December 12, 2014

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

>> Register to Exhibit or Sponsor the 2015 Annual Convention

>> FCC Announces Bidders Provisionally Selected for Rural Broadband Experiments (from NECA’s Washington Watch)

>> MTA Peer Group 2015 Investment Opportunities

>> Waiting Until the Last Minute to Put Up the Christmas Tree and Hoping to Still Find a Good One in the Next Couple Weeks?

People and Companies

>> Vantage Point Solutions (VPS) Hires Dusty Johnson as Director of Consulting

MTA Staff

MTA President/CEO:
Brent Christensen
Team Leader:

Jacquie Durant
Event Planners:
Julie Cygan
Carissa Wolf
Member Services:
Chris Swanson
Joe Flannigan
Administrative Assistant:
Anne Christensen

Stay up-to-date on daily happenings at the MTA offices by following us on Facebook. From peer group meetings to annual conferences and everything in between, get the scoop on what’s happening at our offices!




Meetings and Events

February 5-6, 2015: 2015 Telco Marketing Peer Group Winter Conference

February 11-12, 2015: 2015 Administrative Assistant Peer Group Winter Conference

March 23-25, 2015: 2015 MTA Annual Convention & Trade Show

April 23-24, 2015: 2015 Office Manager/HR Peer Group Spring Conference

Back to top

MTA Updates


Register to Exhibit or Sponsor the 2015 Annual Convention

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to meet and network with more than 1,100 professionals from throughout the Upper Midwest. Plan to join us on March 23-25, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis.

>> Download the Exhibitor and Sponsor Prospectus
>> Register to exhibitor and/or sponsor

The MTA Annual Convention continues to be the largest state telecommunications association convention in the nation. It represents the interests of more than 80 small, medium and large telecommunications providers that provide advanced telecommunications services like voice, data, wireless video, and high-speed Internet access to Minnesota’s metropolitan and rural communities. In 2008, the MTA merged with the Minnesota Association of Rural Telecommunications (MART) making it even stronger and our convention an even more significant event. It is a "do-not-miss" opportunity to showcase your company, products and services.

The convention is a great way to get your message out to this group and the support of our exhibitors and sponsors is what makes this convention possible. Consider becoming a keystone of our pinnacle event! Multiple levels of conference sponsorship opportunities are available. This year’s convention will feature Vendor Demos on the exhibit floor and a “New Vendor” aisle. Download the Exhibitor and Sponsor Prospectus for full details.

If you have questions about the exhibitor or sponsorship information, please contact Carissa Wolf ( at the MTA Office, (651) 265-7849.

If you are an MTA member or have registered for a previous MTA event, please login. Your username is @@username@@. Click here for help if you have forgotten your password. If you've never attended an MTA event before, please take a minute to register as a user.

Click here to watch a short webinar about how to log in. Watch the event registration webinar here.

Have questions? Please contact and we will be happy to assist you!


FCC Announces Bidders Provisionally Selected for Rural Broadband Experiments (from NECA’s Washington Watch)

The Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice on December 5, 2014, announcing the 40 bidders that have been provisionally selected for funding for the Rural Broadband Experiments. Each identified bidder must now complete certain steps to be authorized to receive CAF support for its rural broadband experiment. Attachment A provides information on: the provisionally selected bidders, including the number of project bids; the states in which these proposed projects are located; the total amount of support requested for these projects; and the total number of census blocks covered by these projects. Attachment B provides instructions for these entities on how to complete FCC Form 5620 and upload their post-selection review attachments, which must be done by December 19, 2014. The Bureau denied ViaSat’s waiver of the Commission’s 100 millisecond latency standard for categories one and two, stating it was not convinced that ViaSat had demonstrated that special circumstances warrant a deviation of the rural broadband experiment rules.

Back to top

Peer Group Bulletin
All MTA members are welcome to join a Peer Group

MTA Peer Group 2015 Investment Opportunities

MTA’s core purpose is to enhance the success and viability of its telecommunications industry members. You are an important part of helping us fulfill this mission. Here is your opportunity to maximize the impact of your event sponsorships for 2015.

