August 21, 2015

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

Action Items

>> MTA Fall Conference: Register Today

>> 2015 Office Managers/HR Peer Group Fall Conference

>> Customer Service Peer Group Fall Conference

>> Webinars on the Border to Border Broadband Infrastructure Grant

Informational Items

>> FCC Releases Orders, FNPRM on Copper Retirement

>> FCC Releases Report and Order on Backup Power During Emergencies

>> Chairman Wheeler Responds to Congress on USF Reforms

>> Rural Utilities Service to Hold Webinars for Broadband Loan Applicants

>> MTA Peer Group 2015 Investment Opportunities

Safety Corner

>> Back to School Safety

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

September 17–18, 2015: 2015 Office Managers/HR Peer Group Fall Conference

October 28–29, 2015: Fall 2015 Customer Service Group Conference

October 1–2, 2015: 2015 MTA Fall Conference

Back to top

MTA Updates


MTA Fall Conference: Register Today

October 1–2, 2015
Minneapolis Marriott Northwest
Brooklyn Park, MN

This Summer continues to move too fast; it is already time to start thinking about fall. Getting ready for back to school, the Vikings, cooler temperatures, leaves turning color, and most importantly... the MTA FALL CONFERENCE!

This year’s event will open with an exciting lineup on Thursday. The afternoon kicks off with a presentation by Geoff Feiss, USAC Board member. Geoff is an entertaining speaker who will talk about what is going on at USAC and its future role in our industry. That will be followed by updates on the FCC and other relevant regulatory presentations.

Again this year, the MTA Event Planning Committee and staff have been working with the Video and IT Peer Groups for more opportunities to learn. Friday morning continues with separate tracks giving attendees the most current, up-to-date, information on Video and IT. Know you want to attend, but don’t know which sessions you want to attend? It doesn’t matter; you can mix and match sessions to meet your individual needs. Don’t wait! The event will conclude with keynote speaker Dusty Johnson. Dusty was a huge hit at the Issues Luncheon at the 2015 Annual Convention. We have invited him back to give us his perspective on federal regulatory issues.

View Details and Register to Attend Online

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 to sponsor online

If you have any questions about the sponsorship information, please contact Julie Cygan at

Thank You, Sponsors


Bader Comunications


Dakota Supply Group

National Information Solutions Cooperative

TelCom Construction, Inc.

Cooperative Network Services, LLC
Interstate Telcom Consulting, Inc.
Power and Tel
SourceOne Solutions

Badger Communications
National Information Solutions Cooperative
Olsen Thielen CPAs
Vantage Point

2015 Office Managers/HR Peer Group Fall Conference

September 17–18, 2015
Embassy Suites Bloomington
Bloomington, MN

Join us for the Fall MTA OM/HR Conference in Bloomington, MN. Brush up on what is happening in our ever-changing industry, learn some insights from industry experts, and hear about all the changes taking place in this industry. Our keynote speaker will be Lisa Brouwer, who will captivate us with a workshop about Full-Throttle Living on Thursday.

View complete details and register online.

Special Event: Twins Game at Target Field

As part of the conference, there will be an outing to a Twins Game at Target Field. Ticket Price includes Light Rail Pass (good for 3 hours prior and 3 hours after the game). Tickets are $42 each. A minimum of 25 participants are needed for this outing. To hold the seats, Twins tickets must be purchased by August 27, 2015.

Customer Service Peer Group Fall Conference

October 28–29, 2015
Jackpot Junction Casino
Morton, MN

MTA is excited to announce the upcoming Fall Customer Service Peer Group Conference. This is to be held October 28 & 29 at Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel. This event is for any and all individuals who deal with customers in the telecommunication industry. This is a great opportunity to attend (or send your staff) for very little cost. 

We will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening with an icebreaker.  We will serve appetizers in the Players Sports Bar & Grill, 6:30–8:30 pm.  We will also have some Jackpot Casino Cash as a complimentary part of the Ice Breaker. Attendees will be able to try their luck in the Casino! The morning of learning will include a message from our own MTA President, Brent Christensen; and Cecilia Ray, attorney with Moss & Barnett Law Firm will give us a refresher on CPNI rules.

Before lunch, Catherine Rasmussen, Extension Professor, Leadership & Civic Engagement at the U of M, will begin speaking on "Navigating Conflict More Successfully” and return again after lunch on the same topic.

In the afternoon, we will break out into groups and do the ever-so-popular Peer to Peer Breakout Sessions.

