Next week NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association will begin accepting nominations from member companies to participate in its Smart Rural Community initiative. The application process for the 2014 recognition program will open on June 2. Applications are due July 11.
The Smart Rural Community initiative recognizes efforts to deliver technologies that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. The goal is to foster the development of smart communities throughout rural America by recognizing innovators and providing a road map and resources to assist other broadband providers and connected industries. Seven communities served by NTCA members were recognized during the 2013 NTCA Fall Conference, where they received a trophy and tools to promote and celebrate their national recognition.
NTCA is again looking to recognize and award communities served by its members that embody the title “Smart Rural Community” by providing next-generation applications and platforms such as distance learning, telehealth services and modern 911 communications, just to name a few.
How You Can Get Involved
If your community is a Smart Rural Community or you wish to nominate another community for an award, visit the NTCA website to learn more about the nomination process – or participate in a June 9 webcast about the initiative.
Nominations for the Smart Rural Community recognition program are due July 11. Award recipients will be notified later this summer and recognized at the NTCA 2014 Fall Conference in San Francisco.
Why You Should Get Involved
All NTCA members are encouraged to consider nominating your community or another community served by an NTCA member that you recognize as truly “smart.” This is your opportunity to receive some recognition for your accomplishments and to help your peers learn from what these forward-looking communities have accomplished.
For More Information
More information about the initiative, including answers to frequently asked questions and a description of the benefits award recipients will receive, visit NTCA's website. Questions about this initiative may also be directed to Josh Seidemann, NTCA director of policy, at email@example.com.
Remember to 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 14.
The 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.
Thank you to the following sponsors:
7Sigma Systems, Inc
MP Nexlevel, LLC
Bernstein Global Wealth Management
Metcalf Fredrickson Group/UBS Financial Services
Olsen Thielen & Co., Ltd.
Golf Cart Sponsors:
Power Products Services
Finley Engineering Company, Inc
7Sigma Systems, Inc.
Action Battery Wholesalers, Inc.
Bernstein Global Wealth Management
Metcalf Fredrickson Group/UBS Financial Services
MP Nexlevel, LLC
Olsen Thielen & Co. Ltd
Power Products Services
Tel Rep Midwest
from NECA’s Washington Watch
The FCC published in the Federal Register on May 20, 2014, the Order clarifying and correcting certain rules relating to implementation of the intercarrier compensation transition adopted in the USF/ICC Transformation Order. The Wireline Competition Bureau, among other things, clarified language in sections 51.907 and 51.909 to reflect that achieving ongoing rate parity for the access rates themselves, not the composite rate for price cap and rate-of-return LECs, was the intent of the Transformation Order. It said carriers may continue to establish interstate terminating end office access rate caps that do not exceed the target composite terminating end office access rate for each year in the transition in the manner the adopted rules require. The Order is effective June 19, 2014.
At its regular meeting on May 15, the Public Utilities Commission Initiated a rulemaking proceeding to consider possible changes to Minn. Rules, Parts 7810.4100 through 7810.6100. The Commission directed that the Request for Comments solicit specific language suggestions and substantive evidence supporting any such suggested changes, and directed those requesting any changes to include in their comments, at a minimum:
- Evidence of competition, including the level and scope of such competition in relation to different types of customers (large business, small business, residential, etc.) and geography, and the extent to which existing competition supports the rule changes being recommended;
- A demonstration of how the recommended rule changes would impact retail service quality and the extent to which service quality would be adequately protected by competition and/or the recommended rule changes;
- Evidence of the impact any recommended changes would potentially have on competitive carriers and wholesale service quality;
- Any other relevant evidence and arguments supporting any recommended rule changes and the impact of such changes on telecommunications consumers;
- Any arguments or evidence as to why rule changes should or should not be made regardless of evidence related to competition.
