June 26, 2015

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

Action Items

>> MTA Golf Day: Register Today

>> 2015 Telco Marketing Peer Group Summer Conference

>> Become a Sponsor of the 2015 MTA Fall Conference!

>> Senator Klobuchar to Hold Meeting on Call Completion

Informational Items

>> Border to Border Infrastructure Grant Program Funded for FY16

>> Klobuchar Supports Rural Bidding Credit for Upcoming 600mhz Auction

>> NTCA, WTA, ITTA, USTelecom Discuss Updates to Cost Recovery Mechanisms (From NECA’s Washington Watch)

>> Chairman Wheeler Responds to Senators on Modernizing Support for RLEC Broadband (From NECA’s Washington Watch)

>> FCC Adopts FNPRM, Orders on Modernizing Lifeline (From NECA’s Washington Watch)

>> FCC Adopts Order Allowing VoIP Providers Direct Access to Numbering (from NECA’s Washington Watch)

>> FCC Takes Steps to Modernize and Reform Lifeline for Broadband

>> NTCA, NECA, WTA Detail Concerns with Alternative Cost Model for RoR Areas (from NECA’s Washington Watch)

>> MTA Peer Group 2015 Investment Opportunities

Safety Corner

>> The MnDOT Website

People and Companies

>> Paul Bunyan Communications Wins 2015 Leading Lights National Award


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

July 13, 2015: 2015 MTA Golf Day

August 5–7: 2015: 2015 Telco Marketing Peer Group Summer Conference

October 1–2, 2015: 2015 MTA Fall Conference

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MTA Updates


MTA Golf Day: Register Today!

July 13, 2015
Crow River Golf Course
Hutchinson, MN

Register today for MTA’s Annual Golf Day! This year’s event will again be held at the Crow River Golf Course in Hutchinson, MN, on July 13.

Registration is $150 per player or $45 for the reception only. Don’t forget to bring extra cash for the chance board fundraiser!

Sign up your team or register as an individual online.

Interested in sponsoring Golf Day?

Now accepting golf sponsors. Visit the MTA Golf Day Sponsor Page for complete details and registration.

Current Golf Sponsors

Scoreboard Sponsor
Power & Tel

Cart Sponsors
Eagle Marketing
Power Product Services

Hole-In-One Sponsor
Finley Engineering Company

Brat Sponsors
Cable Connection & Supply
Ewald Consulting
MP Nexlevel, LLC

Beer Sponsors
Comlink Midwest, LLC
Olsen Thielen CPAs
TelCom Construction, Inc.

Beverage Sponsors
Innovative Systems
SourceOne Solutions

Breakfast Sponsor
Bernstein Global Wealth Management

Field Sponsor

Hole Sponsors
Action Battery Wholesalers, Inc.
Bernstein Global Wealth Management
Cable Connection & Supply
Comlink Midwest, LLC
Communication Network Engineering, Inc.
Dakota Supply Group
Eagle Marketing
Ewald Consulting
Innovative Systems
Interstate Telcom Consulting, Inc.
MP Nexlevel, LLC
National Information Solutions Cooperative
Olsen Thielen CPAs
Power & Tel
Power Product Services
SourceOne Solutions
Stinson Leonard Street, LLP
TelCom Construction, Inc.

2015 Telco Marketing Peer Group Summer Conference

August 5–7, 2015
Sugar Lake Lodge
Cohasset, MN

View Complete details and register online | Download the Conference Agenda

Connect with friends. Learn from experts. The Summer 2015 TMG conference brings telco professionals and business experts together to share ideas and learn from each other. Learn about new communication trends and technologies, leadership, technologies for customer engagement management, future planning, design and more.

Become a Sponsor of the 2015 MTA Fall Conference!

Maximize your company's exposure to the MTA membership at the 2015 Fall Conference. The conference will be held on Thursday, October 1 and Friday, October 2 at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest. MTA members will come to Minneapolis from all over the state to learn more about the important issues facing our industry — and this is your opportunity to get your company’s message in front of them.

View complete Sponsorship details and register online

If you have any questions about the sponsorship information, please contact Julie Cygan at juliec@mnta.org.

