The first few weeks of the year were a flurry of activity. I mentioned last month all the different objectives we had for 2010 and now we’re in full stride. This month I have several great announcements and updates from all areas of our organization, who are working hard to bring you the best service possible.
You’ll notice a few of these changes right now with this newsletter. I hope you like the new design which resembles the website and the current PEAK brand more closely. The new layout also incorporates the PEAK blog which is one of the main ways we will be conveying information and updates moving forward. We’re hopeful this will leverage the inherent interactive elements of the blogging software to create dialogue around topics we write about. We look forward to hearing your comments.
On that note, we have several updates this month and initiatives we’ll be working towards over the next month. I would like to mention each one briefly in my letter to you, but please check out our blog for more in-depth information and dialogue.
Stay tuned for a big upgrade to the spam filtering service offered by PEAK. This month we will be upgrading to a new system called Red Condor. We made this decision because spam has become a major consideration for providing a satisfactory email platform and while our current system has performed well, I believe we can do better for our customers. The Red Condor system will be going into production early this month and I believe you will find it to be an improvement. If you have questions or comments, please visit our informational post on the blog.
Another big announcement comes from our DSL modem vendor, Clear Access. In early February they will be releasing new firmware for their equipment, enabling new functionality designed to help you manage your home network. In other words, with a Clear Access modem you will have a portal to help control and configure many of the devices or services you commonly use at your home or business. We’ll be running a series of reviews on these features as they roll into production, so stay tuned.
Have a great February! Don’t forget your special someone on Valentine’s Day on the 14th and remember President’s Day follows immediately this year on the 15th.
The year 2010 starts with great anticipation for us at PEAK Internet. Despite the economic environment, we had a positive year in 2009, made brighter by the goals that we reached and by our ongoing involvement within the community. This year we look forward to even greater success in overcoming new obstacles. Like many other small businesses we have noticed the effect of the current economic downturn, which makes it more important than ever to focus on the quality services that retain our local customer base. In order to continue our success in this area, we are reinvesting in our local infrastructure and workforce to deliver the service our customers want. This month I’d like to recap what we accomplished in 2009 and give you some insight into our goals for 2010.
Before I go any further, let me pause and say thank you to all of our customers for choosing PEAK as your internet provider. We appreciate your subscription to PEAK’s services and your dedication to living and buying locally. It is truly a compliment to know that we have so many customers who stay with PEAK and who share our passion for quality.
True to our ideals, we started out ambitiously in 2009 with goals of upgrading two crucial areas of our customer interface. First, to keep up with the increasing usage of the internet (broadband consumption is up over 30%), we realized our network core was due for a more scalable design. This upgrade was accomplished in part through the purchase and integration of new network appliances, but also included some reengineering that added redundancy. As a result of these upgrades, PEAK’s internet traffic now flows with greater reliability and capacity for growth.
Secondly, we realized that a few areas of our customer interface needed some augmentation and improvement. This was primarily based around a new email system and some new technical support features. The new email system is currently in place and we have been in the process of phasing customers over throughout the year.
We have also added some customer engagement channels that we hope will aid customer interaction with PEAK. This includes an online chat that is accessible via the website, as well as the adoption of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
We will continue to push the upper limits of this positive momentum in the coming year with more network upgrades and interface improving efforts. Some insights into our 2010 plans include:
- A new billing system that makes online account access and payments seamless
- New email client service (phased roll out to clients)
- Continuing evaluation of “PEAK Geek” service
- Trial evaluation of “set-top” streaming video devices (Zillion, Roku, Vudu)
If I missed anything, please let us know what we can do to serve you better. Coming later in January is our annual customer satisfaction survey. This is your chance to sound off and tell us where we can focus our attention to provide the best service available. As always, this is our ultimate goal, so please look for a survey link on the website later this month.
Detail driven chatter dominates the December Tech Talk as Radio Ray steps in for Jim Willhight as the host of a discussion on the latest technology topics. Hand-free cell phone usage will be required for Oregon drivers starting January 1st. As a result, a mix of different devices have come to market, from simple wired headsets to device synchronizing vehicles. The best blend of value and technologies comes in an array of different Bluetooth-enabled wireless headsets. Tune in to
get the scoop on what Bluetooth technology is best and whether your phone is compatible. Then find out where the best locations are to find the headset that meets your needs. Will you need to continue using the phone while you drive? Join in as the Tech Talk crew discuss an overview of the different hands-free solutions available for your cell phone.
