September 18, 2015

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

Action Items

>> MTA Fall Conference: Extended Early Rates End Today

>> Customer Service Peer Group Fall Conference

>> Announcing the Administrative Assistants Peer Group Fall Conference

Informational Items

>> NTCA Supports Halstad Request for Reinstatement as Provisional Winner for Rural Broadband Experiments

>> ACAM Model Update

>> Lifeline Reform

>> MTA Peer Group 2015 Investment Opportunities

Safety Corner

>> Oh Deer, Autumn’s Almost Here

People and Companies

>> CommScope Completes Transformational Acquisition of TE Connectivity’s Telecom, Enterprise and Wireless Businesses

>> SOCRATES 100% Connected with New Fiber Network Constructed Through Partnership Between Arvig and Jaguar Communications

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

October 1–2, 2015: 2015 MTA Fall Conference

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

November 4–5, 2015: 2015 Administrative Assistant Peer Group Fall Conference

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MTA Updates


MTA Fall Conference: Extended Early Rates End Today

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

The early rate deadline for this year's Fall Conference is today! Be sure to register by September 18 to secure the lowest rates for this year's event.

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 Carissa Wolf at

Thank You, Sponsors


Bader Comunications

Olsen Thielen

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


BEC Technologies, Inc.

Dakota Supply Group

National Information Solutions Cooperative

TelCom Construction, Inc.

Badger Communications
BEC Technologies, Inc.
Corero Network Security
National Information Solutions Cooperative
Olsen Thielen CPAs
Vantage Point

Customer Service Peer Group Fall Conference

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

MTA is excited for the upcoming Fall Customer Service Peer Group Conference. It will 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

Administrative Assistants Peer Group Fall Conference

November 4–5, 2015
Otter Tail Telcom
Fergus Falls, MN

View complete details and register online

We are excited to announce the upcoming MTA Administrative Assistant Peer Group Fall Conference scheduled for November 4–5, 2015 in Fergus Falls! This is a great opportunity to attend a very informative meeting (for a very minimal cost) and take advantage of the knowledge and resources that our Administrative Assistant peers have.

Registration Fee



Best Western Fergus Falls
925 Western Ave.
Fergus Falls, MN

$98.99 plus tax for Double non-smoking. King non-smoking $103.49.
Call (218) 739-2211 for reservations. Mention MTA to get discounted rate.

Deadline for discounted rates: October 3, 2015.


NTCA Supports Halstad Request for Reinstatement as Provisional Winner for Rural Broadband Experiments

From NECA’s Washington Watch

NTCA filed reply comments on September 1, 2015, on Halstad Telephone’s Petition for Reconsideration of the Wireline Competition Bureau’s June 15, 2015 Order, which removed Halstad from further consideration as a provisionally selected winning bidder in the Rural Broadband Experiments program. NTCA said no party opposed Halstad’s request, and Halstad has taken reasonable steps to comport with the LoC requirement. NTCA said small firms like Halstad combine the best of all attributes for program success, combining local proximity to the communities to be served, decades of experience and a proven track record of success in delivering rural broadband, and familiarity with operating in accordance with federal telecommunications programs generally and universal service oversight in particular.

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ACAM Model Update

From ITCI’s Industry Watch

The Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) recently released revised illustrative results of the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (ACAM). These new results are based on an update to the Form 477 deployment information reported for December 31, 2014. (ITCI sent out client results individually.) The release does not include the recent filings of plant mix changes nor is it the final version of the ACAM results. When the final version is released it will include the plant mix revisions, an update to the June 30, 2015 Form 477 reporting, and an update of the most recent certified study area boundaries. The final version, when released to the public, will not likely be the exact amount a company is to receive, but rather a best estimate. The final totals will depend on how many companies choose the ACAM model and how many choose to stay on legacy support. The newest results are based on a $52.50 benchmark, meaning it is assumed that the LEC will collect at least $52.50 from the customer per line per month. The results also have a funding cap of $200, $215, and $230 per location. The $52.50 benchmark and the $230 cap are the same results as scenario 1.3 from the first set of ACAM illustrative results. This reinforces the idea that the FCC is definitely looking at benchmarks and caps rather than utilizing some of the other scenarios which did not include these elements. The newest results also reflect the unsubsidized competitor locations as a basis for not allowing support funds for locations covered with competitor broadband and voice.

