GVTC Blog

  • A Look at 2018

    by Paula Novodvorschi | Nov 29, 2018

    Looking back at the goals we set for 2018, I’m proud to say that GVTC Communications not only stayed true to its promise of providing the best value in communication services, but it also paved the path for future success with three main initiatives this year.

    Head Shot - Ritchie Sorrells

    Dedicated to Creating Fiercely Loyal Customers, we conducted customer surveys this year that provided significant insights into the areas where we are doing well, while also giving our customers an opportunity to let us know the areas where we could improve. In 2019, we will continue this dialogue by requesting your feedback during different touchpoints in the customer journey. This is the next phase in our plan of harnessing qualitative data to improve at issue resolution quickly and encouraging customer advocacy, all while remaining faithful to our promise of keeping customer service at the center of all that we do.

    Additionally, we introduced our new Member Dividend Program to further thank our fiercely loyal members for “choosing local.” As a first of its kind in the United States, this program provides all active GVTC members who are eligible with a dividend that is applied to their payments–every month! In its first year, MDP released monthly 20% dividends back to its members, which created a wave of positive response to the added value we provide our loyal members.

    A large part of GVTC’s success has been our ability to adapt to the evolving industry, particularly the way we engage with customers online. With more people turning to social media and online shopping, we devoted resources to Digital Engagement to meet customers’ needs on their terms and at their convenience. We increased our online customer support channels through Social Media and online ticketing, and enhanced GVTC’s online shop giving customers the ability to order new service online.

    Our efforts don’t stop there. With our community at the heart of everything we do, it was a momentous year for our employee-driven philanthropic arm, The GVTC Foundation. Since its inception in 2006, The GVTC Foundation has donated more than $2.8 million to our service areas with charitable contributions, scholarships, and outreach projects. In 2019, GVTC is adding two new vocational scholarships worth up to $5,000 each in addition to our two $20,000 scholarships meant for deserving High School seniors residing in our community.

    With the holidays upon us, there’s no doubt many of you will be using multiple broadband devices to connect with friends and family. Our advanced technology helps us stay connected, where others are not as fortunate, and for that simple gift we are genuinely grateful. In the spirit of the season, I’d like to wish you and your families a warm and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year. And, most of all, I want to thank you for being Fiercely Loyal Customers.

    Ritchie Sorrells

    CEO, GVTC


     
  • New Internet Speeds Coming 2019!

    by Paula Novodvorschi | Nov 29, 2018

    Dedicated to bringing our customers the best in communication services possible, GVTC is simplifying our Fiber-to-the-home offerings with a new Broadband Tier structure.

    Internet Speeds

    Starting in 2019, we’re unleashing the fiber by increasing current Broadband speeds of 100Mbps/100Mbps to our new Premium Fiber-to-the-Home Broadband speeds of 250 Mbps/250 Mbps and doubling in upload speeds as bundle plans increase to 500 Mbps/250 Mbps and 1Gbps/250 Mbps. 

    Say goodbye to the days of 100Mbps Internet base-plans and hello to ultra fast speeds! This premium network is set to elevate the home streaming experience. With the growing demand for streaming capabilities, connected devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, and Smart Automated Home security monitoring, you’ll want speeds that match your needs.

  • Elevate Your TV Experience

    by Paula Novodvorschi | Nov 29, 2018

    Innovation is at the forefront of GVTC. From new speeds to upgraded user guides, we’re here to elevate your home experience.

    GVTC Elevate

    One of our most successful launches this year was our GVTC Elevate TV guide–equipped with a new seamless Video-on-Demand layout, robust recording capabilities, and direct connections to all your favorite streaming apps including Netflix®, YouTube®, and Pandora®.

    To introduce this new guide, we hosted our very first Facebook® LIVE event that broadcasted a ten-minute customer educational Q&A session about GVTC Elevate that reached more than 1,500 people across our service area. For more information about the new TV guide and our tips and tricks to manage your Favorites list, visit gvtc.com/elevate.

    Get ready to elevate your TV watching experience and more with GVTC. Stay tuned for the announcement of our next GVTC Live event coming soon!
  • Paying for College and How GVTC Can Help!

    by Paula Novodvorschi | Nov 29, 2018

    Paying for college is becoming increasingly harder every year as it continues to get more expensive. With a crippling 70% of graduates owing a significant amount of student debt totaling $1.5 Trillion in America, it’s more important than ever for new students to explore options outside of loans. Here are five myths and facts to help you make smart financial decisions as you enter the new and exciting world of college. 

    FACT: College is expensive

    Graduation CeremonyUnless your last name rhymes with millionaire, chances are a college education can significantly set both you and your family back financially. With an undergraduate degree costing anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000 a year in tuition alone, it’s no wonder our nation’s youth is drowning in student debt. 

    And if you think college is expensive today, expect it to increase in the following years. According to a Forbes article published earlier this year, the price of attending college is rising 8 times faster than wages. With a degree becoming increasingly unaffordable each year, it’s essential to consider alternatives to out-of-pocket costs and loans such as scholarships and grants in order to lessen the financial blow of an education.

    MYTH: Only 4.0 students get scholarships

    What if I told you there’s a world out there that values more than a perfect GPA? Sure, it is easier to get scholarships with better grades, but it’s not the sole deciding factor for universities and scholarship donors. Everybody has heard of the importance of getting A’s and scoring high on the SAT or ACT; what isn’t stressed enough are other ways to equally demonstrate your future potential through solid writing skills and strong community involvement.

