February 21, 2014

February 21, 2014

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

>> MTA Day on the Hill Plans Finalized

>> MTA Day on the Hill Looking for Sponsors

>> MTA Annual Convention: Deadlines Approaching

>> CPNI Certifications Due March 1

>> New Study: Repeal of Sales Tax on Telecom Equipment Necessary for Broadband Investment, Economic Growth

>> Windstream to Pay $2.5 Million to Settle Investigation of Rural Call Completion Practices

>> MTA Peer Group 2014 Investment Opportunities Are Now Available!

>> Portable Ladder Safety

People and Companies

>> MACC Announces its 2014 Events Schedule

>> Fruede Wins NTCA Award

MTA Staff

MTA President/CEO:
Brent Christensen
Team Leader:

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

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

February 26-27, 2014: 2014 Administrative Assistant Peer Group Winter Conference

March 24-26, 2014: MTA Annual Convention & Trade Show

Back to top

MTA Updates


MTA Day on the Hill Plans Finalized

Join us March 11 and 12, 2014!

Register here

The 2014 Legislative session starts next Tuesday, Feb. 25. The MTA has already started our advocacy efforts. "This will be an interesting session,” predicted Mike Ahern, MTA/MIC’s lobbyist. "It’s going to be a session filled with change and focused on the fiscal resources, but there’s going be a lot of telecom action.”

"Last session, we lost the only tool we have from the State to advance broadband, the sales tax exemption on Central Office Equipment,” emphasized Brent Christensen. "Now, we are the only industry that pays sales tax on capital equipment purchases in Minnesota.” In addition, the MTA will continue to focus on modernizing telecom statutes in hopes of creating a more level playing field.

Online registration for Day on the Hill (DOTH) is now available HERE. As always, there will be no registration fee, but we need to know who will be there soon, in order to set up the teams that will meet with Legislators. Also, call the Crowne Plaza - Riverfront Hotel now to get your room reservations at 800-292-9292.

The registration deadline is fast approaching. As in previous years, teams will then be formed and legislators assigned for appointments. For more information, contact Brent Christensen at 651-288-3723 or bchristensen@mnta.org.

MTA Day on the Hill Looking for Sponsors

With the new changes in Minnesota’s campaign contribution law, the MTA is pulling out all of the stops for a reception for legislators. MTA could use your help. Even if you have never participated in Day on the Hill, but believe telecom advocacy is important, you can help. Gold Sponsorships are $1,000 and Silver Sponsorships are $500. All sponsors will have their company’s logo on signage at the Issues briefing and Legislative reception. Gold sponsors will also receive special recognition at the event. For more information, and to sign up for sponsorship, please contact MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen at bchristensen@mnta.org or 651-288-3723.

MTA Annual Convention: Deadlines Approaching

March 24-26, 2014
Hyatt Regency and Millennium Hotel, Minneapolis

Don’t miss getting your early bird registration discount by signing up before February 28, 2014. And don't forget to make your hotel reservation by the same date!

The 2014 MTA Convention has something for everyone in the telecom Industry. The breakout sessions cover a wide range of topics regardless of your role is in the telecom industry. The MTA Convention has something for you! You won’t want to miss our Keynote: Six Keys to Success in a Changing World by Karl Mecklenburg. Be sure to sign up for the Issues Luncheon on Tuesday. This will be your opportunity to learn what is going on at the State level and how it will affect the way you do business.

Don’t miss the action. REGISTER NOW!

Make Your Hotel Reservations

Make your lodging reservations for the Hyatt Regency or the Millennium Hotel, both located in downtown Minneapolis. Deadline: February 28, 2014.

Learn more

Sponsor & Exhibitor Opportunities are Still Available



CPNI Certifications Due March 1

MTA reminds members that CPNI certifications must be filed annually between January 1 and March 1.
No major changes in this filing have occurred, so an updated Certification and Statement of Compliance for 2013 are needed. If your company has had any instances where action was taken against a data broker, or you received customer complaints regarding CPNI data releases, submit that information when filing. If you have any questions, please contact the MTA office.

New Study: Repeal of Sales Tax on Telecom Equipment Necessary for Broadband Investment, Economic Growth

A new study shows that repealing the sales tax on telecommunications equipment is the best way for Minnesota to maximize investments in broadband across the entire state – a specific goal of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband chaired by former House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

The study, authored by Economist Dr. Raul Katz, supports Gov. Dayton’s call for repealing the broadband tax and ensuring Minnesota has the telecommunications infrastructure and investment necessary to compete in a 21st century economy.

