News from the Northwoods

Read the latest news and events from Norvado.


The ultimate IT solution for your small business is here.

You run your business. We manage your IT.

As technology around us continues to change it is necessary for businesses to grow and change with it. However, this often presents its own challenges. Many small businesses cannot maintain technology due to the cost of having to staff an IT department. Norvado has developed IT As A Service to help businesses just like this.

Get a fully staffed IT department on an as needed basis, 24/7, for less than you would pay for an hour of tech support. Rather than waiting for network issues to arise, you can choose to have Norvado proactively monitor and find resolutions. Norvado IT services will keep your computers and network up to date and running efficiently and let you focus on running your business.

There two different package offers available depending on the needs of your business. Terms & Conditions apply.

IT help Desk

$9.00 Per station per month

  • 7×24 Level 1 Help Desk
  • Triage & Ticket Creation
  • First Responder Help Desk
  • Managed Application Support
  • Managed Desktop Support
  • Windows Image Updates
  • Secure Portal & Reporting
  • Phone, Email or Portal access to Help Desk personnel 24hrs per day
  • Field Technician Dispatch
  • Quarterly Reports

 

IT Help Desk w/ Proactive Network Monitoring

$12.00 per station per month

  • All the features included with the IT Help Desk Package
  • Proactive Infrastructure Monitoring
  • Fault & Performance Events
  • Incident Remediation
  • Service-impacting patching
  • Vendor Coordination
  • Configuration Management
  • Management thru Resolution
  • Monthly & Quarterly Reports

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Staying Connected During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Over the past year, everyone has been impacted in some way from the COVID-19 pandemic. During this challenging time the FCC has created the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP) to help low-income households stay connected.

The EBB Program benefit reduces broadband internet service monthly bills by up to a maximum reduction of $50 per month. This program is temporary in nature and will only last as long as funding is available. When Norvado receives notification from the FCC that the program will be ending, we will notify customers of the upcoming end-of-program date. When the program expires, customers receiving EBBP support will be subject to Norvado’s regular rates, terms, and conditions should they continue to subscribe to the broadband service and will be responsible for the non-discounted rate reflected on this bill. This undiscounted broadband rate does not include charges for any additional equipment or other services to which customers may subscribe.

Want to enroll in the EBB Program? Click the below link to apply through the FCC.

FCC Application

 

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Norvado’s response to COVID-19

As our community prepares to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Norvado has instituted policy and process to ensure continuity of service to our customers and adhere to best practices and recommendations to maintain the health of our employees and customers alike. The following outlines our actions to date. However, we are fully prepared to remain fluid in our response, as the situation evolves.

Norvado will not terminate service to any residential or small business customer because of their inability to pay their bill due to the disruptions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, we will waive any late fees that any residential or small business customer incurs because of their economic circumstances related to the Coronavirus pandemic.

*Applies to phone and Internet products, television products excluded.
**Applies to the months of February, March, and April 2020.

Existing Customer Offers

Free Residential Speed Upgrade – Norvado will upgrade existing customers Internet speed for FREE for three months.

Seasonal Residential Customer – will not be charged the “seasonal upgrade” or “date charge” to reinstate service early.

New Customer Offer

Three Months Free – new residential Internet customers will receive three months free and installation fees will be waived.

*Restrictions apply to all offers, please visit www.norvado.com/offers for details.

Foremost to our decision making is the health and safety of our employees and customers. As such, Norvado has immediately enacted interaction procedures, including the following.

Customer Support

Norvado customers can receive support and pay their bills in the following ways:

Phone: 800-250-8927

Email: info@norvado.com

24/7 Technical Support: 800-420-4384

Technician Procedures/Customer Visits

We will be asking all customers prior to entering their premise whether they have recently traveled out of the area, utilized air travel or attend any large gatherings where there were more than fifty people in attendance. Should the customer affirm they have done any of the three, we will attempt to service the customer, to the best of our ability, without entering their premise.  This may involve:

  • Delivering items to their doorstep as necessary and/or
  • Remotely walking the customer through whatever (installation, troubleshooting, etc.) needs to be done inside their home.
  • Should an exposed customer require an in-home technician to complete the required work, an appointment can be scheduled 14 days out.

In addition, we will limit our technicians time in our facilities. Dispatching from home and only visiting our facilities to pick-up necessary materials.

Graphic Diversity

To maintain continuity of service, to spread the capabilities of the team and limit exposure should one individual on the team be infected with the virus, we feel it is critically important to keep our employee teams, including technicians, separate. Therefore, work from home and other geographic diversity policy has been implemented and will be expanded in the coming days/weeks.

