Home-cooked (i.e. My mom’s home), comfort food
  • What she likes to do in free time: Spending time with family and friends, listening to/discovering new music, watching movies/anime
  • Dream vacation destination: Santorini, Greece
  • Favorite quote: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” -Unknown
  • Something those on the outside looking in would be surprised about: How prevalent the idea that “WE are Smithville” is among employees. And how funny Ms. Darby can be!

 

Claressa joined Smithville in 2011 as a Customer Service Representative. She went through an extensive training process that sparked her interest in employee development. “I trained under Charlie Flinn and, while still in training, I told him that he needed some help & as soon as I learned the job, I would come back & work with him.  Charlie retired before that happened, but I did move to the L&D department in 2015.”

When Claressa joined Smithville she immediately found a friendly work environment. “I found that the owners were accessible and approachable, which is not something that happens often in corporate America. Being a family-owned business seems to cultivate a feeling of family among the employees as well. It’s also great working for a place where you believe in the products and services that we offer. No one (locally) can touch our network operations or our data over fiber service.”

Like many positions at Smithville, each day is unique and different for Claressa and that keeps things fresh and exciting. “Our duties fluctuate based on projects from other departments that may need our help in adoption and education to new hires that need onboarding and possibly training. We are responsible for jobs aids for several departments and those have to be created & maintained, and our training curriculums must be kept up to date, including scenarios and assessment materials.  And in order to train or facilitate effectively, we must be trained and certified as well, via courses offered on a national level or online seminars & WebEx meetings.” While that is a lot to manage, it is an important part of making sure Smithville’s employees are trained, confident, and prepared to take care of customers.

Over the last nine years, several projects and accomplishments have stood out for Claressa. “Joining the Learning & Development team and creating some of the core programs our department uses on a regular basis are great accomplishments. But I’d say the most rewarding would be the interaction with and success of the new hires that I’ve onboarded and trained since I’ve been in this position. Their success is our success.” Claressa helped to develop a new hire onboarding process that introduces employees to the many different departments and people at Smithville and shares important programs and resources available. This program has been well received by both new hires and supervisors at Smithville.

Throughout many different projects and initiatives one thing has remained for Claressa, when asked about her favorite aspect of working at Smithville: “Interaction with coworkers and helping others grow and succeed.” We’re looking forward to the success of many future new hires, thanks to her efforts and dedication.

Smithville Spotlight – Jim T., Maintenance Assistant

Jim T., Maintenance Assistant, is well known around Smithville. In his role he is able to work on maintenance requests across all Smithville locations, helping out wherever needed. Smithville employees love seeing him around, and his presence always brings a smile to their faces.

Before we learned more about Jim, we asked him some very important questions:

    • Hometown: Ellettsville, IN
    • Favorite TV Show: The 3 Stooges
    • Favorite Movie: Caddy Shack
    • Favorite Food: Spam! And of course, spaghetti and steak
    • What he likes to do in free time: Golf and play drums
    • Dream vacation destination: Other than Gosport, Hawaii of course!
    • Favorite quote: “If you’re not the lead dog the scenery never changes”

 

Jim joined Smithville nine years ago. He had a background helping with maintenance, and the position at Smithville was a perfect fit, allowing him to help others. “My day goes very fast with preventative maintenance and maintaining facilities and grounds and helping people in need.”

Helping others is in Jim’s nature, and working together as a team is what motivates him each day. “I love being able to work with all types individuals in every department. I think people may not realize just how professional and courteous we are as a company and individually.”

Working at Smithville has offered many rewards for Jim. “All of the benefits offered and vacation time is great, but most of all the people I have the opportunity to work with is a huge reward.” He also has been able to expand his knowledge and skills of maintenance issues while working these past nine years.

As Jim travels to Smithville locations across the state, including Sharpsville, French Lick, Jasper, and Griffin, he logs a lot of miles. At Smithville’s annual Night of Champions in 2018 he was honored as the 2018 Safety Champion. He traveled the most miles of anyone in the company and had a stellar safety and speed record. His attention to detail and the safety of himself, coworkers, and customers led him to receive the coveted Smithville gold cone award, one of our signature orange cones placed outside vehicles for safety spray painted gold.

When asked to describe his time here at Smithville in three words, he said “rewarding, exciting, and fulfilling.” His coworkers would agree, and they look forward to seeing him at one of our many locations whenever he stops by.

Smithville Spotlight: John B., Project Manager

When asked to describe his time at Smithville in three words, John B., Project Manager, said “My opinion matters.” Although he recently joined the team, he brings years of experience and a fresh perspective that has been welcomed in Project Management.

Before we learned more about John, we asked some very important questions to get to know him better:

    • Hometown: West Terre Haute, IN
    • Favorite TV Show: The Voice
    • Favorite Movie: Forrest Gump
    • Favorite Food: Cheeseburgers
    • What He Likes to do In Free Time: Raising goats and spending time with his family, including 2 granddaughters
    • Dream Vacation Destination: Italy
    • Favorite Quote: “Treat others how you want to be treated.”