"Having first-class high-speed broadband connections is one of the keys to Minnesota’s innovation and economic competitiveness,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, president and CEO of the Minnesota High Tech Association. "Repealing the broadband tax will benefit all Minnesotans, including entrepreneurs, senior citizens with better health care delivery, and all students through greater connectivity.”

In 2013, Minnesota state law was changed to levy a new 7% tax on telecommunications equipment, a tax not collected on any other industry in Minnesota. This tax was enacted despite a recommendation from the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband to expand the telecommunications tax exemption to provide additional resources to meet the state’s 2015 broadband goals.

Dr. Katz’s study found that this new telecom tax is projected to result in a $153 million reduction in telecom investment in the economy, triggering a loss of 3,323 jobs and a $308 million hit to the state’s GDP. Beyond this direct effect, econometric modeling indicates that eliminating the sales and use tax exemption on telecommunications infrastructure would – in just two years – reduce economic activity by $722 million.

In addition, a survey conducted across telecommunications companies as part of the study indicated that, under the current tax policy, 40% of service providers would reduce their investment. Alternatively, 50% of service providers said they will increase their investment if the tax is repealed.

"Without this tax, my company would be investing an additional $85,000 into telecommunications infrastructure in Minnesota,” said Kevin Larson, CEO of Consolidated Telecom Company (CTC). "Repealing this anti-competitive tax is critical to supporting investment in broadband growth and innovation in Minnesota’s economy.”

The telecommunications industry has made substantial investments in Minnesota in recent years. Between 2006 and 2012, total investment exceeded $5 billion, including $3 billion in the last four years alone. More than half of the spending went to the deployment of broadband services with approximately 50% of that dedicated to suburban, rural and isolated communities.

This investment has supported more than 112,000 jobs and generated more than $10 billion in economic output. However, the new broadband tax will not only result in less spending on new infrastructure and fewer jobs, but it is also detrimental to economic growth and innovation in Minnesota, according to the study.

A full copy of Dr. Katz’s study can be found online at http://www.teleadvs.com/reports-3/. Dr. Katz is an adjunct professor of Economics and Finance at Columbia Business School in New York and the director of business strategy research at Columbia University’s Center for Tele-Information.

The All Minnesota Broadband Alliance is a group of companies, associations and their respective members and stakeholders who are committed to ensuring Minnesota’s telecommunications industry remains competitive. Alliance members include the Minnesota High Tech Association, Minnesota Telecom Alliance and its member companies, Minnesota Cable Communications Coalition and its member companies, Minnesota Utility Contractors Association, Heartland Technology Alliance, CenturyLink, Comcast, Charter, TDS Telecom, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Windstream to Pay $2.5 Million to Settle Investigation of Rural Call Completion Practices

Windstream Corp. has agreed to pay $2.5 million to resolve an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau into the company’s rural call completion practices. Windstream has also agreed to implement a three-year plan to ensure compliance with FCC requirements designed to combat the serious problem of long-distance calls failing to complete in rural areas.

"It goes without saying that long-distance calls placed to rural areas – or anywhere – should reach their destination,” said Michele Ellison, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau. "Rural call completion failures jeopardize the fundamental promise that all Americans should have access to reliable communications. If companies don’t fulfill this critical responsibility, we will continue to step in.”

In its consent decree with the Enforcement Bureau, Windstream has agreed to:

  • Make a voluntary contribution of $2.5 million to the U.S. Treasury;
  • Designate a senior corporate officer to serve as a compliance officer focusing on rural call completion issues;
  • Cooperate with the FCC and rural LECs to establish a testing program to evaluate rural call
    completion performance whenever complaints or data indicate problems;
  • Notify intermediate providers (companies that Windstream uses to deliver calls) that may be causing call completion problems and analyze and resolve such problems as soon as practicable;
  • Cease using intermediate providers that fail to improve their performance;
  • Institute a comprehensive plan to ensure future compliance with FCC rules;
  • Report to the FCC any noncompliance with rural call completion rules within 15 days; and
  • File initial compliance report in 90 days and annual reports for three years.

"Given the critical importance of long-distance service to people and businesses located in rural areas, I’m pleased that Windstream fully cooperated with the FCC’s investigation and committed to taking tangible steps to ensure more reliable service to rural America,” added Ms. Ellison.