The MTA will participate in the commenting process on behalf of our membership.
from NECA’s Washington Watch
The Tenth Circuit Court issued an Opinion involving universal service issues and an Opinion involving ICC issues in the case reviewing the USF/ICC Transformation Order on May 23, 2014. In the USF Opinion, the Court denied the Petitions for Review to the extent they were based on the issues raised in the Joint Universal Service Fund Principal Brief, the Additional Universal Service Fund Issues Principal Brief, the Wireless Carrier Universal Service Fund Principal Brief and the Tribal Carriers Principal Brief. In the ICC Opinion, the Court denied all of the Petitions for Review involving the FCC’s regulations regarding intercarrier compensation. Petitions for rehearing must be filed within 45 days after entry of judgment. Court cover letter | Judgment
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announced its Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Community Connect Grant Program application window and notice of funds availability. The Notice of Funds Available (NOFA) announced $13 million for grants from FY 2014 and prior year appropriations. In addition, RUS announced the minimum and maximum amounts for Community Connect grants applicable for the fiscal year. The Community Connect Grant Program regulations can be found at 7 CFR part 1739, subpart A. Applicants may submit completed applications for grants on paper or electronically according to the following deadlines:
- Paper copies must carry proof of shipping no later than July 7, 2014 to be eligible for FY 2014 grant funding. Late applications are not eligible for FY 2014 grant funding.
- Electronic copies must be received by July 7, 2014 to be eligible for FY 2014 grant funding. Late applications are not eligible for FY 2014 grant funding.
Application guides and materials for the Community Connect Grant Program may be obtained via the Internet at http:// www.rurdev.usda.gov/utp_ commconnect.html. You may also request application guides and materials from RUS by contacting the appropriate individual listed in section VII of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice.
Submit completed paper applications for grants to the Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Room 2868, STOP 1599, Washington, DC 20250-1599.
Applications should be marked ‘‘Attention: Director, Broadband Division, Rural Utilities Service.’’ Submit electronic grant applications at http://www.grants.gov (Grants.gov), following the instructions you find on that site. For further information contact: Kenneth Kuchno, Director, Broadband Division, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, telephone: (202) 690-4673, fax: (202) 690-4389.
Recently U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler supporting the expressions of interest letters submitted to the FCC by Minnesota providers. The FCC sought interest from parties to provide broadband service to unserved areas of the Country. The FCC is considering establishing a special fund to build out these areas and is seeking to determine the amount of money needed. “As our legacy phone systems age and we transition to a digital era, it is critically important to bring broadband to all corners of the country”, stated Sen. Klobuchar. MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen commented on the letter; “Sen. Klobuchar and her staff have long been champions of MTA members and the work they do to deploy broadband in rural Minnesota. We deeply appreciate this most recent example of that commitment”. CLICK HERE to read the letter.
Recently, letters were sent to primary contacts and safety contacts at each company participating in MTA’s Safety program. The letters outlined the new process of how Safety Consultants will interact with members. At its February meeting, the MTA Safety Committee discussed assigning Safety Consultants to companies instead of our current practice of having each consultant visit each company. It was the consensus of the group that the MTA will continue the practice of assigning topics to each consultant and having them teach their assigned topics to every company. The committee moved to assign companies to specific consultants for the purposes of summer visits and being a single point of contact for companies when they have safety-related questions. The staff has divided up the member companies and will reach out to to let you know who your Safety Consultant contact will be going forward. Here is how things will work beginning June 1:
- Each Safety Program member company will have one point of contact. The Safety Consultant will be responsible for summer visits and ensuring that the company’s safety records are current.
- Each Safety Consultant will still be responsible for the courses that the committee approved at its February meeting. As stated above, each company will still receive training from each consultant.
“We believe this change will better allow us to provide safety services to our members,” commented MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen. “We are no longer just being a resource when asked, now we are taking the responsibility to ensure that every company in the MTA’s Safety Program is up to current with records and providing the safest possible work environment.” If you would like more information, please contact the MTA at 651-291-7311.
New research released by Connect Minnesota shows that statewide, 74.93% of Minnesota households have access to fixed broadband at a minimum of 10 Mbps download/6 Mbps upload. However, the data show only 57.07% in rural areas have access at that speed. The data show availability increases since last October in all speed tiers reported by Connect Minnesota as part of the State Broadband Initiative program.