    Studying for TestsBelieve it or not, colleges and scholarship donors alike are willing to overlook if you got B’s your sophomore year or if you weren’t the best at Chemistry. What they’re looking for, are well-rounded individuals who not only possess the passion and drive to make things happen but can also showcase an ability to use available resources to reach their goals. 

    Don’t be discouraged by thinking you need to have the cure for cancer in order to receive an award. It’s a lot simpler than it seems. If you’ve been deeply involved in your community, have been working on something you care deeply about, or have overcome major adversity in your life, there’s someone out there that wants to help you achieve your dreams.

    FACT: Student loans are not the easier option

    Not everyone can afford college, so taking out a need-based loan to pay for your undergraduate degree may be something you can’t forgo. However, before you sign up for such a large amount of debt, there are a few things you must consider.

    Applying for a student loan sounds easier than applying for a grant or scholarship. While that may be true in terms of initially acquiring the money, the dangers and consequences of procuring a hefty sum of debt are far greater than the potential inconvenience to apply for as many scholarships as you can. In other words, try to borrow as little as possible and find other ways to help pay for college.

    Piggy Bank SavingsA big assumption students often make is that they will find their dream job the moment they graduate with a salary to match it. Sadly, that often isn’t the case. Not only do some entry-level positions barely pay enough to cover the average cost of living in a major city, the average graduate takes over 7.4 months to find a job in the first place. Combine the time you’re out of work with accumulating 4% interest on a $40,000 -$160,000 debt, and say hello to a lifetime of student loan payments.

    Taking the time to apply to 50 scholarships in hopes of getting a few and enjoying your hard-earned paychecks after graduating doesn’t sound that bad anymore, does it?

    MYTH: Your odds of getting a scholarship are slim

    The first and most crucial step to getting a scholarship is to apply. You may think there’s so many overqualified applicants that the likelihood of getting that scholarship is akin to winning the lottery. Fortunately for you, that’s just not true!

    Here are a couple reasons your prospects of winning are better than you think. Many students focus on University-given awards and government grants, overlooking outside opportunities through foundations. Sounds silly to discount free money, but how many times have you heard a friend picked a school based on the amount of money they offered vs. going to their school of choice thanks to the help of a foundation?

    Still not encouraged enough to apply? Neither are a lot of people! The common myth that scholarships are nearly impossible to get discourages plenty of perfectly qualified candidates from even applying. Your chances of winning increase 100% by simply submitting an application, so take a chance and just do it!

    Someone has to win, why shouldn’t it be you?

    FACT: GVTC wants to help pay for your higher education

    At GVTC, we want to reward students who share our passion for giving back to the community by helping pay for their higher education. This year alone, The GVTC Foundation will be awarded four students within our service area with two $20,000 university scholarships and two vocational scholarships up to $5,000. That’s a grand total of $50,000 for higher education!

    Technical SchoolAs in previous years, one senior high school student who exhibits outstanding leadership qualities and has used innovation or technology to make a positive impact in our community will receive the Ritchie T. Sorrells Leadership Scholarship, and another $20,000 scholarship will be awarded to a college bound graduate exemplifying extraordinary service, volunteer work and involvement in their local community with the Ola Armstrong Scholarship. #0000076105-001-2 

    We understand that not everyone envisions going to a four-year university, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t prepare for adulthood with life skills to enhance their communities and support themselves. That’s why in 2019, GVTC is adding two vocational scholarships each worth $5,000.

    If you are a graduating senior in high school from a household subscribed to at least one GVTC service, you can apply to one of our four scholarships available through The GVTC Foundation. To learn more about these opportunities and to see if you qualify, click here for more details.


     
  • Building a Tradition of Giving

    by Paula Novodvorschi | Nov 29, 2018

    Since its inception in 2006, The GVTC Foundation, GVTC’s employee-driven philanthropic arm, has centered its mission around serving its local community—just like its parent company. And nothing speaks more to being local than supporting your surrounding areas when it counts most.

    Volunteer GroupFor the past six years, The GVTC Foundation has dedicated its biggest philanthropic project to ensuring as many Hill Country homes as possible enjoy a joyful Thanksgiving by providing needed meals for the holiday. This year, The GVTC Foundation partnered with 8 food pantries and 15 community organizations to make this possible.

    The food pantries include: Blanco Good Samaritan, Hill Country Family Services, CRRC, Habitat for Safe Seniors, Gonzales Christian Assistance Ministries, Hope Center, Provisions, and Helping Hands. 

    The community organizations include: Boerne Champion High School Choir, Boerne YMCA, Boerne Community Theatre, Lowe’s Market, Gonzales High School Career Prep & FCCLA, Smithson Valley High FACS, Canyon Lake High Student Council, O’Connor High School Students, Daises, Tejas Teens, Bulverde 4H, Steps and Faith Alive, Sonora Bank, and Brookshire Brothers.

    Volunteers and Families

    Donations from organizations like Brookshire Brothers Inc., a new addition to the project who donated 50 full meals to the project, helped The GVTC Foundation exceed its original goal and feed 277 families in total for 2018! Over the course of six years, The GVTC Foundation has fed 899 families through the Thanksgiving Giveback Project. 

    Debra Suarez, a first-time GVTC employee volunteer for the Thanksgiving Giveback Project, expressed her immense joy on Saturday when saying, "You not only become very grateful for what you have, but you also become hopeful for what is possible when your community comes together. I'm looking forward to next year!"

    Community involvement is as important to this project as the meals themselves, and the participation this year also exceeded expectations. Aaron Luna, a GVTC employee who brought his sons Saturday to deliver meals said, “It’s so important to teach your kids generosity and gratefulness, and what better way to learn that than to experience it yourself?”

