News Bytes - August 19, 2016
Share |
A Message from MTA

MTA News Bytes

August 19, 2016

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

Action Items

>> 2016 MTA Fall Conference Online Registration Now Available!

>> MTA Fall Conference Sponsorship Opportunities

>> All EAS Participants Must Register for Nationwide Test by August 26

>> Minnesota Department of Education Announces New Broadband Grant Program

Peer Group Bulletin

>> Upcoming MTA Peer Group Events

>> MTA Peer Group 2016 Investment Opportunities

Informational items

>> Minnesota Border to Border Broadband Development Grant

>>MCCA Searches for New Executive Director

Safety Corner

>> Safety Bytes

People and Companies

>> Arvig Announces Purchase of AGL

MTA Staff

MTA President/CEO:
Brent Christensen
Team Leader:

Jacquie Durant
Event Planners:
Julie Cygan
Carissa Wolf
Member Services:
Jeanne DeMartino
Anna Wrisky
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

Peer Group Investment Opportunities Open for 2016. View Details

September 21-23, 2016: 2016 Telco Marketing Peer Group Conference

September 21-23, 2016: MTA Office Managers & Human Resources Fall Conference

October 13-14, 2016: MTA Fall Conference

October 19-20, 2016: MTA Fall 2016 Customer Service Group Conference

November 2-3, 2016: Administrative Assistant Peer Group 2016 Fall Conference

March 27-29, 2017: MTA Annual Convention & Trade Show

Back to top

MTA Updates


2016 MTA Fall Conference Online Registration Now Available!

October 13–14, 2016 | Minneapolis Marriott Northwest, Brooklyn Park, MN
>> View Details and Register Online

This Summer continues to move too fast; it is already time to start thinking about fall. Getting ready for back to school, the Vikings, cooler temperatures, leaves turning color, and most importantly... the MTA FALL CONFERENCE!

This year’s event will open with an exciting lineup on Thursday. The afternoon kicks off with a presentation from MNIT Commissioner Jim Johnson (invited). MNIT controls the telecom contracts with state agencies throughout the state and this is a great opportunity to meet Jim and for him to meet MTA members. Jim’s presentation will be followed up with updates from the Office of Broadband Development and E911 Director Dana Wahlberg. We will also have presentations on CAF/A-CAM for RoR companies and a Federal update from NTCA’s Mike Romano. Thursday’s session will conclude with a political panel discussion from journalists who can give us the inside scoop on state elections.

Again this year, 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. Don’t wait! The event will conclude with keynote speaker FBI Special Agent Michael Krause. Special Agent Krause investigates cybercrimes and has a unique perspective on cyber security that you haven’t heard before.

>> Register for the conference today!

MTA Fall Conference Sponsorship Opportunities

Maximize your company's exposure to the MTA membership at the 2016 Fall Conference. The conference will be held on Thursday, October 13 and Friday, October 14 at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest.

MTA members will come 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.

>> View complete Sponsorship details and register online.

Lodging Information

Minneapolis Marriott Northwest
7025 Northland Dr N
Brooklyn Park, MN 55428

$142.00 single/double per night
Reservation cut off is September 21, 2016
Book your reservation by calling 1-877-303-1681 or 763-536-8300.


If you have any questions about the sponsorship information, please contact Julie Cygan at

All EAS Participants Must Register for Nationwide Test by August 26

From the American Cable Association

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is conducting a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on September 28, 2016. If the test needs to be rescheduled or repeated for any reason, a secondary test date is scheduled for October 5, 2016. The EAS Nationwide test is mandatory for all EAS Participants, and Participants must provide preliminary and final reports on the results of their test using the FCC's EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS). All participants must register with ETRS by August 26, 2016. The FCC encourages all participants to begin the registration process as soon as possible to avoid any last-minute problems.

Minnesota Department of Education Announces New Broadband Grant Program

From the Office of Broadband Development

The Internet Broadband Expansion for Students initiative announces $500,000 in new grant funds, thanks to actions at the 2016 Minnesota Legislative Session. The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) invites applications from Minnesota public school districts, charter schools and education districts for projects that expand broadband access for students. Applications must be received by (not postmarked by) September 9, 2016, 3:30 p.m., Central Time.

Applicants may apply for a "Broadband Expansion Off-Campus Learning Grant" and, if eligible to receive general education transportation sparsity revenue under Minnesota Statutes, section 126C.10, may also apply for a "School Bus Internet Access" grant. The maximum grant award is $50,000. If applying for both grants, $50,000 remains the maximum. Applications must be received by (not postmarked by) September 9, 2016, 3:30 p.m., Central Time.

The grant documents and announcement are on the MDE grant opportunity site. The link to that site is Then click on "Search Open Grant Opportunities" on the left side of the screen, and do a search for "Internet Broadband Expansion for Students."

Back to top

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

Upoming Peer Group Events

2016 Telco Marketing Peer Group Conference

Date: September 21-23, 2016

Location: Cambria Suites
825 E Beaton Dr
West Fargo, North Dakota

MTA Office Managers & Human Resources Fall Conference

Date: September 21-23, 2016

Location: Holiday Inn
8511 Hudson Blvd
Lake Elmo, Minnesota

MTA Fall 2016 Customer Service Group Conference

Date: October 19-20, 2016

Location: Embassy Suites in Brooklyn Park
6300 Earle Brown Dr
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

Administrative Assistant Peer Group 2016 Fall Conference

Date: November 2-3, 2016

Location: Garden Valley Telephone Company
201 Ross Avenue
Erskine, Minnesota

MTA Peer Group 2016 Investment Opportunities Open!