Senator Klobuchar to Hold Meeting on Call Completion

On Wednesday, July 1, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar will meet with local businesses, telephone cooperatives and members of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance to discuss call completion challenges and the potential commercial and safety implications. In March, Klobuchar and Senator John Tester of Montana introduced bipartisan legislation to address these challenges. The Improving Rural Quality and Reliability Act would direct the Federal Communications Commission to establish basic quality standards for providers that transmit voice calls to help ensure that businesses, families and emergency responders can count on phone calls being completed. The meeting will be held at the East Grand Forks City Hall, 600 Demers Ave, 1st Floor Training Room. The event starts at 10:15am.


Border to Border Infrastructure Grant Program Funded for FY16

During the special session, the Minnesota Legislature included funding for the Border to Border Infrastructure grant program in the amount of $10,588,000. The Office will use its experience administering the 2014 program to fine-tune the grant process and anticipates the application will be available in July with a submission deadline in September. More details soon!

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MN Senators Support Rural Bidding Credit For Upcoming 600mhz Auction

Senators Klobuchar and Franken signed onto a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler from Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D–N.D.) regarding competitive bidding rules for the upcoming 600 MHz incentive auction. Specifically, the letter recommends that the commission implement a rural bidding credit as part of the auction, consistent with a proposal submitted by NTCA and the Rural Wireless Association (RWA) and supported by the Blooston Rural Carriers. The NTCA/RWA proposal includes a narrowly tailored 25% bidding credit for rural telephone companies that successfully bid in an area where they have eligible telecommunications carrier status. Capped at $10 million with protections to prevent abuse, this bidding credit would help ensure that rural telcos have a reasonable opportunity to obtain spectrum at auction to serve rural consumers. “This is a big deal for MTA members interested in participating in the auction”, commented MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen, “It gives our members a more fair chance to compete against the larger carriers.”

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NTCA, WTA, ITTA, USTelecom Discuss Updates to Cost Recovery Mechanisms (From NECA’s Washington Watch)

NTCA, WTA, ITTA and USTelecom met with Commissioner O’Rielly and his Legal Advisor, Commissioner Clyburn’s Legal Advisor, and Wireline Competition Bureau staff on June 1, 2015, to discuss their and other stakeholders’ efforts to develop proposals for updating existing USF high-cost recovery mechanisms to address consumer demand for broadband services. They described how such proposals were intended to meet reform goals established by the FCC, ongoing efforts to refine such proposals, and the need for further processes to resolve any open issues relating to such proposals.

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Chairman Wheeler Responds to Senators on Modernizing Support for RLEC Broadband (From NECA’s Washington Watch)

Chairman Wheeler sent letters to Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and 60 other senators on May 29, 2015, in response to their letter calling on the FCC to update the existing USF mechanisms to support broadband in rural rate-of-return carrier service areas. Chairman Wheeler said he directed his staff and the Wireline Competition Bureau to meet with stakeholders in the rate-of-return community to develop an approach that has both the widespread support of the rate-of-return community and meets the principles in the April 2014 FNPRM. He said if the FCC will get this done this year; there is not only a need for consensus, but also time for public comment on any new proposals and for the Commission to evaluate the proposals in light of the comments received.

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FCC Adopts FNPRM, Orders on Modernizing Lifeline (From NECA’s Washington Watch)

The FCC adopted a Second FNPRM, Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order, and Memorandum Opinion and Order at its June 18, 2015 Open Meeting on modernizing its Lifeline program. The Order makes reforms to reduce waste, fraud and abuse, including requiring providers to retain documentation of consumer eligibility. The FCC seeks comment on maintaining the same $9.25 monthly Lifeline subsidy and allowing that money to be used for voice and broadband service, adopting minimum service standards for both voice and broadband service and whether broadband should be a required offering of Lifeline providers, among other things. The FCC also seeks comment on proposals for taking the consumer eligibility verification process out of the hands of providers. Statements were issued by: Chairman Wheeler, and Commissioners Clyburn, Pai, Rosenworcel and O’Rielly. The item is not yet released.