Also on the show, discover what the video game fanatic in your family wants most over the holidays by listening in to the Tech Talk Holiday Gift Guide for Video Games. Learn about the different ESRB ratings and what games are appropriate for your children (or adults). Also learn which games fall into your budget and the differences between console and PC-based games. There’s a lot to learn, but we’re here to help.
Regulatory Cost Recovery Fee
On a slightly different matter, I would like to mention that starting in February of 2010 a “Regulatory Cost Recovery Fee” will be added to your bill each month, initially in the amount of $0.75. This fee is being added to help with the increasing costs of various taxes and fees PEAK gets charged each year to access the network facilities associated with internet services. Traditionally PEAK has absorbed these fees and has not altered service pricing, thus making this additional cost invisible to customers. However as these costs continue to rise, it has become necessary to begin offsetting these charges in order to maintain the high quality service PEAK promises to provide.
We were careful in our approach to this fee and decided to make it a separate line item on your bill, similar to what your utility bill may already reflect. This way, I hope you understand that this isn’t a price increase adding to PEAK’s profits, but rather a fee that is being collected to offset our regulatory expenses and taxes each month. If you are interested in discussing this matter please call us at 800.731.4871, and again, thank you for choosing PEAK for your internet service needs.
It is a pleasure to serve you all!
The President’s Letter
It appears the flu is going to hit us hard this year and it is already creating a frenzy in the media. This includes online, where there has been an explosion of content related to flu outbreaks, flu care, even scams claiming to be flu cures! A Wall Street Journal article even made reference to the possibility of the flu creating congestion on carrier networks due to the amount of kids at home from school and adults tele-working while sick, a monumental claim. However at PEAK we’re not entirely worried this will happen. With our recently added network equipment and augmented capacity, we are confident we can scale-up to meet your demands.
There are some interesting resources available on the web that can help you gain some insight on the flu. The government has created a full-fledged resource center about the flu including location specific-information for care and flu shot locations (http://flu.gov). Track the progression of the flu and other illnesses across a map on HealthMap: Global Disease Alert Map (http://healthmap.org). On a more personal note, remember to stay healthy this Fall and please remember to properly clean your shared computing workstation with sanitizing wipes. Studies have proven that your computer’s keyboard could be a breeding ground for disease and illness (http://bit.ly/2Vsv1K).
Earlier in October we experienced an equipment failure within our network core that caused a system-wide outage. Unfortunately the outage affected the majority of our customers and due to the complexity, lasted longer than our normal expectations are for an incident of this type. As we reported soon after the incident, the equipment involved was due to be replaced in our 2010 network upgrades. However, this incident was a certain sign that we should make the upgrades immediately. Within a few hours we had service restored, and our engineering team had new network schematics drawn up and equipment ordered. Then, a few days later, the upgraded equipment was all installed.
I wanted to take the time to commend our engineering staff on the diligence of their response and the “customer-first” orientation that made this immediate mobilization happen. This kind of atti- tude and response is a true sign of the superior service initiative that makes PEAK a truly unique Internet provider. Incidents like this happen, but how you respond is what makes the difference. And so, we appreciate your patience through the outage, I am confident that our response to the issue will ensure a greater level of service.
As 2009 winds down, I wanted to give one more mention of the new Oregon area code that is set to be introduced in 2010. The new area code, 458, is set to augment the 541 area code that is already in place for the mid, southern, and eastern portions of Oregon. The addition of the new code brings about the requirement for ten digit dialing for all local calls (541/458-xxx-xxxx) and will take effect in January 2010.
What does this mean for your Internet and telecommunications services? At PEAK, this means that if you connect to the Internet through a dial-up connection, you will need to update the area code section of your connection settings (either 541 or 458). Otherwise you will most likely receive an error when trying to connect after the new area code gets introduced. If you need help updating this prompt, don’t hesitate to call and ask for help. You can also check the PEAK Blog for a detailed guide on updating your connection settings.
