In our continuing efforts to provide value to our Membership, the MTA is transforming the Fall Conference into the MTA Industry Showcase. The 2012 Industry Showcase will be held October 4 and 5 at the Doubletree Hotel in St. Louis Park. You won’t want to miss this year’s event, which features general sessions on how to diversify your telecom business in this changing world and a chance to hear from state legislators on the issues facing our industry.
The MTA Industry Showcase will also feature three different tracks of breakout sessions sponsored by the Video Peer Group, the IT Peer Group, and a Telework Summit sponsored by the Economic Development Committee. No matter what your interest, we have something for you! Don’t forget to save the date and we will see you at the MTA Industry Showcase in October.
Recent action by the FCC and MNPUC on Lifeline has left many questions for MTA member companies. The MTA’s RTS Committee has been working hard on this issue and wishes to communicate information to assist members ensure they remain in compliance.
Lifeline Application and Notification
At its June 7 meeting, the MNPUC approved a new application to be used by ETCs for Lifeline program applicants. This new application has not been posted online by the Commission yet, but can be found on the last two pages of the Order. This new application is to be used effective June 1, 2012. Until the application is online, it is possible that there may further changes to the form.
Also included in the MNPUC order is a requirement for ETCs to notify customers of changes in the Lifeline program. ETCs must notify all customers through bill inserts or other printed mailings by July 31, 2012. Below is a sample notification telcos may use to comply with this requirement. Companies should modify to include any company-specific information needed:
SAMPLE BILL INSERT LANGUAGE
Changes in Lifeline Credits
The Federal Communications Commission has changed the Federal Lifeline Credit amount to $9.25 effective August 1. As a result, you may see a change in the monthly lifeline credits starting on your August bill. This change will increase the amount you owe. If you have any questions, please contact [insert appropriate contact info here].
Additionally, ETCs must post information about Lifeline, including the support amount, the eligibility criteria, and the application form and instructions on their websites.
Lifeline Rate Tariff
Lifeline tariff updates must be filed with the MNPUC by July 2, 2012.
Lifeline Eligibility Verification
Changes have also been made in the timeline and process for verifying Lifeline eligibility. The FCC’s Lifeline Order requires ETCs to verify eligibility of customers participating in the Lifeline program as of 6/1/12. This verification must be completed by 12/31/12 and results submitted to the FCC and MNPUC no later than 1/31/13. MTA members have two options to comply with this requirement. MTA Members can choose to participate in the electronic verification process established with the MN Department of Human Services (DHS) or may decide to complete the verification manually.
Members choosing to complete the verification electronically must complete the following steps:
- Signed Data Sharing Agreements (DSAs) had to be received by the MTA no later than June 15, 2012.
- Those DSAs were collected by the MTA staff and submitted at one time to DHS on June 22, 2012.
- DHS will countersign and return one copy directly to the participating telco by July 13, 2012.
- By August 1, participating telcos should submit an electronic list of all Lifeline participants as of June 30, 2012 to DHS for verification.
- DHS will return an electronic list to the participating telco verifying eligibility of submitted participants no later than September 30, 2012.
- The participating Telco will need to send a letter to ANY Lifeline customers that were found not verified electronically via the DHS process. The letter should request proof of eligibility from the customer or risk being removed from the program.
- Certify the verification of Lifeline participants by 12/31/12 and submit results to the FCC, USAC and PUC by January 31, 2013.
Members who choose not to participate in the electronic verification process must complete the following steps:
- The participating Telco will need to send a letter (and follow up letter if necessary) to ALL Lifeline customers requiring the customer to provide proof of eligibility or risk being removed from the program.
- Certify the verification of Lifeline participants to the FCC and MNPUC by 12/31/12.
The National Rural Trade Associations (OPASTCO, NTCA, WTA) wish to initiate a grassroots, member-signed ex parte letter to the FCC regarding the regression analysis-based caps on HCLS.
We have heard repeatedly your concerns with respect to – among other things – the regression-analysis based caps finalized by the Wireline Competition Bureau in April. However, we frequently receive "pushback” in our advocacy that only a limited number of waivers and related letters have been filed to date. This is presented as "evidence” that any concerns about the regression analysis caps are really limited to the associations and a handful of their member companies.
