Great Plains Communications Residential Blog

Keeping Your Family Connected

Tag: High-Speed Internet (page 1 of 14)

Introducing ESPN+

Today, April 12, 2018 Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International’s BAMTECH Media in partnership with ESPN, launched their new subscription streaming service, ESPN+. This service is targeting avid sports fans on a broad and niche basis, offering subscription streaming access to thousands of additional live sporting events, original content, and an on-demand video library. Some examples of programming would be: 180+ Major League Baseball games, 180+ National Hockey League games, 100 days of coverage of PGA Tour, and year-round boxing matches. It is subscription based and separate from the ESPN TV Everywhere that fans receive as part of their cable subscription as well as being completely separate and a distinct product from ESPN television.

How and Where is it Offered?

ESPN+ will be integrated into the updated ESPN App. The new app will be available on iOS and Android products, as well as the web, FireTV, and additional devices starting today. If you already have the ESPN app, it will either update automatically or prompt you to update it. Once it has done so, you can elect to purchase access to ESPN+.

What Does it Cost?

An ESPN+ subscription will cost $4.99/month or $49.99/year. ESPN+ does not come with your Great Plains Communications cable subscription, but is an additional purchase directly from ESPN.

 

If you have questions about the new ESPN App or ESPN+, go to support.espn.com or call 1-888-549-ESPN. If you already have the ESPN app, you can also utilize the ESPN App Live Chat Feature.

Online Tax Tools

Tax Day is just about here, as April 17, 2018 quickly approaches. While filing taxes is never a super enjoyable task, it is something we all must do. Great Plains Communications wants to make the process a little easier for you, with a few online tool options.

TurboTax

You can find the TurboTax Federal Free Edition software online to file your 1040 EZ and 1040A federal returns as well as your state returns. While the federal filing is free, state might cost extra. The software is very user friendly, as you can either upload your W-2 as a file or even snap a photo and TurboTax will auto-fill the right fields.

H&R Block Free File

Using H&R Block’s Free File program, you will be able to file both federal and state tax returns for free. If you have used another software in the past and are looking to switch to H&R Block, you are able to import tax returns from any competing software, upload tax documents and start filing.

TaxAct

Through a Q&A format, you can file your 1040EZ and 1040A federal returns, as well as your state returns for free through TaxAct. However, importing past year’s returns will cost an extra $5. They have both a desktop and online version of their software.

 

Choosing the right tax filing software depends on your specific needs. Luckily there are many options available and you can file from the comfort of your home with the convenience of online programs.

Helpful Online Pet Resources

According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of U.S. households, or around 85 million families, own a pet. This staggering statistic is abundantly clear when spending time online. Pet videos are scattered throughout newsfeeds as the pet parents show off the lovable antics. We’re pampering our pets and looking for more ways to better their lives and that information doesn’t strictly come from your veterinarian anymore. Great Plains Communications has found a few online pet resources to assist in traveling with pets, pet care, and even an app to help stay on top of pet appointments.

Traveling with Pets

The thought of traveling with your pet can be nerve-racking, from figuring out the flight plan to finding a pet friendly hotel and any additional transportation needed. Below are two websites that will shorten your searches and help throughout the entire planning process.

Pet Travel – pettravel.com

“We have over 35,000 pet friendly hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals as well as businesses that service the pet industry in our database. We are constantly adding pet friendly hotels, dog parks, pet sitters, and fun things to do with your pet. Pet owners who travel worldwide with their pet can find pet import rules for traveling to over 240 countries on Pet Travel.”

Trips With Pets – tripswithpets.com

“Our goal is to ensure that pets are welcome, happy, and safe in their travels! From booking pet friendly lodging & finding pet friendly things to do, to reviewing pet policies for airlines and care rentals – when it comes to traveling with your pet, we’ve got you covered!”

 

Pet Care

Amazon.com Pet Supplies – https://www.amazon.com/pet-shops-dogs-cats-hamsters-kittens/b/ref=nav_shopall_ps?ie=UTF8&node=2619533011

Choose from dogs, cats, fish & aquatic pets, birds, horses, and more. From there, you can find products ranging from food to bedding, gates and grooming supplies. You can even create a profile for your pet to receive additional coupons.