    Here’s to a Thanksgiving tradition built to last.

  • Do's and Don'ts of Managing Your Email

    by Paula Novodvorschi | Nov 29, 2018

    Email is a word that makes many people shudder when they hear it. Whether you’re dealing with your personal or work email, it can be a challenge to keep your inbox clean and your folders organized. There are just too many to deal with.

    Whether it’s too many subscriptions to sites you don’t visit, pointless Reply-All responses, or junk mail that should go to your Spam folder, you find yourself sitting under a virtual pile of paper. But don’t worry, there’s good news. 

    With just a few changes in your behavior and the way you manage your email, you can get out from under all those inbox messages and work your way toward a cleaner, more efficient email system.

    Adjust Your Thinking

    We all know that email isn’t bad. It’s just a tool that we use in our daily lives. Email provides us a way to better communicate with friends, family, coworkers, and clients. So then why is it so overwhelming and challenging?

    Full Inbox

    There are a variety of reasons. Maybe we just don’t have time to respond to certain emails, so we let them sit in our inbox. Maybe we plan on reading certain emails later in the day but never get to it. Maybe it’s a communication that is important but isn’t meant for us. Or maybe it all boils down to the fact that sometimes we get lazy.

    No matter the reason, there are ways to change those behaviors and patterns. Of course, that doesn’t mean everything you’re doing is wrong. The reality is, you’re just trying to manage the chaos.

    To help you get a better idea of how to take back control of your inbox, here are some quick email tips as well as important do’s and don’ts.

    Manage Your Inbox

    It’s important to manage your inbox from top to bottom, addressing the most relevant emails first so you don’t waste time with things that have already been resolved.

    Work From the Top

    Try to work your email from the top down, starting with the newest message first. It might seem counter-intuitive, but it helps to save a lot of time and effort on your part. For instance, you might discover that an email closer to the top of the list addresses questions or concerns from an email further down.

    Overwhelmed With Sticky Notes

    Don’t Play Ping-Pong

    Avoid the back-and-forth conversations that often happen with email threads. Instead of continually providing responses to someone who has questions or needs further clarification, pick up your phone and call them. Email is not a good place to have conversations. By calling, you can address additional questions, provide clarification, and ensure that everyone is on the same page. This helps keep your inbox clear of unnecessary messages and avoids confusion in future communications.


    Communicate Clearly

    In order to work efficiently and achieve the first step of managing your inbox or helping others to manage theirs, you need to communicate your needs as well as action items clearly.

    Write Backwards

    No, we don’t mean you should write your emails starting with the last word. What you should do is respond with your call-to-action or question in the first line. This helps alleviate a lot of the responses you’ll get looking for clarification. Get the purpose of the email out of the way so that you get the answer you need without playing email tag.

    Don’t Criticize

    Frustrated at LaptopThis one is really more about being courteous to your coworkers, but it will also go a long way in keeping your inbox clean. Don’t send criticism via electronic communication. This type of information, even if meant in a positive manner, can often be misconstrued or misinterpreted. An email viewed as critical can start an avalanche of emails in your inbox, which is the opposite of what you want.

    Don’t Send Angry Mail

    Along those same lines, don’t send an email in anger. Again, not only can it cause rifts between you and your coworkers, but it may put you in the middle of an unending email thread. Save yourself the embarrassment and the hassle. Instead of hitting send on an angry email, read it back to yourself, take a deep breath, and hit delete if needed.


    Be Efficient

    Efficiency is key when trying to manage your inbox and communicate clearly.

    Archive Your Messages

    Don’t let those emails just rot in your inbox. Create an appropriate folder and move them or delete them if you don’t need them anymore. Not moving or deleting these messages only serves to clutter your inbox. Doing so will help to clear out your inbox and boost your productivity.

    Don’t Copy Yourself

    Why copy yourself on emails you’re responding to? You have a copy if you need it in your sent folder. The goal here is to better manage your email, not clutter your inbox with a bunch of unnecessary messages. Don’t copy yourself on emails.


    Be Considerate

    Email etiquette is as important, if not more so, than being polite in face-to-face situations. You can’t read facial expressions or body language through text, so you need to make sure people understand what you’re saying with minimal effort. It’s also of the utmost importance to avoid wasting anyone’s time.

    Full Mailbox

    User Other Communication

    Believe it or not, there are other forms of communication. Just because you have dozens of emails sitting in your inbox doesn’t mean you have to respond to them all via email. Use another method. Pick up the phone. Send out a text or an IM. Heck, walk down the hall and talk about it in person. Then, once everything is hashed out, you can get rid of that email that’s been sitting in your inbox for weeks.

    Don’t Reply All or Push Work

    Don’t reply to all if the response is only for one person. For instance, if you’re simply thanking someone, you don’t need to respond to everyone on the thread. You’ll avoid cluttering up everyone else’s inbox as well as your own. For some people, email has become the digital version of paper pushing. Don’t just forward your work on to someone else. Take ownership of your emails. Address the issue with those involved, push for a resolution, then archive the email once it has been solved. Forwarding your email on to someone else is a good way to make sure your inbox stays full.

    Think Before You Send

    This tip encapsulates all of the others. Make sure you’re following all of the previous steps when drafting your email, and then give it a quick read through before you send it to make sure you don’t waste anyone’s time.

    Use Excerpts from Previous Messages

    To avoid confusion and additional responses that clog up your inbox, use parts of previous conversations to provide clarity. Some people use the ‘>’ symbol to indicate an excerpt, while others answer in different colors to show a distinction between the initial message and their response.