Doors Will Close to the Public

We will be closing our doors to the public at noon Tuesday, March 17th.  We will have a phone available outside of both Cable and Phillips business offices for customers to speak to a customer service representative.

Vendors

Vendors will not be allowed in our facilities until further notice.  All essential meetings with vendors will occur off-site or via virtual meetings.

Training Room

We have typically had a policy that allowed various groups in our communities to utilize our training room, should they need to organize a meeting. This policy will be discontinued until further notice.

Work-out/Exercise Rooms

Will be closed until further notice.

Travel Restriction

With respect to employees who would normally travel as part of their role at Norvado, we are restricting travel at this time.  We are asking that all employees who may travel for personal reason adhere to the following guideline:

If an employee travels more than five hours from home or office and/or are in an area where there are a large (>50) number of people gathered in a confined space, they must self-quarantine at home for the following week (five business days).

The second week after traveling, the employee must restrict themself to their specific office and post a sign on their door stating they are in isolation.

Office Supplies

Norvado has updated their office cleaning supplies to “medical” quality.

Should you have questions, we will be happy to assist you by phone, chat or email.

Please call: 800-250-8927

Chat: Norvado.com

Email: info@norvado.com

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Who’s ready for Disney+

It’s here!

To get the full experience, it is important to be sure your internet connection is up to the new challenges Disney+ may provide.

While there are still some details we don’t know, industry experts say Disney+ will be streaming programs at higher resolutions than standard packages on Netflix and other services. That means the movies will be much bigger files and require faster internet connections in order to play smoothly without buffering.

Disney+ movies and shows available in 4K resolution typically need a connection of a minimum of 25 Mbps to play properly. Even if Netflix or other streaming services play on your connection, it’s possible you may experience more buffering on Disney+ unless you upgrade your connection.

At Norvado, we’ve been preparing for an increase in streaming activity on our network for the first few weeks after Disney+ launches. We’re ready, and we want to make sure you are, too.

If you want to be sure your connection is ready, please call 800-250-8927 and a Norvado customer service representative can make sure your connection can handle these new demands. If you experience buffering or other playback trouble while using Disney+, don’t hesitate to call.

Tips for streaming

Even with a fast connection, some other factors may still cause playback issues. Here are some tips to keep you from suffering from buffering.

  • Make sure your smart TV or streaming device is in the same room or as near as possible to your Wi-Fi router. Wi-Fi signals weaken over distance or if obstructions block the signal.
  • If your router is in a cabinet or closet, consider moving it out in order to prevent walls from weakening the signal.
  • Consider whether game systems or other streaming devices are sharing your connection at the same time. Each of these devices uses bandwidth from your connection.
  • Check to see if your streaming device has the latest updates installed. This is usually found in the settings menu of your device.
  • Look and see if the device is downloading apps, updating software or running other programs while you are trying to stream. Those actions may be slowing down the device’s processors.
  • If possible, consider running an Ethernet cable from your router to your streaming device to eliminate any connection weakness due to Wi-Fi.

Happy streaming!

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Norvado serves 200+ at their annual Co-op Day

On Friday, October 18th Norvado celebrated their 6th annual Co-op Day in partnership with Bayfield Electric. The first sunny day in almost a week brought people out in hoards to celebrate the long-standing tradition.

The month of October was nationally proclaimed Co-op Month back in 1964 by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman. This dedication was made to recognize the cooperative businesses across our nation, the principals they represent and to educate the public on what makes cooperatives different from other businesses. With over 40,000 cooperatives in the U.S. serving 350 million members today, it is certainly something worth celebrating.

For years Norvado and Bayfield Electric, two local cooperatives, celebrated Co-op Month with their members individually, but in 2014 they joined forces. Since then they have taken turns hosting, in Cable and Iron River, and welcome all community members to stop in for a meal, learn about what’s new with each company, see demonstrations and even receive a gift. Co-op month was celebrated at Norvado’s headquarters in Cable this year and was attended by over 200 people.

In conjunction with Co-op Day, Norvado also transformed its community conference room into a headquarters for their first ever blood drive. Norvado’s Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Leo Carlson, and his wife Christie Carlson coordinated the event with the American Red Cross and set a goal of collecting from 25 donors. During the blood drive they were able to reach that goal within a matter of hours. Norvado is very proud of the support from the staff and community members who came out to help make a difference in someone else’s life.

