Blog Archives - HCTC

HCTC

Reward Offer: Scam Alert

HCTC is aware that some members may have recently received notification of a reward offer appearing to come from HCTC. Please note that this advertisement is not from HCTC.

Such notifications may be emailed directly to you or may “pop up” when you are web browsing. Please remember that HCTC will not solicit or request information using internet pop-ups or website advertisements.

Additionally, HCTC will not use pop-ups or website ads to inform its members that they have been selected to win a prize or ask them to participate in a drawing for a prize. Please be aware of notices falsely claiming to originate from HCTC. If you have any questions or concerns about such advertising scams, please contact us at 800-292-5457. Ask to speak to a member of our information technology department.

Spring, a Time for Renewal and Continued Growth

By the time you receive this magazine, our winter should be behind us, and signs of spring will abound. Everyone with your cooperative wishes that all is well with you and your loved ones as you enjoy this time of spring renewal.

And speaking of wellness, this month’s magazine emphasizes the potential of advances made in health care, particularly those services delivered through broadband. When I talk to state and local leaders, they say they’re pleased by what a broadband network is doing in our homes, schools and businesses. Everything we read encourages us to continue preparation of our network capabilities for the Internet of Things (IoT), smart homes and the almost exponential explosion in connected devices which will automate and improve tasks in both business and everyday personal life.

Increasingly, the place identified by futurists and leaders who see huge potential for broadband technology for rural America is at the doctor’s office. The American Telemedicine Association defines telehealth as “the remote delivery of health care services and clinical information using telecommunications technology.” It may be no overstatement to say that it can revolutionize health care across our country.

Broadband technology provides the capability for local residents to work with their physicians and to connect with specialists around the country via virtual visits and consultations. Minimizing or eliminating the need in rural communities for significant travel to obtain health care should lower a barrier to patients seeking care when they need it, translating into faster and more complete recoveries.

Telehealth can also increase the pace of care when minutes and seconds matter. Whether it’s giving a stroke patient an immediate evaluation by a specialist or enabling a regional radiologist to read the X-ray of a broken arm in the middle of the night, health care providers can use technology to eliminate dangerous delays.

And since telehealth requires high-speed broadband, we’re excited to be in the middle of that revolution. This is yet another example of how our connected lives will continue to be enhanced through broadband connectivity. And this is why your cooperative is moving ahead as rapidly as possible to continue to upgrade our broadband connections. Our goal to our membership in the Texas Hill Country is to enable a connected life.

So while I hope you enjoy this month’s magazine, please allow me to diverge for a moment into a personal issue. Following about 30 years at Southwestern Bell, I have now completed 12 years of employment with the cooperative. For the last couple of years, I have been even more privileged to be your CEO and to lead your capable team.

But that time is coming to an end, and I’m pleased to announce that Craig Cook, who has been your COO for nearly four years, will replace me as your General Manager/CEO in April. I have enjoyed working with Craig, and we have closely collaborated on our aggressive construction-centered multiyear business plan, which has been approved by your board of directors. This will ensure continuity with our declared vision to outshine our peer set by providing our membership the best in broadband capabilities.

I have every confidence that this transition will be smooth and that Craig will bring additional strengths to this position, leading the cooperative for years in the future.

So I would like to thank the board of directors, our employees and the membership for the many years I’ve enjoyed being part of your cooperative. I wish you the best and see the brightest of futures for HCTC.

Alan Link
CEO

Cook Succeeds Link

The board of directors has appointed R. Craig Cook to fill the position of CEO. Current CEO Alan Link announced his resignation in October 2018.

Cook, HCTC’s chief operations officer, has extensive knowledge and experience in telecommunications operations. He is widely recognized and well-versed in the industry with a vast background in strate- gic planning, government affairs, public policy and business development.

Lock it down

Keep your data safe

Once, all you had to worry about in terms of digital security was making sure your antivirus software was up to
date. Now, with the host of devices we use and their constant connection to the internet, it’s more important than ever to understand how best to keep your information safe.

Below you’ll and a few tips on how to secure your specific devices, but a few best practices apply across the board:

  1. Don’t open any suspicious web links, whether that’s through text, email or pop-up ad.
  2. Keep your devices updated. New vulnerabilities are discovered periodically, and companies are pretty good at offering patches or security upgrades.
  3. Where available — or practical — use two- step verifiation to access your accounts, which usually means getting a text or email to con rm your identity. Also, audit your security questions so they don’t include information that is widely available or easy to guess.

iPhone

Not only is an iPhone an expensive device, but if you’re like most users, it also holds a wealth of personal information. A good way to locate your device is to activate Find My iPhone, which can help you see your phone’s location. If you know it’s lost, you can also remotely wipe it and remove personal information.

Other ways to stay safe are to use a longer passcode than the traditional four-number PIN. The passcode can also be switched to alphanumeric, a combination of letters and numbers, for even more security. Consider enabling the erase data setting, which wipes your information after 10 incorrect passcode attempts. Parents with a curious toddler might wish to avoid that setting.

Android

Android devices are a little more open to user customization than Apple’s closed system, which makes them somewhat more vulnerable. Activate Google’s Find My Device and encrypt your data. Unless you have a Google-branded phone, that option is not on by default, so change it in settings under security. Then, install a security application, such as Avast or AVG. Also, opt to download apps only from Google Play or other secure sources, such as Amazon or Samsung.