    Don't Send Urgent Messages

    As email becomes a larger part of our lives, it no longer receives the attention we once gave it. It’s essentially the new version of snail mail. You may not get an instant response to your emails, just like you may not immediately respond to a message. If you need a quick answer, use a different method of communication. #0000174575-002-4

    Use GVTC for Your Email Needs

    Empty InboxFollowing these tips and tricks, you should start to see that massive overhaul of backed-up up emails dwindle to zero. With GVTC Internet, you can rest assured that your communications aren’t getting lost in cyberspace.

    GVTC understands the value of your email. That’s why they’re dedicated to providing you with fast, reliable Internet service that meets your needs. Choosing GVTC as your Internet provider means you’re getting great benefits and features along with superior customer support that aims to give you the best experience possible.

  • WiFi Optimization: Getting the Most from Your Home Wireless Network

    by Paula Novodvorschi | Oct 01, 2018

    Managing to get a wireless signal into every corner of your home can be challenging. This is especially true if you own a bigger home or your house has thick walls. Don't fret though; there are a few steps you can take to improve the coverage of your wireless network and improve performance as well. The beautiful part is that none of these will cost you anything other than a little bit of your time.

    Why Your Network is Slow

    Before we get into how to optimize your network, let's talk about why it might be running slow. Physical barriers can cause interference with the wireless signals in your home, and the distance between your router and your devices doesn't help either. Something as simple as putting your router on a shelf or mantle can improve the performance of your wireless network.

    Typically three things have a direct impact

    • Router placement on the speed of your wireless network:
    • Technology capabilities or limitations
    • Connected devices

    Router Placement

    WiFi Optimization Speaking of device placement, where you put your wireless router is perhaps the most important decision you'll make in relation to your wireless network. Some people prefer to put it in an upstairs office or hide it away in the attic or the basement. Putting the router in these types of places make it difficult for the network to reach your entire home. Instead, find a central location, preferably on the top (or highest) floor of your home, so that the network is evenly distributed.

    Of course, it's not always easy to find the ideal location for your router, especially since most jacks are drilled through into one of the corners of your home. Do what you can to get the router raised up off the floor so the signal can disseminate through your home. Keep in mind that closet doors, metal structures, and obstacles can all interfere with your wireless signal.

    Security Settings

    Many of today's WiFi routers come with a network name (SSID) and password (Encryption Key) already set up. It's important that you change these so no one else has access to your network. However, when you do so, remember that the network name is visible to others. You might want to consider giving your network a name that doesn't give away information about you or your family.

    When you set up your network password, remember that the more complex it is, the less likely someone will guess it. Ideally, your password will have a mixture of letters and numbers. If possible, throw in some upper and lowercase letters and punctuation marks as well. Definitely avoid passwords like"password" or "12345."

    WiFi Optimization Remember that you want something that's not too difficult to enter without a keyboard. Gaming consoles, smart devices, and smart televisions often don't have the luxury of using a keyboard to enter the password. Fortunately, you'll typically only need to enter it once, however, an overly complex password can make the process tedious.

    While you're updating the username and password for your network, ensure that the encryption is set to at least WPA2. This might sometimes show up as WPA2-PSK or WPA2 Personal. Most routers default to WPA2, however, it never hurts to check and be sure. Better safe than sorry.

    Keep Devices Updated

    The devices in your home run on operating systems that need to be updated regularly. Most devices, like your PC or smartphones, will automatically be sent updates, however it's possible that other devices on your network will not. If you do run into some trouble on your network, validate that your devices are running on the most up to date versions.

    Updating the firmware on all your connected devices helps to improve not only security but network performance as well. If you want your network to run at its full potential, it's important that you check for the latest updates on your devices.

    Don't Forget about Your Smart Home

    Wi-Fi Optimization Let's talk about your smart devices. Homes are becoming smarter and smart devices are becoming more popular. You might have a smart thermostat, smart assistant, and smart security system all set up in your home right now. It's easy to forget that these devices use your Wifi network too.

    While it's nice to have these devices and they often make our lives much easier, you need to remember they also use network bandwidth and can be vulnerable to hacking, just like any other device on your network. That's why it's important to change the usernames and passwords on all your smart home devices, use two-step authentication, and regularly install security and software updates when they become available.

    Connect with GVTC

    GVTC Logo Perhaps the first step you'll want to take towards improving your home wireless network performance is reaching out to your service provider. Connect with GVTC, so we can help you determine the right network speeds to fit your needs! Additionally, with GVTC Internet, you won't have to worry about shopping for a router or fumbling with those pesky router settings.

    GVTC Home WiFi offers a simple way to set up and optimize your home WiFi network. You'll receive great WiFi service along with a GVTC certified router. We offer remote assistance if you're having difficulty setting up devices on your network, and if you run into trouble, GVTC offers phone support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To get started, visit gvtc.com/shop today!

  • Best Connected Devices of 2018

    by Paula Novodvorschi | Sep 24, 2018

    Smart home assistants, voice-controlled lighting, and smart security systems are technologies that are still in their infancy, however, recently they have become more prevalent in our lives. Google, Amazon, and other players in the tech industry provided devices that filled a need, and it didn’t take long for these devices to become mainstream.

    In 2018, these smart home, Wi-Fi enabled devices are more encompassing and impressive than ever before. Using your smart device is more than just asking your Amazon Echo to play your favorite song. You can use them to control your lights, turn down the temperature in your home, and much more.
    Smart Homes

    These smart home devices offer a level of convenience we’ve never before experienced. You can order a pizza, turn on your smart camera, or activate your sprinkler system all with a simple voice command. It’s safe to say that smart home devices have gone from the realm of fun gadgets and have entered the world of useful tools.

