MTA News Bytes

November 21, 2017

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

Action Items

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

Informational items

>> Lt. Governor Announces 2017 Broadband Grant Recipients

>> FCC Releases 2018 Voice Service Rate Floor, Reasonably Comparable Rates

Peer Group Bulletin

>> New! 2018 MTA Peer Group Investment Opportunities!

>> Upcoming Peer Group Events

Safety Corner

>> Stay Home When You’re Sick!

People and Companies

>> Paul Bunyan Communications Wins International Innovation Award

>> Vantage Point Solutions Knows Who Will Win in the Upcoming CAF II Auction

>> NTS Implements CDG’s MBS Consumer Billing And BDS-I Solutions

MTA Staff

MTA President/CEO:
Brent J. Christensen
Event Planners:
Julie Cygan Diamond
Ashley Crunstedt
Carissa Wolf
Member Services:
Jeanne DeMartino

Anna Wrisky
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

December 6-7, 2017: Plant Manager & Superintendent Peer Group Meeting
Holiday Inn & Suites, St. Cloud

February 21-23, 2018: Telco Marketing Peer Group Winter Conference

March 26-28, 2018: MTA Annual Convention & Trade Show
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis

March 18-20, 2019: MTA Annual Convention & Trade Show
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis

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MTA Updates


Annual Convention and Tradeshow Exhibit and Sponsor Registration Now Open!

2018 MTA Convention Call for Proposals

>> Register as an Exhibitor or Sponsor

>> Download the 2018 Exhibitor and Sponsor Prospectus

Join us for our 108th Annual Convention! Be present when telecommunications providers from all across the Upper Midwest and Canada gather for what is recognized by many as the biggest and best state telecom trade show.

This is your opportunity to network with industry leaders and decision-makers, and show them how your business can help them succeed. The MTA Convention provides opportunities for you to showcase your products, highlight your services and develop profitable relationships with new and existing clients. The theme for this year’s convention is “Innovation, Opportunity, Challenge — It’s What We Do.” MTA Annual Convention and Trade Show is one of the best opportunities around to enhance your marketing and broaden your company’s exposure – and it’s very cost effective.

What you need to know

The 2018 Convention will be held in Minneapolis, MN from March 26 – 28, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis.  


The fee for an 8’ x 10’ booth is based on MTA membership status.

Early Bird* Rates

MTA Member Booth Rental: $1,000
Non-member Booth Rental: $1,490

Standard Rates 

MTA Member Booth Rental: $1,150
Non-member Booth Rental: $,1,640

*Early Bird Discount is available for exhibitors whose contracts are received by the Early Bird Deadline of Feb. 2, 2018.


Extend your brand identity and marketing capabilities with a strong visible presence at the 2018 Annual Convention. Multiple levels of conference sponsorship opportunities are available. Many sponsorship opportunities are first-come, first-served. As in the past, Sponsors will receive priority in the booth assignment process.


Reservations can be made by calling 1-888-421-1442 or online at Please indicate that you are an exhibitor. 

The hotel cut-off date is March 2, 2018 or until the block is filled. Please be sure to book your rooms early!

Hotel Room Rates: $162 plus tax for single and double occupancy; $172 plus tax for triple occupancy; $182 plus tax for quadruple occupancy

>> 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.

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Lt. Governor Announces 2017 Broadband Grant Recipients

On Tuesday, Lt. Governor Tina Smith announced the 2017 Border to Border Broadband Grant recipients.  More information on the awards can be found here.  The program, which started in 2014, is designed to help providers deploy broadband to the hardest to serve in the State.  Thirty-nine grants were awarded for a total of $26,475,556.  Twenty-six of those grants went to 19 MTA member companies for a total of $22,721,966.  Hanson Communications received the largest grant in the amount of $4,996,791.  “Since the grant program began, we have focused on the hardest to serve customers,” commented MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen.  “I am extremely proud of everyone who submitted an application, gathered the local support needed for the match, and all of the hard work they do to make sure all Minnesotans have access to quality broadband.”