Beyond your dial-up Internet connection, you should think about updating any other devices or services that might be related to your phone service. This includes your home or business security system that has an alarm phone number it may dial into. Also check your small business phone system or PBX to ensure that it is configured for ten digit dialing. You can find more information on the Oregon Public Utility website.
Coming up on November 5th, join PEAK at the Willamette Innovators Night in Corvallis at the OSU Alumni Center and LaSells Stewart Center. PEAK is a proud sponsor of this event as it aims to bring together the Willamette Valley’s most innovative companies and organizations to share, learn, and connect. All of this is done in an effort to create networks that make economic development possible. It’s free to attend. Simply log on to the Willamette Innovators Night website, register and create an account.
That’s all for this month, have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Sports Fans Rejoice!
We’ve heard your comments and now we’re taking action. Beginning in October PEAK will begin offering ESPN 360, an exclusive content network for live sports programming, as a free service to all customers. This decision came about as we received positive feedback from customers suggesting it would be a good addition to the services PEAK currently provides. So today we are happy move to ahead and make the investments in our first online content subscription for customers. There’s more to come on how to access this network, so stay tuned and watch the website for more information.
Increasingly, the home broadband connection is becoming the single source for communications, education, and entertainment (essentially everything). In the world of Internet there are many options for content that could eventually substitute for your current television subscription. Could television over broadband be a viable product for an Internet provider such as PEAK? I encourage you to speak out and let me know if you have considered cutting or scaling back your television subscription in lieu of the growing accessibility of online streaming content. Accordingly, if PEAK had a television over broadband service would you consider it? Your feedback will help as we evaluate products in this market and find the best available offering for our customers.
PEAK Adds System Engineer
We’re always staying mindful of the principles that have made PEAK successful from day one. For PEAK, it has always been our goal to provide local service and support with a high level of expertise that far exceeds the ability of our competitors. As we grow and shift within our business model, we constantly need to review our personnel and operations to support our business principles.
Along with this ideal, we recently hired a new systems engineer at PEAK to augment our current resources and continue on our mission of superior service. Dave Regan, a Corvallis resident for over 20 years joined PEAK in September and will be primarily tasked with our ongoing billing system migration and email system upgrades. He is a native of Portland, Oregon and a graduate of Oregon State University in 1980. We are happy to have Dave onboard at PEAK and are confident he will make a positive contri- bution in a short time. Remember, we are always looking for talented individuals to fill out our local staff. If you are ambitious, service-oriented, and a tech-savvy individual, I encourage you to submit your credentials to PEAK.
It makes more sense than ever for any business to engage in commerce online. The advantages are clear, as it immediately takes your business global and gets a 24/7 presence in the commerce world. Even for a sole-proprietor looking to make a splash with a new project, the opportunity exists to locate a niche and make a success online. The fundamental question is how can you do it and what is the best way. Join in as the Tech Talk crew and Jim Willhight discuss an overview of the e-commerce landscape and the different decisions facing each path.
Listen in as Chris Lee, Bobby Samai, and Michael Laport explain the different options for anyone embarking down the e-commerce path. Should you consider a hosted option with Google Checkout or PayPal and give up some of the control over the process? Or is your site big enough to justify a completely custom solution? The decision is yours, but we’re here to help! Don’t make your e-commerce decision without first tuning in to Tech Talk
with PEAK Internet.
PEAK Offers Live Chat
Anyone want to chat? PEAK debuted an online chat service in September to allow an additional method of contact to PEAK technical support and customer service. This chat allows current customers to contact us with questions or for those that are just shopping on the website to get more info. No need to call or email – if you have a quick question or a small issue, give the chat service a try. You can find the chat link on the PEAK website at www.peakinternet.com.
Upgrade Your Service At No Additional Cost
There’s no better time to try faster internet speeds with Pioneer Telephone and PEAK Internet! In coordination with Pioneer Telephone, PEAK will be re-launching the “Try Before You Buy” promotion for current broadband customers. This offer allows you to upgrade to any available service speed for 90 days at your current service rate. If you aren’t convinced the added speed is benefiting your home or business, return to your current speed at no additional charge. This is a great opportunity to try the Internet at speeds that you have never experienced before. If you have multiple computers on your home connection or would like to experience the rich streaming content available on the Internet today, this is the promotion for you. Call today and see what new speeds are available at your location.