    What is a Smart Home Device?

    But how, exactly, do we define what a smart home device is? Smart home devices are components that allow you to automate tasks in your home while connected to your Wi-Fi network. This can be done through voice commands or via a central hub. 

    We’ve already talked about some of these device capabilities. You can control your thermostat from work, set your alarm via voice, and watch your puppy tear up your favorite pair of shoes through a smart camera. Two of the more popular devices are Amazon’s Echo speakers and Google’s Home Assistant. We’ll talk more about them shortly.

    Smart Assistants

    Smart home assistants have evolved from smart speakers to digital helpers that we’ve come to rely upon. They reside in our homes and eagerly await our spoken commands for anything from playing “Jump in the Line” to telling us the current time and weather in Shanghai.

    The challenge with smart assistants is that there are two very distinct camps: Google Home and Amazon Alexa. These two don’t play very well together, so if you plan on using multiple smart devices in your home, you’ll want to ensure they are compatible.

    Smart Homes
    Google Home

    If you’re looking for a great home assistant that ties into multiple smart home devices, then look no further than the Google Home. This device has the advantage of using Google’s own search capabilities and blending it with a high-quality voice-controlled assistant. With your Google Home, you can manage and create reminders, get traffic and weather reports, and check your schedule all with the sound of your voice.

    Google Home brings support for multiple Google accounts and even has the ability to determine which account to reference based on the sound of your voice. It goes without saying that the Google Home has great features and capabilities, however in a few areas the device is still a little clunky.

    For instance, when performing the simple task of adding an event to your calendar, the process is needlessly frustrating. However, Google more than makes up for it with its Chromecast capabilities. The benefit here is that you can use voice commands to tell your Google Home to stream a show or movie to your television.

    Amazon Echo

    If you prefer Amazon’s products over what Google has to offer, then the Amazon Echo is right up your alley. With the Echo you’ll have access to all of Amazon’s great products and features, including Amazon Prime.

    Now in its second iteration, the Amazon Echo provides a much broader playing field when it comes to smart home device support than the Google Home. Additionally, the Amazon Echo supports dozens of music streaming services and offers many skills which include ordering a recipe, calling an Uber, or reading a recipe.

    In addition to the Amazon Echo, the company also offers many other smart speakers with Alexa. You can choose between the Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Show, and Echo Spot. All of these devices offer everything you get with the Amazon Echo along with a great smart home experience.

    Smart Thermostats

    Smart thermostats are great devices to own thanks to the impact they not only have on the comfort of your home, but on the size of your energy bill each month as well. Owning a Wi-Fi thermostat can help alleviate the costs you encounter when your HVAC system is on all day and all night.

    It does this by turning your heating and cooling systems off when you’re not at home and setting them to the temperature you prefer when you are. Having a smart thermostat goes beyond just having a climate-controlled schedule.

    It allows you to create complex schedules for each day of the week, gives you complete control over the temperature in your home, and provides remote access so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you forgot to set the thermostat when you left for vacation.

    Ecobee4

    Everyone looking for a smart thermostat knows about the Nest, and we’ll get to it, but let’s begin with another great smart home thermostat, the Ecobee4. The Ecobee4 takes things to another level by providing sensors you can place throughout your home.

    Most smart thermostats rely only on the sensor built-in to the device. Ecobee views this as a drawback since one sensor won’t tell you the true story of the climate for your entire home. Sensors in every room gives you the ability to be comfortable in any room, not just the ones closest to the thermostat.

    There’s no need to worry about smart assistant integration with the Ecobee4 Wi-Fi thermostat. It is compatible with both the Amazon Echo and Google Home, along with many other smart home devices and systems.

    Nest

    Of course, when it comes to smart thermostats, Nest is always a part of the conversation. This learning thermostat has a sleek and sophisticated design and has arguably the most comprehensive learning algorithm on the market today. The Nest Wi-Fi thermostat learns your behaviors and patterns and adjusts the temperature automatically, so you don’t have to worry about it.Smart Homes

    Not only does Nest adjust the temperature in your home without your involvement, but it also knows when you’re home and when you’re not. Using geofencing technology, the Nest Wi-Fi thermostat will bump the temperature in your home up a few degrees after you leave to save on energy bills. When it knows it’s time for you to head home, it begins to adjust the temperature so it’s just right when you walk in the door.

    From an integration perspective, the Nest thermostat works well with both the Google Home and Amazon Echo devices. Additionally, Nest has its own contained system, so if you want to purchase additional devices or gadgets for your smart home, they’ll integrate seamlessly with your Nest smart thermostat.

    Smart Lighting

    If you’re looking to get into the smart home area, one great place to start is with lighting. Smart home lighting doesn’t require much explanation, is easy to install, and before you realize it, you’ll have the ability to control the lighting with both your home and the sound of your voice.

    Smart home lighting is ideal because you have the ability to adjust the brightness, tone, and color of your lights whenever you want. There are several options when it comes to smart lighting, so be sure you identify an option that will work well with what you already have.

    Philips Hue

    There’s no question that the biggest name in smart lighting is the Philips Hue. These Wi-Fi bulbs are perhaps the best available and will provide your home with natural, peaceful tones. Additionally, setup and installation are a breeze and the smartphone application is easy to use.

    The drawback here is that you are unable to use the Hue bulbs without the hub. Unfortunately, that means to get started using this lighting system, you’re going to pay for more than just a Wi-Fi enabled light bulb. The cost is worth it though, since the Hue light bulbs give you the option to choose from 16 million colors and a variety of ambient settings

    Lastly, it’s easy to integrate your Philips Hue with both Amazon Echo and Google Home. Once you have everything place and set up, you’ll have the ability to control your lights with just the sound of your voice.