Discussion continues with the FCC on codifying a rule that model based support (if accepted) will be available for a 10-year period for all companies adopting ACAM. This is similar to the 6-year commitment that price cap carriers received. The FCC has not made a final decision on this stipulation yet. It is assumed that final version of ACAM will be made available by the end of the year with possible implementation dates of July 1, 2016 or January 1, 2017.

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Lifeline Reform

From ITCI’s Industry Watch

In mid-June, the FCC released (15-71) a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order, and Memorandum Opinion and Order regarding Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization. Since the release of that order and the printing of the rules in the Federal Register on July 14, there has been a lot of confusion regarding effective dates of each of the rules, and which are up for comment and which have been finalized. The major reforms listed in the order were regarding a “snapshot date” for reporting on the reimbursement Form 497, document retention for a three year period, and subscriber eligibility document retention. Because each of these reforms require changes to Form 497 and/or Form 555 instructions as well as the codification of the rules themselves in the Federal Register, none of these rules are currently in place. Once the Office of Management (OMB) approves the changes and that approval is printed in the Federal Register, it will start the clock toward an effective date for implementation of the rules. Comments on these and other Lifeline reforms contained in Order 15-71 were due on August 13, 2015 and reply comments are due September 13.

On August 31, the FCC issued a Notice seeking Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) comments to these new rules, comments on the PRA portion are due October 31, 2015.

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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

Oh Deer, Autumn’s Almost Here

A driver in the United States has a 1 in 169 chance of striking a deer in the coming year, says State Farm, the nation's largest car insurance company. In 11 states, the odds are better than 1 in 100. A Minnesota driver has a 1 in 88 chance of colliding with a deer, making it 8th in the nation. Wisconsin is 7th with a 1 in 85 chance, South Dakota is 5th at 1 in 82 — and Iowa leads the area, coming in 4th nationally with a 1 in 77 chance. With odds like these, we need all the help we can get to prevent a collision with a deer.

Most deer-vehicle collisions occur in the months of October, November, and December. Peak times for collisions are the last week of October and the first two weeks of November. Highest-risk periods are from sunset to midnight and the hours shortly before and after sunrise.

When driving at night, use high-beam headlights when there is no opposing traffic. The high-beams will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway. Watch for the reflection of deer eyes and for deer silhouettes on the shoulder of the road. High-beam headlights will not necessarily frighten a deer, so do not rely on the high-beams to deter deer, but rather rely on them to better illuminate them.

Deer frequently travel in groups and in single file. If you see one deer on or near the road, expect that others may follow.

Don’t swerve your vehicle to avoid striking a deer. If a collision with a deer is imminent, then hit it while maintaining full control of your vehicle. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
Deer are often unpredictable, especially when faced with glaring headlights, honking horns, and fast moving vehicles. Sometimes they stop in the middle of the road when crossing. Sometimes they cross quickly and come back. Sometimes they move toward an approaching vehicle. Assume nothing, slow down.

As the days continue to get shorter, we find ourselves driving in low light conditions more, which will increase our chances of seeing deer on the roadways.

Take Care,

Dan Berg, MS
Senior Safety Consultant

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People Companies

CommScope Completes Transformational Acquisition of TE Connectivity’s Telecom, Enterprise and Wireless Businesses

CommScope Holding Company, Inc., has completed its previously announced acquisition of TE Connectivity’s Telecom, Enterprise and Wireless businesses, a leader in fiber optic connectivity for wireline and wireless networks.

The all-cash transaction, valued at approximately $3 billion, strengthens CommScope’s position as a leading communications infrastructure provider with deeper resources to meet the world’s growing demand for network bandwidth. This transaction creates a stronger company with greater innovation, employee talent and overall capabilities to serve customers in four major areas:

  • Indoor and outdoor wireless networks;
  • Data centers and central offices;
  • Connected and efficient buildings; and
  • Access and backhaul networks.

“We are excited to move forward as one company positioned for continued success,” said Eddie Edwards, CommScope president and chief executive officer. “Together, we look to accelerate industry innovation, solve more wired and wireless network challenges, and better serve customers in more markets around the world. By uniting our complementary solutions, technologies and geographic and market coverage, we have created a stronger platform for competing successfully around the world.

“With this acquisition, we will have significant new opportunities for future sales growth and cost efficiencies to strengthen CommScope’s financial foundation. The addition of the TE businesses is expected to immediately contribute to our profitable growth.”