Thanks and it’s a pleasure serving you!
Customer Barbecue – August 27th
It’s that time of the year again! Good food from the grill and great family fun, all hosted by your friends at PEAK Internet. It’s all happening this month at the annual customer picnic at the PEAK office in Corvallis on August 27th. Join in for the first time or make it your annual trip to enjoy the festivities and meet the team that is dedicated to your Internet needs. As usual we’ve got great food from the grill, ice cream for dessert, and an assortment of different activities to bring you closer to what goes on at PEAK. So save the date and get ready to have fun!
The annual customer barbecue is a big event for us at PEAK. It’s an opportunity to relate with our customers on a conversational basis that is both sincere and genuine. I’ve mentioned in the past how much we value this kind of interaction with our customers, so tell us what you think and keep the comments coming. We feel like this willingness to engage with our customers through different channels is one of the reasons we have managed to stay successful over the years and our commitment to this principle will not waver, I guarantee.
In fact, this year if you have a friend, family member, or neighbor that doesn’t currently get service from PEAK, please bring them along. We are inviting all-comers to the PEAK customer barbecue as a form of open house to show others why we believe the PEAK way of doing business is preferable. Better yet, if we can get them to sign-up with PEAK you will get a one-time $20 account credit. Try it out and bring those naysayers along — it will be worth your time.
In other news, one of the final portions of our most recent planned network upgrades is currently underway (for reference: http://blog.peakinternet.com/?p=85). In coordination with Pioneer Telephone, we will be upgrading our connectivity capacity in the Pioneer Telephone (Philomath and extending to the Central Coast) network to meet the demands of our growing customer base. This process of upgrading to a Gigabit connection is being made to ensure the capacity and speeds are available to customers during the most active times. In comparison, the Gigabit connection that we are upgrading to is over two times the current capacity we have between Pioneer Telephone and PEAK.
Along with our cooperative partner Pioneer Telephone, PEAK is taking every precaution to minimize any service disruption to customers. This is a very complex process, involving collaboration between PEAK and Pioneer to coordinate the upgrade to new equipment, so we realize that during this process it may not be totally possible to have zero downtime. However we appreciate your patience and trust as we work diligently to restore any service outages. When the final upgrades have been completed you will notice a superior service capacity, capable of meeting the growing Internet demands. Until then, we will strive to notify you in advance if your location is within a maintenance location that could potentially result in service downtime.
Thank you. It is a pleasure to serve you!
Get out and about this month, there is plenty to do! Independence Day is coming up and each of our local communities is celebrating with festivities. In Corvallis the Red, White, and Blues Festival takes place on the Willamette River waterfront (Downtown Corvallis). In Albany, Summer Fest at Timber Linn Park features a battle of the bands concert and a car show (Albany Summer Fest). The Star-Spangled Celebration in Lebanon is billed as “An Old-Fashioned 4th of July Celebration,” don’t miss it! (Star Spangled Celebration) On the coast, don’t miss the Newport celebration in Yaquina Bay and Nye Beach Clambake (Newport Chamber).
Beyond the Independence Day celebrations PEAK is also sponsoring three events in July that are sure to be a blast. The annual da Vinci Days Festival – a three day festival celebrating art, science and technology is coming up on July 17-19 (da Vinci Days). PEAK is a premier sponsor of the event and will be providing wireless Internet service to the outdoor event, so bring your Wi-Fi-enabled device and enjoy! Gear up for the Philomath Frolic and Rodeo July 9-12 at the Philmomath Rodeo grounds. PEAK has been a long standing sponsor of this prominent rodeo and I recommend it for some excellent family fun (Philomath Frolic & Rodeo). Rounding out the activities in the month of July is the Benton County Fair (Benton County Fair & Rodeo) from July 29th to August 1st. Join in on their 2009 theme of “Carnival Lights and Country Nights” and enjoy the festivities. Also be sure to attend Saturday night at the fair when PEAK Internet presents the main stage performer, Johnny Limbo and the Lugnuts. It’s going to be to be a busy month, be sure to get out and enjoy the summer.
