Great Plains Communications Residential Blog

Keeping Your Family Connected

Tag: Telephone Services (page 1 of 2)

Tribal Lifeline Awareness

Once again, Great Plains Communications is helping raise awareness about one of the Universal Service Funds’ varied programs to help provide affordable telecommunications services to Americans. This time it is the Tribal Lifeline Program, which provides discounted telephone services for those living on Tribal lands.

Those who live on Tribal lands are eligible to receive many additional benefits through the FCC’s Lifeline Program. According to the FCC website, eligible telephone subscribers on Tribal lands may receive basic local phone service for as little as $1 a month. Link-Up provides eligible consumers with a one-time initial hook-up discount of up to %50.

Eligible subscribers include those who have participated in:

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps)
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • Tribally-Administered Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
  • Head Start (those meeting income-qualifying standard)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Federal Housing Assistance

We know how important having a landline can be for the safety and convenience of your family, particularly in rural Nebraska. Further eligibility information about the Tribal Lifeline Program can be found at http://transition.fcc.gov/indians/financialassistance.html. If you have any questions, we encourage you to call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 for more information.

National Do Not Call Registry

Still receiving those annoying dinner-time phone calls? Kids being woken up each night by the phone ringing? That’s because legally, telemarketers are allowed to call until 9 p.m. each day. Now, you can register your number with the National Do Not Call Registry and get rid of that unwanted stress.

The National Do Not Call Registry provides the opportunity to block telemarketing calls at home. Registering your phone number will stop most telemarketing calls, but will not stop calls from certain non-profit and political organizations. Organizations with which you have established a business relationship will also be allowed.

You can register your residential and wireless phone numbers. To do so, either register over the telephone or by Internet at no cost to you. When registering on the Internet, you may register up to three numbers at one time. If registering via telephone, you can only register one number at a time and must call from the number you are looking to register. Your phone number will appear on the Do Not Call list the following day. However, telemarketers have up to 31 days to remove the number from their calling lists. A telephone number will only be removed from the registry when it is disconnected, reassigned, or if you choose to remove it.

To register or to remove a number from the Do Not Call Registry, call 1.888.382.1222, for TTY call 1.866.290.4236 or register on the Internet at www.donotcall.gov.

Throwback Thursday – January 25, 1915 First Transcontinental Telephone Call

Left to Right: U.N. Bethell, Senior Vice-President American Telephone & Telegraph Co., presiding; Hon. George McAneny, President Board of Alderman, New York City; John J. Carty, Chief Engineer, American Telephone & Telegraph Co.; Alexander Graham Bell, John Purroy Mitchel, Mayor of New York; C.E. Yost, President of Nebraska Telephone Co., Omaha; Hon. William A. Prendergast, Comptroller of the City of New York

“Mr. Watson, come here. I want you,” Alexander Graham Bell repeated his famous statement from New York City into the telephone in front of him. “It will take me five days to get there now,” replied his assistant Dr. Watson, from his location in San Francisco. January 25, 1915 marked the date of the first transcontinental telephone call, initiating long distance transcontinental service.
As we can now pick up our mobile phones and call someone standing on the other side of the world, Great Plains Communications wanted to do a throwback to when a 3,400-mile call across the United States was an astonishing goal to accomplish. Please also notice in the caption, that C.E. Yost, President of the Nebraska Telephone Company was also present on this day in history.

How to Make Calls Over the Internet

We have all been there, when we accidentally drop our cell phone in a sink of water or on a hard surface that the case just can’t win against. Due to different circumstances, it can take days or weeks to come by a backup phone and being without access to a phone can be very inconvenient. Great Plains Communications wants to share a few of our favorite ways to make phone calls using the Internet!

In the instance of not having a working phone, using the following programs would allow you to either call computer to phone or computer to another computer.

Google Voice

Unlike other programs that require you to have an app, Google Voice allows users to make calls to actual phone numbers from their computer and it is free for calls within the United States and to Canada. Google Voice will give you a free phone number and also has SMS, conference call and voice mail services. Note that calls through Google Voice are limited to three hours, however you are not restricted from calling the number back after the time limit.

Poptox

Poptox is another way to make free phone calls from your computer to mobile and landline phones. While calling mobile numbers in the United States are free, you can also call internationally for a small charge per call. All you do is simply go onto their website, dial the number you wish to call, and hit the call button.

IMPORTANT: These Internet calling programs can help you make calls; though they are not able to make 911 or similar emergency calls. If you need to call 911, you will need to use a land-line, mobile phone, or a VoIP telephone service that’s approved for 911 use.

While these programs are convenient when in a bind, the only way of getting a truly 100% reliable phone connection is through a corded phone plugged into a wall-mounted phone jack. If you would like the stability of always having a landline phone connection and would like to learn more about Great Plains Communications phone services, check out our website or call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 today.

Do Not Call Registry

Still receiving those annoying dinner-time phone calls? Kids being woken up each night by the phone ringing? That’s because legally, telemarketers are allowed to call until 9 p.m. each day. Now, you can register your number with the National Do Not Call Registry and get rid of that unwanted stress.

The National Do Not Call Registry provides the opportunity to block telemarketing calls at home. Registering your phone number will stop most telemarketing calls, but will not stop calls from certain non-profit and political organizations. Organizations with which you have established a business relationship will also be allowed.