To rebut this misplaced notion, we are seeking your help in preparing and filing a letter that would be signed not by the associations, but rather (hopefully) by hundreds of small companies. We recognize that every company faces different circumstances and that each is affected differently by the caps in the near term. But we also understand that there is also a common theme in that the caps as currently constituted are unworkable because of the unpredictability and uncertainty they generate. This letter highlights this high-level, overarching concern about uncertainty and asks the FCC to address it as soon as possible.
Given that these are concerns that you all have raised to us in the first instance, we think it is essential that this letter regarding the regression analysis must be a member-driven effort. We are therefore asking your help in circulating and asking for "co-signers” on the letter. In particular, rather than this letter coming as part of an emailed "alert” from the national associations, we think it would work best if you email the letter to fellow companies in your state, region, etc., and personally ask if they will join you in signing onto the letter. Once you have obtained an indication of any company wanting to sign on, please send that email confirmation back to Stuart Polikoff (email@example.com) and/or Randy Tyree (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we, along with the other associations, will prepare a final reconciled list of the companies signing onto the letter.
We hope that this "personal outreach” by you as members will result in a broader group of companies participating in the process. We also hope that getting several hundred companies listed on a letter of this kind will allow us to dispel the notion that any concerns are association-driven or the focus of only a few companies.
If you have any questions at all or would like to discuss further, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are setting a deadline of July 2 for people to sign onto the letter, so please help by reaching out to other companies as soon as possible. Again, to be clear, the idea is that this would be a joint letter that would list the names of every company who wishes to sign on – there’s no need for companies to use this to craft and send in individual letters.
Earlier this year, the FCC released its Fifth Emergency Alert System (EAS) Report and Order detailing the obligations of EAS Participants, including cable operators, associated with being able to receive and redistribute Common Alerting Protocol (CAP)-formatted messages by June 30, 2012.
These new requirements include:
- EAS Participants must be able to convert CAP-formatted EAS messages into messages that comply with the EAS Protocol requirements, following the procedures set forth in the
- EAS-CAP Industry Group’s ("ECIG’s”) ECIG Implementation Guide.
- EAS Participants must monitor FEMA’s IPAWS system for federal CAP-formatted alert messages, but may use whatever interface technology the EAS Participant deems appropriate.
- EAS Participants must use the enhanced text in CAP messages to meet the EAS video display requirements.
- EAS Participants are relieved of the requirement to receive and transmit CAP-formatted messages initiated by state governors.
The FCC will permit, with certain limitations, EAS Participants to use intermediary devices in tandem with existing legacy EAS equipment to meet their CAP-related obligations. These devices would carry out the function of receiving and transmitting a CAP-formatted message and converting the message into a SAME-compliant message that could be utilized by a legacy EAS device. The FCC suggests that use of such an intermediary device might provide a cost-effective method for an EAS Participant, particularly one that is financially constrained, to receive and convert CAP-formatted messages into the SAME format without having to replace its existing EAS equipment.
The FCC declined to grant any exemption for any class of EAS Participants, including small cable systems, from the basic obligations of monitoring for, receiving, and processing CAP-formatted messages. In rejecting calls for blanket exemptions, the FCC recognized that that the CAP-related requirements will likely require EAS Participants to replace their legacy EAS equipment. However, the FCC discounted the burden of this requirement on EAS Participants, stating that EAS Participants’ existing equipment is likely to need replacement in the near future even in the absence of the new CAP-related requirements, and that EAS Participants have been aware of their obligation to purchase new equipment since 2007. Despite these statements indicating that the FCC would be unlikely to grant general waivers except in extraordinary circumstances, the Order suggests that small cable systems or other EAS Participants can request a waiver of the requirements pursuant to the Commission’s general waiver provisions.
The FCC recognizes that the primary method of distributing CAP-formatted messages will be via a broadband Internet connection. Knowing that some EAS Participants lack physical access to broadband Internet connections and that it would not be appropriate to require these EAS Participants, particularly smaller ones, to purchase and install equipment that they could not use, the FCC concluded that the physical unavailability of broadband Internet access creates a presumption in favor of a waiver. However, the FCC stipulates that such a waiver would likely be limited to no more than six months, with the option of renewal only if circumstances remain unchanged. The FCC states that an EAS participant that is granted a waiver based on the lack of physical availability of Broadband Internet Access would still be required to operate its legacy EAS equipment. Requests for waiver of the EAS rules will be subject to the general waiver process which requires public notice and comment procedures. This waiver process typically takes a minimum of several months to result in a decision.
