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North Bend Eagle



Great Plains addresses service concerns

by Nathan Arneal
published 7/29/09

• System upgrades should improve cable TV, Internet reliability.

The North Bend City Council spent the first 40 minutes of its July 21 meeting talking Internet and cable TV with John Green and LeaAnn Quist, representatives of Great Plains Communications.

Council president Jeff Kluthe told the pair that the city had some concerns with the cable and Internet service lately, especially with Great Plains recently informing its customers of a rate increase.

Coincidently, North Bend was without Internet service for four to five hours the day of the meeting.

Green, the chief network engineer for Great Plains, said a fiber cable in West Point was accidently cut by a contractor with a backhoe earlier in the day, causing the Internet outage in North Bend and several surrounding towns.

“Those sorts of things are unavoidable,” Green said, “There’s not much we can do about it.”

That instance aside, Green said there are several things that Great Plains is doing to improve service. He said the system serving North Bend, as well as much of northeast Nebraska, is about 15 years old and the company is in the process of upgrading the system.

“This (current) system is old and a little flaky, I guess is the best way to put it,” Green said. “It will go for months or years without a problem, then all of a sudden have issues.”

He said the source of most of the problems in the past two months have been the old transport system, which carries both Internet and some TV stations to North Bend. The system feeds 12 towns, and a problem in any one of the towns can affect the whole system.

Green went on to say several one-time issues have also recently affected TV service, though he said all that should be in the past now.
“From a cable TV standpoint, I think we’ve gotten everything taken care of,” Green said.

Great Plains customers should also see “drastic” improvement in Internet services over the next two to six months, according to Green. He said he hopes all of Great Plains’ Internet service will be on a brand new fiber optic system within a month or two.

“I guess the bottom line is that we realize we’ve had some real big bumps in the last couple of months, mostly network issues,” Green said. “Once we get this old system out of the picture and put the brand new system in, it will be a lot more robust and reliable.”

He also said that Great Plains will be doing a lot of work in North Bend during the fourth quarter of this year, including upgrades that will increase Internet speeds.

Katy Bode and Brett Karnatz of Platte Valley Bank also attended the meeting to express their concerns about spotty Internet service.

“We cannot run our business without the Internet,” Bode said. “We need to know if the Internet is going to be out 20 minutes or five hours. All day today we had several people trying to call Great Plains and no one answers the phone.”

Quist said because of the large area affected by the outage, there were probably too many calls coming in to answer them all. She also said that Great Plains is taking steps to put together a call list or some way of getting updates to businesses regarding Internet outages.

In other Council business:
• Approved the hiring of Amy Williams as a part-time librarian.
• Debated what to do about 92,000 gallons of water that was used in a empty apartment in town while service was supposed to be shut off. The Council decided to bring in the owner of the apartments to discuss the issue.

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