October 19, 2012


October 19, 2012

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

>> MTA 2013 Convention Call for Presentations!

>> Have You Engaged Your Local Tribe?

>> DEED Commissioner Announces Resignation

>> MTA Addresses Call Completion Issues with Magic Jack and MN Department of Commerce

>> Reducing Rates to Get Low-Income Folks Online Is Smart Investment for Providers

>> Hunting Safety

People and Companies

>> Hoyles and Owens Elected to Principal

MTA Staff

MTA President/CEO:
Brent Christensen
Team Leader:

Jacquie Jaskowiak
Meeting Planner:
Julie Cygan
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!




December 5-6, 2012: MTA Plant Manager/Superintendent Peer Group Meeting - New info avaiable!

December 6, 2012: General Managers Peer Group Meeting

March 25-27, 2013: 2013 MTA Annual Convention & Trade Show

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MTA 2013 Convention Call for Presentations!

We are now planning for the Annual Convention and Trade Show, March 25-27, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis. Our convention offers you an opportunity to talk with the (estimated 1,500) MTA attendees face-to-face.

Deadline for submission: November 30, 2012

Request for Proposals
There are additional opportunities for you to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise to all attendees. We are requesting submissions of speakers and presenters for our breakout sessions and luncheons. The online form is available HERE.

Breakout Session Requirements
The 2013 MTA Convention will have 20-23 breakout sessions of 50 minutes each and an Issues Update Luncheon. Sessions will be presented on Tuesday, March 26 and Wednesday, March 27, 2013.

Topic Ideas for Breakout Sessions Identified by MTA Event Planning Committee:

  • New Technologies: How do you use it? (iPads, smartphones)
  • eDocument Management (How to structure your files)
  • New USF and Intercarrier Compensation plan
  • Documentation and Employee Discipline
  • Employee Surveys – How to, Benefits of, etc.
  • HR’s Role in Helping Employee Morale
  • Time Management
  • Sales Skills for Customer Service Reps
  • Management Styles/Measuring Maturity
  • IPTV for the Non-Technical Person
  • Company Intranets
  • Using Windows SharePoint Services
  • Central Office Battery Backup and Inverters
  • House Wiring for the Future
  • Leveraging the Effectiveness of Local Sponsorships and Community Events
  • Ideas on Unique New Product Lines or Revenue Generating Opportunities
  • How to Monetize Content in the Next Three Years
  • How to Effectively Build Revenue for Services Built
  • Required Notices Telcos Are Responsible to Notify Customers About
  • CRM Strategies
  • Future of Telecom
  • Web Content and Web Strategies
  • Competition – How to Win Back Your Customers
  • Retransmission Consent
  • What Impact Will Over-the-Top Video Have on My Bottom Line?
  • Data Centers
  • Diversifying Revenue Streams
  • Companies Partnering Together to Increase Efficiency
  • WiFi Offload
  • 4G LTE
  • Anything Wireless
  • Marketing
  • HR Issues
  • 700 Mega Hertz
  • Social Media for Telcos

Selection Process
MTA Peer Groups and the MTA Event Planning Committee will select all speakers.

Presenting Information

  1. Presenters are responsible for providing a laptop computer and all slide support for their presentation.
  2. Accepted presenters will be notified by the end of December via email.
  3. Presenters will be responsible for providing copies of their presentation handouts.
  4. MTA does not provide monetary compensation for workshop presenters. The benefit for the presenter is significant visibility and accessibility to the marketplace.
  5. MTA does not pay for expenses associated with your presentation such as travel, lodging, meals or special equipment purchases and rentals.
  6. Education, information and member value are prime functions of this event; therefore, we will make your presentation available behind a password protected page on the MTA website after the event. If you need to seek permission to publish your presentation, we ask that you please do so ahead of time. We will collect the presentations the day of your presentation.
  7. Presenters will receive complimentary convention registrations on the day that they present but will be responsible for their own expenses.

Fill out the CFP online HERE.

MTA strongly encourages presenters to be members of MTA. Click here to become an MTA member.

Please contact Julie Cygan, MTA Event Planner, with any questions at juliec@mnta.org. She may also be reached at 651-290-7475.

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Have You Engaged Your Local Tribe?

The FCC’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy, Wireline Competition Bureau and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau have issued "guidance" detailing actions that "should" be taken by Tribal governments and carriers to comply with Section 54.313 (a)(9) of the Commission's rules, which requires eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) serving tribal lands to "engage" with tribal governments as a condition of receiving federal universal service support. While these rules have not yet been approved by the Federal Office of Management and Budget, ETCs should begin preparations to comply with the new "guidelines.” "MTA members should not wait to be contacted by their Tribal governments; we recommend that they take the initiative,” commented MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen.

ETC/Tribal government discourse should be between decision makers and not ETC sales and marketing personnel with Tribal administrative staff or advisors. ETCs should take immediate steps to do the following:

  • Prepare for and initiate engagement with Tribal governments whose lands they serve; and
  • Establish a lead and/or team to identify appropriate Tribal government leaders with whom they will initiate the engagement process.

Discussions must include at a minimum:

  • A needs assessment and deployment planning with a focus on Tribal community anchor institutions;
  • Feasibility and sustainability planning;
  • Marketing services in a culturally sensitive manner;
  • Rights of way processes, land use permitting, facilities siting, environmental and cultural preservation review processes; and
  • Compliance with Tribal business and licensing requirements.

It appears that the alleged "guidance" amounts to a new or revised rule imposed on carriers and tribal governments without the benefit of notice and comment rulemaking. Nonetheless, the Bureau Guidance states that ETCs must begin discussions with Tribal governments and conclude such discussion during 2012, for inclusion in the ETC's required FCC filing due by July 1, 2013.