FCC Releases 2018 Voice Service Rate Floor, Reasonably Comparable Rates

From NECA’s Washington Watch

The Wireline Competition Bureau released a Public Notice on November 8, 2017, announcing the 2018 voice service rate floor, the reasonable comparability benchmarks for fixed voice and broadband services, and the required minimum usage allowance for ETCs subject to public interest obligations. The 2018 urban average monthly local voice service rate (the rate floor) is $25.50, and the reasonable comparability benchmark for voice services is $45.38. The 2018 reasonable comparability benchmarks for broadband service offerings range from $85.54 for 4/1 Mbps with a capacity allowance of 170 GB to $217.43 for 1000/100 Mbps with an unlimited allowance. The Bureau noted in May 2017, the Commission froze the local voice rate floor at which support reductions would occur at $18 until July 1, 2018, or until the Commission takes further action. Carriers will not be subject to any support reductions for any rate that is a least $18, but carriers must still report their ratesto the extent those rates are below the $25.50 rate floor in their annual Form 481 filings.

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

New! 2018 MTA Peer Group Investment Opportunities Now Available!

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 2018. Sign up online or download the 2018 Peer Group Investment Opportunities for full details.

>> Sign up today!

Upcoming Peer Group Events

Plant Manager & Superintendent Peer Group Meeting

December 6-7, 2017 | Holiday Inn & Suites, St. Cloud, Minnesota 

Rates: $150 members or nonmembers

Holiday Inn & Suites
75 S 37th Ave. | St. Cloud, Minnesota  5630

Room block ends November 24, 2017 — call 1-800-315-2621 to make reservations.

2018 Telco Marketing Peer Group Winter Conference

February 21-23, 2018 | Watch for more details!

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Safety Corner

Stay Home When You’re Sick!

Well, it’s that time of year (ahh-choo!), the weather is getting colder and we’re all starting to feel the effects of it (ugh I feel terrible).  At its worst the flu and cold season can bring down an entire company.  So when you’re sick should you come to work and get everyone else sick too?

According to data cited by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services each flu season (which roughly runs from October through mid-May) is responsible for 111 million lost workdays.

out sick today

However, the impact of cold and flu season extends beyond absenteeism. Sick employees who report to work and are under the influence of medication might be more apt to use poor judgment that affect the business or make mistakes that can cause safety accidents. 

be a hero, stay home One way to reduce the amount of lost work days is to stay home when you’re sick so you don’t spread your germs to everyone else. The biggest problem is most people are wrong as to then they should stay home. The most contagious period is at the beginning, the first 6-12 hours; when you’re already at work spreading you germs to the rest of the office. If you go to bed feeling slightly sick, and wake up feeling a bit under the weather, that’s the day to stay home. The following days, when you actually feel sicker, are days when you are less likely to share your contagious illness. 

But even about the time you’re feeling better think your no longer contagious, you may still be. A person who has had the stomach flu, for example, can still be contagious for at least three days after their symptoms have stopped.

When a co-worker is sick

If you feel you really must go to work when not feeling well here are a few tips to help prevent passing along your germs:

  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. 80% of germs are passed through hand contact, so avoid shaking hands.
  • Immediately dispose of facial tissue after you sneeze or wipe your nose.
  • Wipe down any surfaces with a disinfectant.
  • Worked a reduced schedule or after hours to prevent contact with co-workers.

No matter how bad you may feel that your co-workers may have to pick up the slack, the fact remains that staying at home when you're feeling sick – whether it's cold, the flu or some other illness – is the best course of action. Not only could you prolong your recovery by not getting proper rest, you also could cause lost work days across the company and productivity could suffer as a result.

Plus no one in the office wants to listen to you sneeze, cough or whine and complain all day, so do everyone a favor and stay home, your co-workers will appreciate it!

Have a great Holiday Season and stay healthy.

Jeff Ulmen
Senior Safety Consultant

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People Companies

Paul Bunyan Communications Wins International Innovation Award

Second award the GigaZone Gaming Championship has received in 2017

(Bemidji, MN) (November 20, 2017)— Paul Bunyan Communications’ GigaZone Gaming Championship, the first stadium-style eSporting event in northern Minnesota, has been awarded the Calix Best Innovation in Residential Subscriber Experience for 2017.

Paul Bunyan Communications Wins International Innovation Award

The Calix Innovation Awards are given annually to Calix customers – technology companies from around the world – who demonstrated outstanding creativity when leveraging Calix technology to deploy best-in-class services. The award recognizes innovation in the use of access, premises, and cloud technologies to transform businesses and networks.