 

John came to Smithville with over 30 years in the telecommunications industry. His passion for helping lead projects serves him well in his role here at Smithville. “I retired from AT&T but still felt like I had a lot to offer a company and really wasn’t ready to not work. I applied for several jobs over a course of a year and none ever felt like the right fit until I applied at Smithville. During the interview process I felt welcomed and like I was already an employee, which made me even more excited when I accepted the position as Project Manager.”

Our Project Management department helps get new initiatives or process improvements up and running, while making sure every key stakeholder is involved and informed.  That communication is key to success, and something that is very rewarding to John. “As a Project Manager I attend various project calls during the day and work on existing projects.  I really like the fact that we get to work on almost all new or changing initiatives the company is pursuing!  It can be challenging but also rewarding at the completion of accomplishing what you have planned.” Another rewarding aspect of the job has his ability to help coworkers. “The most rewarding thing I’ve accomplished so far has been letting my manager have a vacation without worrying about what was happening while she was away.”

One of the most surprising things to John since he joined in June is the warm environment and family-feel. “I compare Smithville to that little country store you go in and everyone says hi.  There doesn’t seem to be a stranger at Smithville, and everyone likes and wants to come to work. I even get to walk by and see the CEO of the company every day.”

We can’t wait to see what project John works on next and are looking forward to the future.

Smithville Spotlight: Brad H., Outside Plant Engineer

Keeping Hoosiers connected is our mission here at Smithville. Brad H., Outside Plant Engineer, ensures we can do just that. His work helps to maintain accurate plant records and ensure new fiber projects are engineered and mapped correctly.

Before we learned about his background and skills, we asked some hard-hitting questions:

      • Hometown: Dolan, IN
      • Favorite TV Show: Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings
      • Favorite Movie: The Goonies & any Star Wars movie
      • Favorite Food: A good sirloin steak on the grill
      • What he likes to do in free time: Work on his restored 1971 Chevy C10 truck
      • Dream vacation destination: Alaska
      • Favorite quote: “Your future is whatever you make it.” -Doc Brown, Back to the Future

 

Brad started his career at a small panel manufacturing plant in Mooresville, IN, where he utilized and honed his skills in architectural design. He came to Smithville in 2015, after 20 years there in a management position. After a year as Outside Plant Engineering Technician he was promoted to Outside Plant Engineer. Since coming to Smithville he has been able to work on many exciting projects. “Probably the most rewarding thing that I have accomplished would be the fiber to the home overbuild projects that I have designed – Greenbrier Meadows, Prominence Point, Arrow Head, Deer Run, Ellettsville North, Thomas Reeves and Hartstraight Rd.” These projects upgraded existing DSL service to fiber optics, offering the latest technology for growing customer demands for streaming, gaming, and working from home.

A typical day for Brad involves working on many different projects. He may be answering questions about new or existing lines, designing new Enterprise fiber construction plans, keeping fiber records up to date, or working with contractors on a fiber construction build. No matter the assignment, though, working with the people at Smithville is rewarding. “My favorite aspect of working at Smithville would have to be working with such a great and talented group of people. Someone on the outside looking in would be surprised by the friendly and caring atmosphere from not only all the employees, but from leadership as well.”

The work environment at Smithville is something special, and something that Brad hadn’t seen before. Employee events and initiatives help keep everyone connected, even though they may be in separate departments. “Smithville is a more family-friendly atmosphere. Events such as Fun in the Sun and the Night of Champions, where employees can invite and involve family members, are appreciated. You don’t see that kind of atmosphere just anywhere.”

When asked to describe his time here at Smithville in three words, Brad said “exciting, challenging, and friendly.” That describes what has made his time here at Smithville productive and rewarding. We can’t wait to see what project Brad works on next and are looking forward to the future.

Kimberly Pitcher, Plant Engineering Manager, Inaugural Woman in Fiber Spotlight Winner

Smithville’s own Kimberly Pitcher, Plant Engineering Manager, has been announced as the Fiber Broadband Association‘s inagural Woman in Fiber spotlight winner! These spotlights are a new initiative to highlight different roles and careers for women in fiber, telecom, tech, and construction.

Jason Dauby, Chief Technology Officer, had this to say about Kimberly: “Kim is a role model, the only female in plant engineering where she brilliantly manages a team of men. She demonstrates calm efficiency, managing diverse issues as they arise, coordinating with the network engineering, construction, and I&R departments. She represents Smithville as an expert in her field, sits on panels and is always aware of what’s coming that will impact the industry.”

To read more about Kimberly, check out the Woman in Fiber Spotlight on our Women in Fiber LinkedIn page or the Fiber Broadband Association website, www.fiberbroadband.org/page/women-in-fiber. Congratulations, Kimberly!

Smithville Spotlight: Michael H., Lead Telecom Technician

Michael H. came to Smithville in 2016 with extensive telecommunications experience. He had a desire for a career that was rewarding at a place where it was fun to go to work. Nearly four years later, he’s found that and more and was honored with a prestigious employee-nominated award at Smithville’s annual award dinner.