BarkBox – barkbox.com

You may already have a monthly make-up subscription or food delivery, but BarkBox takes the fun of a monthly surprise and delivers it to your dog. Starting at $20/month, each month you will receive a box full of themed goodies – multiple all-natural treats and creatively designed toys your pup is sure to enjoy.

 

PetDesk App

This is a free app accessible to both iOS and Android users helping you stay organized with your pet’s needs. From your vet, groomer, and boarder, you can connect through the app to request appointments, receive reminders and have all your pet’s information in one location. Find more information at petdesk.com.

2018 Tech Resolution Tips

It is 2018 and people are setting goals. While according to Statista.com, ‘Save Money’ and ‘Lose Weight’ are still the top two resolutions for 2018, people are also starting to consider that like a healthy eating balance there also needs to be a healthy tech balance. More people are setting goals such as, “Monitor Phone Use” or “Improve Cyber Security”. Great Plains Communications wants to help you succeed with some tips.

 

Monitor Phone Use

How often do you find yourself turning on the television to watch a show and end up missing over half of it because you were scrolling through your newsfeed or playing a game on your phone? If you are looking to cut back on the time you stare at that small screen, a first step could be to figure out how long you are currently on it. Apps such as Moment (iOS) or Quality Time™ (Android) help to not only track how long you are in specific apps but will also give you alerts when you have been on for a specific amount of time. You can customize the alerts to your goals and schedule.

 

Improve Cyber Security

There are many ways to improve your cyber security, but we have listed two main areas as a starting point: Password Management and Apps Management.

Manage your Passwords

Passwords are the lock and key to some of our most personal and sensitive information. Not only are we protecting financial information, but contacts and photos as well. If you are looking to better manage your passwords, work on changing them more frequently and always using unique passwords for different sites. We realize there are now passwords for everything and it becomes increasingly harder to remember all of them, especially if you change them often. Programs such as LastPass and KeePass work to remember your passwords, while also keeping them secure.

Manage your Apps

Do you have an app graveyard on your phone? Maybe you hit Candy Crush hard for a good two months then burnt out quick and haven’t played since. Or maybe you still have an app for that grocery store down the road from the apartment you lived in…three years ago. The kicker question is, have you still been keeping them updated or is that red bubble always above your App Store? You don’t use them, so why keep them updated? Well, all these things can actually leave you exposed to hackers gaining access to your information. But there is a simple solution; delete all those apps you aren’t using. Then taking it one step further and check your apps permissions for the ones you keep. For Apple users, go to Settings > Privacy and check what apps have access to things like your contacts, photos, and microphone.

Wifi Christmas Social Giveaway Winner

Help us in congratulating our Wifi Christmas Social Giveaway Winner, Sara Nichols of Eddyville, NE!  When asked why she shops online, she responded, “I shop online because I hate dealing with large crowds and I like finding the best deal while sitting in my chair rather than searching the stores.” A feeling we can all probably relate to. By sharing this information and liking the Great Plains Communications Facebook page, Sara has won a $250 Amazon.com gift card.

Sara Nichols with her husband and three children

Sara Nichols with her husband and three children

We may have only been able to choose one winner, but there is still another way to receive an Amazon.com gift card this season. By adding Great Plains Communications high-speed Internet service, you could receive a gift card and FREE installation. Bundle your services to earn the maximum gift card benefit! To find out more, call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 before the offer ends January 5, 2018.

Again, we want to congratulate Sara Nichols, and thank everyone who entered our Wifi Christmas Social Giveaway!

 

Some restrictions apply, residential customers only. Services must be maintained for 6 months. Failure to do so will result in an early termination fee equal to the amount of the gift card received. Speeds and availability may vary by location.

I’m Dreaming of a Wifi Christmas

The turkey leftovers are finally starting to dwindle. You swap recipes for Amazon wish lists and smile at the thought of 2-day shipping. You notice Disney’s The Santa Clause trilogy is coming to Netflix December 12 and set a reminder in your calendar. The Internet has become a helping hand through the holidays. From Cyber Monday deals you can do in your pajamas, to streaming a crackling fireplace on your television because it has become a tradition the kids look forward to each year. The more we lean on that helping hand, the more bandwidth we demand and higher speeds are needed.

