September 5, 2014

September 5, 2014

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

>> 2014 MTA Fall Conference Deadlines Approaching

>> New Call Failure Reporting Requirements Go into Effect

>> FCC Releases FAQs on Rural Broadband Experiments

>> Albany Mutual Telephone Announces Availability of "Ultra Gig" Internet Service

>> MNPUC Approves TAP Rate for 2015

>> MTA Submits Comments to FirstNet on Behalf of the Industry

>> Call Completion Task Force Holds First Meeting

>> Chairman Wheeler Responds to Congressional Members on Open Internet

>> Tenth Circuit Denies Petitions for Rehearing in Transformation Order Review

>> Comments Filed on Petitions for Preemption of State Municipal Broadband Laws

>> MTA Peer Group 2014 Investment Opportunities Are Available

>> Fall Roadway Hazards

People and Companies

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

September 11-12, 2014: 2014 Office Managers/HR Peer Group Fall Conference

October 9-10, 2014: MTA Fall Conference

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

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MTA Updates


2014 MTA Fall Conference Deadlines Approaching!

Register and make your room reservations now! The early bird deadline and reservation cutoff date is September 18, 2014.

With Labor Day already behind us, it is time to think about fall. Kids are back at school, the Vikings season is about to begin, 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 ORGINATING IXCs, TERMINATING CARRIERS RECEIVING COMPLAINTS ARE STRONLY 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: or 651-288-3723.


FCC Releases FAQs on Rural Broadband Experiments

from NECA’s Washington Watch

The FCC released FAQs on the process it will use to award $100 million in support for rural broadband experiments in both high-cost and extremely high-cost price cap areas. The FCC provides answers on the selection methodology and bidding process, applicant eligibility, and eligible areas. The deadline for applications is October 14, 2014.

Albany Mutual Telephone Announces Availability of "Ultra Gig" Internet Service

Albany Mutual Telephone announced immediate availability of "Ultra Gig" Internet Service, enabling members to upgrade to Internet service that’s as fast as available residentially anywhere in the entire U.S. "Ultra Gig" Internet service offers up to 1 Gigabit download speed with 50 Mbps upload (that’s download equal to 1,000 Mbps). 

The average Internet speed in the U.S. is currently about 10 Mbps, and it’s estimated less than 1% of Minnesota residents currently have Gigabit Internet service available to purchase.    

“Our new fiber-to-the-home network makes this possible. And what’s truly groundbreaking is to offer this kind of speed at an affordable price in rural Minnesota.” said Steve Katka, General Manager at Albany Mutual Telephone. He added, “Residential or business customers can do as much of anything, all at once with virtually no local limits. From the same location, your computers, smart phones, TVs, tablets, business networks, can all be using the full Internet—watching movies, videos, gaming, chatting, working, uploading, downloading—that’s what 1 Gigabit of speed can do.”

Pricing for the new service is best in a package. For the "Ultra Gig Triple Play,” it is $149.95 per month (includes up to 1 Gig Internet service, phone, and Basic TV). There are also new packages called the "Fast 60 Triple Play" for $79.95 per month (up to 60 Mbps Internet, phone, Basic TV), or the "Super 100 Triple Play" for $109.95 per month (up to 100 Mbps Internet, phone, and Basic TV). 

Positive Customer Impact
Tom Schneider, Clerk/Administrator with the City of Albany, commented about the role "Ultra Gig" Internet Service can play for the business community. “Albany Mutual Telephone has invested in the communities here. There’s fiber connected directly to every home and business in the area. It adds value to property, and gives businesses a competitive advantage. Any business using the Internet can do more of anything, all at once, and do it faster. That’s good business. There’s no better place in Minnesota for telecom, than being in Albany, Minnesota [and surrounding areas].”

"Ultra Gig" Internet Service Availability
"Ultra Gig" Internet Service is an update driven by the fiber-to-the-home build-out and is part of Albany Mutual Telephone’s commitment to deliver the latest services to the communities of Albany, Freeport, New Munich, St. Anthony, and St. Rosa. Services include Internet up to 1 Gigabyte in speed, Digital TV, telephone, cellular, and more. When subscribing to most services, Albany Mutual Telephone customers also automatically become members of the cooperative and net profits are regularly paid back to members. "Ultra Gig" Internet Service is available immediately by calling 320-845-2101; for more information visit

MNPUC Approves TAP Rate for 2015

At its regular August 28 meeting, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) accepted staff’s recommendation to retain the current per line surcharge on telephone bills for the Telephone Assistance Plan (TAP). This fee will remain at $.06 per mont,h and qualifying customers will continue to receive $3.50 per month toward their telephone service.

MTA Submits Comments to FirstNet on Behalf of the Industry

On August 19, The State of Minnesota, acting through the Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Communication Networks, issued a request for statements of interest for Public-Private Partnerships for the development of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network in Minnesota from qualified partners and interested stakeholders. MTA members were encouraged to submit responses, due September 2. Because the questions asked were vague in nature, the MTA decided to file a response on behalf of the industry. The MTA’s response focused on the robust fiber network that was built and is being maintained by MTA member companies and how much of what is needed for FirstNet is already in place.

The purpose of this request is to secure a formal statement of interest in public-private partnerships with the State of Minnesota (“the State”) and/or the First Responder Network Authority (“FirstNet”). The State will primarily utilize information collected from this request for three initiatives:

  1. To prepare the State to describe to FirstNet, in general terms, which potential private partners exist to documuent a preliminary statement of partnership requiements, and to define what each party may have to offer the other.
  2. To educate the State and its stakeholders, and in particular the Statewide Emergency Communications Board.
  3. To support the development of a comprehensive, detailed Request for Information (RFI) to be published in Q4 2014.