    LifX

    Where Philips focuses on providing the standard warm tones of a typical bulb, LifX goes the opposite direction and strives to provide vibrant and bright colors. So, if you need a feature light, a method to fill your entertainment area with a deep blue or warm red, LifX is the way to go.

    LifX offers interactive brightness settings that range from 1-100%, along with a fun color wheel that lets you customize the lighting in your home. The bulbs themselves are Wi-Fi enabled, so you can connect them right to your network and get started with ease.

    Just like with Philips Hue bulbs, the LifX Wi-Fi bulbs work well with both Google Home and Amazon Echo. So, if you sit down to watch a movie with your family and forget to dim the lights, just say the word and your smart assistant, along with LifX, will take care of it for you.

    Get Connected with GVTC

    Using smart home devices means you need a Wi-Fi connection fast enough to support multiple components. Whether you need a new connection or just need to upgrade your current one to expand your bandwidth, GVTC has what you need. Shop our multiple fiber-optic options and let us help connect you so you can connect your home.Total Connect

    In addition to more bandwidth, GVTC can also help you by providing connectivity and control of your smart home with our Total Connect app. With our app, you can control your thermostat, lights, security system, and more right from your phone. With the Total Connect smartphone app, you are in control of your smart home devices no matter where in the world you might be.

  • GVTC Announces Its Newest Product Addition

    by Paula Novodvorschi | Jul 25, 2018

    TV Guide RemoteThe newest addition to GVTC’s product line is a robust upgrade to their TV guide that will enhance customers’ overall watching experience. This TV guide upgrade will include a more intuitive and all-in-one functional TV guide that is fully integrated with Netflix, Pandora, and YouTube apps, a binge-watching feature, and a newly designed layout. 0000124042-001-6 With this new upgrade comes a new VOD layout that is seamless and user-friendly. Say goodbye to the multiple remotes you own or having to switch between various inputs to access your favorite programs. Now, watching and streaming your favorite shows from any TV is that much easier thanks to GVTC’s continual enhancement and upgrades to their product line. Stay tuned!

  • GVTC Presents Operation: FINALLY HOME with $10,000 Grant

    by Paula Novodvorschi | Jul 25, 2018
    Operation: FINALLY HOME

    On June 12, GVTC had the honor of presenting Operation FINALLY HOME with a $10,000 grant to aide their efforts in creating homes for veterans with hardships.

    Founded in 2005, Operation FINALLY HOME is a nonprofit that has built, or is in the planning stage for, over two hundred fifty customer homes for veterans returning home or for widows of the fallen. They work with thirty-three communities nationwide to build homes and hope for America’s military heroes and their families, truly making a difference in the lives of those who’ve served.

    The grant is GVTC’s way to say thank you to the invaluable service and sacrifice each of them have made for their country. Ingrained with loyalty to and pride for their country, GVTC believes in the men and women that protect everyone’s way of life and continually look for ways to contribute and give back to organizations like Operation FINALLY HOME.

  • The 2018 Annual Meeting was One for the Books!

    by Paula Novodvorschi | Jul 25, 2018

    On Wednesday, June 27, GVTC hosted its 2018 Annual Meeting at the New Braunfels Civic Convention Center where they elected five members to the Board of Directors, presented four outstanding employees with President’s Awards, and returned $6 million in Capital Credits to members of the cooperative.

    On the ballot this year, five positions on the GVTC Board of Directors were open for election, and for the first time ever in GVTC history, votes were collected both through mail and online balloting. Overall, the change in voting resulted in five times more votes than last year and the five spots filled included: Robert (Bob) Baron for District I, Geri Browne, Mike Scott and Rhonda Zunker for District II, and Rita P. Wenthold for District III.
    2018 President's Award Winners

    Also recognized were the 2018 President’s Award recipients, Jasa Roa and the “Team of Technical Tenacity” made up of Alfred Perez, 0000100175-001-5 Eileen Lenz, and Sandra Ramirez, who were presented with crystal awards for demonstrating exemplary work and innovation at GVTC.

    With encouraging words from Chairman of the Board, Chuck Knibbe, and President and CEO, Ritchie T. Sorrells, the evening came to a close and members got a picture of the bright and prosperous future ahead for GVTC and its Fiercely Loyal Customers!

  • GVTC Wins SBJ’s 2018 “Best Places to Work Award” for a Fifth Year!

    by Paula Novodvorschi | Jul 25, 2018
    SABJ's Best Places To Work

    Thanks to the participation and honest feedback of GVTC employees, GVTC was selected to receive the San Antonio Business Journal’s 2018 Best Places to Work Award among large sized companies for its fifth year! Of the three hundred companies that were surveyed, seventy-five small, medium, large and extra-large companies were selected for the honor, and GVTC proudly earned fifth place among the large sized companies with 100-249 employees. This is not only a testament to the workplace environment GVTC seeks to cultivate, but it also demonstrates the comradery and hard work of each person that makes up GVTC. It is always important that you enjoy where you work, who you work with, and what you’re working for, and since GVTC’s inception, they have always strived to stay ahead of the curve and improve for their people. GVTC hopes to show their service areas who they are as a company, family, and extension of their community.

  • Two Local Students Receive $20,000 Scholarships

    by Paula Novodvorschi | May 24, 2018

    Two high school students are the recipients of $40,000 worth of scholarships from The GVTC Foundation. Cullen Eppright, from Gonzales High School, was awarded the Ritchie T. Sorrells Scholarship for Leaders, and Mason Fielder, from Boerne Champion High School, received the Ola Armstrong Scholarship for Volunteerism—both amounting to $20,000 each.