We invite you to meet old and new friends and share your customer service experiences in the telecommunications business. Register now to attend this educational conference. The MTA registration fee is only $125. Rooms will be held until October 15.

You and your staff won’t want to miss this conference! Find the full agenda and registration form on the MTA calendar. You will register with MTA and then make your own hotel reservation. We look forward to seeing you on October 28 & 29.

P.S. Please consider joining the planning committee. Our committee consists of 4 people with 1 leaving each year. You would help plan four conferences. We communicate with each other through email and conference calls. It is a great way to get involved. If interested, please let one of the committee members know. We would like to have someone onboard before the end of this conference.

View Details and Register Online

You are invited to attend the webinars on the Border to Border Broadband Infrastructure Grant, August 24 or 31, 2015

Need more information and have questions about the 2015 Broadband Grant Program? Over the next two weeks, the Minnesota Office of Broadband will host webinars on the 2015 Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program to discuss the 2015 grant program, the application process, and answer any questions. Grant applications are due on September 15, 2015.

The first webinar will be held on Monday, August 24, 2015, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Central Time). The second webinar, a repeat of the first, will be held on Monday, August 31, also from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Central Time).

To register to attend the webinars, please send an email with your contact information to Jane Leonard, Broadband Grants Administrator, at Please indicate which (or both webinars) you will be attending. You will be sent instructions on how to access the webinar.

Quick Summary: The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program funds the build-out of infrastructure to promote the expansion of broadband service to areas of Minnesota that are unserved or underserved. It was established by the 2014 Minnesota Legislature to assist with costly broadband deployment projects that might not occur without public financial assistance. In this 2015 grant round, $10.3 million is available. Priority is given to projects that leverage greater amounts of funding from other private and public sources. The state grant limit per project is $5 million and cannot exceed 50% of the total eligible costs of the project. All grant project work must be completed by June 30, 2017.

View more information about the grant program, and download the grant application.


FCC Releases Orders, FNPRM on Copper Retirement

From NECA’s Washington Watch

The FCC released the Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration and FNPRM on August 7, 2015, which was adopted at its August 6, 2015 Open Meeting, requiring providers to directly notify retail customers of plans to retire copper networks at least three months in advance and to notify interconnecting carriers at least six months in advance. The Order on Reconsideration denied USTelecom’s Petition for Reconsideration of the November 2014 Declaratory Ruling that concluded the term “service” in section 214(a) is defined functionally and not solely with reference to a carrier’s tariffs. The Order also clarified that a carrier must obtain Commission approval before discontinuing, reducing or impairing a service used as a wholesale input when such actions affect service to end users, and, as an interim measure until final rules are adopted, to receive such authority an ILEC must commit to providing competitive carriers wholesale access at rates, terms and conditions that are reasonably comparable to those of the legacy services. The accompanying FNPRM seeks comment on the criteria to be used by the FCC in the section 214 review process to evaluate and compare replacement and legacy services, including network capacity and reliability, and quality of both voice service and Internet access. Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register; replies are due 60 days after FR. News Release

Back to top

FCC Releases Report and Order on Backup Power During Emergencies

From NECA’s Washington Watch

The FCC released the Report and Order on August 7, 2015, that was adopted at its August 6, 2015 Open Meeting. The Report and Order requires providers of modern home voice services to offer consumers information on, and the option to buy, backup power so they can use their phone service during electrical outages. The FCC said providers of modern home voice services (i.e., facilities-based, fixed, voice residential service that is not line-powered) will be required to ensure that a technical solution for eight hours of standby backup power is available for consumers to purchase at the point of sale. Within three years, these providers will also be required to offer an option for 24 hours of standby backup power. News Release

Back to top

Chairman Wheeler Responds to Congress on USF Reforms

From NECA’s Washington Watch

Chairman Wheeler sent letters (letters, letters) to 117 U.S. Representatives on July 27, 2015, in response to their letter urging the FCC to reform the USF mechanisms to support broadband deployment in rural areas. Chairman Wheeler said he directed his staff and the Wireline Competition Bureau to meet with stakeholders in the rate-of-return community, and has encouraged all stakeholders to work together to develop an approach that has the widespread support of the rate-of-return community and meets the principles outlined in the April 2014 FNPRM. He also said it is encouraging the stakeholders appear to have come to a consensus on the notion of a two-path approach to reforming the program, but said work remains with respect to the details of how to update existing support mechanisms. He also sent similar letters to Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D N.M.), et al. in response to their letter urging reform of USF mechanisms to support broadband deployment in New Mexico.