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DEED Commissioner Announces Resignation

The following was sent out by DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips announcing his resignation:

"It is with mixed emotions I inform you that after much personal reflection, I’ve resigned as Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development effective October 19. I’ve been approached about several opportunities in the private sector that I am pursuing at this time.

"I want to thank you for your support throughout my time at DEED. It has been my pleasure to work with many of you on projects that have made such a positive impact on individuals, businesses and communities throughout our state. I value the true partnerships I’ve experienced and, quite frankly, I couldn’t have done it without you.

"I know that DEED will continue to do great work. My time here has been a rewarding experience and I look forward to staying in touch and maintaining our relationships going forward.”

Commissioner Phillips has been a great ally of the independent telecom industry and will be missed.

MTA Addresses Call Completion Issues with Magic Jack and MN Department of Commerce

On Wednesday, October 10, RTS Committee Chair Monty Morrow from NU-Telecom participated in a call with Greg Doyle and Kathy Doherty from the MN Department of Commerce and a representative of Y-Max/Magic Jack to address call completion issues between MTA member company subscribers and Magic Jack.

"The call initially started over an issue with a customer of ours who was not receiving calls from a family member in the metro area who was using Magic Jack," Morrow said. "We ran switch reports showing our ability to originate calls, and the reports also showed the Magic Jack calls never made it to our network."
After further discussion, it was determined that Magic Jack was not allowing the calls to complete as "non-local" and wanted to charge the customer extra to complete the call. Magic Jack/Y-Max informed the DOC that they had made the change in the network and the calls were now completing for this customer.

The discussion then evolved into Magic Jack/Y-Max wanting to do an Interconnection Agreement and negotiate rates. Morrow questioned their ETC status and asked about the purpose of bypassing the toll network. Y-Max then stated that they wanted these connections to exchange "local traffic." Both Morrow and the DOC staff knew exactly what Y-Max wanted; when pressed on the issue and the fact that these were non-local calls, they backtracked immediately. "The DOC folks were very helpful and understanding about exactly what was going on, and what the real issue was; I was impressed with their involvement," said Morrow.

Members should be aware of this potential issue that may affect their customers and contact MTA staff with further questions.

Reducing Rates to Get Low Income Folks Online Is Smart Investment for Providers

by Ann Treacy, Blandin on Broadband

Recently, the Blandin Foundation hosted a webinar, Digital Inclusion: Success from the Frontline. One of the speakers was Dick Sjoberg, of Sjoberg Cable. Dick talked about the company's success with offering low-cost broadband access to low-income folks in their service area around Thief River Falls.

I thought it would be helpful for other local broadband providers and communities to hear how and why their program works. Dick points out that while it’s nice to do something for the community, it has also been a very good marketing project. He offers reduced rates for a set period of time, but finds that 80 percent of those who trial broadband through the program extend their subscription.

Dick has been working with MIRC (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities) partners. The community has been working to provide low-cost computers and training as well as reduced broadband subscriptions.

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Hunting Safety

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a wide variety of safety information available online. The following is a good awareness article published on the MN DNR’s website. The online hunter education course link below will allow you to take the course for free. I took the course, learned more than I expected and passed, I am happy to say. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Nothing can ruin a hunt faster than an accident. Cold water immersion, hypothermia, getting lost, falling from tree stands, cuts or just spraining an ankle are among the perils awaiting hunters who are ill-prepared for a trip afield. Because hunting involves firearms, knives, and arrows and is often conducted in cold and wet weather in some the region's wildest areas, hunters should take particular care to prepare before heading out for a day in the woods or wetlands.

Many hunters want to know more about how to plan their hunts to avoid accidents, injuries, and getting lost. The MN DNR has an Online Hunter Education course that is a good reference for all hunters and it’s free. Just click on www.hunterexam.com/usa/minnesota to get the free course. It contains valuable information for hunters young and old.

All hunters should consider taking an advanced hunter education class to learn the latest hunting techniques along with tips on coming home alive. Here are six suggestions for a safe and successful hunting experience:

  • Get a detailed map of the area you are hunting, review it before you leave, and carry it with you in the field.
  • Carry a compass and know how to use it. Decide ahead of time the direction to head for if you get lost or disoriented.
  • Weather can change quickly in Minnesota, so hunters should carry a simple survival kit and be prepared for an unexpected overnight stay in the field. The survival kit should contain a rope, a knife, water, waterproof matches, an emergency shelter, and first aid supplies.
  • If you are on the water, make sure to wear a life vest.
  • Know your hunting partners' physical and emotional limitations, as well as your own, and don’t push your partners or yourself beyond those limits.
  • If hunting from an elevated stand use a Fall Restraint Device. Tree stand accidents are the leading cause of injury to hunters. One in three people who hunt from an elevated stand will have a fall resulting in serious injury. 
  • Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.

Even though we are in the midst of many of the hunting seasons in the region, it is never too late to take the steps to learn how to be as safe as we can be. 

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

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Hoyles and Owens Elected to Principal

Olsen Thielen & Co., Ltd., Certified Public Accountants & Consultants has elected Scott R. Hoyles, CPA, MBT, and Daniel C. Owens, CPA, to Principal. Olsen Thielen & Co., Ltd. has offices located in St. Paul and Minneapolis and employs more than 90 professionals.

Scott Hoyles is a graduate of Northwestern College, Roseville and received his Master of Business Taxation from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management. He has been with the firm since 2008 and will work in the Tax Department of the St. Paul office. 

Daniel Owens is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and has been with the firm since 2000. He will work in the Audit and Accounting Department of the St. Paul office.


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Minnesota Telecom Alliance
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www.mnta.org | Tel: 651-291-7311 | Fax: 651-290-2266 | Email: info@mnta.org