    Cullen and Mason stood out from a pool of 189 total applicants who were screened and reviewed by the New Braunfels Area Community Foundation (NBACF). A team of educators selected the final recipients, and both young men visited GVTC’s Smithson Valley Headquarters to receive their awards.2018 Scholarship Recipients with Family

    Cullen displayed his strong leadership skills through his roles as National High School Rodeo Association President, Lonestar District FFA President, and American Junior Rodeo Association member for years. He will be attending Texas A&M University to obtain his Bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics. Ultimately, Cullen hopes to one day be the President and CEO of a major Rodeo Association.

    Mason demonstrated his exemplary volunteerism through his active involvement in the Boy Scouts of America, playing saxophone for his high school band, and being a Boerne Outdoor Academy Camp Counselor for many years. Mason will also be attending Texas A&M University in the hopes of receiving not only his Bachelor’s degree, but also a Masters and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering to one day help improve the quality and sustainability of his community and society.

    Cullen and Mason were honored during a reception attended by their parents, school counselors, NBACF members, the GVTC executive team and The GVTC Foundation board of directors.

    Since 2011, The GVTC Foundation has awarded $203,000 in scholarships to local high school students and more than $2.6 million in contributions throughout GVTC’s service area since it started in 2006. The overall mission of GVTC and The GVTC Foundation is to enhance the lives in the communities they serve, and it would not be possible without the passion and commitment of everyone involved.
  • Annual Meeting Approaching June 27

    by Paula Novodvorschi | May 24, 2018

    Online VotingActive members are invited to attend GVTC’s 2018 Annual Meeting at the New Braunfels Civic/Convention Center on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. This year, there are three spots open for election: one in District I, three in District II, and one in District III. Doors will be opening at 5:30 pm and the official meeting will commence at 7:30 pm. Unlike previous years, this will be the first time votes will be collected and tallied prior to the Annual Meeting, though winners will still be announced at the event. Online and mail-in voting will be open for active members starting June 4 and ends on June 26. Each person will receive personalized instructions through mailed letters and e-mails containing clear instructions on how to complete your vote!

    As always, Capital Credit checks will be distributed only to active members who are registered and in attendance at the 2018 Annual Meeting. To receive a capital check at the meeting, bring your Annual Meeting Notice and proper identification. Members will not be allowed to pick up checks for other members, however, and Capital Credit amounts for active members not in attendance will be applied to the members’ accounts on the next billing cycle after the Annual Meeting.

    For more information, visit gvtc.com/vote.

  • GVTC Takes Third in Netflix's National ISP Index

    by Paula Novodvorschi | May 24, 2018

    A huge achievement accomplished just this past April was GVTC’s inclusion in the Top 5 of the Netflix ISP Speed Index. Ranked third nationally, the Netflix ISP Speed Index is a measure of primetime Netflix performance of Internet Speed Providers (ISP) around the globe exclusively. GVTC placed higher than the largest national competitors and continues to be recognized as one of the very best at delivering a top-notch Netflix experience.

    NetflixSeveral other publications, such as Broadband Communities Magazine, have recognized GVTC’s desire to effect change and be a leader in transforming the customer experience through a combination of first-class advance communications products and superior customer service. #0000111551-001-6 It is difficult to surpass the achievement of 10 consecutive years of being designated as a Top 100 Broadband Provider in America. GVTC’s first-class advanced communications services, specifically SpeedSync® and continuous improvement and deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home technology, remain key differentiators. Important to note, GVTC is also still the only telephone cooperative to make this prestigious list.

    First-class advanced communications products, superior customer service, and a customer-centric philosophy are the essential components to being victorious in GVTC’s quest to elevate the customer experience. To see how we compare to other ISPs in the world, visit https://ispspeedindex.netflix.com/country/us/?small=True for more information!

  • GVTC Announces Groundbreaking Program

    by Paula Novodvorschi | May 24, 2018

    In an effort to further thank fiercely loyal members for “choosing local,” the GVTC Board of Directors has authorized the implementation of the GVTC Member Dividend Program. Thanks to this new program, active GVTC members who are eligible will receive a monthly dividend on qualifying services that will be applied to their monthly bills.  

    Member Dividend ProgramStarting June 1, GVTC will be trimming active member payments by 20% every month* on qualifying services simply for being a loyal member of GVTC, once membership is verified. This percentage, based on purchases of qualifying services, means the more members spend on GVTC products, the larger their monthly dividend.

    Unique to Texas telecom cooperatives, this program sets the bar for superior customer appreciation and member loyalty. Members will continue to receive their annual capital credit distribution as they always have. However, to qualify for the Member Dividend Program, active members are required to verify membership information by logging into their account at gvtc.com or by calling 800.367.4882 and speaking to a Customer Care Representative. #0000069677-001-5

    For more information about this new GVTC Member Dividend Program, please visit gvtc.com/MemberDividend.

    *GVTC Member Dividends are payable at the discretion of the Board of Directors (“Board”) of Guadalupe Valley Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (“GVTC”), consistent with GVTC’s Board policies.  Member Dividends are distributed on the GVTC bill to current active members with a valid Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) on their GVTC account, subject to certain restrictions.  Member Dividends are not payable as cash, transferable or assignable.  Member Dividends are subject to federal income tax, and GVTC will issue an IRS Form 1099-DIV to the member annually.  Other restrictions may apply.  The Member Dividend program may be modified or eliminated at any time by the Board.  See www.gvtc.com/MemberDividend for more information.

