October 3, 2014

October 3, 2014

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

>> 2014 MTA Fall Conference

>> New Call Failure Reporting Requirements Go into Effect

>> State Fees to Change

>> NTCA, et al. Discuss Call Completion, Broadband Deployment, Updates to High-Cost Rules

>> FCC Releases Rural Broadband Experiments Application Form, Postpones Deadline and Webinar

>> FCC Announces Start of Reply Period on CAF Phase II Challenges

>> FCC Announces Release of Lifeline Reform Order Procedures

>> FCC Announces OMB Approval of Special Access Data Collection Requirements

>> 2014 Customer Service Peer Group Fall Conference!

>> Save the Date!

>> The Dangers of Excessive Home Weatherizing and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

People and Companies

>> Carrier Requirements Change Due to Soaring Wireless Backhaul Usage

>> Brainerd Lakes Area Receives National Recognition as Smart Rural Community

MTA Staff

MTA President/CEO:
Brent Christensen
Team Leader:

Jacquie Durant
Event Planners:
Julie Cygan
Carissa Wolf
Member Services:
Chris Swanson
Janey Duntley
Administrative Assistant:
Anne Christensen

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

October 9-10, 2014: MTA Fall Conference

November 11-12, 2014: 2014 Customer Service Peer Group Fall Conference

March 23-25, 2015: 2015 MTA Annual Convention & Trade Show

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MTA Updates


2014 MTA Fall Conference

It is time to think about fall. Kids are back at school, the Vikings season has begun, we have cooler temperatures, and most importantly... the MTA FALL CONFERENCE is coming!

This year’s event will open with an exciting lineup on Thursday. We have invited gubernatorial candidates Mark Dayton and Jeff Johnson to share their ideas with us. We have also invited Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and Senate Minority Leader David Hann to participate in a panel discussion on the 2014 session, the 2015 session and their views on the upcoming elections. We have also invited representatives of the new Office of Broadband Development to talk about their activities. You will hear from the newest Public Utilities Commissioner, Dan Lipschultz.

Keeping up with a tradition we started a few years ago, the MTA Event Planning Committee and staff have been working with the Video and IT Peer Groups for more opportunities to learn. Friday morning continues with separate tracks giving attendees the most current, up-to-date information on Video and IT. Know you want to attend, but don’t know which sessions you want to attend? It doesn’t matter; you can mix and match sessions to meet your individual needs.

Check out the bios for Networking Reception speaker Joe Schmit and General Session speaker Rich Chapman.

Become a Sponsor
Maximize your company's exposure to the MTA membership at the 2014 Fall Conference. MTA members will be coming to Minneapolis from all over the state to learn more about the important issues facing our industry — and this is your opportunity to get your company’s message in front of them. Thank you in advance for your sponsorship consideration and all you do to support the MTA. Without your support, events like this would not be possible!

Sign up now!

New Call Failure Reporting Requirements Go into Effect

This past July, the Public Utilities Commission issued an Order that will keep the docket open and monitor the FCC’s actions on this matter. In addition, new reporting requirements were put in place for one year to establish a record of the severity of the problem. As a result, the Commission will require all originating interexchange carriers doing business in Minnesota to report each call completion complaint they receive to the Commission and the Department on a quarterly basis, for one year. The Commission will require that the quarterly reports include the following information:

A. Root cause analysis on any call completion complaints for any intrastate call completion problem regardless of who reports the incident to the carrier;
B. If an intermediate provider in the call path was responsible for call failure, the name of that intermediate provider and whether the intermediate provider was removed as a routing alternative;
C. Any past performance or call failure problems that the interexchange carrier has had with the intermediate provider (if not already reported via this process);
D. An explanation of what steps the interexchange carrier has taken with the intermediate provider to ensure call completion problems do not occur in the future; and
E. Whether test lines were made available by the incumbent local exchange company in the exchange where the call failed, and if so, the testing process use by the interexchange carrier.

The MTA has been working with the MN Department of Commerce on how companies should implement this new requirement. It was decided that in order to create a uniform process, MTA members should begin tracking complaints that they receive where they are the ORIGINATING carrier as of October 1, 2014. The CT REPORT TEMPLATE has been approved by the Commerce department as an acceptable way to track complaints and file with the PUC under docket #P999/CI-12-1329. Each company’s report should be filed as soon as possible in the quarter immediately following the reporting quarter. NOTE: WHILE THIS FILING REQUIREMENT IS ONLY FOR ORiGINATING IXCs, TERMINATING CARRIERS RECEIVING COMPLAINTS ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO TRACK COMPLAINTS IN A SIMILAR WAY. This will help reconcile reporting problems should they occur. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen at: bchristensen@mnta.org or 651-288-3723.

