June 14, 2013

June 14, 2013

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

>> Webinar Invitation: National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD)

>> Connect Minnesota Releases New Broadband Availability Figures

>> 2013 Lifeline Electronic Verification Process

>> Customer Service

>> Telco Marketing

>> Office Manager & Human Resource

>> Administrative Assistant Peer Group (NEW!)

>> Elements of an Effective Safety Program

People and Companies

MTA Staff

MTA President/CEO:
Brent Christensen
Team Leader:

Jacquie Jaskowiak
Event Planners:
Julie Cygan
Carissa Broderick
Member Services:
Chris Swanson
Janey Duntley
Administrative Assistant:
Lindsey Clancy

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

July 8, 2013: 2013 MTA Golf Day

August 14-16, 2013: 2013 Telco Marketing Peer Group Summer Conference
Registration coming soon!

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MTA Updates


Webinar Invitation: National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD)

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) will help carriers identify and resolve duplicate claims for Lifeline Program-supported service. Join USAC 3:00 to 4:00 PM EDT Wednesday, June 19 to learn about the project timeline, carrier participation, and more.

National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) Webinar
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
3:00 - 4:00 PM EDT
More InformationRegister Now!

Lifeline Program and FCC staff will cover general information about the NLAD, the project timeline, carrier participation, the carrier training plan, data scrubbing, and next steps.

The webinar will be presented by James Lee, Senior Manager of the Lifeline Program, and David Jacobs, Senior Project Manager of IT. They will be joined by Karen Majcher, Vice President of High Cost and Low Income, and FCC staff during the live Q&A following the presentation.

Participants may submit questions in advance to USAC Outreach.


Connect Minnesota Releases New Broadband Availability Figures

New research unveiled today by Connect Minnesota shows that 69.19% of Minnesota households have access to broadband at a minimum of 10 Mbps download/6 Mbps upload. Last October, the  data showed that 61.57% of the households had access across the state at these speeds. This is the seventh comprehensive broadband availability data release from Connect Minnesota since the State Broadband Initiative started in 2009.

"We are glad to see these numbers move in the right direction,” said Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. "Hopefully with this research, the development of broadband stays on pace to meet Minnesota’s goals and needs.”

Among the findings of the new broadband availability research are:

  • 69.19% of Minnesota households can access fixed broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbps download/6 Mbps upload – the minimum speed threshold for Minnesota’s goal of ubiquitous broadband availability* (mobile and satellite services do not meet the speed criteria).
  • 87% of Minnesota households can access broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload (excludes mobile and satellite services); when including mobile, the percentage increases to 97.28% availability at this speed tier.
  • Broadband at higher download speeds is now available to more households; since last October, 50 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload was up 10% to 78.91% and 100 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload was up 8% to 76.0% (excludes mobile and satellite services).
  • Broadband at the basic 768 Kbps download/200 Kbps upload tier is available to 98.53% of Minnesota households, up from 97.99% last October (excludes mobile and satellite services) – 99.93% with mobile service included.
  • 95.80% of Minnesota households can access fixed broadband at speeds of at least 3 Mbps download/768 Kbps upload – the speed threshold used by the FCC in making Connect America Fund determinations; if mobile is included, 99.67% of households have access at this speed tier.

A unique aspect in assessing broadband availability in Minnesota is the state statutory speed goal that provides, in part: "Universal access and high speed deployment as soon as possible, but no later than 2015 all state residents and businesses have access to broadband service that provides a minimum download speed of ten to twenty megabits per second and minimum upload speed of five to ten megabits per second.” Connect Minnesota data indicates that nearly 70% of households have access to that level, leaving approximately 30% of households to serve in order to achieve the goal by 2015.

"Minnesota continues to make progress toward expanding broadband availability and achieving our state speed goals,” said William Hoffman, state program manager for Connect Minnesota. "As providers, the state, and stakeholders work to expand broadband access, adoption, and use in Minnesota, we will continue to see the economic and social benefits across our state.”