“Congratulations to Paul Bunyan Communications on their Best of Innovation in Residential Subscriber Experience Award!” said Michael Weening, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Calix. “Typically, events of this type and caliber are only found in major metropolitan areas. The GigaZone Gaming Championship and other progressive initiatives underscore Paul Bunyan’s commitment to their rural region and their willingness to be industry innovators and leaders, whether that's building one of the largest rural all-fiber optic gigabit broadband networks in the country or creating this exceptional gaming event. The award is well deserved."

“We are honored to receive this innovation award from Calix. It’s very rewarding to see how the region is embracing this event that showcases our Calix-enabled broadband technology and creative and talented technical team. Attendance doubled at our second GigaZone Gaming Championship held in September!” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager.

This international award is the second prominent recognition the GigaZone Gaming Championship has received this year. In May, Paul Bunyan Communications received the 2017 TeleChoice Award for their complete marketing campaign of the GigaZone Gaming Championship by the NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association. The annual awards
program honors excellence in public relations and marketing.

For more information about the GigaZone Gaming Championship, visit Information regarding Paul Bunyan Communications and their GigaZone gigabit Internet service is at

Vantage Point Solutions Knows Who Will Win in the Upcoming CAF II Auction

Vantage Point has developed a powerful auction model that projects the likelihood of a particular bid being awarded CAF II funds. They understand the state-by-state differences, the impact of fixed wireless providers, and how aggressive the price cap incumbents will be.

Vantage Point Graphic

The VPS modeling program can project the likelihood that a particular bid score will be successful under a variety of different scenarios that account for the actions of other bidders across the country.

Join VPS Auction Experts for an insightful and challenging webinar that examines:

  • What is the “attractiveness score” that VPS is assigning each auction census block group in the country?
  • How many census blocks will be “in demand” by one or more bidders?
  • How aggressive will rural providers have to be to compete in the auction? 
  • ...Will a score of 85 win? What about a score of 75?
  • How sensitive will the auction clearing price be to bids from price cap carriers?
  • What next steps should interested companies take to prepare for the auction?

The Webinar is on Tuesday, November 28 at 3:00 P.M.

Vantage Point has analyzed all 36,000 eligible CAF II census block groups.

CAF II webinars from other firms offer general guidance that companies can glean from FCC orders and guidance. Only Vantage Point has built a powerful auction model that projects auction clearing prices and that accounts for sensitivity to overall demand, bidder performance tiers, and other key factors.

If you want to be a serious contender in the upcoming CAF II Auction, you won't want to miss this webinar!

>> Register Today

Companies may register one attendee for $350, or unlimited attendees for $500.

NTS Implements CDG’s MBS Consumer Billing And BDS-I Solutions

Champaign, IL – Communications Data Group (CDG) is pleased to announce the implementation of its BDS and access billing solution, BDS-I, and online subscriber billing and customer care system, MBS, at NTS Communications, a leading provider of fiber-based communications solutions specializing in Internet, voice, video, and managed services for business and residential customers.

The implementation of the BDS-I and MBS systems has already begun to yield positive growths for NTS. Cyrus Driver, President and CEO of NTS, stated, “NTS’ partnership with CDG has demonstrated immense positive growth for our company and our customers. The implementation of the BDS-I and MBS systems has allowed NTS to improve and streamline our customer care and billing systems to perform better for our employees and to provide the best experience possible to our customers. CDG is not only our business partner but also a valued collaborator as we continue to enhance and expand our systems.”

The collaborative exchange of information between NTS and CDG has also benefitted CDG and enhanced their solutions. Mike Chalk, CDG’s Vice President of Product Development, stated, “NTS has shared a lot of great ideas with us that we have already integrated into the MBS system. Our newly redesigned Network / Plant design and inventory management system is a perfect example. It was NTS’ vision. And when they shared it with us, we knew it should be our vision too.”

“The key to the success of CDG’s Support and Implementation models,” according to CDG’s President and CEO, Bob Labonte, “is that we do not simply answer questions about our products. Instead, we engage in dialogues with our clients, and as partners we work together to determine how they can best utilize our system and how we can best grow our products to help them meet their business needs and goals. NTS’s gains since implementing BDS-I and MBS and their involvement in developing our new Network / Plant solution are perfect examples of how engaged dialogue can produce positive outcomes for everyone involved.”

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