October 30, 2015

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

Action Items

>> Deadline November 13 for 2016 MTA Annual Convention Proposals

>> 2016 Annual Convention Exhibit and Sponsor Registration Now Open!

>> Administrative Assistants Peer Group Fall Conference

>> Tell Us Your Economic Development Story

Informational Items

>> FCC Reminds ETCs to Use High-Cost Support for Intended Purposes

>> Fees to Increase Effective January 1, 2016

Safety Corner

>> Fire Prevention Reminder

People and Companies

>> CDG Integrates MBS Billing System with PenguinData’s Workflow Management Solution

>> Former Benton Co-op Telephone Manager Passes Away

>> Deal Expands Onvoy’s Wireless, Messaging, and OTT Voice Infrastructure via REST APIs

>> Arvig Receives Smart Rural Community Showcase 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

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

December 2–3, 2015: 2015 Plant Manager & Superintendant Peer Group Winter Meeting

March 21–23, 2016: MTA Annual Convention and Trade Show

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MTA Updates


Deadline November 13 for 2016 MTA Annual Convention Proposals

We are planning for the Annual Convention and Trade Show, March 21-23, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis. Our convention offers you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise to an estimated 1,100 MTA attendees face-to-face. We are now requesting submissions of speakers and presenters for our breakout sessions and luncheons. Topic ideas for presentations identified by the MTA Event Planning Committee are listed in the Call for Proposals.

Submit a Call for Proposal.

The deadline to submit a proposal is Monday, November 13, 2015.

2016 Annual Convention Exhibit and Sponsor Registration Now Open!

MTA Annual Convention and Trade Show

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to meet and network with more than 1,100 professionals from throughout the Upper Midwest. Register to exhibit at the 2016 Annual Convention today! It is a "do-not-miss" opportunity to showcase your company, products and services.

Download the Exhibitor and Sponsor Prospectus | Register Online to Sponsor or Exhibit

Plan to join us on March 23-25, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis. The MTA Annual Convention has continued 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.  

Register for your booth space today!

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. Back by popular demand, Vendor Demos are back and will be located in the middle of the exhibit hall this year.  

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

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 for next week's 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

Call (218) 739-2211 for reservations.

Tell Us Your Economic Development Story

Recently, the MTA’s Economic Development Committee met. Among the items committee members discussed was the need for MTA members to share their economic development success stories. We ask that you share with the MTA your stories on how your company has aided in the economic development of the communities you serve. The more stories, the better. We will begin to feature your story in News Bytes. Thank you for your assistance with this project!


FCC Reminds ETCs to Use High-Cost Support for Intended Purposes

From NECA’s Washington Watch

The FCC issued a Public Notice on October 19, 2015, reminding all ETCs that receive support from the USF’s high-cost mechanisms of their obligations to use such support only for its intended purposes of maintaining and extending communications service to rural, high-cost areas of the nation. The FCC said expenditure of legacy high-cost or Connect America support for any other purpose is misuse and may subject the recipient to recovery of funding, suspension of funding, enforcement action by the Enforcement Bureau, and/or prosecution under the False Claims Act. The FCC also reminded rate-of-return carriers that section 65.450 prohibits them from including expenses in their revenue requirements unless such expenses are “recognized by the Commission as necessary to the provision” of interstate telecommunications services. The FCC provided a non-exhaustive list of expenditures that are not necessary to the provision of supported services and therefore may not be recovered through USF support.

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Fees to Increase Effective January 1, 2016

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (MNDPS) released the new 911 fee, effective January 1, 2016. The 911 fee, currently at $.78, will increase to $.95. This is the maximum fee allowed by law. PDF versions of the new 911 fee forms are available on the MN DPS website. Last July, the MN Public Utilities Commission lowered the Telecommunications Access Minnesota (TAM) fee to 7 cents from the current 8 cents. The MNPUC held off implementing this change until the 911 fee change was announced by MNDPS. The new TAM fee also goes into effect January 1. There were no changes to either the fee or benefits for the Telecommunications Access Program (TAP). These fees also applies to fixed VoIP services.

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Safety Corner

Fire Prevention Reminder

A family home in Colorado sustained thousands of dollars in damage from a fire caused by…9 volt batteries! The batteries had been tossed into a paper bag for later recycling. The bag got jostled and some of the batteries’ terminals made contact. That was enough to create the heat needed to ignite the bag and the items around it.