As previously announced, CommScope expects to realize more than $150 million in annual synergies in 2018, which includes more than $50 million in 2016. CommScope expects to drive synergies across all areas of the company, including sales, marketing, general and administration, operations, and research and development. The transaction is expected to be in excess of 20 percent accretive in 2016 on a pro forma basis, excluding purchase accounting charges, integration costs and other special items.

The new CommScope has approximately 25,000 employees, with a more significant presence in all major geographic regions. Pro forma net sales (for the 12-month period ended June 30, 2015) were approximately $5.3 billion and pro forma adjusted EBITDA (excluding anticipated synergies) was approximately $1 billion. The company now holds a portfolio of approximately 9,800 patents and patent applications, with research and development investment of more than $200 million a year.

For the near term, the newly-acquired TE Connectivity Broadband Network Solutions (BNS) businesses will be operated as one of CommScope’s business segments, alongside of the existing CommScope segments of Wireless, Enterprise and Broadband. David Redfern will continue in his current role as leader of the BNS team, reporting to CommScope Chief Operating Officer Randy Crenshaw.

“I welcome our new team members from TE Connectivity and look forward to continuing to work closely with all employees at CommScope to ensure we continue to deliver superior technology, solutions and services to our customers and partners,” Edwards said.

The closing of the transaction follows the consummation of contemplated financing, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

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SOCRATES 100% Connected with New Fiber Network Constructed Through Partnership Between Arvig and Jaguar Communications

Arvig Enterprises, Inc. (dba Arvig) and Jaguar Communications, Inc., has announced that the new high-capacity fiber network for SOCRATES, a division of South Central Service Cooperative, has been completed. All 70 schools and libraries that signed up to be a part of the new high-speed network are now able to connect to the Internet and transport data an average of ten times faster than before.

David Schornack, Director of Business Development for Arvig, said, “The new fiber network provides from 100 meg to a full gigabit of service to the SOCRATES schools and libraries. We are also now providing SOCRATES with a managed network that provides filtered and secure Internet 'to the door,' and 24/7/365 technical support.”

The project began in May 2015 and took five months to complete. During that time, numerous construction teams dug more than 50 miles of new fiber connections to many of the schools and libraries and new equipment was installed so each location would be able to establish an optimized connection to the secure, redundant network. The network includes a 12-mile ring around Mankato and it connects 70 schools, libraries and other school buildings.

Pete Johnson, Project Manager for Arvig said, “This was a very aggressive project with a short timeline to complete, and we were very lucky to have the help of the SOCRATES staff and the very talented Technology Leaders at all of the schools and the Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative. Without their cooperation, we would have been unable to finish the project in a timely manner.”
“The Core Network is designed with redundancy, so if there is a fiber cut on the Core Network it will self-heal to continue with uninterrupted service until the fiber cut is repaired. We also designed the Internet service with multiple feeds to the Internet Service Providers, so if one service provider has problems, a backup feed is immediately available for uninterrupted Internet service. With this level of service in mind, the Arvig and Jaguar IT Teams will take SOCRATES to the next level of Internet service. They have already experienced faster downloads, seamless Internet access and uninterrupted service,” said Pete Johnson. “We specifically engineered the network for minimum latency, packet loss and jitter.”

In addition to new and improved Internet access, Arvig is also able to provide SOCRATES with access to hosted Voice over IP (VoIP) services. Voice service provides local and long distance services with multiple calling features, and each school can customize its service. Hosted VoIP uses the Internet to connect the calls.

Glenn Morris, Director at South Central Service Cooperative, said, “The Board of Directors commends its member schools and libraries for collaborating in this initiative to expand broadband services throughout the region, and for working together to realize significant cost savings and safe, high-speed Internet access for students and their communities.”

SOCRATES network Project Director David Paschke added, “SOCRATES members are really looking forward to giving the new network its first major workout as all of our school sites officially start classes. Almost all of our school district members are engaged in some kind of a significant 1:1 computer or mobile device initiative, and as such, members are really going to appreciate the speed, security and redundancy that the Arvig-Jaguar team has constructed to support the technology-intensive programming that our schools and libraries offer.”

Jaguar’s CEO John Jensen is particularly excited about the impact of the project on local communities, saying, “the SOCRATES project represents Jaguar’s commitment to bringing the benefit of broadband to Minnesota’s educational institutions, rural areas, and businesses and residents along its extensive fiber optic ring. This project connects schools and libraries, but most importantly students, who will benefit from the Internet access in the communities.”

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