Solutions for Business Spring 2023

SPRING 2023 3 SOLUTIONS We all know how fast technology changes—what’s cutting edge one minute is obsolete the next. So, to keep our employees on top of changes in software and other systems, Panora Fiber regularly sends our employees to educational meetings and training programs. Curt Thornberry, Technology Development Director, said, “Every year, key groups of employees attend training to expand their knowledge and skills. Several of our senior technicians go to sessions hosted by Innovative Systems, a provider of enterprise software for broadband and utility companies, that relate to Panora Fiber’s video and voice services. Our customer service representatives get updated on our accounting, billing, and CRM systems, and several staff members receive training for our fiber services. We also plan to begin more periodic training for all employees on our billing software to raise the level of understanding throughout the company.” How do Panora Fiber’s customers benefit from this employee training? Thornberry replied, “By staying up on the latest technology and customer service trends, we can be sure to meet the needs of our customers. We see education as foundational to the customer experience and to providing reliable broadband service.” The relationship between employee training and customer satisfaction spotlights Panora Fiber’s overall commitment to customers. Our Board of Directors and management have always viewed customers as vital to our success. Even though Panora Fiber is a rural company, we can lead with technology and customer service better than larger companies in big cities with more resources. Thornberry is an industry leader in training and education. He said, “I’m involved in planning two conferences each year for the Iowa Communications Alliance. In that role, I work ondeveloping educational opportunities for others in our industry. I’ve worked on the CyberCon planning committee since its inception, raising awareness and training opportunities for those in telecommunications. I also help plan the ICA CX Summit that brings training and educational resources for front- and back-office staff.” TECHNICIAN ROUNDTABLE SHARES KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCES In March 2023, Panora Fiber invited technicians from five neighboring telcos—Minburn Communications, Jefferson Telecom, Western Iowa Network, Marne-Elkhorn Telephone, and Coon Valley Telco—to a technician roundtable. At this event, 20 technicians shared best practices and discussed topics including installing and using new fiber broadband technologies, building network resilience and redundancy, and assisting customers with Wi-Fi service across their properties. “Technician roundtables are essential to sharing knowledge that’s often locked in the knowledge base of individual companies. The technicians who attended the event represent over 225 years of collective service in the industry,” said Curt Thornberry, Technology Development Director. He added, “Panora Fiber started hosting technician roundtables 15 years ago, and after several years of them in Panora, we began rotating the location so the technicians can visit other companies to see their operations. There’s never a shortage of things to discuss, and it’s always well attended. I often hear from technicians that they get more information attending a roundtable than from other industry channels.” Panora Fiber Invests in Employee Training

4 SPRING 2023 BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT Curt Thornberry, Technology Development Director, said, “I think one of the challenges business owners/managers have with technology is understanding how it can work for them. There are many technical decisions to make regarding security, performance, access, and functionality to support business networks. Without a technical background and with limited time, they struggle to understand how to achieve their goals using technology and broadband access. Panora Fiber has a team of technicians with many years of experience working in a variety of commercial environments. We’ll determine what your business needs and then set you up with the right technology.” Put Our Strengths to Work If your business is in Panora, Guthrie Center, or the surrounding areas, you’re probably already familiar with Panora Fiber. If not, Thornberry shared some of Panora Fiber’s strengths in business technology and IT services: • Demonstrated expertise built on years of institutional and organizational experience managing Panora Fiber’s own servers and network • Trust and recognition built over time — customer by customer, project by project • Local service that’s more convenient and economical than paying distance charges to an IT provider from Des Moines Thornberry said, “There used to be several IT providers in Guthrie County, but Panora Fiber is now the only one. So, if we haven’t helped your business yet, we hope to do so soon. Our technicians can handle virtually any IT issue such as connecting fiber services, setting up new computers, programming phone systems, troubleshooting computer problems, installing surveillance cameras, and building business networks. When you work with Panora Fiber, it’s like having your own IT team.” IT Solutions and Communications Services Additional IT solutions offered by Panora Fiber include: • Hardware • Software • Cloud (Office 365) Panora Fiber is in the business of helping businesses work more efficiently and productively. We can provide IT products and services to businesses in most Guthrie County towns. Within the Panora Fiber service territory, we can also provide fiber internet, phone, and TV services. You don’t need to know all about technology, since we do Panora Fiber’s Business Solutions • VoIP (Microsoft Teams) • Cyber Security Zach Davis, IT Technician (From left) Curt Thornberry, Technology Development Director, and Andy Carson, Data/Combo Technician

