ANNUAL CUSTOMER APPRECIATION DAY
Becomes Virtual Event for 2020
Every June the staff at Lynxx Networks sets aside a day to celebrate our customers with an annual Customer Appreciation Day. This year, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and social distancing guidelines, the day is becoming a virtual event, which will span over two and a half weeks. While we are sad we won’t be able to see and thank you in person, we have lots of fun things planned as a part of this year’s event.
The 2020 Virtual Customer Appreciation Event will kick off on June 16 and will feature drawings and prizes in the form of bill credits, Lynxx gear, and gift certificates from local businesses, in addition to online contests and giveaways.
All customers should have received a Customer Appreciation entry form with their June bill. Fill out the form and return it to the dropbox at either our Camp Douglas or New Lisbon office. Entries need to be received by June 15 to be eligible to win.
If you haven’t done so already, like or follow Lynxx Networks on Facebook and Instagram for details as the Virtual Customer Appreciation event draws closer, and to keep up with the online portion of the event.
No one understands the importance of access to quality broadband at a time like this than school district superintendents.
As instruction has shifted from classrooms to dining room tables, broadband access has meant the difference between schooling on virtual platforms while tracking students’ progress on learning apps, and sending home paper packets of work… the difference between teachers who connect with their students on zoom or Teams hangouts and those who have no contact… and the difference between instruction continuing or, in many cases, inadvertently ending when the school doors closed in March.
With school districts in Wisconsin still at different points on the broadband access spectrum, New Lisbon’s Superintendent Dennis Birr understands his district is uniquely positioned in Wisconsin when it comes to rural areas and broadband access.
“I have talked to a number of friends around the state, and many schools have faced a very difficult challenge to get students online,” Birr said. “New Lisbon was way ahead of many parts of the state in Internet accessibility, and our staff and students have benefitted from Lynxx’s assistance.”
Broadband access for every Wisconsin resident has been an objective of the state since 2013 when the Wisconsin Broadband Expansion Grant Program started. The goal: to provide access to broadband service for all Wisconsinites by 2025. The state’s Public Service Commission awarded just over $20 million in grant money since 2013, and Governor Evers recently added another $48 million in grant money to the pot when he signed the state’s two-year budget back in 2019.
And while significant progress has been made toward the 2025 broadband goal, as of the start of 2020, around 28 percent of Wisconsin’s rural population still lacked access to broadband, according to the FCC’s broadband deployment report.
The disparities that exist across the state make the presence of a fiber-optic broadband provider like Lynxx Networks an even bigger asset to rural communities like New Lisbon, Camp Douglas, Mauston, Tomah, Sparta, and West Salem, where residents and businesses might not otherwise have access to quality broadband.
In Tomah, thanks to a survey conducted by the Tomah Area School District prior to the start of at-home schooling, it was discovered that an estimated two percent of the school district lacked access to broadband. For the majority of the families in the district, that meant students could use their school-issued iPad to log into accounts for programs that covered subjects from math to science and reading, giving teachers the ability to track their students’ at-home progress.
Further to the east, families in the New Lisbon School District live in the Lynxx Networks residential service area, giving them access to fiber-optic Internet. When the schools were looking at the transition to at-home work, Lynxx Networks offered to provide district families with 90 days of free Internet to help the education continue.
“Lynxx stepped up as soon as it was apparent that all our education was going virtual,” said Birr. “They assured that any household in their serving area would have Internet while we tried to teach their children online.”
Birr said the students, families, and staff of the district are very fortunate to have a partner in Lynxx Networks during this time of unprecedented challenges.
“Our education is continuing at an almost normal level,” he told Lynxx Networks, halfway through the at-home school finish to the school year. “We are very grateful to have a local business such as Lynxx Networks that is so community-focused. They have been invaluable in the continued education of our students.”
For Such A Time As This
We have always tried to build our network for what we thought was the heaviest circumstances, not knowing what or when that would be – until now. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internet has become mission-critical for business and residential use, and we’re proud to have a network that has not only performed, but has out-performed the demand.
Over the last two months, the quality and dependability of our network have shone through. For our residential customers, this means that students have been able to connect with teachers and learn at home; college students have had a dependable network for lectures, labs, and discussion classes that moved online; dining room tables have become remote offices for teleworkers in the wake of social distancing, and friends and family have been able to connect seamlessly over virtual hangout platforms.
For our business customers, the quality and dependability of our network have allowed operations to not only continue, but also accommodate new endeavors, as the shift from in-person to online was made. This meant that our fully synchronous network, which was built to provide the same upload and download speeds, allowed employees at Lynxx powered businesses from Mauston to the La Crosse area the ability to access in-office workspaces from home, simplifying the transition to telework with VPN and remote connections. At Mile Bluff Medical Center, a new telehealth platform was launched, giving patients and providers the option for virtual appointments, and our network handled it all with ease.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of digital readiness. With the backing of our network, our customers have the support they need to stay current and remain competitive. The demand for online access and resources will only increase in a post-pandemic world, and we already plan to be there. We’ve over-engineered, provisioned, and designed our fiber-optic network to get out ahead of the curve, and we’ll always be ahead of the bandwidth needs of our customers. To put it simply: our customers will never be able to out-use our service.
The COVID-19 crisis has caused many businesses to stop and consider the reliability of their bandwidth provider. If you’re a Lynxx Networks Internet customer, rest assured that we will always have enough bandwidth and connectivity to meet everyone’s needs. If you know someone who is not on our network yet, challenge them to give Lynxx Networks a try. We have a referral program for residential customers, and with the provisions we’ve made from the start, there’s always room for one more on our network.