Before we learned about his background and skills, we asked some hard-hitting questions:

    • Hometown: Oblong, IL
    • Favorite TV Show: Bob’s Burgers
    • Favorite Movie: Back to the Future series
    • Favorite Food: Steak & Potatoes
    • What he likes to do in free time: Married with 2 kids I normally have free time from 11:00pm-6:00am and I sleep
    • Dream vacation destination: Caribbean some day
    • Favorite quote: The whole family likes to randomly say “Roads… where we’re going we don’t need roads” -Dr. Emmett Brown

Michael started working in the telecommunications industry with Nortel Networks in the late 1990s. After their bankruptcy he worked at Toyota Manufacturing in Princeton, IN. While the money was good, he was looking for something more rewarding in other ways and looked to get back into the telecommunications industry. “I started looking into telecommunications again and looked at several different companies all over the country. Then I found a Telecom position in Jasper for Smithville. I must admit I was caught off guard that a family business in telecommunications had such a large reach in Indiana with the latest technology available. I had spent a lot of years working in Indiana with Nortel but never crossed paths with this company. I talked to my wife about the position and we searched the town of Jasper to see what could be offered to our kids. After looking, we knew this was a direction we both wanted to take our family.”

A normal day for Michael involves making sure customers get connected to our service in an efficient manner. He often assists other technicians to help make the customer’s installation appointment go quicker. He understands that customers are the reason we come to work each day and makes it his mission to ensure a great customer experience. These efforts and dedication have not gone unnoticed.

Each year, Smithville holds an annual awards dinner to recognize the hard work of Smithville employees. In addition to honoring those with milestone service anniversaries, employees nominate coworkers for three Champion awards. Michael was nominated by three coworkers, and won the 2019 Above & Beyond Champion award, which he says is the biggest thing he’s accomplished since joining Smithville. To better understand the impact Michael has made at Smithville, here’s part of his nomination from a coworker:

“Michael consistently goes above and beyond to do the best for the Smithville Team and our Customers. He is the first one to volunteer help to his peers and the first one to sacrifice his time when trouble arises. He is always on the lookout for potential issues that might cause a customer to be upset. He then is proactive and will address them to find a solution. He makes sure he is in communication with the customer and whatever department he thinks may be able to ease the situation. When there is an absence, he picks up extra work before his Supervisor or Manager has a chance to ask. Michael on many occasions has brought attention to areas that can help the sales team with potential leads. It is common for Michael to come in on a Monday and pass along things that he has seen over the weekend to make the Team more efficient or to help us stay a step ahead of the competitors. In a lot of ways, it has just become the norm for Michael to go the extra mile.”

The dedication and passion he exhibits each day definitely shows how he goes above and beyond. This award meant so much to Michael because it was nominated for and selected by fellow coworkers. That feeling of family, in addition to new growth opportunities, has led Michael to recommend others look into Smithville. “Anyone has the opportunity to do more at Smithville if they choose.”

Smithville Spotlight: Julie P., Collections Specialist

When asked to describe her time at Smithville Julie P., Collections Specialist, immediately said “transformation, humanitarianism, and partnership.” For the past 17 years she’s grown and adapted to new positions while Smithville progressed with new technology.

Before talking about her background and experience we asked some important questions to get to know Julie better:

    • Hometown: Came to Indiana from California at age three and called Bloomington home until moving to Ellettsville over 18 years ago
    • Favorite TV Show: All NCIS show
    • Favorite Movie: West Side Story
    • Favorite Food: Mexican and steak
    • What she likes to do in free time: Spending time with grandkids and pups and cooking
    • Dream vacation destination: Australia or Africa
    • Favorite quotes: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” and “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill

Julie joined Smithville in 2003 as a Customer Service Representative. She then helped launch our fiber optic upgrade project before returning to Customer Service. In 2012 she transitioned to Collections Specialist, where her focus and attention to detail is used every day. As this was a new position for Smithville, she was able to provide feedback and adjust job duties and procedures as time went on, which was an exciting project for her. “Creating the position to be what it is today has been the most rewarding thing for me while at Smithville.”

When asked to describe a normal workday, Julie said “My day is never normal, and that’s why I enjoy it so much!” She helps process customer payments, answers Accounting questions for other departments and customers, and processes credit refunds to customers. She also manages our past due amount process which entails running reports for old balances, contacting customers for payment, and moving to advanced collection strategies if required. She is Smithville’s go-to person for all things related to payments and past due amounts.

Throughout the years Smithville’s family feel and focus on the community have been what has stood out to Julie. “Smithville does so much for our surrounding area, like community food drives or even helping to build a home with Habitat for Humanity.” That community focus also relates to employees, as Julie explains. “My favorite part of working at Smithville is the feeling that we are a team with a goal we are all working towards.”

Julie has enjoyed the last 17 years at Smithville and learning new skills along the way. She feels motivated to always do more, and that keeps her going. “Compared to other places where I’ve worked Smithville strives to be the best they can be and inspires employees to do the same.”