CALEA – What is it and why?

We received many questions relating to  CALEA compliance charges.  In order to provide a better understanding of what CALEA involves and why it exists, we encourage customers to familiarize themselves with the CALEA Wikipedia article and the following explanation of the fee and secondary issues.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications_Assistance_for_Law_Enforcement_Act

Essentially, CALEA is a regulation that requires Internet communications companies to install and maintain specialized equipment and observe special policies in order to comply with law enforcement requests for customer information.

The notice sent to all customers for three months prior to implementing the CALEA Compliance Fee read:

“An additional charge will appear on your Cal.net invoice starting in the month of October – a CALEA Compliance Fee of $2.97/Month. This fee is permanent and will be added to your normal service charges from this point forward. The federal CALEA Act of 1994, amended in 2006 and 2007 by the FCC and further updated in 2010 by the DOJ, requires all Internet and digital voice service providers to provide certain capabilities for law enforcement purposes. To compensate for the continually increasing costs of these federal mandates, Cal.net has established this fee for CALEA cost recovery.”

 

Frequently Asked Questions:
Q.  Are you just using this as an excuse to bill us more?

A.  In order to comply with this Department of Justice regulation, we are forced to utilize a third-party commercial CALEA mediation service which bears a significant recurring cost.  We also have to regularly provide increased training and respond to numerous requests for information .  This means increased staffing requirements and work-loads.  It also results  in the need for additional  record and audit compliance,  and additional legal fees.  As such, $2.97 only covers our cost of compliance with these imposed Federal regulations.
Q. Does this mean the government has free access to my information?

A. Absolutely not.  Cal.net respects its customers legal right to privacy.  Part of our increased cost is in our reluctance to comply.  Cal.net believes that privacy is a fundamental right of every American citizen and refuses to release information without the appropriate warrants or court order. This increases our legal costs and the amount of paperwork from information requests.  We are happy to continue defending the rights of our fellow citizens, but as a business, cannot afford to lose money to do so.
Q.  Shouldn’t the government agency that is requesting the information pay for the cost?

A. In  a perfect world, that would be the case.  Unfortunately, Cal.net receives no compensation for the expenses it incurs in compliance with this fee.  Overregulation is a weight bearing down on all small businesses, and we encourage you to keep this in mind at election time.
Q. I don’t like this fee, should I look for a new Internet company?

A.  All communications companies are forced to comply with this regulation and so must charge for this cost in some form or another.  Cal.net is direct and honest about what it is and what it is for. We respect all of our customers right to choose a service provider that is right for them.  The advantage to Cal.net is a great product at a fair price and we hope that you will choose to stay.

NEVER Put Your Password in an Email!

Hackers and scammers are abundant in the digital age.  It is not unusual for clever scammers to send out emails claiming to be Cal.net asking for your user name and password.  Often, these emails will even appear to come from a directcon.net, sierraadvantage.net, or cal.net email address.  We assure you, they do not come from our server.

Never, ever, ever, respond to these email requests with your user name and password.

In no circumstance will Cal.net ever request you to send the username and password to us via email.  We maintain an encrypted database of this information and have no reason to ever even consider asking the customer for it.  No Cal.net employee will ever send you an email requesting your password under any circumstances.

Remember, the Internet can be a dangerous place if you aren’t careful. Providing this information via email could result in unauthorized access to your computer or even bank accounts.

As always, we  are here to help you.  If you have ever accidentally provided this information via email, we encourage you to call in to our help desk (530.672.1078 Option 2) so that we can reset your password for you and protect your private information.

Sincerely,
The Cal.net Support Team

So Long AT&T: Why I’m Better Off with a Small ISP

Sonic.net is a Bay Area company that partners with Cal.net to provide Fusion and DSL services throughout our network. I was reading this blog post today and impressed by this blogger’s experience and wanted to share his perspective with our customers. To view these products on our website, check out www.cal.net/fusionpc

Sincerely,
Phil Bosley
Cal.net

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So Long AT&T: Why I’m Better Off with a Small ISP

The little guys are coming into the market for broadband and wireline services. Here’s how CIO.com blogger Bill Snyder took the pain out of switching from AT&T to a small local carrier, and is saving money in the process.