This month I also wanted to take some time to address some of the ongoing issues with email blacklisting and password strength. You’ve probably noticed some of your emails being blocked by other email providers, such as Yahoo or Hotmail. This is the result of those providers blacklisting the PEAK mail servers, a process by which your emails get blocked for a certain amount of time. We understand that this causes a disruption to your communications and so it is something we are constantly working on to eliminate. However it is something that is partially out of our hands to resolve completely, that’s why we need your help. Let me give you a quick breakdown on the anatomy of the issue. It all starts with a weak password and a PEAK email account. A weak password allows your email account to be compromised by a hacker or other user with malicious intent. Once they gain control of your account (and many others) the user can then launch a distributed spam campaign aimed at other users worldwide. The prevalence of these spam messages sent from a specific PEAK Internet address triggers a threshold that adds our mail servers to a blacklist. This isn’t the only scenario by which this can happen; it could also be the result of a compromised computer via virus. It could also be the result of responding to a phishing scam where you may accidently divulge your account information; so it is important that you maintain strong passwords and a safe computer. If you suspect your email account has been compromised, please let us know and we’ll be happy to assist with changing your password and cleaning up your account.
Once the PEAK mail servers are on a blacklist from another email provider, we have limited options. We can contact the provider through the appropriate channels and wait for a response which allows PEAK to be white listed, allowing open emailing again. Given this scenario it is important that the bulk of our efforts be placed on preventative measures against account hijacking. This means educating our users about the importance of strong passwords, enacting password rules, and promoting the safe usage of your computer. To aid in this matter I had our technical support team put together a short tutorial on password managers, a tool that helps you manage and securely store your passwords. We also have resources in the PEAK Blog, with posts about the dangers of email and phishing scams. You can visit the blog and find these resources at PEAK Blog. That covers your end of the partnership to end recent blacklisting difficulties, now what is PEAK doing to solve this problem?
Our task is to explore different methods to provide a reliable mail platform for those that use the email in a proper manner and to disable it for those that don’t. I’ve been pleased to see the efforts of our engineering staff to respond to this issue and I expect some announcements in the near future that provide additional protection against blacklisting. We’ll accomplish this by enforcing email limits, disabling unused accounts, and adding resiliency to our mail servers network addressing.
Spam and blacklisting is a complex issue that is shared by many ISP’s worldwide. However, we are confident that we have identified a plan to resolve many of the lingering culprits contributing to the problem. We plan to achieve this by working with our customers and educating everyone about password security and account usage. Additionally we plan on bolstering our email platform with some new techniques that will reduce the susceptibility to blacklist.
Thank you for your patience in this matter. We are working hard to make this the best email service to meet your needs. Working together we believe we can achieve this level.
As we all make our way through this economic downturn, it’s more important than ever to maintain unwavering support for non-profit organizations and volunteer-driven charities in our surrounding communities. At PEAK we realize these tough financial times have created a support deficit, and despite the downturn we are still dedicated to keeping a strong commitment to these groups. This month I wanted to take a moment to share with you a few of the different efforts we have participated in lately.
Not only does PEAK strive to be a good business by providing quality service to our customers, but also by providing the support and volunteers to our local non-profit organizations and charitable causes. In the past this has included direct contributions to the local Food Share organizations and other healthcare-related charities, such as the Mario Pastega House. Every year PEAK also sponsors a variety of local events, like da Vinci Days and the Oregon Covered Bridge Festivals. How about youth sports? PEAK is a sponsor of Boys & Girls youth sports teams every year and has continuing plans of making contributions to keep these efforts moving along. For hosting and service needs, PEAK offers discounts that help non-profits get their websites up and Internet service going.
In addition to monetary support, PEAK promotes a strong sense of volunteerism internally, encouraging employees to reach out and help. In accordance with our cultural guidelines each employee is allotted 16 hours of paid volunteer time each year. Our employees use this time in a variety of different activities ranging from highway clean-ups and volunteering at local Farmer’s Markets, to helping non-profit organizations network their office computers. In the most recent scenario an employee of PEAK was a mentor for a local High School student completing a senior project. This mentorship was designed to teach the student about the Satellite technology PEAK uses to provide underserved residents with High-Speed Internet service.