“Broadband availability continues to increase across Minnesota. Providers, state and local officials, and stakeholders are working to expand broadband access, adoption, and use, and we will continue to see broadband’s economic and social benefits across the state,” said William Hoffman, Connect Minnesota’s state program manager. “Still, there are regions in our state without access to broadband service at our state speed goal and efforts to expand availability and increase speeds are needed.”
Among the findings of the new broadband availability research:
74.93% 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; when mobile broadband is included, 82.78% of households have access at the state’s speed goal* (excludes satellite). However, only 57.07% of rural households can access these broadband speeds (62.70% including mobile), illustrating the gap in Minnesota rural broadband availability.
89.27% 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 99.51% availability at this speed tier. However, only 75.99% of rural households can access these broadband speeds (excluding mobile and satellite services), indicating a disparity between the urban and rural broadband landscape in the state; when including mobile, rural availability jumps to 98.85%.
96.66% 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, 99.89% of households have access at this speed tier (excludes satellite). Fixed broadband availability at these speeds decreases to 92.36% when examining just rural households; if mobile is included, 99.73% have access (excludes satellite).
Broadband at higher download speeds is now available to more households; 50 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload is available to 81.36% and 100 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload is available to 79.78% of Minnesota households (excludes mobile and satellite services).
Since 2011, broadband availability at the 10/6 speed goal has increased by nearly 20% when measuring fixed access; and nearly 30% when mobile is included.
“These findings illustrate two important points: We are making progress toward achieving equitable access to robust broadband service and the tools it provides; but we still have disparities that need to be addressed in order to be sure all Minnesotans have equal access to employment, education, and health services throughout the state,” said Danna Mackenzie, executive director of Minnesota’s Office of Broadband Development.
The public can explore the new data charts, along with county-by-county tables/analysis including county connectivity scores, on Connect Minnesota’s website.
Connect Minnesota’s website is home to an innovative 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.
Connect Minnesota’s research was conducted as part of the State Broadband Initiative 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 collect data from providers in a variety of formats based on providers’ technical capabilities and resources.
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All MTA members are welcome to join a Peer Group
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!
Email Jacquie at firstname.lastname@example.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)
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As I sat in my office looking out the window in February with the record cold temperatures, I was actually thinking that it sure must be difficult to be a bug out there. Apparently, I was wrong. Minnesota health officials say the risk of contracting a tick-borne disease remains high, despite the harsh winter that we've endured. The heavy snowfall across Minnesota actually helped disease-carrying ticks survive because they were insulated from frigid temperatures.
Central and southeastern Minnesota show a healthy population of deer ticks. The highest risk for exposure to ticks is typically from mid-May through mid-July. A record 1,431 Lyme disease cases were reported in Minnesota last year. Health officials expect that tick-transmitted disease risk will be high again this year.
Lyme disease is a potentially serious bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick (also known as the deer tick or bear tick). The disease affects both humans and animals.
- Lyme disease is one of several tick-borne diseases in Minnesota.
- In order to get Lyme disease, a person must be bitten by a blacklegged tick (also known as deer tick or bear tick) that is infected with the Lyme disease bacteria.
- Remember: not all blackleggedticks are infected with the bacteria, so not all blacklegged ticks transmit disease.
- The tick must be attached for at least 24-48 hours to transmit the bacteria.
- The chance of getting Lyme disease increases the longer the tick is attached.
Preventing Lyme disease – use a good tick repellent:
The Minnesota Department of Health’s website has all the information a person needs regarding Lyme disease symptoms, statistics, history and treatment. If you have any of the symptoms of Lyme disease, it is very important to get treatment; the sooner the better.
- Products containing permethrin, which are used on clothing, are especially recommended for people who will spend an extended period of time in tick habitat.
- Permethrin products are marketed under names like Permanone® and Duranon® and are available in stores that sell outdoor gear.
- Do not use permethrin on your skin.
- Standard DEET-based products are another option.
- Use a product containing no more than 30 percent DEET for adults.
- Concentrations up to 30 percent DEET are also safe for children (according to reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics). Do not use DEET for infants under two months of age.
Dan Berg, M.S.
MTA Lead Safety Consultant
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