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Norvado acquires Price County Telephone Company

Norvado is furthering its efforts to connect Wisconsin’s rural residents by acquiring Price County Telephone Company, headquartered in Phillips. The cooperative’s purchase of the company will take effect May 1.

“This purchase signals a significant step forward for Norvado and for the people of Price County,” said Norvado CEO Chad Young. “During this process, our board and managers were very clear that they only wanted to pursue this acquisition if it benefited both our existing members and Price County’s customers. We believe adding Price County to the Norvado family not only strengthens our position in the future, but also allows us to deliver crucial internet connections to more rural people in our state.”

Price County’s network and staff, which serve about 3,000 customers, will operate going forward under the Norvado brand. Norvado has about 8,000 customers. The main office for Price County Telephone is located 70 miles from Norvado’s headquarters in Cable. Norvado plans to retain the 11 former Price County employees, enabling them to continue serving their community.

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Mentorship event opens doors to career opportunities

Rural high school students in northern Wisconsin think they have two options when they graduate, move away for work or attend college somewhere; never considering what jobs and higher education opportunities they have near home. Norvado and WITC have partnered to change that conversation educators are having with students as they near graduation.

A first for the company, Norvado hosted fifty students for a Youth Mentorship Event in the telecommunications field on Thursday, April 18. Students, teachers and area leaders received hands-on, real world experience of what it takes to connect the Chequamegon area to the most advanced technology around. They also learned from industry experts what it’s like to drive innovation, implement ideas and how to take a career path to the next level. Representatives from WITC were on hand to explain education tracks available through the college.

“Many in our area, including today’s youth, believe that finding a rewarding career with great pay and benefits means having to look outside the area”, said Josie Lupa-Fleig Norvado Human Resources Coordinator. “This event was developed to showcase the variety of opportunities at Norvado, and to provide information on the diverse educational paths that can be taken to obtain a job in a technology, financial, engineering, marketing, customer service, sales or human resource role.”

Students from Ashland High SchoolDrummond High SchoolNorthwestern High SchoolNorthwood High SchoolWashburn High School and homeschooled students toured Norvado’s headquarters, learned about WITC education options, worked through three interactive, breakout sessions, and ended the day with lunch and prizes. Norvado experts led the breakout sessions in Broadband and IT Network Overview, Fiber Optics and the Customer Network, and The Real World of Marketing.

When asked what they liked best about the event, one chaperone said, “all of the honest, open information; it exposed the variety of work in these fields and educational paths and is a great opportunity for our students.”

Many students found the Marketing session most enjoyable while others simply appreciated the opportunity to learn more about job opportunities and chances to build a career.

For more information on the Youth Mentorship Event or Norvado’s internship and job shadow opportunities contact Josie Lupa-Fleig, Human Resources Coordinator, at jlupafleig@norvado.com or 715-798-7320.

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Norvado Fiber Camp 2019

On March 6, 2019, Norvado’s entire Outside Plant division took part in Fiber Camp 2019.  The Norvado Fiber Camp is exemplary of the innovative and forward-thinking nature of Norvado and critical in keeping our technicians up to speed on the latest technologies. The camp is an opportunity for our technicians to learn best practices from industry experts for the products and services we provide. For years, Norvado has brought experts from all over the country in-house to share the latest training practices on services we provide. During the in-depth training sessions, techs gained invaluable knowledge on wireless routers, devices, and fiber optic best practices from these experts and will now utilize this information in daily company operations going forward. The experts selected each bring a unique area and perspective to the table, contributing to an expansive and diverse offering of information and expertise.

The 2019 Norvado Fiber Camp was no exception to the diversified and high-quality event standards of previous years.  Joining us this year were Pat Stitcher (Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing) of Sumitomo Electric, Eric Benson (Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing) of Power & Tel, John Haugum (Fiber Optic Mechanical Splicing) of Dakota Supply Group, Jody Frey (Fiber Optic OTDR Meter Testing) of Utility Sales, David Budzynski (Fiber Optic OTDR Meter Testing) of Graybar, and Chad Gargulak (Fiber Optic Cable Prep) of Elite Cutover.  These individuals are an excellent source of knowledge and expertise in their respective fields.

Over the course of the day, small groups of technicians worked their way through four different stations receiving hands-on training from the experts. The technicians focused on each station for an hour and a half, and the training stations consisted of Fiber Optic Cable PrepFiber Optic OTDR Meter TestingFiber Optic Fusion Slicing and Fiber Optic Mechanical Splicing. The training provided at this camp is helpful to all of our techs, even the most seasoned employees.