Goodbye AT&T! Today is Day Three of the rest of my Internet Life. After more than 10 years as a disgruntled customer of AT&T’s broadband and wireline services, I’ve cut the cord. And yes, it’s working well.

On Monday at 11 a.m. Pacific Time, I became an active customer of Sonic.net, a small carrier headquartered in Sonoma County, California. Switching wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but the good news is this: I’m saving nearly $50 a month on my combined wired phone and DSL service, and my Internet connection is about one-third faster, according to tests I’ve run. As Grandma used to say, “Such a deal.”

I’d been thinking of ditching AT&T for some time. The former Ma Bell is a service-challenged bully that seems to put the customer last, and like many of you I’ve been on the receiving end of the company’s arrogance far too often. My worst experience happened back in 2010, when I had moved a couple of miles from one San Francisco neighborhood to another, and spent about a week fighting AT&T’s bureaucracy before my service was restored.

Please understand, though, that many individual employees of AT&T are great, but working within a broken system often overwhelms the best of intentions.

AT&T Socks it to Wireless Customers Yet Again

Smartphone Data Plans: 5 Ways to Keep Bandwidth Usage in Check
I would have switched then, but because I’d had my old sbcglobal email address for years, I felt like a hostage. As a tech and business journalist, I live and die by my sources and the thought of being cut off from them — at least by email — paralyzed me.

Of course, those of you who have never used any email service but Gmail have no idea what it’s like. Gmail addresses are independent of the ISP, so if you’re just starting out, or don’t need to worry too much about losing your contacts, it’s certainly a good way to go.

That wasn’t me. Once I found Sonic.net, and spoke to a number of people who use the service, I decided to sign up and gave real thought to managing the transition.

First thing I did was dust off a personal domain I had purchased a few years ago and never really used: billsnyder.biz and added it as an account to my Thunderbird email client.

Then I added a line to the signature of my outbound emails saying I was going to switch to the new email address in early April. Next, I created an “out of office” message to everyone who was writing to my sbcglobal address, telling them that I was going to switch. Finally, I sent an email bomb to everyone in my address book with the news of my new address.

I let all of that cook for about six weeks and switched over on Monday. The amount of email I’ve gotten in the last few days is way down; part of that is a welcome reduction in spam, but I’m sure that some of my contacts who never noticed my switch emails have missed me.

On the other hand, saving this much money will be great, and finally having a faster connection is, of course, most welcome. Sonic uses a technology called ADSL2+ which wrings about as much speed as you can get via conventional copper wire. I’m getting download speeds of about 3.22 Mbps, compared to the 2.40 Mbps or so I’d been getting with AT&T. If I were closer to my local exchange switching office I’d get even more speed. In any case, cable is much faster than any form of DSL.

If you’re thinking of switching to a new ISP, be sure you first measure the download speed you’re currently getting (Speedtest.net does a good job) and then do a bit of research to see what speeds your potential new ISP provides. Remember, to watch out for the phrase “as fast as,” which usually means that you’ll get the top speed when pigs fly from you know where.

As to my landline, for much less money, my phone service has all of the features you’d expect — unlimited long distance, voice mail, call forwarding and so on. If there’s a down side it will come when I have an inside wiring problem. Unlike, AT&T, Sonic is not in a position to work inside a customer’s home, so I’ll have to find a contractor if and when that happens.

There’s another important lesson here. As the Internet matures, and service becomes ever more commoditized, smaller players are bringing a lot to the table. Sonic.net is pretty much restricted to a few counties in Northern California, but I suspect there are many Sonic equivalents all over the place. I’d urge you to check with local news sources to find one in your area. And if you like, forward what you find to me, and at some point I’ll write about them as well.

The next step of my personal Project Independence is to cut my final tie with AT&T by ditching them as a wireless carrier. For a number of complex reasons, I can’t do that just yet, but when I do I’ll let you know how it goes.

San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. He welcomes your comments and suggestions. Reach him at bill@billsnyder.biz and follow him on Twitter at @BSnyderSF.

Source – http://blogs.cio.com/internet/16981/so-long-att-why-im-better-small-isp