  • Acing the Golf Tournament

    by Paula Novodvorschi | May 24, 2018

    GVTC CEO with GVTC Foundation Vice PresidentSince its inception in 2006, The GVTC Foundation has managed to raise and release over $2.6 million in donations with a mission to profoundly enhance the quality of life in the communities it serves, through charitable contributions and volunteer service. On May 1, two hundred-eight golfers and thirty-six sponsors came together at the TPC San Antonio Golf Course for this worthy cause.

    This year, we are proud to announce that we raised $200,400, topping last year’s Golf Tournament that brought in $195,000 for The GVTC Foundation!

    The GVTC Charitable Golf Classic is the primary fundraiser for The GVTC Foundation, which contributes thousands of dollars annually to local nonprofits that support health & human services, youth programs, volunteer emergency services, education, culture and select public charities.

    For information on how you, too, can get involved or donate, please visit https://gvtc.com/gvtc-foundation. There is always room to grow, and your contributions make all the difference in our mission to improve our communities.

  • Apply now for $40,000 in scholarships from The GVTC Foundation

    by Tulsi Mason | Mar 01, 2018

    Young woman in graduation gown and cap holding a certificateApplications are now being accepted for The GVTC Foundation’s 2018 Ritchie T. Sorrells Scholarship for Leaders and the Ola Armstrong Scholarship. Each scholarship is worth $20,000 and available to qualified high school seniors residing in GVTC’s service area. The GVTC Foundation is once again partnering with the New Braunfels Area Community Foundation, who will accept applications, screen and select the recipients. The winners will be recognized through a check presentation ceremony at GVTC headquarters. To learn more about requirements for the Sorrells and Armstrong Scholarships, and to apply online, please visit NBACF.org. Application deadline is Wednesday March 7, 2017 at midnight. Questions or comments may be directed to Betty Taylor, NBACF Scholarship Coordinator, at betty@nbacf.org, or (830) 606-9597.

  • The GVTC Foundation Had A Record Year in 2017!

    by Tulsi Mason | Mar 01, 2018

    GVTC Foundation LogoThe GVTC Foundation had a banner year in its efforts to raise funds to support its mission: To profoundly enhance the quality of life in the communities we serve, through charitable contributions and volunteer service in support of our program goals. There were three significant initiatives that contributed the most to The Foundation’s funding – employee pledge, annual golf tournament and Round Up campaign.

    The annual employee pledge drive resulted in the highest number of employees participating ever, with 92% of all employees donating to The GVTC Foundation. The GVTC Board of Directors fully participates at 100% as they have for many years. The pledge drive generated a total of $111,896.86. GVTC will match this amount at 150% for a total of $279,742.15. This is almost 4% more in pledge dollars than the previous year.

    The GVTC Annual Charitable Golf Classic is the only fundraiser that benefits The GVTC Foundation. For the past 13 years, this annual golf tournament has provided over $1,000,000 in donations to the Foundation. In 2017, the Foundation netted $195,473.90, the most ever for the tournament. This was a 31% increase over the 2016 tournament proceeds. It was held at the beautiful JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, where it will be held in 2018.

    A new initiative, Round Up for Change®, was announced at the GVTC Annual Meeting in June of 2017. This initiative that allows GVTC customers to Round Up on their bill to the next dollar, generated $5,012.89 for the Foundation. GVTC matched these customer donations at 100% for a total of $10,025.78 to the Foundation. Almost 6% of GVTC’s customers opted to Round Up on their bill in this short period of time. This initiative will continue in perpetuity, giving all GVTC customers the opportunity to partner with The GVTC Foundation to better our community.

    Individuals and businesses have also made generous donations to the Foundation during the year. Anyone may donate to the Foundation and customer donations up to $5,000 will be matched at 100%. 

    The funds raised by The GVTC Foundation supports year-long initiatives that give back to communities it serves. This includes the Thanksgiving Give Back Project that provided Thanksgiving meals to 215 families plus many other projects during the year such as sizable donations to all area food pantries and support dollars for all area Volunteer Fire Departments. The Foundation also awards two $20,000 scholarships to deserving youths graduating from high school. The Ritchie T. Sorrells Scholarship for Leaders is awarded to a high school student who has shown superior leadership skills during their high school career and the Ola Armstrong Scholarship is awarded to a student who has demonstrated their passion for service to their community. #0000158587-001-5

    The success of The Foundation’s fundraisers is due in large part to the participation of GVTC employees, their families and friends. They donate not only their dollars and but also volunteer service hours toward the different community service programs. This winning combination, which has been proven over previous years, will continue to guarantee that 2018 will be another fruitful year for The GVTC Foundation.

  • GVTC Enters the Top 10 for Neflix Performance!

    by Tulsi Mason | Mar 01, 2018

    NetflixIn an ongoing effort to deliver a market leading internet experience, GVTC broke new ground last month in a certain high visibility performance index. The Netflix ISP Speed Index is a measure of prime-time Netflix performance on ISPs (Internet Service Providers) around the globe. In last month’s index GVTC stormed into the top 10 in a dominating fashion. 

    If you look at the Netflix ISP Speed Index, you’ll notice all the largest ISPs in the country are listed, and as you can see, GVTC is out in front of several huge names. GVTC is beating both Spectrum and AT&T in delivering a top-notch Netflix experience and is the #1 provider that delivers internet on more than one technology!

    The Netflix ISP Speed Index is just another way that GVTC is stepping up to the challenge of being a leader in the ISP business not only locally, but nationally, and creating innovative ways to deliver more value while we focus on Creating Fiercely Loyal Customers!

    You can read more about the Netflix ISP Index here.