Great Plains Communications Residential Blog

Keeping Your Family Connected

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Call Before You Dig This Fall

Nightly temperatures are starting to steady into the 50s and the Pumpkin Spice Latte is officially back at Starbucks – fall is coming. Soon multicolored leaves will sprinkle the yards and it will be time for fall cleanup before the cold embrace of winter. Great Plains Communications would like to take a moment to remind you of the Digger’s Hotline and calling before you dig.

Keep in mind, this isn’t needed for planting mums or other Callautumn flowers along the front of the house. However, if you are planning to dig more than 6 inches into the ground, you should start off by calling 811. These projects could include installing a new fence or digging up a dying tree or shrub.

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 below 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 http://www.ne1call.com/.

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!

Tips on Spotting a Phishing Email

Countless phishing or spam emails are sent every day all over the world. They might congratulate you on winning a great sum of cash or threaten you by claiming to represent your bank or credit card company. While unfortunately there is no one trick to telling a scam from a legitimate message, Great Plains Communications has put together some steps to take when trying to tell the difference.

  1. Identify the Sender

Often phishing emails will come across as a company or person you know, appearing to be perfectly valid. But beware, URLs can be faked. By hovering the mouse over a URL in an email, you will see a hyperlinked address in most email clients. If the actual address appears to be different from the URL in the text, the link is probably not legitimate and most likely a scam.

Another tactic often used is taking a familiar domain and changing it slightly. We have included some examples below:

Don’t fall for the spoof. If you aren’t sure if the email is truly coming from Microsoft, for example, go to the website through your browser and find tech support through there rather than the email.

  1. Screen the Links

Just because you have screened the sender does NOT mean you should freely click links included in the email. Emails can contain links to malicious websites while appearing to be websites you frequent daily. Like we mentioned with the sender URL, hover over a link or button (ex. Track package), and it will show you where it will take you. Sometimes it will pop up in a box next to your cursor and sometimes it will pop up in the corner of your screen. If you don’t recognize a linked website, it is best not to visit it.

  1. Don’t Trust Attachments

While you can get some insight into the links included in an email, this isn’t the case with attachments and by blindly opening these files, you run the risk of malware disguised as documents.

Malware: an umbrella term for things such as viruses, ransomware and spyware.

Some familiar file extensions you may see are:

Other file extensions could be:

These extensions are called executables, which can make your computer perform specific actions or control your computer. If you receive an executable in an email from an unknown or lesser known source, it is best to assume it is unsafe.

  1. Rely on Common Sense

It can be confusing when you are caught off-guard while skimming through your emails. If the email reads poorly with extreme lack of spelling and grammar, put your guard up. If an email is asking for personal information such as your password or a bank account number (something your bank already has), keep your guard up. Trust your gut and if something doesn’t look right, something is probably off.

 

Regarding emails including Great Plains Communications, please know that we will never ask for customer passwords via email. If you ever receive an email which includes our name and you feel it may be a scam, please call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 and do NOT reply, open attachments, or click any links embedded in the message.

FCC’s Brendan Carr visits the Midwest – Broadband and Smart Ag

Great Plains Communications was honored to join Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Brendan Carr as he visited Fremont and the North Bend area yesterday as part of his Great Plains Tour. Visiting Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota, Carr has traveled from Washington DC to view and discuss the need for broadband throughout rural America. “The trip will focus on rural broadband deployment, including the opportunities it creates in small agriculture, telehealth, job creation and workforce development,” the FCC stated in a media advisory.

Roxie Kracl, Owner of LA Fire Proof Door Co. in Fremont, NE

Roxie Kracl, Owner of LA Fire Proof Door Co. in Fremont, NE

Closing out the Nebraska leg of his trip, Great Plains Communications joined Carr in visiting with Mayor Scott Getzshman of Fremont, NE while also making stops at the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce and L.A. Fire Proof Door Co. to discuss broadband throughout the city and the effect it has had on the local economy.

After Fremont, we headed to Ruzicka Farms, a 115-year old family-owned North Bend, Nebraska business with Carr to look at how broadband deployment has allowed them to implement Smart Ag applications into their business. Elements of Smart Ag include on-field sensing technologies, data tracking, smart irrigation, tractor hardware and software, drone data capture, and various mobile applications which help decrease labor time and costs while increasing farm yield and profits.

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We would like to thank Ruzicka Farms and our Fremont customers and business partners who met with FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr to discuss the benefits of broadband: Scott Getzschman, Fremont Mayor; Tara Lea, Executive Director, Fremont Chamber of Commerce; and Roxie Kracl, Owner, LA Fire Proof Door Co.

Red Nose Day 2018

Great Plains Communications employees get in the fun of supporting Red Nose Day.

Great Plains Communications employees get in the fun of supporting Red Nose Day.

It’s Red Nose Day! Not sure what that is? You may have noticed red noses being sold at your local Walgreens store or maybe you saw a few celebrities sporting a big red nose in commercials. The nose is a simple yet powerful symbol representing the cause of the day, which is to fight childhood poverty. While the first Red Nose Day was back in 1988, it wasn’t brought to the United States until 2015. According to the Red Nose Day website, in that short amount of time the program has been active here in the U.S., they have raised $100 million and helped around 8.3 million children. This money goes toward programs that do three things, keep kids safe, healthy, and educated. Right here in America, 21% of children live in poverty. To find more information and to meet some of the faces of these children behind the statistics, visit the Red Nose Day website here.

NBC plays a large part in Red Nose Day through their star studded special hosted by Chris Hardwick tonight at 9 p.m. CT. Celebrities from music, comedy, film, and television will all unite to celebrate all the good that has been done and continue to raise even more money for children in need. Some of the familiar faces you can expect to see include: Jack Black, Kristen Bell, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, Kelly Clarkson, Ed Sheeran, Tony Hale, and many more.