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FCC Adopts Order Allowing VoIP Providers Direct Access to Numbering (from NECA’s Washington Watch)

The FCC adopted a Report and Order at its June 18, 2015 Open Meeting allowing interconnected VoIP providers to go directly to numbering administrators for phone numbers. The Order also facilitates the ongoing transitions in communications technology, improves FCC oversight of the numbering system, and imposes a number of conditions to protect and enhance the security and integrity of the numbering system. Statements issued by Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn, Pai, Rosenworcel and O’Rielly. The Report and Order is not yet released.

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FCC Takes Steps to Modernize and Reform Lifeline for Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission has taken significant steps to modernize its Lifeline program, seeking comment on restructuring the program to better support 21st Century communications while building on existing reforms to continue strengthening protections against waste, fraud and abuse.
Lifeline was established in 1985 to help make phone service affordable for low-income Americans. In 2008, the Commission expanded the program to allow participation by low-cost wireless providers. In 2012, the Commission made significant reforms, including a database that has essentially ended program abuse caused by multiple Lifeline subscriptions in a household.

But now, 30 years after Lifeline was founded, the Commission has concluded it is time for a fundamental, comprehensive restructuring of the program to meet today’s most pressing communications needs: access to broadband.

Broadband has become essential to participation in modern society, offering access to jobs, education, health care, government services and opportunity. Unfortunately, income remains a significant barrier to broadband adoption:

  • While over 95% of households with incomes of $150,000 or more have access, only 48% of those making less than $25,000 have service at home.
  • Low-income consumers disproportionately use smart phones for Internet access – but nearly 50% of them have had to cancel or suspend smartphone service due to financial hardship.

Lifeline helps makes communications services more affordable for low-income consumers by providing a $9.25 a month subsidy. The item adopted by the FCC proposes and seeks comment on maintaining the same $9.25 subsidy, and seeks to use that money as efficiently and effectively as possible to deliver modern communications services. Proposals on which the Commission seeks comment also include:

  • Adopting minimum service standards for both voice and broadband service;
  • Whether broadband should be a required offering of Lifeline providers;
  • How to encourage more competition to improve price and service;
  • How to encourage more participation by the states.

Building on the 2012 reforms, the item also proposes streamlining and tightening the process of verifying consumer eligibility by taking it out of the hands of providers. Ideas include establishing a third-party “national verifier,” coordination with other federal needs-based programs, and considering the use of direct subsidies to consumers through vouchers. The item also seeks comment on a budget for the program.

Finally, the item includes an Order that makes immediate reforms to reduce waste, fraud and abuse. These include requiring providers to retain documentation of consumer eligibility, which will improve oversight and audits.

Action by the Commission, June 18, 2015 by Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order, and Memorandum Opinion and Order (FCC 15-71).  Chairman Wheeler, Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel with Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly dissenting. Chairman Wheeler, Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai and O’Rielly issuing statements.

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NTCA, NECA, WTA Detail Concerns with Alternative Cost Model for RoR Areas (from NECA’s Washington Watch)

NTCA, NECA, and WTA filed a letter on June 24, 2015, to express concerns with the FCC’s proposed Alternative Cost Model for potential use in rate-of-return areas. They said preliminary observations of the A-CAM have raised some concerns, indicating that the model’s inputs and outcomes require greater examination. They asserted, for example, if the A-CAM were adopted by all carriers as is, 67 percent of companies nationwide would see support changes (both increases and decreases) of more than 50 percent. Many companies that have already deployed 10/1 (or higher) speeds of broadband to major portions of their study area would receive large support increases under the model, while some companies reporting virtually no deployment of 10/1 broadband would receive reductions in support. They said they are eager to work with the Commission to improve the model’s accuracy, and said there also remains an urgent need to make changes to existing support mechanisms for the networks built and operated by RoR carriers.

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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!

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Safety Corner

The MnDOT Website

I was going through the Minnesota Department of Transportation website — www.dot.state.mn.us — the other day doing some research and was reminded that there is a ton of information relating to topics I come across every day while on the road for work or pleasure.