In addition to the in-house training we provide our employees throughout the year, Norvado finds that bringing in industry experts adds diversity and value to the training program, as well as helps our technicians increase their skills set. It is these unique learning opportunities that empower us to move forward and bring our customers the exceptional experience Norvado is known for.

We express our deepest appreciation for the relationships we have forged with these vendors and their willingness to join us in making this event possible.

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Telecommuter Forward! fireside chat

A rural Wisconsin county with broadband capabilities rivaling major metropolitan areas?

In this video, Chad Young, CEO of Norvado, Scottie Sandstrom, Executive Director of Bayfield County Economic Development Corporation, Bill Esbeck, Executive Director of Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association and Angie Dickinson, State Broadband Director for Wisconsin, discuss how a small conversation about the expansive broadband infrastructure and the natural beauty and recreation of Bayfield County led to state legislature and what that means for Wisconsin. Tune in to listen to Chad, Scottie, Bill and Angie discuss everything telecommuter and the great things happening in Wisconsin.

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Norvado paves the way for a future in telecommunications

By the year 2025, individuals over the age of 65 will makeup 30.1 percent of Bayfield County’s total population.[1] An aging workforce presents a challenge to businesses across the country and Norvado is no exception. Norvado has taken matters into their own hands to address this challenge while making a positive impact on the lives of local youth. On December 12, 2018, Norvado led a coalition of local guidance counselors, community and industry leaders, mentors and vocational educators to address ways to mentor youth and raise awareness for sustainable career opportunities within the local community.

Chad Young, CEO of Norvado, addressed the importance of raising awareness of the resources available, including the WITC Broadband Academy, Inspire Northward and the Youth Apprenticeship program and the success he believes mentorship programs will bring to both students and businesses.

“I can tell you that when anyone in my position across the state sees they have been in the mentoring program and working on telecommunications that is going to immediately raise their interest in that individual and so, it can only stand effective.”   – Chad Young, CEO, Norvado.

In attendance was a representation of ten schools within Bayfield County, as well as representatives from the WITC Broadband Academy, the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board, Northwest Wisconsin CEP, Push Incorporated and Norvado.

A panel of Norvado employees and mentors discussed their career and education paths, the opportunity and personal success they have found with Norvado, pay scales and current job duties. Norvado is investing in the future by offering internships, mentorships and apprenticeships across all disciplines and departments within the organization.

“We aren’t the only organization looking to promote career opportunities, but we’re taking action to connect the dots and open doors for area youth. The Norvado Mentorship program is unique in that we’re creating clear and direct pathways to real careers. That translates immensely for Norvado, area youth and the the telecommunications industry as a whole.”          – Chad Young, CEO, Norvado.

Melissa Rabska of the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board discussed Inspire Northward and how this program can play an important role in engaging youth with sustainable and local job opportunities through mentorship programs. Inspire Northward provides a direct interface between students and local businesses in the form of mentorships and message boards. This program provides the framework for businesses like Norvado to take on the role of mentoring high school students.

Telecommunications is a promising and sustainable industry, with the constant evolution of technology and the need for being connected providing job stability and room for growth. Paul Kostner, Director of the WITC Broadband Academy, and Dan Schullo, Project Coordinator of the WITC Broadband Academy, discussed how the programs offered at WITC plays an instrumental role in the telecommunications industry and their availability to high school students.

The Youth Apprenticeship (YA) Program offered by the Northwest Wisconsin CEP is a unique school-to-work program that integrates school-based and work-based learning to instruct students in employability and occupational skills defined by Wisconsin industries, including telecommunications.

Norvado serves as the premier telecommunications provider for Bayfield county and has been connecting the Cheqaumegon area to the world since 1950. Norvado continues to display its commitment to future of the communities it serves with a recent expansion of network capabilities to 100 gigabits.

For further information on mentorship, apprenticeship and internship opportunities available at Norvado, contact Josie Lupa-Fleig via email at jlupafleig@norvado.com or by phone, 715-798-7320.

[1] Wisconsin Demographic Services Center

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From Duluth to Cable: One Telecommuter’s Story

Creating communities that are ready to support telecommuters isn’t just about opening opportunities for current residents. By earning Telecommuter Forward! certification, cities, and counties across the state of Wisconsin make themselves attractive places for people outside the state to relocate.

Marnie Christensen did just that five years ago. Born and raised in Duluth, she began working for North Shore Bank of Commerce at the age of 15. She eventually worked her way up to managing all four of the bank’s branches within the city before deciding to move to Cable in 2013.

