August 22, 2014

August 22, 2014

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

>> 2014 MTA Fall Conference Online Registration Now Available!

>> New Rate Floor Established

>> NTCA Urges Members to Provide Feedback on E-Rate Maps

>> NTCA, WTA, NECA Ask FCC to Complete Record Keeping and Reporting Rules, Act on FNPRM

>> FCC Details Rural Broadband Experiments Application Process

>> Administrative Assistant Peer Group Summer Conference

>> Office Managers/HR Peer Group Fall Conference

>> MTA Peer Group 2014 Investment Opportunities Are Available

>> Minnesota Law Defines Gross Vehicle Weight

People and Companies

>> Vantage Point Solutions Names Szabo Manager of Consulting and Fravel as Senior Analyst

>> TDS announces completion of two more ARRA broadband stimulus projects

MTA Staff

MTA President/CEO:
Brent Christensen
Team Leader:

Jacquie Durant
Event Planners:
Julie Cygan
Carissa Wolf
Member Services:
Chris Swanson
Janey Duntley
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

August 11, 2014: Pinnacle Golf Day

August 27-28, 2014: 2014 Administrative Assistant Peer Group Summer Conference

September 11-12, 2014: 2014 Office Managers/HR Peer Group Fall Conference

October 9-10, 2014: MTA Fall Conference

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MTA Updates


2014 MTA Fall Conference Online Registration Now Available!

This Summer continues to move 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. We have invited gubernatorial candidates Mark Dayton and Jeff Johnson to share their ideas with us. We have also invited the Senate Majority leader, Tom Bakk, and Senate Minority leader, David Hann, to participate in a panel discussion on the 2014 session, upcoming 2015 session and their views on the upcoming elections. We have also invited the new Office of Broadband Development to talk about their activities. You will hear from the newest Public Utilities Commissioner, Dan Lipschultz.

Keeping up with a tradition we started a few years ago, 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!

Become a Sponsor
Maximize your company's exposure to the MTA membership at the 2014 Fall Conference. MTA members will be coming 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. Thank you in advance for your sponsorship consideration and all you do to support the MTA. Without your support, events like this would not be possible!

Sign up now!

New Rate Floor Established

from Olsen Thielen & Co.

Due to the recent ICC-USF reconsideration order, the next local service rate floor deadline is December 1, 2014. Residential local service rates must be at least equal to the local service rate floor of $16.00 by December 1 in order to avoid a reduction in High Cost Loop Support (HCLS) funding beginning January 1, 2015.

Several of our clients receive little or no HCLS. These companies may choose not to increase rates as there would either be a small reduction in support or no reduction at all.

In Minnesota, for those companies operating under the Alternative Form of Regulation (AFOR), a customer notice must be received by the customer 60 days before the effective date of the local service increase. In addition, we recommend that a copy of the customer notice and the revised tariff should be filed 60 days prior to the increase.

For those Minnesota companies operating as a Minnesota rate of return company, we recommend that you notify your customers 30 days in advance of the increase and file your tariffs and notices at least 20 days prior to the increase.

When changing the local service rates, please remember to consider any changes that may need to be made to tariffs for seasonal, vacation or bundled service rates that include local service.

If your rates are below the local rate benchmark, we would appreciate it if you would inform us of your intentions. We will discuss the appropriate notices with the Department of Commerce.

NTCA Urges Members to Provide Feedback on E-Rate Maps

The Rural Broadband Association is encouraging members to review data and submit feedback included in the FCC’s E-Rate maps regarding fiber connectivity to schools and libraries.

The interactive maps show, by school district, the approximate percent of public schools with fiber connectivity sized by number of students, as well as those libraries that are fiber-connected. The maps do not appear to contain subscription data; they are specifically aimed at identifying fiber network connectivity.

We strongly encourage members to review the information included about school districts and libraries in their service areas and to report any inconsistencies with actual network connections to the FCC. Preliminary review by some NTCA members has already raised some questions about the current accuracy of the maps with respect to certain locations.

The commission is seeking public feedback regarding the maps, including corrections to the displayed data and the provision of supplemental data that may be missing from the maps. An accompanying staff report provides further information related to the maps, and expressly notes that the data sets upon which the maps are based only include information for about half of all U.S. schools and two-thirds of U.S. library locations.

Comments, corrections and updates to the maps can be submitted by email to the FCC, and any data corrections or updates should be submitted by carriers in spreadsheet format. Each location provided in any company’s spreadsheet should have unique school or library identifier codes from either the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) or the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), as applicable, in addition to a street address. NTCA would like to keep as compete a record as possible of any map inconsistencies, so please forward comment submissions to Senior Vice President of Policy Michael Romano.


