Great Plains Communications is proud to highlight another one of our business customers, The Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland, NE.

The Strategic Air & Space Museum is a 330,000-square-foot facility near Exit 426 on Interstate 80 next to Mahoney State Park, approximately midway between Lincoln and Omaha. A Smithsonian Affiliate, the Museum welcomes over 110,000 visitors annually and is considered one of the premier air and space museums in the United States. Its mission: “To ignite the thrill of innovation and discovery through the ultimate guest experience.”

Visitors can take a close look at about 40 aircraft and spacecraft that span 70 years of aviation history, mostly from the Cold War era. The Strategic Air & Space Museum includes two indoor exhibition hangars, an indoor restoration hangar, museum store, curatorial offices and storage, atrium, two education classrooms, a science demonstration room, theater with seating for 180, conference room, library, restaurant and administration offices. The Museum features a children’s science zone and is committed to the development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) educational programs. It’s a recognized leader in informal out-of-the-classroom STEM education for the region.

The Need for Speed

Given the many online activities of visitors and employees, the Museum needs fast, reliable Internet service. Unfortunately, the previous communications provider failed to deliver. Deb Hermann, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, notes, “We only had 6 Mbps speed throughout the Strategic Air & Space Museum, which did not accommodate large events or rentals when many mobile devices were in use. Connectivity issues also caused problems with our cash registers in admissions and the museum store when we needed to execute credit card transactions, and our employees would often experience slow speeds which reduced their productivity.” To find a communications provider able to meet the Museum’s Internet requirements, the Museum initiated an RFP (Request for Proposal) process. Great Plains Communications won this RFP due to factors including quality, customer service and price. Jeff Mason, Network Account Manager for Great Plains Communications, says, “We welcomed the Strategic Air & Space Museum as a new customer in July 2015. Great Plains Communications now provides the Museum with 100 Mbps symmetrical Dedicated Internet Access — a huge upgrade from the 6 Mbps service from the previous provider.”

Boring Under the Interstate

Extensive underground construction was needed to connect the Museum with the Great Plains Communications fiber network. Explains Bob Marksmeier, OSP Field Engineer, “Start to finish, the project took us roughly two weeks, which was an accelerated pace to meet the Museum’s deadline. The most challenging part was making a 1,000-foot bore underneath Interstate 80 through limestone and sandstone rock, which is not an easy task.” Dr. Mike McGinnis, Brig. Gen. (Ret), is Executive Director of the Strategic Air & Space Museum. He greatly appreciates the construction work done by Great Plains Communications and the benefits the new Internet service brings to the Museum.

A Successful Partnership Takes Flight

Says McGinnis, “As a result of Great Plains Communications’ Dedicated Internet Access, employees of the Strategic Air & Space Museum are now able to work more efficiently and effectively. In addition, our guests have much better Wi-Fi connectivity, which greatly improves their experience while visiting the Museum. The increased speed and improved performance of our Internet service will also enable us to successfully host more large events, with assurance that attendees will be able to stay connected on their mobile devices.” In a place filled with aircraft and spacecraft, fast speeds seem right at home.

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