Great Plains Communications Residential Blog

Keeping Your Family Connected

Category: Frequently Asked Questions (page 1 of 2)

Don’t Forget to Call Before You Dig

With warmer weather, the ground is finally thawing and that means outside projects will begin. Before your shovel hits the dirt, Great Plains Communications wants to remind everyone of the Digger’s Hotline and calling before you dig.

Keep in mind, the projects we are referring to are more than just planting new tomatoes in the garden or putting in some flowers along your driveway. If you are planning to dig more than 6 inches into the ground, you should start off by calling 811. These projects could be the install of a new fence, putting in an underground pool or planting a new tree.

The Digger’s Hotline keeps track of the many electrical wires, Internet Cable, sewer lines and other wires that run underneath your city. Pipes and wires can run underneath streets, businesses, parks and your home without your knowledge. While we here at Great Plains Communications traditionally bury our Internet, Cable and Phone wires at least 6 ft. underground, some wires may be buried as shallow as 6 in.

In addition to the 811-phone number, the Digger’s Hotline also has a website you can visit at There you can find information on digging projects, upcoming events, new laws and even registration for a Damage Prevention Class.

Remember that it is your duty to call before starting a project, and if you do damage to any pipes or wires, you may be liable. Protect yourself and your neighbors and call 811 first!

Better Password Practices

While you check the lock on the front door each night before bed, make sure your car alarm is set as you walk away and keep your wallet in a safe place – are you taking the same thought and energy into cyber security? Your passwords are the lock and key to information such as your social security number, bank account information, personal family photos and much more. By allowing yourself to lean on lazy passwords such as your favorite sports team or your dog’s name, not to mention using that password for multiple accounts, you are opening yourself up to a major security breach. Great Plains Communications has three tips to keep in mind to secure your personal information through better password practices.

  1. Use a password manager.

We have a lot of passwords. It can be daunting to think of remembering at least 8 characters for 8 different accounts. Whatever you do, DON’T USE THE SAME PASSWORD. We are all guilty of committing a few password sins, but this has to be the worst of all. Your Facebook gets hacked and what do you think that person is going to do next? BINGO: check your bank account, credit card, etc. with that handy password they just gained access to. By using a password manager programs such as 1Password or LastPass, you can create strong and unique passwords for all of your accounts and lose the risk of forgetting them.

  1. Use a passphrase.

We have entered the era of passphrases vs. passwords. Instead of throwing some numbers and symbols on the end of the month your first child was born, turn to random phrases to stay secure. By using a phrase, you add length and randomization. But don’t just string together a sentence about your life or a pop culture reference. Be creative! For example: “Plug Tricky Stapler.”

  1. Add two-factor verification.

Unfortunately, sometimes a password or passphrase just isn’t enough. You may notice accounts on social networks, banks, and even Google offering an added layer of protection called two-factor verification. What this means is you will need to put in your password but also a one-time code that is sent to your phone or email, or through an app like Google Authenticator. What this can also do is notify you if someone else is attempting to enter a password into one of your accounts.

Have You Signed Up for SmartHub and Auto-Pay?

Have you signed up for SmartHub? The new account management system was introduced to Great Plains Communications customers earlier this year. It is a smart, fast and convenient system that allows you to:

  • View and pay your bill
  • Receive notifications
  • Report service issues
  • Contact us about services or promotions

To access SmartHub, you can either log-on to or download the free app from the iOS or Android app store. This allows you to manage your account at home and on the go!

Once you are signed in to SmartHub, you can also sign up for Auto-Pay and do away with worrying about late or missed payments. To show our appreciation, we enter all customers participating in the Auto-Pay program into a monthly drawing for a $100 Visa gift card! If you have any questions on signing up for SmartHub or the Auto-Pay program, please call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

Tips to Keeping your Electronics Cool this Summer

We are in the middle of summer and the temperatures are staying hot and steady. Are you keeping your electronics cool through the heat? Extreme heat can be potentially detrimental to your expensive gadgets. Great Plains Communications has some tips on keeping not only your portable devices cool, but your home computer as well.

  1. Be mindful of where you leave your devices. It may sound like common sense, but maybe you needed to run into the store or class for an hour or two and you left your laptop on the back seat of your car. This kind of heat can cause major damage to the battery and other sensitive electronics. And if temperatures got high enough, it could even affect the connections between different components of your device.
  2. Consider your case. Just as black clothing attracts more sun, a black case on your phone or tablet could do the same. Instead of buying a whole new case, consider getting a foamed neoprene sleeve or cover for summer months. The foam (which is used for wetsuits) will not only add extra protection from clumsiness, but the material will also keep it cooler than most plastics.
  3. Watch your screen. It’s true that many e-readers are glare-free and can be used in the sun. However, when it isn’t in use, don’t let it sit out. Too much contact with sunlight can cause the LCDs in your screen to deteriorate and shorten the lifespan of your device.
  4. Don’t forget your home electronics. Just because your desktop computer is inside your home, doesn’t mean it isn’t at risk from heat damage. Make sure to keep electronics out of direct sunlight. Also, always leave room for airflow around your equipment and never cover any vents or fans. Most computers, routers, and other devices have vents in the back or on the side. If they are placed in tight areas, the air pumped through the vents will gradually become hotter and hotter, which could ultimately overheat your machine.