Did you know you can that you can report a traffic signal issue? I have one I go through quite often and it always seems to turn red just as I am approaching it, while the car coming from the cross street hardly has to stop. Also you can report a pothole; wish I knew that earlier this spring. You can look up what those new traffic signs and signals (like the flashing yellow arrow) mean, how to navigate a round-about and those rural intersection conflict warning systems that tell me when a vehicle is approaching the intersection.

The DOT even offers training classes for Traffic Signal Design, Signals 101 and Traffic Signal Timing and Coordination (this is the class I want to take; I’ve got a thing or two to discuss with the instructors).

I was looking at the Minnesota 2013 Roadway and Crash Statistics (the most current available) and learned something, yes I did!  Do you know which type of roadway has the highest incidence of accidents per million miles traveled in the State of Minnesota during 2013? 

  1. Interstate
  2. State Highway
  3. County Roads
  4. City Streets
  5. Township Roads
  6. Driveways

I’ll let you think about this for a minute.

Here are some other trivia facts you can impress your family and friends with.  Did you know? There are 4,388 railroad crossing in the State; 20,291 bridges greater than ten feet long in the State; Seatbelt usage is 95% (Good job, folks) and there are over 5 million vehicles registered in the State. 

The State was asked if lowering the speed limit would reduce accidents and fatalities. The answer is NO.  Although lowering the speed limit is often seen as a cure-all in preventing crashes, this is not the case. Crashes are most often the result of driver inattention and driver error. However, if a posted speed limit is unrealistically low, it creates a greater speed variance (i.e. some drivers follow the speed limit while most drive the reasonable speed). This speed variance can contribute to crashes.

I did forget what it was that I was researching — I mean, with all of the data and information available on the DOT’s website, who wouldn’t? Oh yeah, and before I forget to give you the answer to my question above, it is city streets, followed by county roads.

The MnDOT website can answer almost any question you may have regarding travel on the State's roadways for work or pleasure. Don’t forget to take a look, but let me remind you that you can get off track of your subject by looking at all the other information that is available. There is plenty of it to impress your kids and spouse on those long trips.

If you ever have questions regarding Safe Driving, State Regulations or the Minnesota Telecom Alliance’s Safety Program, do not hesitate to contact us as safety@mnta.org and one of the Safety Consultants will gladly respond.

People Companies

Paul Bunyan Communications Wins 2015 Leading Lights National Award

GigaZone Named Most Innovative Gigabit Broadband Service

AwardPaul Bunyan Communications has been named the winner of the Most Innovative Gigabit Broadband Service for its GigaZone project in the Light Reading 2015 Leading Lights awards program. The national award recognizes the communications provider that has launched the most innovative Gigabit Broadband service during the past year. The other finalists for the award were large national or regional corporations including AT&T, C Spire, and TDS Telecom.

The cooperative announced the gigabit project last fall; it will be one of the largest gigabit networks in rural America when the project is done. Already, over 7,800 locations in northern Minnesota are in the GigaZone and an estimated 20,000+ will be reached by the end of this year. The project is expected to take a few years, but is progressing ahead of schedule. Once completed, it will include the cooperative’s entire service territory of over 5,000 square miles.

“We are honored to receive this award for our GigaZone project. It is one of the first gigabit network initiatives that will encompass a large rural area and I think that is significant. Many of the gigabit network projects taking place are in small portions of densely populated metropolitan areas. Too often, the more challenging rural America gets overlooked. That’s not the case here in northern Minnesota and we are thrilled that Light Reading acknowledged our efforts,” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager.

The Leading Lights program, the telecom industry’s most prestigious awards program, focuses on next-generation communications technologies, applications, services, and strategies. The Leading Lights winners were announced at an awards dinner at Chicago’s Field Museum on Monday, June 8, to coincide with the Big Telecom Event (http://www.bigtelecomevent.com)

“The volume and quality of the entries we received across our 24 categories shows how seriously the industry takes these awards, which are now in their 11th year," stated Light Reading Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre. "The winners are an exceptional group of companies that have every right to be proud of their achievements and progress during the past year," added Le Maistre. 

Judging was conducted by Light Reading's editors and the analyst team from Heavy Reading.  

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Minnesota Telecom Alliance
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