Before leaving for the day, a departing employee left the restroom fan running as a courtesy for co-workers who were staying late. Right above the restroom ceiling is where the trouble started. Or, more precisely, that’s where the fire started. The overworked fan overheated or a wire shorted — we don’t know. But, we do know about the thousands of dollars of damage it caused.

These events are not made up. Every year during our Annual Fire Extinguisher training, we talk about these types of things and how to prevent them in your workplace and home.  Did you know that roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are asleep? Smoke alarms save lives! If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out. In fact, having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a reported fire in half!

October has been Fire Prevention month — and with Daylight Saving Time ending this weekend, it is a great reminder to change the batteries in our smoke detectors as well as to check for any fire hazards around our homes and offices. The key message of this year's National Fire Prevention Week campaign, which was October 4-10, is to install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home, including the basement. During our Emergency Action Plan class this fall, we have been talking about fire evacuation plans at work; do you have a home fire escape plan as well? When a fire happens, there is no time to plan. Sit down with your family now and make a step-by-step plan for escaping from a fire in your home. Know where your fire extinguisher is mounted, and make sure everyone in the family knows how to use it.  These are very simple and inexpensive things we can do to protect our families from an unfortunate event. It only takes a few minutes to complete — don’t take fire safety lightly.

Jeff Ulmen
Safety Consultant

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People Companies

CDG Integrates MBS Billing System with PenguinData’s Workflow Management Solution

Communications Data Group (CDG) is pleased to announce the integration of its MBS consumer billing system with PenguinData’s Workflow Management G3 Emperor Suite of Modules at Intermountain Cable (IMCTV), a subsidiary of Gearheart Communications, Inc., located in Harold, KY.

Consisting of family of interconnected companies, Gearheart needed an advanced workflow management solution that could help unify task management across its different companies, but it also needed to be able to communicate with CDG billing systems. “Integration with third-party workflow and CRM systems is crucial in today’s market,” noted Vice President of Product Development, Mike Chalk. “When we researched PenguinData’s solutions and saw the benefits they would bring the client, we knew working together to connect these two systems would be valuable to all parties.”

According to PenguinData’s Senior Vice President of Sales, Doug Simmons, “Having the ability to see all of their data in real-time across the entire organization and knowing that data would also be integrated with their billing system was a primary driving for behind IMCTV becoming a PenguinData client. PenguinData was able to bring true automation to IMCTV’s mobile work orders and streamline their entire Warehouse process with full accountability, while providing for single entry and update capabilities with real-time data synchronization across all modules.”

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Former Benton Co-op Telephone Manager Passes Away

Mass of Christian Burial was held on Thursday, October 22, 2015 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Sauk Rapids for Nicholas "Nick" R. Prom, age 65, who passed away Sunday at his home. Rev. Ralph Zimmerman officiated with burial at the Minnesota State Veteran's Cemetery near Little Falls.

Nicholas “Nick” Raymond Prom was born April 6, 1950, in St. Cloud to Felix & Isabel (Skaj) Prom. He married Linda Gretsch on Sept. 5, 1970, at Ft. Hood, TX. Nick served his country in the U.S.Army during the Vietnam War. He worked for Primerica Financial Services and previously as general manager for Benton Co-op Telephone Co. for 20 years. Nick was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, St. Cloud VFW Post #428, St. Joseph American Legion Post #328, and Pantowners Auto Club. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, jigsaw puzzles, antique car shows, and spending time with his family. Nick was a fun, sweet, caring, good natured, adventurous person who was full of surprises.

Survivors include his wife Linda of Sauk Rapids; daughter and sons, Vicky Prom-Becker (Shawn Becker) of St. Augusta, Jeff (Maritza) of Maple Grove, Jason (Camie) of St. Cloud, Brian (Nicole) of Chanhassen; brothers and sisters, Joe (Anna Mae) Prom, Robert (Maxine) Prom, Marvin Feld, Dave (Geri) Feld, Joyce (Kevin) Weber, and Ralph (Denise Laudenbach) Feld all of St. Joseph, Jeanne Wiener of Minneapolis, Sylvester (Pat Pearce) Prom of St. Augusta, Geneva Feld of Waite Park, Jerome Feld and Anna Mae (Kevin) Schrom all of Cold Spring, Ray (Debbie) Feld of Holdingford, and Theresa (George) Trettel of Bowlus; and seven grandchildren. Nick was preceded in death by his parents; step-father, Gerhard "Jerry" Feld; and sisters, Mary Ellen Mattson, Roseanne Prom, and Audrey Prom.