Download the 2015 Peer Group Investment Opportunities for full details

Sponsor a Peer Group: Sign Up Online!

Back to top

Safety Corner

Waiting Until the Last Minute to Put Up the Christmas Tree and Hoping to Still Find a Good One in the Next Couple Weeks?

Throughout the United States, fire departments responded to an average of 230 home fires that started with Christmas trees. These fires cause an average of 6 deaths, 22 injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damage annually.

  • Electrical problems were factors in one-third (32%) of home Christmas tree fires.
  • Two of every five (39%) of Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.
  • The majority of all Christmas tree fires occurred after Christmas, when people are no longer thinking about the holiday.

Whether you have your tree up already or still looking, in order to have a safe holiday season here are a few tips when picking out or caring for a live tree:

Picking the Tree

  • Pick a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off the tree when touched.

Placing the Tree

  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1”-2” from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source (fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, or lights) that may cause it to dry out faster.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the stand at least daily.

Lighting the Tree

  • Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. 
  • Use lights in the right location — some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulbs.
  • Do not connect more than three strings together.
  • Always turn off the tree lights when leaving home or going to bed.

These few reminders and careful decorating will help make your holidays more safe and enjoyable.
Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  See you in 2015!

Jeff Ulmen
Safety Consultant


Back to top

People Companies

Vantage Point Solutions (VPS) Hires Dusty Johnson as Director of Consulting

VPS hired Dustin “Dusty” Johnson, the former Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission and Chief of Staff for South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, as Director of Consulting because of his vast regulatory and legislative experience with telecommunications.

“We are excited to have Dusty join our industry-leading consulting team. Dusty is well-known in the telecommunication industry from his tenure as a Public Utilities Commissioner and as the Chief of Staff for Governor Daugaard. Dusty’s broad experience in regulatory, legislative and business issues will be a huge asset to our clients as we navigate the changing telecommunications environment of the future,” said Vantage Point CEO Larry Thompson.

Johnson was elected statewide to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission in 2004 and was re-elected in 2010. He served as chairman of the commission three times and was a national regulatory leader. He was a member of the executive board of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), was a regular speaker at regional and national conferences, and testified before Congress. In 2010, he led a South Dakota delegation that included Gov. Mike Rounds and state regulators. The delegation met with FCC Commissioners on concerns with the FCC’s National Broadband Plan and its impact on small and rural providers in South Dakota.

Johnson served four years as chief of staff to Gov. Dennis Daugaard (SD). As chief operating officer for much of state government, he supervised cabinet secretaries, policy advisors and many of the governor’s most important projects and initiatives.

At VPS, Johnson is responsible for assisting with management of the consulting team while focusing on new business and services planning, cost studies, regulatory analysis and filings, FCC auctions, federal financing, video negotiations and agreements, and other regulatory efforts.

The consulting management team at VPS continues to grow with the addition of Johnson. Other team leaders include Doug Eidahl, Vice President of Consulting; Kristy Szabo, Manager of Consulting; and Jolyn Doering, Cost Issues Team Leader. Doering was recently promoted to her new position. She has been at VPS since 2004 and has worked with cost studies for 20 years. She now guides the VPS cost study team.

Do you have an announcement for People & Companies? Send an email to MTA at or fax to 651-290-2266.

Back to top

Is there someone in your organization who you would like to add to the distribution list? Send their name, company and email address to and we'll add them to the list.

News Bytes is intended for MTA members. Redistribution is limited to internal audiences only. If you wish to be removed from the MTA email list, you may unsubscribe here: @@unsubscribe_url@@.

© Copyright 2014
Minnesota Telecom Alliance
1000 Westgate Drive, Suite 252 | St. Paul, MN 55114-8679 | Tel: 651-291-7311 | Fax: 651-290-2266 | Email: