The Iowa Telecommunications Association will host a leadership conference in Spirit Lake, Iowa, on June 4. The ITA Leadership Conference is a dynamic one-day program designed to sharpen your leadership skills. Strong leadership is an important component to keep your team structured and focused. General managers, plant managers, and employees with management tasks are strongly encouraged to attend. MTA members can register for the conference at the ITA member rate, using promo code MTA13web to get the ITA member rate. For more information CLICK HERE, or contact MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-288-3723.
Register today for MTA’s Annual Golf Day! This year’s event will again be held at the Crow River Golf Course in Hutchinson, MN on July 8.
Registration fee is $145 per player or $40 for the reception only. Don’t forget to bring extra cash for the chance board fundraiser!
Sign up your team or register as an individual online here.
Interested in a hole sponsorship? Sign up here.
7Sigma Systems, Inc
MP Nexlevel, LLC
Bernstein Global Wealth Management
Olsen Thielen & Co., Ltd.
U.B.S. Financial Inc.
Golf Cart Sponsors:
Power Products Services
Finley Engineering Company, Inc
7Sigma Systems, Inc.
Bernstein Global Wealth Management
Border States Supply Chain Solutions
Farmers Union Insurance Co.
MP Nexlevel, LLC
Olsen Thielen & Co. Ltd.
Power Products Services
U.B.S. Financial, Inc.
Last week, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) pressed for legislation to help ensure that the federal government is doing everything it can to bring affordable high-speed Internet access to communities and businesses in Minnesota—especially in rural areas—and across the country.
The bipartisan measure requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess whether the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is effectively promoting the availability and affordability of broadband services in rural areas. Such services are critically important to job creation and economic development in communities in Minnesota and across the country.
"Reliable, high-speed broadband is critical to keeping rural communities in Minnesota and across the country strong,” said Sen. Franken. "I want to make sure scarce federal dollars are actually getting to the communities that need them. This legislation will allow us to assess the FCC’s progress on expanding and improving broadband services throughout the United States and is a key step to bringing Internet access to all Americans."
"Minnesota Telecom Alliance member companies provide broadband to some of the most rural parts of Minnesota and we can't afford for the FCC to get it wrong,” said Brent Christensen, President and CEO of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance. "We very much appreciate the efforts of Sen. Franken to make sure the process works the way it should. This GAO study will help ensure the FCC's plans work to provide a regulatory framework under which our companies can better serve our customers and ensure the economic viability of rural Minnesota for years to come."
Sen. Franken is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law and has repeatedly advocated for broadband build out to rural areas. In April of last year and this February, Sen. Franken sent letters to the FCC urging the Commission to do more to deploy broadband to rural areas of Minnesota and to consider the unique needs of rural communities when reforming the Universal Service Fund, a program that was created to improve communications service for all Americans. In March, along with Republican Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Sen. Franken passed into the Senate's 2014 budget an amendment promoting investment in broadband infrastructure for rural areas.
This legislation was originally introduced by Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) and is also cosponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
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The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau took positive action on May 16 to address a number of concerns that small rural telecommunications providers (RLECs) and NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association have raised about Universal Service Fund (USF) reporting requirements and the lingering need for a targeted broadband support mechanism for areas served by RLECs. The bureau also issued a staff report making recommendations regarding rate-of-return represcription.
A brief report of the FCC actions is presented below.
FCC Action: The bureau issued an order granting an emergency petition filed by NTCA and other rural associations for a blanket waiver of five-year buildout plan filing requirements and clarifying the applicability of other reporting requirements.
What it means for RLECs: RLECs will not be obligated to submit five-year service quality improvement plans before July 1, 2014. The FCC also provided a number of additional clarifications sought by NTCA and its allies regarding the other reporting elements that would be due in 2013 as compared to 2014.
FCC Action: The bureau issued a public notice soliciting comment on how it might create a targeted broadband-focused support mechanism for consumers in rural, high-cost areas served by RLECs. The FCC seeks comment on two possible paths to provide rate-of-return carriers with additional incentives to deliver both voice and broadband services: 1) To implement a proposal suggested in NTCA’s IP evolution petition and subsequent meetings to make USF support available on loops where consumers choose only to procure broadband services and decline to purchase voice telephony service (otherwise known as "standalone broadband” service); and 2) To facilitate voluntary participation by RLECs in Connect America Fund Phase II.
What it means for RLECs: The public notice kicks off a new round of discussion that will focus specifically on how existing USF rules should be updated to further the goals of broadband affordability and availability in areas served by RLECs. This is an important and necessary step toward achieving a "Connect America Fund” that serves the interests of rural consumers in these areas.
FCC Action: The bureau issued a public notice seeking comment on a staff report exploring options and making recommendations for represcription of the authorized interstate rate of return.
What it means for RLECs: As part of a 2011 further notice of proposed rulemaking, the commission indicated that it would review the rate of return and suggested that the rate might be no more than 9%. The staff report recommends the commission represcribe the authorized rate of return to between 8.06% and 8.72% and suggests data and procedures the FCC could use to do so. In addition to accepting public comment on the proposal, the FCC also will seek "external peer review” of the staff report according to federal Office of Management and Budget guidelines.
Though NTCA is still reviewing the details of each proposal, these announcements represent significant developments in the continuing debate over how to create regulatory certainty and build a broadband future for consumers and businesses located in the most rural areas of the United States. Some of the proposals, such as updating the USF to support shifting consumer preferences, are essential to rural America’s meaningful participation in a broadband-focused, IP-enabled world. Although NTCA will likely also oppose some of the changes being considered, and while there will be many debates to come on all aspects of these items, NTCA hopes that the commission’s decision to put these items out for public input and/or peer review will lead to thoughtful, data-driven outcomes that in the end further, rather than undermine, the objectives of universal service. In this regard, NTCA sees several of these actions as yet another indication that our industry’s collective advocacy efforts can make a difference, and all of these items provide evidence of how important it is that the rural telecom industry remain engaged at every level and each step of the ongoing debates to seek positive outcomes that accrue to the benefit of rural consumers.
For more information about these and other federal policy developments, read NTCA’s weekly Washington Report. Questions may also be directed to NTCA Senior Vice President of Policy Mike Romano at email@example.com.
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All MTA members are welcome to join a Peer Group
Email Jacquie at firstname.lastname@example.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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After the long winter and extended stretch of cool weather this spring, it’s time to start thinking about warmer weather and how to prepare for the hazards of heat. It’s hard to believe that we can have snow/sleet on Saturday and temperatures in the 90s two days later. Summer can be a dangerous time for heat-related injuries. Heat can affect any worker that is exposed to extreme heat or who works in a hot environment.
Why is heat a hazard to workers?
When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating. When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. Blood circulated to the skin cannot lose its heat. Sweating then becomes the main way the body cools off. But sweating is effective only if the humidity level is low enough to allow evaporation, and if the fluids and salts that are lost are adequately replaced.
If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body's core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, the person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and even death if the person is not cooled down.
Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses (OSHA website), from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.
Take steps that help workers become acclimatized (gradually build up exposure to heat), especially workers who are new to working in the heat or have been away from work for a week or more. Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks during the first week of work.
Having adequate potable (safe for drinking) water close to the work area for workers is important; workers should drink small amounts frequently.
Rather than exposing workers to heat for extended periods of time, workers should, wherever possible, be permitted to distribute the workload evenly over the day and incorporate work/rest cycles.
For information on heat stress to post on your facility walls as a notice to your staff, check out the Fast Facts sheet from NIOSH called "Protecting Yourself from Heat Stress.”
OSHA has also created a Heat Safety Tool smartphone app to help workers monitor the heat index at their worksite, indicating the risk level and generating reminders about simple protective measures they should follow and first aid procedures.
We’ve waited a long time for the warmer weather to get here. Let’s enjoy it, but also be aware of the dangers heat presents to co-workers, family and ourselves.
Have a Safe Summer,
Dan Berg, M.S.
Lead Safety Consultant
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