Obituary, guestbook and video tribute available online: www.williamsdingmann.com

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Deal Expands Onvoy’s Wireless, Messaging, and OTT Voice Infrastructure via REST APIs

Onvoy, LLC, a fast-growing leader in wholesale telecommunication services, just announced the acquisition of Layered Communications, a communications enabler for OTTs, voice service providers and MVNOs.

Onvoy continues its pursuit to become a next generation Global Communications Enabler. “The Layered Communication acquisition accelerates Onvoy’s ability to offer wholesale customers an API based service fulfillment and instant provisioning interface to Onvoy’s carrier class service,” said Fritz Hendricks, Onvoy President, “Layered’ s service creation platform provides immediate access to the fast growing Wireless and Over the Top (OTT) markets while providing a web based framework for continuous innovation.” The purchase of Layered Communications underscores the company’s commitment to next-generation technology and to assisting customers in continuously transforming the communication paradigm in order to keep up with consumer demand.

What Layered Communications adds to the Onvoy portfolio: an automated communications OSS based on REST APIs that enables voice, messaging and mobility service provisioning, including wireless porting; Coreview, a web-based portal built on the Layered OSS APIs; and Layered’s API-based services that support rapid deployment of mobility, mobile VoIP and messaging services.

As a result, Onvoy’s customers will soon be able to add voice, messaging and mobility services to their communication applications more quickly via APIs and carrier interfaces. These interfaces enable customers to build, provision and support more innovative communication services without adding equipment or support staff — which means faster speed to market and higher margins.

“API-based platforms providing control of the core communications infrastructure for voice, messaging and mobility are essential for our customers to innovate today and tomorrow,” said Surendra Saboo, Onvoy EVP and COO.

Cloud-based communication services coupled with Onvoy’s coast-to-coast coverage and reputation for expert, hands-on customer service help Onvoy to better serve the changing needs of its customers, large to small.

Layered Communications' CEO Michael Remacle is energized by Onvoy’s ambitious growth strategy. “Onvoy has been a great partner of ours for many years and we are excited to join the team to help drive innovation, enhance self-service options and open new markets for our customers,” said Remacle.

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Arvig Receives Smart Rural Community Showcase Award

Perham, Minn., Nationally Recognized as Smart Rural Community

Arvig is honored to be one of 12 rural providers throughout the United States to receive the Smart Rural Community Showcase Award from NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, the premier national association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunication companies. David Arvig, Chief Operating Officer/Vice President, accepted the award on behalf of the company and the City of Perham, Minn., at the NTCA Fall Conference in Boston on Monday, Sept. 21.

The goal of the NTCA Smart Rural Community initiative is to foster the development of smart communities throughout rural America and Canada by encouraging innovative implementation of broadband solutions and access to next-generation applications for distance learning, telehealth services, public safety and security. Smart Rural Community provides educational programming, matching grant resources and an award program to recognize top-performing communities. NTCA recognized member companies that embody Smart Rural Community principles.

Perham, the city Arvig nominated for the award, will be nationally recognized as a Smart Rural Community for its advanced broadband network and innovation in economic development, commerce, health care, public safety, education and more. “We are excited to accept this award and are honored to play a part in Perham’s recognition as a Smart Rural Community,” said David Arvig.

Earlier this summer, the company partnered with a number of organizations within the community to tell the Perham story for the application. Representatives from the city and chamber, Perham Health, KLN Family Brands, Boys & Girls Club of Perham and Perham Schools made appearances in a 3-minute video.

“Perham is a progressive community because of the people who live and work here,” said David Arvig. “Our leaders, business owners and residents are all dedicated to the growth of this city, and we wanted to showcase that true spirit of Perham in our application by getting these groups involved in the process.”

Applications were reviewed by the Smart Rural Community Advisory Council, which includes representatives from communications, education, agriculture, public safety, health care, economic development and others with an interest in rural America. In addition to receiving national and local recognition for their extraordinary efforts, the selected Smart Rural Community award recipients will join recipients of prior year awards to formulate best practices and assist other rural communities in the implementation of innovative broadband-enabled solutions to drive economic and community strength in rural areas throughout the nation. 

For more information about the Smart Rural Community initiative, please visit www.ntca.org/smart. You can also view the NTCA announcement to get more details about this year’s winners.

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