Computers

Security on a personal computer mostly means internet safety. Don’t install suspect soft- ware, and don’t install Google Chrome extensions from unknown providers.

You can also encrypt your information. If someone gains access to your secured files, they can’t be opened without a password. That feature is available on most modern operating systems. It’s also always a good idea to back up your data, either physically through an external hard drive not connected to the internet, on the cloud, or both.

Routers

If you use “admin” as your username, and “password” as your password — stop. The No. 1 thing people forget to do is change their router’s default login information. You may have a good password for your Wi-Fi network, but if someone can gain access to your router, it won’t matter.

Also, use the WPA2 security standard for your network. If practical, you can make your Wi-Fi invisible by telling your router to stop broadcasting its name, or Service Set Identifier (SSID). Just remember what you called your network so you can manually share that with trusted devices.

Smart Devices

Use your router’s “guest” network feature to connect all your smart devices. If you do, even if a hacker gains access, your computer or phone will be walled off from the primary network.

Service for all generations

One thing that’s great about our business is how our network can have a positive impact on so many people. Broadband benefits everyone from children to seniors even if they use it for different things.

In many instances, HCTC has had a unique privilege to serve four, five, six or even seven generations of families in our area. How many companies can say that? Obviously, times have changed, and the communication needs of your grandparents or great-grandparents were very different than yours are.

This issue of the magazine is focusing on one particular generation that seems to grab a lot of headlines: the millennials. While experts vary slightly on the parameters, “millennial” is the name given to people with birth dates from the mid-1980s through about 2005. Depending on what article you’ve read most recently, you may feel millennials are either ruining everything or likely to save us all. No cheap shots from the baby boomer here. I do believe one thing is certain: With millennials becoming the largest segment of our population, they are going to change the way companies operate and the way our society works.

One of the primary traits most millennials share is the pervasiveness of technology in their lives. In fact, most members of this generation — especially those in their teens and early 20s have never known a world without internet-connected technology.

It may be easy to sit back and worry about the shifts this generation is already creating. But to me, it’s important to remember that these millennials are the future of our community and of HCTC.

Think about it with me.
ƒ

    • Their complex lives frequently play out in a mix of social media and text messages,
      rather than face-to-face interactions.

ƒ

    • With the advent of digital photography and phones with cameras, they are the most
      photographed generation in human history.
    • ƒ Many aspire to jobs working remotely, like coding, web design or other careers that
      couldn’t have existed a decade or two ago. And if they create their own companies, the business world especially in rural America doesn’t present nearly as many obstacles for startups as it once did.
    • ƒ For entertainment, many of us grew up with only a few channels on the television set, but millennials are accustomed to hundreds of channels and programming on demand right on their tablets.

ƒ

  • They take classes online, apply for jobs through mobile apps and often lead the way on digital innovation, whether smart home, telemedicine or other technology.

The tastes and preferences of millennials are already having an impact on broadband providers worldwide and most certainly rural providers like HCTC. If we want our communities to survive and thrive, we must provide a broadband infrastructure that supports their professional and personal lives. Millennials are some of our most frequent users of services like online bill pay or the chat function on our website. They absolutely require a robust internet connection to handle all of their devices, and we are working hard to deliver and improve that service every day.

Personally and professionally, I’m excited to see the way these young people make an impact on HCTC, our community and our world. And we’re going to continue to adapt and work hard to meet their communication needs just like we have for the generations before them.

Alan Link
CEO

Thanksgiving Thoughts

It has occurred to me that the calendar places our Thanksgiving holiday at just the right point to allow us to pause a bit to reflect and focus upon the many blessings we enjoy. Thanksgiving also provides us time to assess our accomplishments, both personal ones and our HCTC business activities.

I know I’m thankful we live in a country where we can put so much energy into things like holidays, get-togethers with family and friends, business activities, and the general pursuit of happiness without being overwhelmed by unmet basic needs like much of our world. Our country may not be perfect, but I’d certainly rather be here than anywhere else.

When I think about where we are, I’m thankful for our communities and surrounding areas here in the Hill Country. I’ve lived in several other places and appreciate the scenic beauty of our area and the genuine, hard working and caring people who make up the backbone of the cooperative we serve.

Which leads me to how very thankful I am for the team we, and you, have at HCTC and the work they do every day to serve you the best way we can. This year, in particular, I am thankful for the progress our team has made to continue the upgrade of HCTC’s several thousand miles of network to bring you improved and robust broadband services while continuing our legacy of quality universal voice services.

It is satisfying to us that the modern broadband services we provide enable economic development, improved health care, security and education, as well as more leisure or convenience items such as video streaming, running a smart home or connecting with a loved one hundreds of miles away. Past generations could not have imagined the technology we have before us today.

But, we still suffer the need to better address the urban/rural digital broadband divide. While it’s true many communities in rural America suffer from slow broadband speeds as the result of neglect from big corporate internet providers or isolated terrain, the fiber optic connections we offer are world-class. More of these are nearer your home or immediately available than ever before. Looking forward to 2019, we plan to more than double our fiber-to-the- home availability.
Broadband has become essential for modern life. At HCTC, we believe people should not have to sacrifice a connected world to live in a rural area like ours.

And so, I am thankful to have the clarity of our mission and your board’s enablement of resources to move ahead — to connect you with the best technology available today and for the future.

Alan Link, CEO