State Fees to Change

The TAP/TAM/911 fees on Minnesota customer bills are shown as a combined charge and will increase from 87 cents to 89 cents in November. While there was no increase to the TAP and 911 charges, the TAM surcharge increase to $0.08 will be effective on, or billing cycle after, November 1, 2014. PUC Implementation Notice


NTCA, et al. Discuss Call Completion, Broadband Deployment, Updates to High-Cost Rules

from NECA’s Washington Watch

NTCA, the Minnesota Telecom Alliance, Emily Cooperative Telephone and Red River Communications met with Legal Advisors to Commissioners Pai, Rosenworcel and O’Rielly, and Wireline Competition Bureau staff on September 19, 2014, to discuss concerns regarding the failure of calls in Minnesota. They said the prolonged delay in implementing the FCC’s record-keeping and reporting rules adopted a year ago has hindered state coordination with federal policies, and urged the FCC to move quickly to finalize and implement the rule. They also discussed the track record of municipal entry into already competitive broadband markets in Minnesota, saying states are in a much better position to determine whether a locality’s entry into the broadband marketplace is filling a true competitive void. They also discussed the need for updates to the existing high-cost rules for areas served by rural, rate-of-return-regulated LECs, consistent with comments filed by NTCA and other rural telecom stakeholders on August 8, 2014.

FCC Releases Rural Broadband Experiments Application Form, Postpones Deadline and Webinar

from NECA’s Washington Watch

The Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice on September 26, 2014, releasing the Rural Broadband Experiments application Form 5610 and providing additional information on completing Form 5610. The Bureau also announced a delay in the opening of the filing window and the corresponding deadline for the submission of rural broadband experiment applications to complete testing of the electronic submission system. The Bureau anticipates testing will be completed in four to six weeks. The Bureau will release a public notice announcing the revised deadline for applications at a later date. The Bureau also postponed the webinar originally scheduled for September 29 until October 9.

FCC Announces Start of Reply Period on CAF Phase II Challenges

from NECA’s Washington Watch

The Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice on September 26, 2014, announcing the start of the reply period for challenges to the potential list of CAF Phase II eligible census blocks. The Bureau released two lists of census blocks; the first is a list of census blocks for which a party has made a prima facie challenge that the block should not be eligible for Phase II support; and the second is a list of census blocks for which a party has made a prima facie case that additional census blocks should be eligible for Phase II support. After assessing the challenges, responses and evidence received, the Bureau will make a final determination as to which census blocks will be treated as unserved and thus potentially eligible for Phase II support.

Parties have until November 10 to file Form 505 to respond to the inclusion of particular census blocks on either list.

FCC Announces Release of Lifeline Reform Order Procedures

from NECA’s Washington Watch

The FCC released a Public Notice on September 15, 2014, indicating that the revised procedures for the National Lifeline Accountability Database are available on the USAC website. In the Lifeline Reform Order, the FCC concluded that the NLAD should allow the transfer of a subscriber’s Lifeline benefit from one ETC to another, and that there must be the capability of performing third-party identification verification checks on potential subscribers, and ETCs may not receive reimbursement for those subscribers whose identities cannot be verified. The information on USAC’s website details the processes for executing the transfer of subscribers’ Lifeline benefits and the procedures for exceptions management and dispute resolution.

FCC Announces OMB Approval of Special Access Data Collection Requirements

from NECA’s Washington Watch

The FCC issued a Notice in the Federal Register on September 26, 2014, announcing it has received approval from OMB for the special access data collection requirements contained in its 2012 Data Collection Implementation Order, and said the requirement is effective September 26, 2014. The FCC issued a second Notice in the Federal Register on September 26, 2014, announcing the effective date of its September 15, 2014 Order on Reconsideration, which amended the special access data collection pursuant to OMB approval, as October 27, 2014.