What Windows 10 Means for You

Windows 10 has been a buzzing topic since its public release one month ago. In just that short amount of time, Microsoft revealed that they have more than 75 million devices now running Windows 10, with 14 million of those downloads in the first 24 hours. These are big and shiny numbers, but what do they mean for you? Great Plains Communications wants to take a step back and explain just what Windows 10 is and what it could do for your PC or tablet.

What is Windows 10?

Windows 10 is a cross-platform operating system, and the updated version of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Microsoft has planned for Windows 10 to be their last version, and to proceed with routine updates. It provides things like a simple way to sync all your devices: desktop, phone, laptop or tablet. You can then expect to see the new consistent interface on all of them, reducing confusion and frustration in understanding separate tasks.

What does Windows 10 mean for you?

If you have Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on your computer, the Windows 10 download is free and you have one year to upgrade your device. All desktop programs that run on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 should work with Windows 10, however some of your backup tools and antivirus software will require updates. Check with the software developer if you are not certain if they support Windows 10. Some of the fun new features of Windows 10 are a new Start menu, Cortana – the voice-powered personal assistant, an Action Center where you can find common system tasks more quickly, and a new tablet mode designed to make it easier to operate devices without a keyboard and mouse.

Remote Control Tutorials

According to Logitech, over a third of U.S. living rooms have four or more remote controls. That means not only must we remember which remote works with which device, but also how to use all functions of each specific one. That can get confusing, not to mention frustrating. If you are a Great Plains Communications cable customer, stress no more knowing we have tutorials ready for you online with just a click of the button. Below I have listed a few that we offer, with the entire list on our YouTube channel.

Programming Your Remote – Three Digit Code Option

Search for Show by Title

Recording a Program

If you are not currently taking advantage of Great Plains Communications’ cable services and are interested in finding out more information or signing up, call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 and a representative would be happy to assist you.

Question and Answer Series about Cellular Broadband: Data Caps

We’ve talked about data caps before, however we still get questions about what the term really means.  In short, a data cap refers to the amount of information that you are allowed to download and upload using a specific Internet connection.  For example, every time you view an email, a small amount of data is used to collect that email and display it on your screen.

Data caps are used by many cellular Broadband companies because they don’t have enough bandwidth to allow users to use higher amounts without severely slowing down everyone’s Internet.  These caps can be as low as 2 GBs.  That is about the amount of data it would take to stream two movies from a service such as Netflix. It’s even less if you want to stream a movie in HD.  Going over these data caps can mean serious fines on your bill.

Some fiber and cable based Broadband Internet companies also use data caps, however these caps sit well above most of their users basic needs. The same cannot be said for users with 2 GBs caps!    If you want to find out more about how data usage works, click here.

We’ve now covered the stability of cellular Broadband and the use of data caps by these companies. Stay tuned as we look at customer service and Internet speed.

Question and Answer Series about Cellular Broadband: Part One

Being an Internet Service Provider, we get a lot of information about new technology and trends in the online world.  One of the biggest trends this year is cellular Internet provided by cellular companies.  Companies who provide cellular Internet services advertise that it can replace cable and fiber-based Internet.

However, we want to answer a few questions that we’ve been asked and that we have asked ourselves.  Over the next month, we’ll be answering one question a week.

What is stability of cellular Internet compared to wire-based Internet?

The truth is, the FTC hasn’t provided any official test results for the stability of cellular Internet services, though they do plan on doing so sometime in 2013.  However, cellular Internet suffers from the same coverage issues that any cellphone does.

We can tell you that we spend a significant amount of capital ensuring that our Internet is as stable as possible.  Our partnership with ExedeSM, which provides Satellite Broadband Internet, is also continually investing in providing better Internet stability.   Furthermore, wireless routers mean that this stable wire-based Internet is now going mobile at an exponential rate.

We will talk more about the difference between wireless Internet and cellular Internet next week.  For now, we encourage you to visit our website for more information.

If you have another question about cellular Internet for us, add it to the comment section below and we’ll do our best to answer it.



Brand New eBill Tutorial

If you’ve ever been curious about the convenience of eBill, but worried that signing up may be too complicated, we have a great new tutorial just for you!

Our most recent video tutorial will take you step-by-step through setting up your eBill account.  Once you’re done, you’ll have the ability to view your account online anytime, anywhere.  You’ll be able to pay your bill online, check your long distance minutes, view past bills, and more!

Want to view our entire library of FAQ videos?  Check them out here!

Frequently Asked Question – Recording a Video

Have you upgraded to a Digital Video Recorder (DVR)? Don’t miss a minute of your favorite show with this helpful tutorial.

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