The move created a new opportunity for Christensen, because North Shore was just opening a new mortgage office across the river in Superior. Rather than make the more than hour-long commute from Cable to Superior daily, she split her time between telecommuting from home and the office.

How important was the quality of Bayfield County’s internet connection to you making the move and feeling comfortable telecommuting?

It was very important. Now, the flexibility with my job means I don’t work 8 to 5. I have to have internet because, if a customer calls at night or on the weekend, I need to get into our system and work.

I also have to be able to get into the system during normal work hours and know that my internet is going to be reliable. If for some reason it went down, I’d be driving into Superior, and that’s two hours out of my day.

How important was the ability to telecommute in you taking your current job?

I probably wouldn’t have been able to take this job. The commute probably would have been a deal-breaker for me. I would have had to make the decision to either stay in Duluth and keep the job I had or find a new job.

What do you enjoy about telecommuting?

The luxury of just getting up in the morning and getting straight to work. I can turn on the computer, get to work and start answering emails. If my customers call on a Sunday at 10 a.m. and need a pre-approval letter, I can log right in, type it up and email it to them. That’s been great.

So you can respond to customers faster?

Right. For example, I had a realtor call me over Labor Day weekend, and it was Sunday. He said, “We’re putting an offer in. There are multiple offers on this house. I’m the only one without a pre-approval letter, so I’m wondering if my borrower can apply with you, get them approved today and get a pre-qualified letter. Because there’s no way I’m going to get hold of his lender until Tuesday morning.” So being able to rely on this system helps me move very quickly.

Would you say telecommuting part-time has been a success?

Yes, absolutely. A lot of the success is about being able to be home and enjoy the area. I would say it’s worth the drive when I’m home, but I’d rather just be in the area. I feel like the drive is a waste of time. I could be working instead of driving.

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How to get the most out of your Internet

Are your internet pages taking longer than usual to load? Are your videos doing more buffering than playing? There are many factors that contribute to internet speed. The good news is, there are measures you can take to improve your internet connection and you may see instant results.

Step 1: Take a speed test.

Visit norvado.speedtestcustom.com. Compare the results of your speed test to the internet speeds you are paying to receive. Keep in mind the speeds listed by your service provider are “best case” speeds and you may not actually get that number on a regular basis, especially using Wifi. If your results indicate speeds relatively close to what you are paying for, it may be time to consider upgrading your speeds to accommodate your internet needs and data usage. If there is a gap between the speeds you are experiencing and the speeds you are paying for, follow the remaining steps to optimize your internet experience.

Step 2: Check your router.

Don’t let your old router slow you down any longer. What worked fine a year or two ago could actually be suppressing your speed and coverage. Router technology is changing as rapidly as the devices you connect to them. Maximize the bandwidth speed you are currently paying for by upgrading your router to the most current technology. As a result, you’ll get a faster and more reliable connection. See our previous post to learn more. If your router is up to date, ensuring proper placement and correct band set up may improve your router performance.

Placement is key. Ideally, your router should be centrally located at an elevated spot on the second floor of a multi-story home. It should never be placed in an enclosed cabinet or shelving unit and should always be in an upright position. Improper placement of the router can greatly reduce the connection speed you receive on any wireless device. The farther away your device is from the router, the weaker the signal will be, which will slow the connection speed.

Dual band makes a difference. Dual Band Routers feature two internet bands. The 2.4 GHz band uses longer waves and is better suited to longer ranges and transmission through walls and solid objects. The 2.4 GHz band supports a lower transmission speed than the 5 GHz band. The 5 GHz band offers a more stable connection and higher speeds. However, the shorter waves used by this band makes it less able to penetrate walls and solid objects.

Step 3: Eliminate Interference from other networks or devices.

If your router’s wireless signal is competing with other networks or devices, your speeds could be affected as well. Typical household devices that cause interference to wireless networks are: microwaves, cordless phones, baby monitors, Bluetooth devices, wireless mice, fluorescent lights and wireless surveillance cameras. To reduce interference from other wireless networks or devices, distance your router from the sources as much as possible and turn any source of interference off whenever possible.

Did you know?

You will get the highest connection speed possible when you connect your device with an Ethernet cable to your router or modem. Wired connections operate with less environmental interference than wireless connections and therefore yield higher speeds overall.

Wireless connections will never reach the full Internet speed provided. There are many factors that play into real-world wireless performance. The latest wireless standards can theoretically give you gigabit speeds, but in actual practice, they are usually well below 300 Mbps.

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