NTCA, WTA, NECA Ask FCC to Complete Record Keeping and Reporting Rules, Act on FNPRM

from NECA’s Washington Watch

NTCA, WTA, and NECA filed a letter on August 18, 2014, to express concern about the continuing delay in implementation of the rural call completion Order, adopted in October 2013. They noted that not only are the record keeping and reporting rules not in effect, but the FCC has also not completed the submissions to the Office of Management and Budget necessary for approval and implementation. They said while the Commission has taken intermediate steps to address rural call incompletion, more than three years after the Commission was made aware of the issue, calls to rural consumers continue to fail. They urged the FCC to promptly submit the rural call completion record keeping and reporting requirements for the necessary approvals, and to act on its FNPRM, specifically addressing concerns regarding intermediate providers.

FCC Details Rural Broadband Experiments Application Process

from NECA’s Washington Watch

The Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice on August 19, 2014, outlining the application process that will be used to award up to $100 million in support for rural broadband experiments in both high-cost and extremely high-cost price cap areas. The Public Notice summarizes the procedures, terms, and conditions governing the submission of rural broadband experiments applications, the post-selection review of winning bidders and other information for parties seeking funding for rural broadband experiments. The Bureau will conduct the application process using the FCC Auction System, and will not accept applications in hard copy or through the Electronic Comment Filing System. The deadline for applications is October 14, 2014.

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

Administrative Assistant Peer Group Summer Conference

August 27-28, 2014
West Central Telephone Association Headquarters, Sebeka, MN

We look forward to the upcoming MTA Administrative Assistant Peer Group Summer Conference scheduled for August 27-28 at West Central Telephone Association in Sebeka! 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.

To kick off the conference, join us Wednesday evening, August 27, for an informal ice breaker at Blueberry Pines Golf Club, located at 39161 US Hwy 71, Menahga, where you can meet, mingle, and connect with both old and new friends! Appetizers and drinks will be provided (dinner on your own).

Thursday morning, we will meet at West Central Telephone Association headquarters to start the day off with registration and a continental breakfast. Agenda topics include a GM Perspective, MTA update, KwikTag and Effective Communication Skills & Office Attitudes presentations. A group luncheon (included in registration) will be held at “The Hub,” followed by the afternoon open forum discussion on topics that are pertinent and important to our roles as Administrative Assistants. And, of course, there will be many door prize drawings throughout the event!

As you can see, this conference has a full agenda of interesting topics that will not only leave you with great ideas from sessions but will also allow you to network with our peers in the telecom industry. We really look forward to a good turnout and hope you will consider joining us!

Learn More and Register Here

Office Managers/HR Peer Group Fall Conference

September 11-12, 2014
Thumper Pond Resort, Ottertail, MN

Join us at beautiful and relaxing Thumper Pond in Ottertail, MN on September 11-12, 2014. As always, this informative two-day event will get you updates on not only industry related items, but about finding your strengths and how to use them better in a team, about how the directory business has changed and where it’s going, about hot topics in Human Resources such as recruiting and retaining employees, and also to learn from David Arvig about his company in our GM perspective. Oh yeah, and we might find some time for socializing with old and new friends!

We’ll kick off the event in the bar/restaurant at Thumper Pond on Wednesday night. The tentative agenda for the daytime is available here. We’re still finalizing plans for Thursday night fun; we’ll get out more details on that as soon as we can.

Hotel rooms can be reserved at Thumper Pond by calling 218-367-2000 or learn more at

Learn More and Register by August 29!

We look forward to seeing you in the fall!

MTA Peer Group 2014 Investment Opportunities Are 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 2014.

Sponsor a Peer Group: Download the PDF or Sign Up Online!

Would you like to be added to a Peer Group listserv?
Email Jacquie at to be added – please specify which listserv(s) you would like to join:

Administrative Assistant (AA)
Customer Service (CSR)
Office Managers (OM)
Human Resource (HR)
Plant Superintendents (PM)
Telco Marketing (TMG)

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Safety Corner

Minnesota Law Defines Gross Vehicle Weight

As I traveled Northern Minnesota this summer doing inspections and general safety audits, the question of (DOT) medical examiner's certificates came up several times as it pertains to Technician service or Company Vehicles towing trailers. I consulted with a Minnesota State Patrol Commercial Vehicle Inspector and Community Outreach Instructor to clear things up. He made it clear that if you are driving a company vehicle or combination to include a trailer with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs or more but not to exceed 25,999 lbs you need a (DOT) medical examiner's certificate (Health Card) and not a CDL. Any vehicle or combination of over 26,000 lbs require a CDL and (DOT) medical examiner's certificate. To validate our conversation, I include below the regulation out of the MN CDL Manual:

Minnesota law defines gross vehicle weight (GVW) as the greater of:

  • The actual weight of the vehicle or combination of vehicles plus the weight of the load, or
  • The manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). (Located usually on the driver’s side door jam or on the trailer tongue)

Commercial Motor Carrier Requirements

  • If you operate any class of vehicle as an employer or employee, you may be subject to commercial motor carrier requirements. This includes driving single unit and combination vehicles of over 10,000 pounds GVW (such as construction vehicles), and vehicles used to deliver packages and other articles. Also included are vehicles designed or used to transport more than eight passengers (including the driver) for compensation. The requirements may include the need to possess a valid U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) medical examiner's certificate, and restrictions on the number of hours you may drive. There may also be vehicle maintenance, insurance, and inspection requirements.
  • A person shall not drive a commercial motor vehicle unless he/she is physically qualified to do so and, except as provided in §391.67, has on his/her person the original, or a photographic copy, of a medical examiner’s certificate that he/she is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.

If anyone has any additional questions or concerns, feel free to call or email.

Thanks again!
Les McCoy
Safety Consultant
(612) 219-4504

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People Companies

Vantage Point Solutions Names Szabo Manager of Consulting and Fravel as Senior Analyst

Vantage Point Solutions (VPS) is pleased to announce the promotion of Kristy Szabo to Manager of Consulting. Szabo joined VPS in 2006.   

Szabo is responsible for oversight of the preparation of business plans, budgets, forecasts, rate development, loan or grant applications and various feasibility studies. In addition to assisting clients with various required industry, regulatory and reporting to ensure compliance; conducting client strategic planning to pursue long range goals; and monitoring FCC, key state and industry association law, rule and policy changes and assist with advocacy efforts to benefit VPS clients.

She has performed several feasibility studies and valuations on CATV systems, wireless operations and ILEC and CLEC operations. She has working knowledge of both the RUS Broadband and Traditional Loan programs, and the RUS Community Connect Grant program.

“Kristy has been a part of VPS’ success for over eight years. We are thrilled to promote her to this position so she can guide our clients to reach their company goals,” said Doug Eidahl, VP of Consulting.

VPS also recently hired Steve Fravel as Senior Analyst. Fravel is working in the video service areas as well as regulatory and special projects for the company. Fravel joins VPS with extensive video experience from such companies as CNN, INS, and NTCA.  He brings a deep understanding of video service, video negotiations, retransmission consent, Broadband, and wireless knowledge.

Doug Eidahl, VP of Consulting, states, “We are pleased to welcome Steve to our VPS team. His expertise and understanding of video and emerging technologies will be an asset to our growing company.”

VPS is a telecommunications engineering and consulting company.  It offers a comprehensive line of customer focused, technology-driven solutions from long range communication plans and feasibility studies to outside plant and field services engineering to regulatory consulting. For more information about VPS, please visit

TDS Announces Completion of Two More ARRA Broadband Stimulus Projects

TDS Telecom (TDS®) announces the completion of its American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus-funded broadband Internet projects in parts of Michigan and Minnesota. The result: businesses and more than a combined 1,250 households gain access to high-speed Internet service.

TDS is receiving funding for 44 projects, including these two, from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) as part of the ARRA.

TDS’ stimulus-funded project in Michigan, which impacts parts of Augusta and Medina, is now complete. TDS installed nearly 10 miles of fiber optics cabling and six cabinets (which protect the advanced network electronics) in this area, which is part of its Communication Corporation of Michigan company. In late January, TDS announced a portion of this project, around Augusta, was complete. Today, the entire project is finished and provides nearly 350 area residents access to high-speed Internet service. TDS projected the cost at more than $1.6 million. The RUS grant covered 75 percent of the cost and TDS invested the remaining 25 percent (about $400,000) to expand broadband to more businesses and residents.

The stimulus-funded project in Minnesota is also now complete and impacts customers in parts of Cass and Crow Wing counties. TDS reported in October 2013 that a portion of this project, in TDS’ Arvig Telephone Company, was complete. The project included installing nearly 100 miles of fiber optics cabling and 20 cabinets in order to connect more than 900 area residents to high-speed Internet service. TDS projected the cost at more than $6.7 million. The company invested 25 percent (nearly $1.7 million) and the RUS grant covered 75 percent.

Nationwide, more than 95 percent of TDS customers already have access to high-speed Internet service. TDS is intent on providing as many remaining customers with broadband connectivity as possible. According to TDS, federal stimulus funds are helping to close the gap and deliver Internet connectivity. With the help of ARRA funding, TDS has already expanded high-speed Internet service access to more than 31,500 households across the country.

For background information or to sign-up for services, call 888-225-5837 or visit

Do you have an announcement for People & Companies? Send an email to MTA at or fax to 651-290-2266.

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Minnesota Telecom Alliance
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