Congrats, Abby Frisk
Recipient of a 2020 Wisconsin State Telecommunications Foundations Scholarship
New Lisbon senior Abby Frisk has been awarded a 2020 Wisconsin State Telecommunications Foundation scholarship. She was nominated for the scholarship on behalf of Lynxx Networks. Abby is one of 30 high school seniors from across the state to receive the $1,500 scholarship.
The Foundation is part of the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association, a trade organization representing 67 telephone companies and cooperatives in Wisconsin. In addition to the 30 scholarships awarded to graduating seniors, the Foundation awarded eight other scholarships, including five, $500 scholarships to graduating seniors with plans to attend a technical college.
Since 1966 the Foundation has awarded a total of $1,688,700 to students.
New Lisbon teachers Ben and Rachel Morey are just two examples of the many teachers across the country who combined creativity and technology to reach their students when instruction shifted from the school building to the home front in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ben, New Lisbon’s Technology Education teacher, and Rachel, the district’s Consumer Education teacher, took to Facebook, creating and posting videos to connect with their students.
To start, Rachel posted a video on a topic that was already familiar to her class. In it, she re-created a smoothie demonstration, blending up good food in one smoothie and junk food in the other. Her goals: to help make a connection with students when the Moreys couldn’t be with them in person, to make students smile, or to think about something they had learned in school.
“We were desperate to find ways to share moments and make connections with students,” Rachel said. “I took a step and made something familiar. The hurdle was stepping out and posting, but the feedback kept us going.”
After that first video, the topics and the posts kept coming, and the videos even earned a name and a hashtag: #MoreyMadness. The Moreys have posted weekly videos for their students, often covering topics together. And while the lack of in-person contact has downsides, Rachel said there have been positives as they’ve navigated their new virtual classroom.
New Lisbon high school teachers are utilizing Google Classroom to teach remotely, and Rachel said she’s noticed that students who aren’t as comfortable volunteering in front of the in-person class have been more willing to respond and contribute on a virtual platform.
“Online, students that aren’t as comfortable volunteering in front of the class have a chance to think about what they want to say,” she said, adding that in her foods class she’s been talking with her students about how COVID-19 will impact the food industry.
New Lisbon teachers Ben and Rachel Morey film an episode of #MoreyMadness from their home. The weekly #MoreyMadness social media posts provided a way for the teachers to connect with their students while schooling at home.
“I post questions and instead of answering with verbal discussions, I’m getting responses that are more well thought out and prepared,” Rachel said.
And while the abrupt end to the in-person school year posed its own set of challenges, Rachel said the transition to online has opened the possibility to new methods of schooling. The at-home schooling that has taken place this year paves the way for new methods of online communication when students are absent, out sick, or the school doors are closed for snow days.
Regardless of what changes the pandemic may help to bring about, Internet is needed to make virtual school a reality. The New Lisbon School District is well-positioned with Lynxx Networks powering residential Internet customers in the New Lisbon and Camp Douglas areas.
“If a district is set up for online learning, you could still have school; learning could still be expected,” Rachel said.
WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND: Students learn new skills in lab; area businesses hope to see payoffs in potential workforce.
It’s no secret that the workforce is one of the top issues facing Juneau County businesses.
So when New Lisbon Technology Education teacher Ben Morey approached area manufacturers to ask if they would consider donating to help the district purchase new equipment for its Fabrication Lab, he found it to be an easy “yes” from the community.
Between the local support and a grant, the New Lisbon School District was able to purchase a Computer Numerating Control Plasma Cutter – one of the last major pieces to help complete the high school’s Fabrication Lab.
The plasma cutter, which has the capability to cut to ten-thousandths of an inch, comes with a hefty price tag, coming in at just under $20,000.
Local businesses including Leer Inc-New Lisbon, Mill Haven Foods-New Lisbon, Walker Stainless-Wabash National-New Lisbon, Marquis Energy-Necedah, and Mitotec Precison-Necedah stepped up in a big way, donating $9,000 of the total cost. The remainder was covered by a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation that the district received.
But the donations have the potential for payoffs in terms of the available workforce down the road.
For area manufacturers, investing in the equipment purchase means the opportunity to help expose students to both equipment and a career opportunity. And with Morey also being the district’s school-to-work coordinator, juniors and seniors can get experience at school and at area businesses that utilize the same equipment.
“It’s important so the kids can learn and get a basic understanding that there are ample jobs locally,” Morey said.
Adding that when students already have a familiarity with equipment used at local manufacturing companies because of the exposure they’ve had in the high school’s Fabrication Lab, they have a leg up when it comes to getting a job post-high school.
In addition to equipment knowledge, for the Technology Education upperclassmen, learning the new machinery will come with a leadership role – another skill that will serve them well some day in the workforce.
“I’d like to take the older students, teach them how to use the machine, and see them guide the younger students,” Morey said. “This gives the older students ownership, and when I have 15 kids doing projects, it’s nice to have some extra ‘senior’ oversight.”
The new equipment is ordered, and this summer, Morey will attend a 20-day training on how to use it. Along with the new plasma cutter, New Lisbon’s Fabrication Lab features a 3D printer and laser engraver, and for all pieces of the lab to work together, internet – and good internet at that – is an important part of the equation.
Between Lynxx Networks Internet, which already powers the New Lisbon School District, and plans to have the newest equipment purchase up and running within the first two weeks of the next school year, New Lisbon’s new and improved Fabrication Lab will be ready for students come fall.
“This new piece of equipment will be one more tool for students’ tool belt,” Morey said.