Make sure all your electronic devices operate smoothly this Christmas season by adding Great Plains Communications high-speed Internet service. In addition to receiving the top speeds in your area, we’ll include an Amazon gift card and FREE installation! Bundle your service to earn the maximum gift card benefit!

 

Not sure what speed is right for your family?

Click Here to take our interactive test.

 

Call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 to learn more about what’s available in your area.

Some restrictions apply, residential customers only. Services must be maintained for 6 months. Failure to do so will result in an early termination fee equal to the amount of the gift card received. Speeds and availability may vary by location.

*Restrictions apply, see amazon.com/gc-legal

Stay Secure this Cyber Monday

People often associate chaos and risk with Black Friday and not so much Cyber Monday. Rather than mobs running through aisles, they picture themselves safe on their couch with a blanket and cup of coffee. What people don’t understand is that all Cyber Monday has done is take the craziness of Black Friday and opened it up to the World Wide Web. Great Plains Communications wants to provide tips to protect yourself when shopping online.

The three tips we will cover are:

  • How to spot fake shopping websites
  • Keep your software updated
  • A credit card is safer to use than a debit card

 

Fake Websites

With targeted ads and pop-ups, it can seem as if the best deals are right in front of our faces. But even a secure looking ad or link could take you to a fake shopping website. From there, your computer could either be infected the moment you arrive or by malicious links within. However, where you want to be the most careful is during the checkout process. Below we have listed some giveaways that will help spot a fake website.

  • Is it a strange URL like the one in the graphic above?
  • Are they selling an odd selection of products? For example, you went to the website for the dress you saw in the ad but see they also sell computer parts.
  • Does the copy have an abundance of grammar and spelling errors? Most companies will have a copywriter whose job is to expertly write intros and product descriptions.
  • Is the customer service contact email a little off? For example, it would not be ebaysupport@support.com but support@ebay.com. Don’t get tricked by familiar terms.
  • Are the prices too good to be true? Is the website trying to sell an iPhone X for $100? It is probably a scam.

 

Software Updates

Having out-of-date versions or unpatched software is like having a target for malware, leaving you vulnerable to exploit kits. At the least, make sure to have your browser updated when shopping online. This will ensure your cookies and cache are more secure against data leaks.

We are all guilty of rolling our eyes at the little update bubble. It’s time consuming and most of the time the changes are behind the scenes so we write them off as insignificant. But it is the information behind the scenes that is keeping your data protected.

 

Credit Card vs. Debit Card

The main advantage to using a credit card versus a debit card is that a credit card has better consumer protection. In the case that someone did obtain your information, you wouldn’t be liable for fraudulent transactions. With a debit card, depending on when you report the missing card or fraudulent transactions, you could be on the hook for the entire amount. No matter what kind of card you use, it is always smart to monitor your accounts after online shopping.

Internet Search Tips

Not sure of the capital of Portugal? Can’t remember who played Chunk in The Goonies? What’s the weather going to be like Friday night? Google it.

The internet is full of more information than we could imagine or even retain. While this is an exciting fact, it can also make for long tiresome searches as you wade through pages of results. Great Plains Communications has a few tips to help streamline your search.

  1. To help with a more specific search, try using the AROUND feature. It allows you to find articles with two key words not only on the same page, but inside a specific number of words apart. For example, if you wanted to search for articles on Selena Gomez and lipstick within 8 words of each other, it would look like the following:

“Selena Gomez” AROUND(8) “Lipstick”

  1. Instead of including an additional topic in your search, maybe you want to find results excluding a topic. For that you would use the minus sign. For example, if you wanted to search for washers and dryers but didn’t want the stacked option, it would look like:

“washer and dryer -stacked”

  1. You have found an article you like, but it is long. Do a quick search of the article for a key word or phrase by pressing Control + F (Windows) or Command + F (Mac).
  2. You have been working hard and finally found the information you have been looking for, but you accidentally close the tab. In most modern browsers, just press Control + Shift + T (Windows) or Command + Shift + T (Mac) and it will come right back up.