Back to top

Rural Utilities Service to Hold Webinars for Broadband Loan Applicants

From NECA’s Washington Watch

The Rural Utilities Service announced it will hold webinars on August 25 and 27, 2015, on the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program. This program provides financing to telecommunications providers in rural areas where traditional financing is not otherwise available for the construction, improvement and acquisition of facilities and equipment to provide broadband service to eligible rural communities. The webinars will provide information about the major eligibility and regulatory requirements of the program and detailed guidance on how to submit a successful loan application. Participants will also be able to ask the speakers specific questions about putting together an application.

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

Back to School Safety

Wow, where has summer gone!  It’s already the end of August which, especially this year, means it’s already time for kids to stop having fun and head back to school.  Not only is the beginning of the new school year it a critical time for kids, it’s also brings new things for parents to worry about too.  As parents we need to address safety concerns for our kids as they travel back and forth to school each day. The following are some tips to make your children’s trips to and from school safe whether they walk, bicycle, ride the school bus or travel by automobile.


Children should never walk by themselves. We are frequently bombarded with news reports of attacks or abductions of children by predators. Because of that, it’s particularly important to walk with your child or, when you decide they’re old enough and mature enough to safely do so, allow them to walk with friends. Instruct your child to stay away from parks, vacant lots and other places where they might become isolated and an easy target for a predator.

Carefully research the route your child will travel to school, looking for well-trained adult crossing guards at each intersection. The route should be the most direct one from home to school. Make sure your child understands the importance of obeying all traffic signals and following the instructions of the crossing guards. Also, instruct your child to avoid strangers and never accept rides or engage in conversation with people unknown to your family. Ensure your child wears brightly colored clothing to help motorists see them.


The majority of rules regarding walking also apply to children who ride their bikes to school. Always ensure your child always wears a bicycle helmet that meets U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Snell, American National Standards Institute or American Society for Testing and Materials safety standards. In addition, make sure your child’s clothing is appropriate for biking. Avoid ill-fitting clothing that can become tangled in spokes or pedals or inhibit the child’s movement while riding.

Riding the bus

Ensure your child arrives at the bus stop early and instruct them not to play in the street while waiting for the bus to arrive. Your child should understand the importance of waiting for the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching the street. Also, warn them to watch for other vehicles near the bus stop.

Once aboard, children should remain seated at all times and keep their head and arms inside the bus. When exiting, they should use the handrail to avoid falling. Wait for a signal from the bus driver before crossing the street. Walk at least 10 steps away from the front of the bus so the driver can see you. Never cross the street or play behind the school bus. After getting off the bus, move immediately onto the sidewalk and out of traffic. If there is no sidewalk, try to stay as far to the side of the road as possible.

Traveling by automobile

All occupants should have their seat belts securely fastened. Small children should be secured in a car seat that is appropriate for their age and size. Drivers should be careful around children who are walking or riding bicycles to school and comply with the posted speed limit within school zones. Remember that children often engage in horseplay and can sometimes run into the road, unaware of the vehicles around them.

Once at home

Another important consideration is protecting children who will be by themselves when they arrive at home each day. The most important ground rules parents need to establish for these children are:

  • Establish a check-in time. Once a child arrives home each afternoon, the first thing they should do is phone a parent and let them know they’re at home and everything is OK.
  • Security. Children should be instructed to keep doors shut and locked at all times.  They should also be given clear guidelines of what they can and can’t do. For example, children should not try to use the stove, as they can be burned or start a fire.

A final consideration is for those children wearing backpacks to school. Recent studies show that backpacks are often overloaded, causing an unnatural compression of the spine as the child compensates for the weight by bending forward or walking with an arched back. This can result in injuries that can last a lifetime. A solution is to limit items in the backpack to only those necessary for school day. Additionally, items placed in the backpack should be evenly distributed, and the backpack should be equipped with features such as padded straps. Some backpacks are now equipped with wheels and towing handles for convenience.

School should be a fun and exciting time for children. Following these tips and precautions will help make it a safe time as well.

Jeff Ulmen
Safety Consultant

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 2015
Minnesota Telecom Alliance
1000 Westgate Drive, Suite 252 | St. Paul, MN 55114-8679 | Tel: 651-291-7311 | Fax: 651-290-2266 | Email: