You’ve got questions, 
we’ve got answers

We get it. This tech stuff can be confusing sometimes. If you have a question about what internet speed you need, how your service works, your bill or anything related to your account, you’re always welcome to call one of our friendly customer service representatives. To save you some time, our experts answered some common questions below.

Our experts answer your questions

Click each question to reveal the answer

Can you explain the difference between upload and download speed?

Essentially, uploading is sending data to the internet and downloading is receiving data from it. When you post pictures to social media, send an email, game, or use a webcam, you are uploading data. You’re downloading when you’re surfing the web, buying music or watching a streaming service like Netflix. Solarus is a symmetrical provider, meaning your upload speed will always be just as fast as your download speed.

–  Dale, Technical Support Agent

What’s the difference between DSL and fiber?

DSL Internet uses the existing copper wire of a phone line to bring internet service to your home. Fiber uses fiber optic cabling which are bundles of very thin glass strands to transmit your phone, internet and video services to your home. While both can provide high-speed internet, fiber is capable of transmitting data at a much faster speed and over a much greater distance.

– Gary Farris, Network Engineer

Is HD really all that different than SD?

With more pixels per square inch, High Definition (HD) video provides a sharper, more detailed image than Standard Definition (SD). HD content is also formatted to fit today’s larger televisions so you’ll get a picture designed to fit your screen’s proportions. There simply is not enough information in a SD video stream to be used on the newer TVs so you’ll notice a “stretched” effect when you’re watching on your HD TV. For the best quality, we’d recommend watching in HD whenever possible.

–  Andrew, Technical Support Agent

What is streaming?

Streaming is a method of delivering content, especially video and audio, from the internet to your computer or mobile device. While similar to standard downloading, streaming differs in that it transmits data continuously so you can start watching or listening even while the remaining data is being received. Some examples would be YouTube, Netflix or TV Everywhere in a video format and Spotify or iTunes in an audio format. For the best streaming experience, you need to choose an internet speed that can handle the number of users and the types of streaming you plan to do.

–  Ben, Technical Support Agent

Can you explain why my cable bill keeps going up?

In general, your monthly TV bill is driven by two factors. The first is the simple cost to provide service. This portion goes towards the ongoing maintenance of our network and the infrastructure that provides your service. The larger portion of your payment, approximately 80%, goes towards the programming fees the networks charge for the right to broadcast their content. While we do our best to keep these costs under control, these giant network companies continue to use their power to increase their fees and demand more money.  Read more…

To explain further, we’d like to share a little history and background that we hope will paint the picture of where we’ve come from and the direction in which we’re headed.

First, a little history.

Solarus was one of the first telephone companies in the state to offer cable TV over our phone lines more than 15 years ago. We got into the business to provide customers an alternative to the only other cable provider in town and, in doing so, were able to help drive prices down. Fast forward to today and cable rates have gotten to a level that no one could have imagined over 15 years ago. Understanding what goes into these rates should shed some light on the challenges we find ourselves facing today.

The price you pay. 

Each year, we partner with 900 other companies to negotiate our contracts with the companies that control the networks. At present, just five corporations own 90% of those networks. With their dominance, they have begun to demand more in fees and more in “package deals” to simply broadcast their content. In order for us to carry the larger, more popular networks, they require us to also carry many of their smaller, less popular networks as well. This eliminates our ability to offer you “skinny” bundles or the choice to pick and pay for just the channels you want to watch.

The other portion of the cost comes from what is referred to as “retransmission fees” for over the air networks like ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, etc. These are the channels you could actually get free with an antenna if you lived in a big city or close enough to the broadcast location. In central Wisconsin, these channels are broadcast from Wausau, Rhinelander and Green Bay. This puts these channels outside the reach of a typical residential antenna, so we have built towers closer to the broadcast locations which can retransmit those channels to you via our cable network. When we rebroadcast this content to you, we pay for the right to do so. In the past 10 years, these fees have increased by over 1000%. And trust us, we’re not any happier about these increases than you are.

The final component of your monthly rate comes from our costs to service and maintain the network. With a typical residential install, we put anywhere from $400 to $600 worth of equipment in your home to get the service to work. We have, and continue to, invest millions of dollars in both the software and network infrastructure to get those channels to your home. And, just like all your consumer electronics, our equipment requires constant upgrades and replacements to stay relevant to current technology, too.

The good news. 

We know that understanding your rates will not make you feel any better about them. But, it might help you to appreciate why we’re open to and even starting to encourage customers to transition to online streaming services delivered over our premium internet product. We got into cable TV to save you money. With the writing on the wall, we recognize it’s time to once again, deliver an alternative that can offer the cost-savings and flexibility you deserve.

– Justin Huebner, Assistant General Manager