This request is motivated primarily by the Minnesota-FirstNet Initial Consultation Meeting currently planned for September 24, 2014. This meeting is the first official interaction between the State and FirstNet in the state’s consultation process. It is the State’s objective to have a complete report summarizing the findings of this inquiry prior to Initial Consultation meeting. The MTA continues to work with the other parties involved in the planning and implantation of FirstNet to assist in the successful deployment of FirstNet in Minnesota.

Call Completion Task Force Holds First Meeting

Calls failing to complete to rural areas continue to be a problem for MTA member companies and the customers they serve. The MTA has been an active partner working with other stakeholders to identify and correct problems as they occur. After the June MNPUC hearing, it became clear more could be done on this issue. MTA's President/CEO worked with MN Department of Commerce staff Bonnie Johnson and Greg Doyle to set up a first-of-its-kind Call Completion Task Force. The purpose of the Task Force was to get a small group of interested parties together to identify the true causes of call failures and work with the industry and regulators to institute best practices to prevent problems and standardized procedures to address issues when they occur.

The First meeting was held on August 25 at Onvoy. Representatives from CenturyLink, Commerce, Hiawatha Broadband, MTA, Onvoy, and Wiktel participated. The group discussed the work that ATIS is doing on the national level to address this issue and how that can be incorporated in what Minnesota can do. Through the discussions, it was decided that a good first place to start was to develop some frequently asked questions that could be listed on Commerce’s and MTA’s websites. A link to the database that ATIS has set up to list contacts for carriers will also be placed on the two websites. More information will be delivered as this work develops. The MTA and Commerce are taking the lead to ensure the dialog continues and a long-term solution can be developed.

Chairman Wheeler Responds to Congressional Members on Open Internet

from NECA’s Washington Watch

Chairman Wheeler responded on July 16, 2014, to letters from Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) (response), Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) (response), and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), et al. (response) that expressed concerns with the FCC’s proposed Open Internet rules. Chairman Wheeler said the Section 706 framework set forth by the court provides the FCC with the tools it needs to adopt and implement robust and enforceable Open Internet rules, but said the FCC is also seriously considering moving forward to adopt rules using Title II authority.

Tenth Circuit Denies Petitions for Rehearing in Transformation Order Review

from NECA’s Washington Watch

The Tenth Circuit issued Orders on August 27, 2014, denying Transcom’s Petition and denying Allband’s Petition for Rehearing on issues raised in their Briefs that the court previously denied on May 23, 2014, in the case that addressed the Petitions for Review of the FCC’s 2011 USF/ICC Transformation Order. The court said the Petitions were sent for review to all of the judges of the court, and because no member of the original panel and no judge in regular active service on the court requested that the court be polled, the Petitions are denied.

Comments Filed on Petitions for Preemption of State Municipal Broadband Laws

from NECA’s Washington Watch

Comments were filed on August 27, 2014, on Petitions filed by the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the City of Wilson, North Carolina, which asked the Commission to act pursuant to section 706 of the Telecommunications Act to preempt portions of Tennessee and North Carolina state statutes that restrict their ability to provide broadband services. SEATOA supported both Petitions, and said removing the barriers to broadband investment and competition as requested in the Petitions will enable more communities to be self-reliant and better enable America to maximize all resources so that no one is left behind and unable to participate in knowledge-based global opportunities for business, education, healthcare, security and quality of life. The Town of Davidson, N.C. also supported the Petitions, stating the state laws create artificial barriers to broadband infrastructure investment, deployment, competition and innovation. Comments were due August 29; replies due September 29. Public Notice

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

MTA Peer Group 2014 Investment Opportunities Are Available!

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!

Would you like to be added to a Peer Group listserv?
Email Jacquie at 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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Safety Corner

Fall Roadway Hazards

Autumn brings a number of changes in what we need to consider while driving — including school buses and low light conditions with our shorter daylight hours. Fewer hours of daylight make it more difficult to see pedestrians, cyclists and children playing in the late afternoon.

Also with later sunrises and earlier sunsets, sun glare can be problematic during the morning and evening drives. The intense glare from the sun on the horizon can blind a driver, causing an unexpected traffic slowdown. Drivers can prepare for the glare by keeping a set of sunglasses handy, removing clutter from their sun visors and keeping the inside of their vehicle's windshield clean.

Fog can be another fall hazard for motorists. When driving in fog, remember to use low beam headlights, because the high beam setting creates glare and reduces visibility. Not only will headlights enhance visibility of your vehicle, state law requires that headlights be on when wipers are in use.

Morning frost and icy spots on the road can also cause problems as overnight temperatures drop toward freezing. Motorists should pay particular attention to bridges, overpasses and shaded areas on roadways where icy spots can form on the pavement. In addition to exercising caution while driving, motorists should clear their vehicles' windows of frost before starting to drive.

Fall marks deer breeding season; deer pay less attention and become bolder as they move around more and travel greater distances. Primarily nocturnal feeders, deer are most active between sunset and sunrise. Other factors that affect the travel patterns of deer in the fall are farmers actively harvesting the last of their crops and preparing for spring planting.

If a crash with a deer is unavoidable, remember: DON’T SWERVE. Be sure to brake firmly and hold onto the steering wheel with both hands. Come to a controlled stop and move the vehicle out of traffic to a safe location.

Plan ahead; it’s not too early to put together your winter survival kit. Have your car winterized before the winter storm season sets in. Keeping your car in good condition decreases your chance of being stranded in cold weather. Also, be sure to have a first-aid kit, thermal blanket, a working flashlight, a shovel and sand in your car.

Be sure to pay attention when you drive; there are a lot of distractions and a lot of responsibility that goes along with the privilege of driving.

Take Care,
Dan Berg
Safety Consultant
MTA Safety Program

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