In this current tough financial time it’s easy to get caught up in other matters affecting your business or life. However, at PEAK we have a strong belief that strong communities foster strong businesses. Supporting non-profit organizations and volunteer-driven causes is a focal point of our local strategy and through economic downturns we continue to give back. We view it as just another aspect of providing quality service, not just to our customers, but also our community members.
Another way we try to differentiate our service at PEAK is to engage our customers on a local and personable level. Every time you call or step into the office it is our goal to listen to your needs and provide solutions, all while relating with you on a local level. We’ve been looking for ways to expand this principle to more customers, more often. What we found was two popular web sites, Facebook and Twitter, that are excellent ways for PEAK to enhance customer relationships and provide better service for our customers. So follow PEAK Internet on Twitter and become a fan of PEAK Internet on Facebook.
These two web sites provide PEAK with new tools to engage all our customers with a true two-way communication platform and a better way to share news broadcasts. Through Twitter we are hoping to relay up-to-date news and headlines that affect your service (phishing alerts, service issues). On Facebook we are excited to have the opportunity to interact with our customers and illustrate the different activities we are involved in that make PEAK a superior provider. This kind of relationship is valuable for PEAK and helps us provide the best real-time service possible. So follow, send, or interact with PEAK – now as an interactive online presence. Lastly this month, I wanted to inform you that the reseller partnership between Click Here! and PEAK Internet has been discontinued. Click Here!, a computer and technology store in Waldport, will continue to do business as usual, but without any formal partnership with PEAK. For your ongoing Internet support needs please direct your inquiries to our 24-hour support line at: 800.731.4871. For a personal touch, you can always stop into the Pioneer Telephone office located in Waldport to order or upgrade your service. I appreciate the partnership PEAK had with Click Here! over the years, we found the relationship to be very positive in our local marketplace.
Thanks to everyone for tuning in this month. I thank you for your ongoing
business and trust in PEAK!
Conferences, expos, tradeshows and taxes – April proved to be a busy month for all of us at PEAK Internet. We had people traveling all over the country attending and speaking
at events, learning the best practices in our industry. Even locally PEAK had booths at the Lebanon Chamber Business Expo on April 21st and at the Corvallis Chamber’s, “Corbiz.” Our representatives at these events had good reports, citing a great amount of community participation.
Here. There. Available virtually anywhere!
PEAK’s wireless broadband services bring high-speed Internet to your home, where DSL and Cable can’t. Starting this month we’re offering some great deals to get you an upgrade from your dial-up connection. PEAK offers Fixed Wireless service in the mid-Willamette Valley and WildBlue Satellite throughout Oregon to bring broadband to your home. This promotion includes up to $100 off of a Fixed Wireless setup fee or a low upfront price of $99.95 for the Wildblue Satellite service. Give us a call for more details on these promotions.
We’ve been working hard to ensure that PEAK provides quality Fixed Wireless when you can’t get DSL or Cable. This has resulted in subsequent upgrades to many of our five tower sites, most recently at the Buck Mountain tower. Newly upgraded equipment at the Buck Mountain site has the capability to reach the areas around Coburg, Junction City, Halsey, and North of Eugene. The upgrade also brings increased bandwidth capacity and reliability for customers subscribing to services on this tower. Do you qualify? Give us a call, our customer service representatives are standing by.
If you are outside the PEAK Fixed Wireless and DSL network you still have options and now it’s even more affordable. WildBlue Satellite Internet service is available wherever you have a clear view of the Southern sky, and for a limited time we are offering this service with only a $99.95 upfront fee. Cost has always been a limiting factor with the WildBlue Satellite service and I hope this promotion removes barriers for those that really need affordable broadband where they live.
Bringing broadband to underserved communities has always been a top priority for PEAK Internet. Our local cooperative ownership (Pioneer Telephone, Consumers Power, Stayton Telephone) was founded as the need for electricity and telephone service became essential in the rural setting. That spirit for service has continued with PEAK, and is displayed in our efforts to bring broadband to underserved communities with Fixed Wireless and WildBlue Satellite.