Last year, Connect Minnesota released an innovative new broadband mapping tool called My ConnectView™ offering unmatched views of Minnesota’s technology landscape. Residents and businesses are encouraged to use the interactive map to find area providers and help validate the data. To report that broadband is not available in a given area, consumers can fill out a broadband inquiry.

Nonprofit Connect Minnesota has been working since 2008 to ensure that Minnesota residents have access to the economic, educational, and quality of life benefits derived from increased broadband access, adoption, and use. Part of that work includes maintaining detailed analysis of broadband availability across the state to support broadband planning efforts.  Maps and tables of availability are available to view on the state and county level located on the Connect Minnesota website

Connect Minnesota’s research was conducted as part of the State Broadband Initiative (SBI) grant program for Minnesota, funded by the NTIA. The data were gathered in accordance with the requirements of the NTIA. The process begins by contacting all known providers in the state and providing information about the broadband mapping project. Information on broadband service areas is collected from each provider through voluntary participation and is subject to confidentiality protections. Connected Nation strives to maintain a flexible mapping process to be able to collect data from providers in a variety of formats based on providers’ technical capabilities and resources.

*Minnesota Statute 237.012 indicates upload goal of 5 Mbps. Data collection only conforms with speed tiers as represented in the SBI NOFA where 6 Mbps is the most comparable upload speed tier.

2013 Lifeline Electronic Verification Process

The MTA has received several inquiries from Members who participated in the 2012 electronic lifeline verification process with the MN Department of Human Services (DHS). Those companies who participated in 2012 and have a current Data Sharing Agreement (DSA) on file with DHS do not need to do anything at this time. You will be contacted by DHS in July to transmit your list of participants to DHS on or about August 1. The process will follow the same timeline as last year. You should receive your verified list back from DHS within one week after submission.

Those companies who have not participated in the past, but are interested in starting should contact the MTA for the most current DSA, which needs to be completed and submitted to DHS no later than early July.

MTA Member companies also have the option to participate in USAC’s Lifeline verification process as described in earlier communications. For more information, contact MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen at bchristensen@mnta.org or 651-288-3723.

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

Customer Service

Our Customer Service Fall Conference has been set for Thursday, September 26 and Friday, September 27, 2013 at the Holiday Inn, Minneapolis Northwest – Elk River. Please Save the Date! A block of rooms have been reserved for Thursday, September 26 at a rate of $80.00 per night which is for a two Queen non–smoking room. Rooms can be reserved by calling 763-656-4400 using the block code is MTA.

We will be holding an onsite Ice Breaker the evening of September 26, which will include a massage therapist coming in for two hours giving mini-massages.

Brent Christensen from MTA will be our opening speaker and following Brent will be Kristi Westbrock from CTC speaking on the "Seven Traits of Highly Successful Salespeople." Audrey Thomas from Organized Audrey will be our speaker in the afternoon speaking on the" Passport to Productivity and Entangled in E-mail."

Telco Marketing

Join us on August 14-16 in the St. Cloud, Minnesota area for another riveting TelcoMarketing Group Peer Conference. This is a great way to learn, network and get inspired. Plus, it's affordable, fun and everyone wins a prize! Stay tuned for agenda, registration and accommodation details later in June. In the meantime, mark your calendars because the summer is filling up fast! If you have questions please feel free to contact the planning committee:

Carolee Haack – chaack@runestone.net
Holland Lidke – holly@harmonytel.com
Scott Meyer – scottm@innovsys.com
Melissa Waddell – melissaw@innovsys.com
Toni Edwards – tedwards@gctel.net

Office Managers & Human Resources

Save the date for the Fall Conference of the MTA Office Manager & Human Resource Peer Groups, scheduled for September 12-13, 2013, at the Hampton Inn, Duluth, Minnesota. Office Managers and Human Resource Managers have a lot of common work functions and responsibilities and we have decided to continue a joint conference to take advantage of the knowledge and resources each peer group has to offer.

Information regarding meeting and hotel registration along with the agenda will be coming soon.