You can register your residential and wireless phone numbers. To do so, either register over the telephone or by Internet at no cost to you. When registering on the Internet, you may register up to three numbers at one time. If registering via telephone, you can only register one number at a time and must call from the number you are looking to register. Your phone number will appear on the Do Not Call list the following day. However, telemarketers have up to 31 days to remove the number from their calling lists. A telephone number will only be removed from the registry when it is disconnected, reassigned, or if you choose to remove it.

To register or to remove a number from the Do Not Call Registry, call 1.888.382.1222, for TTY call 1.866.290.4236 or register on the Internet at www.donotcall.gov.

Throwback Thursday – The First Commercial Telephone Exchange

138 years ago (January 28, 1878) in the Boardman Building of New Haven, Connecticut the first commercial telephone exchange took place. George Coy was the mastermind behind the District Telephone Company of New Haven that connected 21 customers, along with his two partners Herrick Frost and Walter Lewis. Coy created the contraption from, “teapot cover handles, wires from ladies’ bustles and carriage bolts”.¹

This brought big change, as prior telephones were only privately owned or by “businesses who leased telephones in pairs to connect”.² With the starting price of only $1.50 per month for the original 21 customers, the business was off and running. It wasn’t until the 1920s that direct dialing and telephone numbers came about.

Great Plains Communications hopes you enjoyed this look back in history!

 

¹Hartford Courant 1878 — The World’s First Commercial Telephone Exchangehttp://www.courant.com/courant-250/moments-in-history/hc-20150103-010-photo.html

²Connecticut History First Commercial Telephone Exchange – Today in History: January 28: http://connecticuthistory.org/the-first-commercial-telephone-exchange-today-in-history/ 

Do you have a 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’re probably thinking, “Well I have a cell phone, why would I need a landline?” We don’t blame you. Cell phones are great on the go and bring some of the best technology right to your fingertips. What most people don’t know is that cellular towers are not required to provide backup power. 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 connections and the guarantee it will work through a power outage
  • 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 and one of our representatives would love to get you set up today.

Throwback Thursday: Great Plains Communications Comes to Blair

The year 1925, Main St. Blair, NE

As a Throwback Thursday, Great Plains Communications (GPC) would like to look back on their beginning in Blair. As a four-generation company with 105 years of experience, GPC is proud to service 90 communities throughout Nebraska with nearly 200 employees. Not only do they provide residential services of broadband Internet, high-definition cable television and local and long distance calling, but they have greatly expanded their business services as well. The company has grown to providing business services into the neighboring states of Kansas, Minnesota, Wyoming, South Dakota and Colorado.

 

 

E.C. Hunt and his wife Vera

Looking Back

E.C. Hunt purchased the Bell Telephone and Farmers Telephone in Blair, Nebraska and the move was final. He and his family came from Walthill to run their new business. In 1927, Frederick S. Stott, an architect from Omaha designed a new telephone building providing space for the consolidation of the two Blair telephone exchanges. The approval granted by the Nebraska Railway Commission came later that year, allowing Hunt to purchase Bell’s lines and ensure that Blair, Kennard and Fort Calhoun would receive telephone service from the Blair Telephone Company.

Congratulations Dodi Jessen – Our New Auto-Pay Winner!

Great Plains Communications wants to congratulate Dodi Jessen of Neligh, NE on being our newest Auto-Pay & Paperless Billing winner! By taking advantage of our Auto-Pay & Paperless Billing, she has won $200 worth of Visa Gift Cards.

To be entered in the contest, simply sign up for Great Plains Communications’ Auto-Pay or Paperless Billing Services. If you are already taking advantage of these opportunities, then you are already entered to win! A new winner is selected each month to receive $100 per service, for a potential reward of up to $200 in Visa Gift Cards.

  • 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.

  • Paperless Billing

Paperless Billing eliminates the hassle of waiting around for your bill to come. You won’t receive a paper bill in the mail, but will get set-up in our convenient and user-friendly 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.

Take a minute if you aren’t already signed up, and fill out the form on our website or call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483. Again, we want to congratulate Dodi Jessen, our new Auto-Pay & Paperless Billing winner, and we hope to see your name next month!

An Update on the Recent Robocalls Situation

Recently, Great Plains Communications dealt with a situation that has affected many phone companies across the nation.  However, we are pleased to report that it appears that the issue has been resolved.

The situation centered on Robocalls.  These calls are made via an automatic computer system using a pre-recorded message that often solicits for personal information.  The calls often originate overseas, yet have false U.S. area codes.

While most of these calls are simply annoying, they can be potentially fraudulent if they try to get your personal information. Our customers did not receive scam calls, simply messages that were attempting to reach a fax machine.  Since the calls are automatically made, they are sent out 24/7, which means that calls may come in the middle of the night.

We want our customers to know that we understand how annoying these calls were over the last several weeks.  To help our customers, we provided a landline blocking feature at no cost for one month.  While this issue was not unique to our customers, we did want to make sure that their service was not compromised.

Our team worked very closely with our customers and the Federal Communications Commission to investigate these Robocalls and put a stop to them.  According to the latest reports from our Customer Response Center, the calls have stopped.  We want to thank our customers for reporting this issue to us.  Our accurate tracking of the situation did help to provide the FCC with vital information.

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