Blandin Foundation Taking Applications for their Blandin Broadband Community Program

The Blandin Foundation is seeking communities to participate in their Blandin Broadband Community. The Foundation will be selecting ten new BBCs later this fall. The application deadline is 10/17 with initiatives beginning in January. Each community gets organizational and planning assistance, as well as access to a special pool of Blandin funding, to implement broadband access and use, with projects ranging from wi-fi hot spot creation to digital inclusion activities to economic development. This initiative puts broadband and technology in the forefront of community discussions and priorities. This is an opportunity to demonstrate that, in many places, the existing network infrastructure and services can be used as a platform for community vitality. Full details.

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

2014 Customer Service Peer Group Fall Conference!

MTA is excited to announce the upcoming Customer Service Peer Group Conference. This is to be held November 11-12 at the Arrowwood Lodge at Brainerd Lakes – Baxter, Minnesota. This event is for any and all individuals who deal with customers in the telecommunication industry. This is a great opportunity to attend (or send your staff) for very little cost.

We will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday evening with an icebreaker. We invite everyone to join us for this wonderful opportunity to network with peers in our industry in an informal, inviting setting. Two massage chairs will be available that evening for anyone who wants a little pampering. The morning of learning will include a message from our own MTA President, Brent Christensen, and Andy Isackson from CTC will speak on "Positioning Your Company Identity for 21st Century Success."

Before lunch, Maribeth Overland will speak on "Tapping Your Authentic Leadership Potential to Achieve Your Life Goals." She returns after lunch, speaking on "The Dynamics of Problem Solving – Why Don't They Get it."

In the afternoon we will break out into groups and do some team building exercises – and also continue the ever-so-popular Peer to Peer Breakout Sessions.

There is plenty of time to meet old and new friends and share your customer service experiences in the telecommunications business. Register now to attend this learning conference. The MTA registration fee is only $125. Rates are valid up till the event date. You and your staff won’t want to miss this conference! Find the full agenda and registration form on the MTA calendar. You will register with MTA and then make your own hotel reservation. We look forward to seeing you on November 11 & 12.

P.S. Please consider joining the planning committee. Our committee consists of four people with one leaving each year. You would help plan four conferences. We communicate with each other through email and conference calls. It is a great way to get involved. If interested, please let one of the committee members know. We would like to have someone onboard before the end of this conference.

Register Now

Save the Date!

TMG 2015 Winter Conference
February 5-6, 2015
St. Paul Embassy Suites, 175 East 10th Street, St. Paul, MN 55101

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Safety Corner

The Dangers of Excessive Home Weatherizing and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Be alert to the dangers of excessive home weatherizing and carbon monoxide poisoning.

We homeowners have been informed of the benefits of weatherizing our home, including reducing energy consumption and saving money.  Despite these advantages, there is a major drawback of making your home too airtight - carbon monoxide.  Carbon monoxide is a potentially fatal gas that can go undetected in your home.  In order to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, be aware of the sign’s that announce its dangerous presence.

The Dangers of Excessive Home Weatherizing and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that is difficult to detect without the assistance of a special detector alarm. When inhaled, carbon monoxide immediately begins to deplete the amount of red blood cells in your blood. Depending on the amount of time you have been exposed to the gas, you may begin to experience a number of symptoms of varying concentrations. A low level concentration symptom may include headache or shortness of breath, while a high level concentration is signified by unconsciousness or brain damage. In between these two extremes there may be nausea, vomiting or drowsiness. Unfortunately, the low level concentration will produce symptoms that could easily be confused with a flu-like illness, making it entirely possible to misdiagnose your condition. Each year there are many fatal cases of carbon monoxide poisoning due to individuals who fail to identify the true cause of their illness continue to be exposed to the deadly gas.

In addition to the symptoms of illness, a number of other signs can alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide in your house. Although carbon monoxide is problematic to detect, a stuffy, stale smell in your house may be a warning of its presence and not necessarily an indication that you should clean out the closets. If you have already taken measures to reduce moisture in your house and you still see dripping water condensation on your windows, carbon monoxide may be present in your home. Moreover, closely inspect your stove to see whether a yellow burner flame has replaced the blue flame normally seen upon ignition. Or, if the pilot light in your furnace continues to go out, turn off the suspect equipment, evacuate everyone from the house and call a licensed heating contractor. A close inspection of your house may reveal that the source of carbon monoxide comes directly from your stove, fireplace, furnace or even your car. Although you would not know it, it is possible that your appliances have not been installed properly.