This broadband gap in rural areas is now attracting some attention from our government. A portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Stimulus Package) was specifically allocated to bring broadband service to un-served and underserved areas of the U.S. In Oregon, the Governor has called on all Internet providers to submit plans to address this need. PEAK has been busy formulating plans and leveraging partnerships to most effectively expand our network and reach those that need broadband service.
What will make PEAK an effective provider for the underserved? Affiliations with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative and our parent cooperatives provide PEAK with an understanding of the rural landscape that is unlike other providers. Also, partnerships with upstream bandwidth providers give PEAK the resources and relationships needed to get capacity where it is needed. Lastly, our demonstrated success in bringing Fixed Wireless and WildBlue Satellite to the rural setting gives credibility to our plan. I am confident PEAK will be able to identify and serve those that are underserved. We’ve been at the forefront of addressing this need for many years and our success to this point cannot be overlooked. We look forward to the opportunity to extend the reach of our broadband Internet to you in the near future.
Lastly, thanks to everyone that made the switch from paper billing to e-mail billing. PEAK made a $200 donation to the Arbor Day Foundation on your behalf that helped plant 500 trees.
The Arbor Day Foundation is dedicated to helping our environment by keeping a sustainable practice of planting trees in our local communities. If you would like to sign-up with e-mail billing, contact our customer service department and simplify your life with one less paper bill.
Last month I had the opportunity to travel throughout our service territory – from the cascades to the coast (A little trivia here, our affiliate Casco is derived from CAScades and COast). The inherent beauty of our great state constantly amazes me and I’ve always been delighted to have the privilege to live in Oregon. What also stood out to me was how many locations in the state that PEAK has broadband services available and the people we serve in these areas.
Take for instance Deadwood, Oregon, where PEAK has served Ray and Kathleen Robinson with high-speed DSL service for the past 5 years. The Robinsons live on a particularly interesting estate and I would like to share with you their fascinating work and lifetime hobby.
Along with countless volunteers, the Robinsons constructed a fully functional mini-train and railroad system on their property in Deadwood. The railroad, Meadows and Lake Kathleen Railroad, was built over the course of 12 years and finally completed in 2007. I personally have experienced the Meadows and Lake Kathleen Railroad and it is not something I will soon forget. I visited the railroad with my family several years ago and we were allowed to camp out at the site, taking train tours of the whole rail system. That trip was something that my family will treasure forever and I’m sure the Robinsons have created thousands of memories for families just like mine.
I am bringing this unique site to your attention because it is in danger of being removed by the state. Due to land use laws and regulations, the Robinsons may have to decommission their railroad. I invite you to visit their website at http://members.peak.org/~kmr3/ for the full story and to see what a spectacular site they have developed. I know firsthand that the Robinsons are excellent stewards of the land, taking every opportunity to improve the environment and habitat on their property. Removing this railroad would be a travesty to our community and injustice to the Robinsons. If you would like to help, please contact Ray from their website.
On a different topic, I’ve noticed an increase in the frequency of threatening Phishing Scams across the web and I wanted to ensure that you have the right information to steer clear of any threats. Recently, the New York Times reported that customer information from Comcast had been leaked and posted online. Reportedly, the list had the account information for over 8,000 customers before Comcast claimed that only 700 entries were valid. There remains speculation surrounding the cause of the incident, but it appears to be the result of an e-mail phishing scheme.
No matter how alarming it sounds, this kind of news is not uncommon. You have most likely received emails from scammers posing as your bank, a government agency, and even PEAK Internet. These messages generally ask for personal information via e-mail and ask for account authorization or to make an overdue payment. Responding to these solicitations puts you at risk for identity theft or other kinds of financial fraud. It is PEAK’s procedure to send out an immediate alert to customers once a scam such as this is detected. If you receive any messages similar to this, please report it to PEAK immediately.
I’ve asked our technical team to put together a blog post (http://blog.peakinternet.com) to further discuss the best ways for you to avoid falling into Phishing scams, but in the meantime please understand that no reputable business will ever ask for confidential information via email. A Red Flag complying business (like PEAK) will only accept that information in person.