We really hope you can join us in September at the Hampton Inn, Duluth for an enjoyable conference. If you have any questions, feel free to contact a planning committee member.

MTA OM/HR Peer Group Planning Committee:

Nicki Britton, SourceOne Solutions
(320) 235-8887

Carrie Lowe, CTC

Lisa Heittola, Park Region & Otter Tail Telcom
(218) 454-1121

Kris Radermacher, Farmers Mutual Telephone
(320) 568-2105

Debby Foerchinger, CrossLake Communications
(218) 692-2777

Administrative Assistant Peer Group (NEW!)

Save the date for the Summer Administrative Assistant Peer Group Conference. Join us on August 28-29 in St. Paul at the MTA offices for our very first conference. This is a great way to network and learn about best practices from your colleagues. Plus, we will be having an off-site ice breaker the night before the conference! Stay tuned for the agenda, registration and accommodation details that will be sent out later in June. Make sure to mark your calendars because you don’t want you to miss out on this event! Watch for registration on the MTA website in early July. If you have questions please feel free to contact the planning committee:

Lindsey Clancy – lclancy@mnta.org
Karin Jahnke – kjahnke@fedtel.net
Sue Jensen – sue.jensen@parkregion.com

Would you like to be added to a Peer Group listserv?

Email Jacquie at jacquiej@mnta.org to be added – please specify which listserv(s) you would like to join:

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

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Safety Corner

Elements of an Effective Safety Program

Developing an effective safety program from scratch—or evaluating an existing one—can feel overwhelming to anyone. However, there are a number of basic principles that can help us integrate safety into our daily operations and make it a critical element of our company’s culture.  In trying to build a safety program that will flow with the rest of our company programs, the following elements should be included.

Commitment to Safety
The support of management starting at the top is a critical element in developing a comprehensive approach to safety. "Management commitment and employee involvement" lead federal OSHA's short list of the basic elements required for an effective safety and health program. 

Identify Hazards
In addition to management commitment and employee involvement, analyze your facilities and worksites to identify existing and potential hazards. This is not a one-time activity. Worksite analysis contains a number of practices involving people, equipment and work processes, including:

  • A review of facilities and work activities, designed to uncover current and potential hazards. This could include physical inspection of the workplace, an examination of your organization's injury history, and thorough analysis of the steps involved in any task.
  • Periodic self-inspections to confirm that hazard controls are working and to evaluate any new hazards.
  • Creating an environment that allows employees to report potential hazards without fear of negative repercussions.
  • Thorough investigation if an incident occurs, in order to prevent it from occurring again.

Prevent and Control Hazards
The most effective way to control hazards is to eliminate them by making changes that improve equipment and work processes.  If eliminating the hazard is not feasible, you should turn next to "administrative controls," actions that reduce exposure to a hazard.

  • Establishing safe work procedures and make sure employees understand and follow them.
  • Enforcing compliance with these procedures through a disciplinary system that is created with employee input.
  • Supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses, hard hats, hearing protection, etc., and ensuring that employees understand why they need the equipment, how to use it and how to maintain it.
  • Providing for regular equipment maintenance.
  • Creating an emergency plan that covers fires, natural disasters and any situation likely to occur in a given workplace.

Train Employees, Supervisors and Managers
All employees must be trained to understand every serious hazard they might be exposed to and how to protect themselves. Simply acquiring knowledge isn't enough, however. You must verify that employees really understood what was taught. Safety instruction for supervisors must help them understand the hazards that face employees. They must also learn to reinforce training with on-the-spot reminders, refresher sessions, and, if necessary, disciplinary action. Training for top management should ensure that they understand their safety and health responsibilities and know how to hold subordinate supervisors responsible for theirs. Training activities, as well as those of the three other program components, should be documented, both to meet legal requirements and to demonstrate good faith.

Developing and implementing an effective safety program to meet the needs of a company requires commitment and consistency throughout the organization from the top down.

Take care,
Dan Berg, M.S.
Lead Safet
y Consultant

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People Companies

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© Copyright 2013
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