When your home is too airtight, dangerous carbon monoxide gases begin to seep into the air without you being aware of it. Like you, your house needs to be able to breathe. Excessive weatherizing has the potential to block the necessary flow of air needed for the safe operation of all appliances and heating equipment. Clear the air in your house with proper ventilation, know the dangers of excessive weatherization and don’t give carbon monoxide the chance to harm you and your family.

Most of all, if you suspect something isn’t quite right get it checked out by a professional. This will give you and your family peace of mind.

Les McCoy
Safety Consultant

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People Companies

Carrier Requirements Change Due to Soaring Wireless Backhaul Usage

CDG, Champaign, IL -- The free-for-all days of wireless backhaul billing are coming to a close. As wholesale carrier services evolve and grow, wireless service providers, like Sprint and AT&T, are tightening their wholesale billing and auditing practices. Many wireless and dark fiber providers have begun insisting that wholesale carriers provide mechanized, industry-standard bills and reports, which can be loaded into their systems for processing and verification. “It’s a pretty common industry response,” says industry expert and DataTech CEO Jon Jones. “When new wholesale revenue streams, like wireless backhaul, begin you often end up with a mixed bag of approaches and solutions. However, as those streams grow and establish themselves, providers begin to take a closer look at how they process, verify, and resolve issues with invoices rendered to them. In the case of backhaul, for example, the wireless providers noticed a lack of consistency in the billing formats and circuit inventory provided by the wholesale carriers. Everybody was doing things differently and many carriers were using homegrown solutions or cheap online services to produce bills and spreadsheets of circuit information that looked acceptable, but could not be easily processed or audited by the wireless providers. To establish consistency, providers are turning to the mechanized C-BOS compliant bills, BDTs and CSRs most often associated with landline access/interconnection billing as a solution.”

“It makes sense, even if it’s a bit ironic,” according to CDG CEO Bob LaBonte. “As industry and regulatory changes continue to call into question the future of access/interconnection, here come these new emerging wholesale markets that can directly benefit from the standards established for managing switched access circuits. We’ve actually been billing backhaul services and producing C-BOS compliant wholesale bills, BDTs and CSRs for numerous clients for several years using tools originally designed for carrier access.”

With wireless data traffic projected to reach nearly 16 million Terabytes by 2016 and Ethernet backhaul revenues expected to eclipse $10 billion by 2017, wholesale backhaul services will continue to expand as likely will the billing and auditing requirements of carriers. To learn more about the future of wireless backhaul, see the infographic.

Brainerd Lakes Area Receives National Recognition as Smart Rural Community

CTC honored for delivering broadband-enabled solutions in agriculture, health care,
public safety and education

(September 23, 2014, Brainerd, MN)—Consolidated Telecommunications Company (CTC) is one of 13 rural communications companies in North America to be honored with the Smart Rural Community Showcase Award by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, which cited CTC’s advanced communications services and collaboration with local leaders in agriculture, health care, public safety and education as keys to its success.

At a gathering of more than 1,000 leaders of rural telecommunications providers hosted by NTCA, CTC was honored with an award for deploying advanced technologies and leveraging those technologies to enable innovation in the areas of economic development and commerce, education, enhanced health care, government services, security and energy use. CTC efforts were judged against those of dozens of other communities nationwide by a panel of experts from the fields of telecommunications, software and technology services, education, health care and economic development.

In addition to CTC, 12 other providers and their communities in Alaska, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, Kansas, Ontario, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin also were recognized.

“CTC is a prime example of the power of a broadband connection and a steadfast commitment to growth and prosperity,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield. “Not only are the people of the rural Brainerd Lakes Area charting their own path to a more prosperous future, they are also creating a road map for many more communities across the country to follow suit. I commend the people of the Brainerd Lakes Area for these extraordinary efforts.”

The NTCA Smart Rural Community initiative recognizes and celebrates the efforts of rural telecommunications providers and their communities to deliver technologies that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. The goal of the initiative is to foster the development of Smart Rural Communities throughout rural America by recognizing trailblazers and providing resources to assist broadband providers and connected industries.

“We are pleased and excited to accept this award,” said Kevin Larson CEO/General Manager, who received the award on behalf of CTC. “We have worked hard with our local leaders to ensure that our citizens have access to advanced communications and the many benefits those services enable. We look forward to building on our success for many years to come.”


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