An MTA member in Iowa received this Yellow Page USA Ad. This notice was sent to business fax numbers. Note that the page carries a logo similar to AT&T Yellow Pages and a banner that states Yellow Pages USA. However this is a SCAM and has nothing to do with Yellow page advertising. Also note that the banner says "a free" page on facebook.com..
HOWEVER, if this sheet is completed and sent back, the business will be billed $99/mo for a year in advance for 2 years! The home office for these scammers is in Dubai, UAE. The MTA company fell prey to this scam last year and they battled via the Iowa AG offices and Better Business Bureaus in Iowa and Boston. Yellow Page USA is not bound by US laws and they did not respond to any inquiry by BBB, who cautioned us to simply not pay the invoice. Unpaid invoices were followed by collection threats detrimental to the company's credit rating. The intent is to scam money off of businesses. Upon the IA OAG suggestion, they paid a $297 financial settlement to be rid of them. Afterwards, the director of the Boston BBB shared that many businesses paid this amount and if every returned fax earned Yellow Page USA $297 for no service, they are laughing all the way to the bank.
PLEASE BE ADVISED – no employee should respond to this advertisement. Spread the news to your business customers to prevent them from experiencing this.
There is nothing "free" in this advertisement. The MTA Member did not see the services this company supposedly provides and certainly received no benefit.
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Every day in the United States, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, 2 are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.
In Minnesota as of June 29, there have been 26 drownings in 2012 compared to 14 at this time last year.
According to Fox 9 Investigators, in the last three years in Minnesota, there have been 38 drownings in lakes, 19 in rivers and 10 children under the age of 17 have drowned in swimming pools.
Do you know the telltale signs of a drowning? Fox 9 states that there is a common misconception by the public that a drowning is a loud splashing event, when actually most drownings are eerily silent - and if you are not observing closely, you will miss it.
Safety experts say that if a person is struggling in the water with their face looking up, and goes under the surface, the hydrostatic pressure can force the air out of the lungs in a matter of a second and the person will sink like a rock. This can also happen when a person enters the water with their face looking up.
The following link is a broadcast from Fox 9 on an investigation looking into the critical mistake that experienced swimmers make.
How big is the problem? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- From 2005-2009, there were an average of 3,533 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States. An additional 347 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.
- About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
- More than 50% of nonfatal drowning victims treated in emergency departments (EDs) require hospitalization or transfer for further care (compared with a hospitalization rate of about 6% for all unintentional injuries). These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).
Who is most at risk?
- Males: Nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are male.
- Children: Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates and most of those drownings occur in home swimming pools. Among those 1-14, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes.
What factors influence drowning risk?
The main factors that affect drowning risk are lack of swimming ability, lack of close supervision while swimming, location, failure to wear life jackets, alcohol use, and seizure disorders.
- Lack of Swimming Ability: Many adults and children report that they can’t swim.
- Lack of Close Supervision: Drowning can happen quickly and quietly anywhere there is water (such as bathtubs, swimming pools, buckets), and even in the presence of lifeguards.
- Location: People of different ages drown in different locations. For example, most children ages 1-4 drown in home swimming pools. The percentage of drownings in natural water settings, including lakes and rivers, increases with age.
- Failure to Wear Life Jackets: In 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard received reports for 4,604 boating incidents; 3,153 boaters were reported injured, and 672 died, with 88% of victims not wearing life jackets.
- Alcohol Use: Among adolescents and adults, alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation. Alcohol influences balance, coordination, and judgment, and its effects are heightened by sun exposure and heat.
- Seizure Disorders: For persons with seizure disorders, drowning is the most common cause of unintentional injury death, with the bathtub as the site of highest drowning risk.
What has research found?
- Swimming skills help. Taking part in in formal swimming lessons reduces the risk of drowning among children aged 1 to 4 years. However, many people don’t have basic swimming skills.
- Seconds count—learn CPR. CPR performed by bystanders has been shown to save lives and improve outcomes in drowning victims. The more quickly CPR is started, the better the chance of improved outcomes.
- Life jackets can reduce risk. Potentially, half of all boating deaths might be prevented with the use of life jackets.
We want to be able to enjoy our summer and the water, but please be aware of the facts.
Dan Berg, M.S.
Lead Safety Consultant
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