SPRING 2023 5 SOLUTIONS Panora Fiber continues to expand our fiber network to bring super-fast internet and related services to more customers, and the next communities to get fiber will be rural Adel, Redfield, andBagley. Our business communications services are currently available throughout most of our service territory and include: • Fiber Internet to deliver the speed and reliability needed for any size business and the expertise to make sure your connection works in concert with your network • Fiber Voice for clear and secure phone service plus the calling features to improve call management • Fiber TV to provide entertainment for your restaurant or bar, customer/ patient waiting room, or employee break room Technicians Take the Lead “Unlike many providers, Panora Fiber doesn’t have a business sales team that’s separate from the technicians. With us, you’ll talk directly to the same one or two technicians throughout the process, from start to finish, so they really get to know your business and its needs. We don’t leave business owners in the dark. We educate them fully, so they understand their technology issues. Usually, the technicians that do the initial assessment will also do the installation or troubleshooting work, unless it requires someone with a different skill set,” explained Thornberry. He added, “When a business comes to us with a technical problem, we don’t just focus on that problem. We do a free tech assessment and give them a written report.” See the sidebar if you’re interested in getting a free tech assessment done for your business. Thornberry gave the example of a local newspaper owner who was at the Panora Fiber office to take a photo: “The man mentioned to me that he was having trouble doing something on his network, so we did a free tech assessment, during which we were able to fix the network issue at no charge. He was pleased, and the newspaper learned about Panora Fiber’s IT team in the process.” All types of organizations can benefit from Panora Fiber’s range of solutions including government entities, insur- ance agencies, restaurants, law offices, accounting firms, nonprofits, agriculture companies, and grocery stores. Thornberry noted, “However little ormuch they need us, Panora Fiber will be there.” GET A FREE TECH ASSESSMENT You can’t plan for the future unless you know what technologies your business already employs and what’s operating on your networks. That’s why Panora Fiber offers free tech assessments. What does this involve? IT Technicians from Panora Fiber will work with you to document the hardware, software, and cloud resources used in your business and how it all interacts. We’ll then write a report that addresses hardware, software, cloud, and security resources, and generate a network map and inventory of the hardware and software, including age and appropriateness for the task at hand. If your business is in the Panora Fiber service territory —not all businesses we support operate on our networks—we’ll also review your internet, voice, and TV services and offer recommendations. Many times, a tech assessment occurs after a business reports network trouble and struggles to answer questions about the software used and security measures in place. In these situations, Panora Fiber can clarify the network’s status and provide advice on needed changes. To request a free tech assessment, call us at 641.755.2424 in Panora or 641.332.2000 in Guthrie Center. We’ll determine what your business needs and then set you up with the right technology.” —  CURT THORNBERRY TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR PANORA FIBER Paul Brewster, Data/Combo Technician

6 SPRING 2023 Knows the Community A local ISP is deeply rooted in the community and has the connections, relationships, and local knowledge other nationally owned companies simply do not have. It knows how the community operates, what it needs, and how to get things done efficiently. It’s also invested in the success of its residents and fellow businesses. A local ISP will be the first to advocate for your needs and the last to put profits before customer satisfaction. Lends a Hand When People Need It Because a local ISP is such an integral part of the community, it recognizes when a helping hand is needed. When the community is facing challenges, the management and employees of a local ISP jump in and help people move forward. For example, it may use community partnerships, grant funding, and its own investments to ramp up fiber installation in rural areas to foster economic growth. Provides Personal Customer Service A national ISP might have a fleet of technicians, but if they’re subcontractors managed through a cumbersome bureaucracy, you could wait a long time to get service. By contrast, a local ISPwill have local technicians and other local employees who can provide responsive customer service and faster turnaround on installations and maintenance. The staff at a local ISP is also more likely to develop an ongoing relationship with your business, which means you’ll spend less time explaining things before your problem gets solved. Creates Flexible Solutions A local ISP isn’t limited by the red tape and restrictions often found at a large corporation. This means a local ISP has the flexibility to spend whatever time is required to fully understand your needs and develop the best solutions to meet them. Cares About Your Success To a local ISP, you’re not just a customer. You’re also a neighbor, and someone its employees will run into at the grocery store or at community events. As a result, a local ISP will genuinely care about you, your satisfaction, and your success. Panora Fiber is proud to be a local ISP and honored to serve you. To learn more about our community involvement, follow us on Facebook or visit Living and working in the same community as your internet provider may be even more beneficial than you realize. A local Internet Service Provider (ISP) can offer many advantages over national competitors including these: Why Choose a Local Internet Service Provider? Because local connections are so important

SPRING 2023 7 SOLUTIONS We’re starting a new recurring feature in our Solutions for Business magazine. Business Tech Tips will pass along advice from one of the technicians on the Panora Fiber team—based on common questions they hear from businesses or issues they see local businesses facing. In this issue, IT Technician Zach Davis chose to focus on the topic of passwords, since he’s concerned that too many businesses are lax about their password procedures. Davis said, “It’s all too common to see spreadsheets around an office with passwords listed.” Here are his top password tips: 1. Use a password manager. It will store all your passwords securely, so you don’t have to worry about remembering them or writing them down. 2. Create strong passwords. They should be long and contain alphanumeric and special characters. 3. Make sure your computers are up to date. This goes for both Windows and 3rd party applications. There are a variety of ways for hackers to discover passwords, and one of them is through brute forcing. Check out the Hive Systems chart below for some eye-opening numbers. WHO’S MINDING YOUR BUSINESS? Zach Davis IT Technician Davis joined the Panora Fiber team in June 2016, after earning aManagement Information Systems (MIS) degree from Iowa State University. As an IT Technician, he has a variety of job responsibilities. Davis said, “I work with our local busi- nesses in many capacities, whether it be addressing issues with their workstations, servers, managed services, or networks or improving their cybersecurity posture. I also get to work with our residential customers and help them set up new computers and clean infected machines. If a Panora Fiber customer needs something done, I can likely assist.” What does Davis like best about working for Panora Fiber? He replied, “No two days are ever the same. This forces me to keep up on current tech- nology trends. It’s also enjoyable to work inandaroundour communities. There aren’t a lot of local options when it comes to technology assistance, and I’m proud to be able to help.” When not working, Davis enjoys hanging out with his wife, Katherine, and their one-year-old, Emmett. Take Passwords Seriously BUSINESS TECH TIPS

SCHEDULE A FREE TECH ASSESSMENT to identify your network needs and capabilities. Call 641.755.2424 in Panora or 641.332.2000 in Guthrie Center. Panora Fiber has more than 100 years of communications experience in the local area, and our highly trained technicians at our Technology Center can offer responsive IT support to businesses of any size. Whether you need only occasional help or are looking for more comprehensive IT solutions, you can rely on Panora Fiber. We offer: • Hardware • Software • Cloud (Office 365) Cornerstone Group © 2023 WE CAN FUNCTION AS YOUR IT TEAM • VoIP (Microsoft Teams) • Cyber Security