We heard your call!
Now we’re moving forward, getting to work on all the different takeaways from the 2009 Customer Satisfaction survey. All the information we received was a great reflection on how PEAK needs to be a better Internet provider for 2009 and beyond. A few of our key understandings moving forward are to implement a better e-mail platform, provide online bill payment options, and to continue training for our technical support staff. We’ll also strive to provide better communication and explore different value-added products to offer to our customers. Remember to keep sending feedback our way! If you ever have comments please don’t hesitate to e-mail, call, or stop in the office.
Congratulations to Ken Vogler and Gary Custer. They both won the ClickFree Back-up hard drives. Also a big congratulations goes to Rise Briggs, who won a new iPod Shuffle. Again, we appreciate your participation in this survey and look forward to serving our customers for years to come.
Big news for all you NASCAR fans — DIRECTV announced this month that the NASCAR Hot Pass would be free to all customers in 2009. So if you are interested in NASCAR and were looking for one more reason to try DIRECTV, this is your chance. The NASCAR Hot Pass from DirecTV offers exclusive coverage of your favorite drivers and loads of extra features that make your racing experience truly unique. This is a great value from DIRECTV and I want to offer something from PEAK to make it an even better deal. If you sign up for DIRECTV this month, you’ll receive a month of your Internet service free from PEAK. We’re so confident you’ll enjoy DIRECTV; I’m willing to put a month of free service on the line.
Thanks for tuning in, have a happy Easter!
Where can you be inundated with great food, fine wine, and lots of friendly people? Newport’s Seafood & Wine festival, of course! PEAK was a sponsor for the 2009 festival and had several employees visit the coast for a fun-filled weekend. The reports I got back from this group were excellent, as they were genuinely impressed with the quality of the event. I commend the efforts of the Newport Chamber of Commerce and all the volunteers that made the 2009 Seafood & Wine festival happen. At PEAK we are certainly glad to sponsor local events like this and encourage all the surrounding communities to join in on the fun!
On that note about Newport, I am sorry to report that PEAK closed its Newport business office February 27th. Our decision was made because of the limited impact the office was having on the coast and with considerations towards long-term viability. However, I want to reassure you that this does not change how PEAK delivers quality, locally-driven Internet service and we look forward to staying involved in the coastal communities, as we have over the past decade.
This month PEAK will begin implementing new DSL modems from Clear Access. The Clear Access modems are built with newer technologies and provide a platform for many different services to be offered from within the device. What does this mean for you? To start, I’m pleased to mention that the modems allow advanced troubleshooting capabilities for the PEAK technical staff, thus minimizing any effects of DSL issues. In addition, the modems offer a suite of subscription services that PEAK can help manage
such as: parental controls, Internet time blocking, managed firewall, and even managed Wi-Fi capabilities. This means more quality services to make your Internet life easier! If you would like to upgrade to the new modem, we are offering current customers a few different opportunities to get the new hardware. You can check out the different opportunities on the PEAK website or go to:
Have you ever struggled making the right buying decision with technology items? Today your struggles are over. Now PEAK is helping you make the right purchase when buying your technology gadgets and gear. This month PEAK is debuting its own online store powered by Amazon.com. The web store is filled with individually selected items that our staff is familiar with and recommends. The store is available from the PEAK website or you can check it out at http://peakinternet.amazonwebstore.com.
Recently, the Federal Trade Commission mandated that all electric cooperatives and other utilities comply with the newly created “Red Flags” rule, an important guard against identity theft. While PEAK is not a utility cooperative, we believe maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of your personal information is an extremely high priority. As such, we’re employing the best practices and training to ensure that our customers’ information is safeguarded.
Effective March 1, 2009, PEAK customers will be asked to set up a security password in order to obtain information on their account. Customers who decline will be asked to come in with photo I.D. each time information is requested. We hope you’ll understand the purpose is to safeguard personal information.
Lastly, I wanted to thank everyone who took the Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey. Your feedback was valuable and we are already looking for ways to capitalize on your input. More to come on this, I promise!
That’s it for this month. Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day!