Earth Day 2018

Technology is continuing to become more prevalent in our day-to-day lives, everything from arming home security systems from an app on your phone, to your fridge texting you the grocery list. However, people are continuing to make strides in “Going Green”, or looking for ways to be eco-friendlier. Great Plains Communications has a few tips on how you can be more energy efficient in your home this Earth Day, April 22, 2018.

 

  1.  Be sure to turn off all lights, appliances and electronics when not in use.

This could mean unplugging your phone charger when not charging a device, turning off your porch light when not in use and unplugging your toaster when you’ve finished making breakfast. Each of these might be a small act, but eliminating multiple devices has the power of being very effective in the quest for energy conservation.

  1.  Switch your light bulbs to energy-efficient compact fluorescents and LED bulbs.

According to energy.gov, making the switch will result in around 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescents and can last 3-25 times longer.

  1.  Wash clothes in cold water.

According to Consumer Reports, your clothes will come out just as clean using cold water as they would by using hot. Even your whites will end up cleaner than ever with cold water. Not only will you end up with a pile of freshly washed clothes, but you could end up saving an extreme amount of energy. In fact, 90% of energy you consume when running your washing machine is produced just from heating up the water for hot or warm loads.

 

These are just a few ways to make your home more energy efficient, saving you money on monthly bills and helping to reduce your carbon footprint. There are many ways to go green this Earth Day, and Great Plains Communications wants to know how you plan to do so. Let us know what eco-friendly activities you have planned in the comment section on our Facebook page.

2018 Call Before You Dig this Spring

Despite the colder weather we’ve been having, it is spring and that means outside projects will be starting. Before your shovel hits the dirt, Great Plains Communications would like to take a moment to remind our customers of the Digger’s Hotline and calling before you dig.

Keep in mind that the projects we are referring to are more than just planting some tomatoes or putting in some new flowers along the walkway. 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 http://www.ne1call.com/. 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!

Introducing SmartHub!

We are excited to announce that our new account management system, SmartHub is now live!

This smart, fast and convenient system allows you to:

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

To access SmartHub, either log-on to gpcom.smarthub.coop 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!

Below we have included the tutorials for how to install the app on both an Android and iOS phone. You can find our full listing of video tutorials here on our website. If you have any additional questions, please call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 and one of our representatives would be happy to assist you.

SmartHub Tutorial – Android Install

 

SmartHub Tutorial – iOS Install

2018 Financial Goals and eBill

Have you set a goal to become more financially responsible in 2018? Great Plains Communications has just the features to make sure you stick to your resolution and succeed.

As a Great Plains Communications’ customer, you have access to eBill, an online platform that allows you to see and pay your current bill, track your long-distance minutes and view your payment history. Auto-Pay, which is set-up with eBill, will allow you to schedule an automatic monthly deduction for your Great Plains Communications’ services. This will provide less clutter from the mail and the elimination of any late fees.

The eBill system also makes Paperless Billing a great option! You can save the paper on one more bill, while maintaining access to your information whenever and wherever you are. So, don’t wait around for your bill to come in the mail, hoping you have budgeted correctly. Take advantage of Great Plains Communications’ eBill and all the helpful features that come with it.

To sign-up today, go to our website, www.gpcom.com/autopay or call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483, and get started making your New Year’s resolution happen with ease.

Don’t Forget Your Landline This Winter

There is a lot of beauty in a Midwest winter. A white Christmas is a special thing; and there is a certain feeling of satisfaction as you crawl into your handmade snow fort. Though, anyone who has lived in the area knows that with the beauty comes some difficulties. Snow drifts can reach taller than your car and ice covers power lines and roads.

Most people have a list of winter essentials, but a landline telephone often isn’t one of them. You may be wondering why you would need a landline, when all the members of your family have cell phones. Cell phones are great on the go and bring some of the best technology right to your fingertips. But with cell phones come batteries that need power to recharge. So, when we get hit with a Midwestern blizzard your cell phone may not work through a power outage. Great Plains Communications wants to shed some light on just a few of the advantages to having a landline telephone this winter.

  • Security in an emergency, with consistent reliable 911 connection
  • No need for batteries or charging when using a corded phone
  • Elimination of potentially faulty connection and dropped calls
  • Top-quality sound and clarity

Remember, if the power isn’t working in your home, most likely neither are your cordless phones. Keep your family safe this season and make sure you have a corded phone plugged into a wall-mounted phone jack. That way you can be sure to have a clear and reliable connection no matter what Old Man Winter throws our way. For more information on how you can get a landline telephone, visit our website or call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

Auto-Pay and Paperless Billing Reminder

Are you still marking your calendar with payment due dates, worrying about making sure you send your check in on time? Great Plains Communications wants you to stop stressing over late fees and sign up for Auto-Pay and Paperless Billing.

Paperless Billing

Paperless Billing eliminates the hassle of waiting around for your bill to come. Instead of receiving a paper bill in the mail, you will be set-up in our convenient and user-friendly online eBill system. This system allows you to track your long-distance minutes, see your billing history, and pay your bill online if you don’t use our Auto-Pay service.

 

Auto-Pay

Take the stress out of bill paying by signing up for Auto-Pay. Your payment will automatically be made from your account, saving you checks and eliminating late fees. You can also have your bill automatically charged to your credit card.

 

To show our appreciation, when you sign up for these services, Great Plains Communications automatically enters you in our monthly drawing to win up to $200 in Visa gift cards! Take a minute now to sign up by going to ebill.gpcom.com and following the steps below or by calling our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

  • Once registered, select Maintain Services, then select Stop Paper Billing
  • Select Recurring Payment for Auto-Pay details
  • Upon completion, click Submit
  • You will receive an email confirming your preferences
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