Part of a coordinated effort to address rural call completion problems, the settlement is the second major
resolution of a rural call completion investigation in a year. Last March, Level 3 Communications, LLC,
agreed to make a $975,000 voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury as part of a settlement. In addition to reaching these settlements, the FCC last November adopted new rules that will deter call completion
problems and facilitate enforcement by requiring providers to record, retain, and report to the Commission call completion data for long-distance calls.

The Consent Decree is available at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-152A1.pdf.

Back to top

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

MTA Peer Group 2014 Investment Opportunities Are 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 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 jacquied@mnta.org 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)

Back to top

Safety Corner

Portable Ladder Safety

Falls from portable ladders (step, straight, combination and extension) are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries according to OSHA reports. In the telecom industry, ladders are used on a daily basis, presenting employees with unique exposures.

OSHA has the following rules and guidelines to help us use ladders correctly and safely.

  • Read and follow all labels/markings on the ladder.
  • Avoid electrical hazards! Look for overhead power lines before handling a ladder. Never use a metal ladder near power lines or exposed energized electrical equipment.
  • Always inspect the ladder prior to using it. If the ladder is damaged, it must be removed from service and tagged until repaired or discarded.
  • Always maintain a 3-point (two hands and a foot, or two feet and a hand) contact on the ladder when climbing. Keep your body near the middle of the step and always face the ladder while climbing.
  • Only use ladders and appropriate accessories (ladder levelers, jacks or hooks) for their designed purposes.
  • Ladders must be free of any slippery material on the rungs, steps or feet.
  • Do not use a self-supporting ladder (e.g., step ladder) as a single ladder or in a partially closed position.
  • Do not use the top step/rung of a ladder as a step/rung unless it was designed for that purpose (we know not all ladders are designed to use the top step/rung).
  • Use a ladder only on a stable and level surface, unless it has been secured (top or bottom) to prevent displacement.
  • Do not place a ladder on boxes, barrels, scaffolding, aerial lift or other unstable bases to obtain additional height.
  • Do not move or shift a ladder while a person or equipment is on the ladder.
  • An extension or straight ladder used to access an elevated surface must extend at least 3 feet above the point of support. Do not stand on the three top rungs of a straight, single or extension ladder.
  • The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface.
  • A ladder placed in any location where it can be displaced by other work activities must be secured to prevent displacement or a barricade must be erected to keep traffic away from the ladder.
  • Be sure that all locks on an extension ladder are properly engaged.
  • Do not exceed the maximum load rating of a ladder. Be aware of the ladder’s load rating and of the weight it is supporting, including the weight of any tools or equipment.

Ladders are great tools, and when used correctly can be very safe. But we also know if used incorrectly, the result can be disastrous. If you would like any additional information on proper ladder use and regulations, feel free to contact the MTA Safety Program and we’d be glad to help you out.

Take Care,

Dan Berg, M.S.
MTA Lead Safety Consultant

Back to top

People Companies

MACC Announces its 2014 Events Schedule

Mid America Computer Corporation’s (MACC) schedule of client events for 2014 is now available. This year’s series of meetings and conferences includes events in seven communities and four states. At each event, MACC clients will have the opportunity to learn new skills and network with their peers in the telecom industry.

2014 MACC Events Schedule

MACC Midwest Road Shows

  • March 26 – Hays, Kansas
  • March 27 – Topeka, Kansas
  • April 1 – Coralville, Iowa
  • April 2 – Urbandale, Iowa
  • April 3 – Fort Dodge, Iowa
  • Road Show details and registration – www.maccnet.com/roadshows

MACC Users Group

MACC Billing and Technology Conference – MBTC

  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Session One – September 3-5
  • Session Two – September 8-10
  • MBTC details and registration – www.maccnet.com/mbtc

For more information on any of these events, please contact MACC’s Creative Services Coordinator, Kristi Rounds, at 402-533-5184 or krounds@maccnet.com.

Fruede Wins NTCA Award

The Manager Lifetime Achievement Award honored Paul Freude, consultant and cooperative development chief manager of Paul Bunyan Communications in Bemidji, Minn. Freude has been with the company for 27 years, including 20 years as chief executive officer and as general manager from 1993 to 2012. Under his leadership, his community gained access to many technologies, including cellular phone, fiber to the home, home security and multiple television service offerings, long before most of the country.

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

Back to top

Is there someone in your organization who you would like to add to the distribution list? Send their name, company and email address to info@mnta.org 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 2014
Minnesota Telecom Alliance
1000 Westgate Drive, Suite 252 | St. Paul, MN 55114-8679
www.mnta.org | Tel: 651-291-7311 | Fax: 651-290-2266 | Email: info@mnta.org