Last Chance for Back-to-School Special!

Don’t miss our Back-to-School Special, as it comes to a close next week! Not only can you save money by bundling services, but right now you can also receive up to a $100 bill credit.

Great Plains Communications is excited to celebrate the launch of NEW services and NEW options in your area, along with NEW tools on our website.

 

NEW Bundle Offer

Combine services and save up to 37%

$100 Bill Credit for new customers who bundle all three services*

$50 Bill Credit for new customers who bundle two services

$50 Bill Credit for existing customers who add one or more service

FREE Installation

 

NEW Bundle

Streaming Bundle**
Access your favorite prime time entertainment and news in real-time with our Basic Cable package, while streaming additional content on your Smart TV or tablet utilizing a high-speed Internet connection.

 

NEW Tools

Visit our newly updated, forward thinking website, complete with interactive tools to help you determine the best service options for your home with the “What Speed Do You Need?” and “Build a Bundle” tools.

 

If you have questions over what services we offer in your area, or would like to sign up, please call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

* $100 BILL CREDIT ONLY AVAILABLE WHERE VOICE, CABLE TV, AND INTERNET ARE AVAILABLE.
** STREAMING BUNDLE AVAILABLE IN SELECT CABLE TV COMMUNITIES ONLY.

Business Appreciation – Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park

Great Plains Communications is proud to highlight another one of our business customers, Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park in Antelope County, NE.

This national treasure called Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park got its start about 12 million years ago. At that time, a volcano in southwest Idaho spread a blanket of ash over many miles, and one or two feet of this powder covered the flat savannah-like grasslands in northeastern Nebraska. Within several weeks, animals gathered around a waterhole in the area died, and their bodies were covered by ash. This preserved their skeletons for today’s paleontologists to study and the public to see.

Travel Back in Time

Visitors have access to interpretive displays and the fossil preparation laboratory and can ask the paleontologists there about their work. The park also includes the Hubbard Rhino Barn, where new fossil discoveries continue to be unearthed. Fossil evidence at the site reveals complete, articulated skeletons of large mammals, birds and turtles, as well as seeds of grasses and trees.

Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park is in Antelope County, four miles east and six miles north of the village of Orchard. Due to its remote location far from a population center, getting adequate communications services has been a challenge.

A Need for More Bandwidth

Superintendent Rick Otto notes, “The satellite Internet service we’ve been using is limited in speed, and its lag time disrupts any interactive transmissions we’re trying to host. In addition, many of our callers have complained about the poor audio quality of the current phone system. Clearly, changes needed to be made since the local provider was simply not able to provide the level of technology we require.”

To develop a solution to these challenges, Great Plains Communications has been in discussion for several years with the State of Nebraska on a fiber project to bring more bandwidth to Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park. The installation is scheduled for completion in August 2017. Funding of the fiber optic cable was made possible by a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

What is Otto expecting after Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park becomes a customer of Great Plains Communications? He replies, “I expect to see a night-and-day difference between our new fiber Internet service compared to our current satellite service. I am also looking forward to having significantly better audio quality during our phone calls. What’s more, I appreciate how friendly and informative the team from Great Plains Communications has been during the planning process.”

Virtual Field Trips

The vastly improved speed of fiber Internet from Great Plains Communications will be especially beneficial. Otto explains, “We’re open seven months a year and get about 20,000 visitors annually. The park is operated entirely with funds generated by admissions fees and gift shop sales; we receive no tax dollars. After Great Plains Communications finishes the installation of fiber Internet service here, we’ll have the speed we need to offer virtual field trips to classrooms all over the world.”

He adds, “These virtual field trips will be a win-win addition to our educational services. Schools will benefit by being able to give students the feel of visiting Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park without the time and expense of travel. And the park will benefit by bringing in the additional revenues generated by the fees for virtual field trips.”

Great Plains Communications is honored to help enhance the capabilities of Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park. It’s one example of our longstanding commitment to Nebraska.

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