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 2016.

Download the 2016 Peer Group Investment Opportunities for full details

Sponsor a Peer Group: Sign Up Online!

Back to top


Minnesota Border to Border Broadband Development Grant

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Office of Broadband Development, is soliciting proposals from qualified organizations for Minnesota Border to Border Broadband Development Grants. The grant application period opened on July 22, 2016. The application deadline is 4:00 p.m., Monday, October 3, 2016.

Application Process

The 2016 Broadband Grant Application is now available for download. Please note that in downloading the Microsoft Word version of the Grant Application, some people have encountered some text box and pagination issues. If you observe such errors, you can download a PDF version of the Grant Application. If you use the PDF version of the application, convert the PDF to Word or contact and we will email a copy of the Word version.

If you have any other questions, you can email the Broadband office at or look through the Broadband Grant Program FAQs. The FAQs will be updated throughout the grant application process as new questions come in.

The website for Broadband Grant information is located at

Notice of Grant Criteria and Scoring Posting

DEED is required by law to post the specific criteria and any quantitative weighting scheme or scoring system that will be used to evaluate or rank applications and award grants for this competitive grant program.

Download the Grant Criteria and Scoring Document.

Contact Information

For questions, call 651-259-7610; or email

This notice does not commit the State of Minnesota or DEED to entering into a grant contract with any organization.

MCCA Searches for New Executive Director

The Minnesota Cable Communications Association has hired a search firm to begin the process to replace long-time Executive Director Mike Martin. The MTA and MCCA have had a longstanding tradition of collaboration. “Mike Martin left some pretty big shoes to fill,” commented MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen. “We look forward to working closely with his successor to advance broadband in rural Minnesota.”

Read more information about the position.

Back to top

Safety Corner

Safety Bytes

Building a Positive, Sustainable Safety Culture

At the end of the work day, we want everyone to return to their family and friends just as they arrived, safe and whole. This takes creating a positive safety culture where everyone is involved, and upper management sets the commitment to a safe workplace, which helps the employees take safety more seriously, which then translates to a safer work environment for everyone.

Organizations with a positive safety culture show a deep concern for their employees’ well-being. Management takes the time to notice employees’ safety habits, reinforcing the positive and coaching to correct the at-risk behaviors. Although many elements contribute to creating and sustaining a culture of positive safety, four key concepts provide the foundation.

Leading Indictors
Companies with positive safety cultures have safety embedded in daily management; it infuses every interaction, every decision, and every behavior. When using just incident rate, the focus is on how many people have been hurt and how badly, but no measurements on what is being done to prevent accidents and incidents. When using only an incident report and incidents are low, there is an assumption that all is well and safety can take a back seat to other priorities. A fundamental step in creating a positive safety culture is to change the way that safety is measured. While the incident rate is a necessary measure, it should be one of several. The focus of the indicators should be on proactive behaviors, what people are doing to prevent accidents. Having these measurements in place will ensure that safety is attended to all the time, not just when there has been an incident.

Forward-Looking Accountability
When using forward-looking accountability, the company acknowledges the mistake and any harm that was caused — but more importantly, it identifies the change that needs to be made, develops an action plan to put those changes into place, and assigns responsibility for making the changes. The focus is on what will prevent a recurrence, not on punishing those who made the mistake. Effective safety cultures accept that mistakes are part of the workplace, but are relentless about learning from those mistakes.

Good Relationships
Great safety cultures are characterized by good relationship at all levels. This enables open, honest conversations about what is working and what is not, mistakes that have been made and what needs to change. Setting clear expectations, providing helpful feedback, acknowledging good work, seeking to understand problems/issues rather than blaming, following through on commitments, removing roadblocks and asking for feedback all contribute to creating an environment of trust and help build good relationships.

Discretionary Effort
This is the effort that is given even when not asked; it is going above the basic requirements. Exceptional safety takes place when people look for and report hazards, give feedback to peers on safe and at-risk behavior, make suggestions for improvement and most difficult of all, admit when they have made mistakes so lessons can be learned.

Creating a positive safety culture is the responsibility of all of us. We each need to take that extra step, recognize when someone has done something safe, provide guidance when someone is involved in risky behavior, and report any hazards. A positive safety environment does not just happen — it takes all of us working together.

Be safe,
Chris Swanson
Safety Consultant

Back to top

People Companies

Arvig Announces Purchase of AGL

PERHAM, MINN., August 16, 2016—Arvig Enterprises, Inc. (dba Arvig) announced the purchase of AGL Consulting of St. Paul, Minn. The all-asset purchase includes 229 miles of fiber-optic network in the Twin Cities and Carver County area.

Arvig will assume the service contracts of the customers currently served by AGL Consulting. This includes providing service directly to seven colleges and schools, and indirectly serving many more. Other customers being directly served will include the State of Minnesota, various city entities, and a handful of other service providers.

“The acquisition of AGL’s fiber assets compliments Arvig’s strategy to expand deeper into the commercial and education fiber community, providing point-to-point service in the Twin Cities as well as throughout the State of Minnesota," said David Arvig, Vice President/COO.

He continued, “This purchase in particular broadens our presence in St. Paul and Carver County as well as in the education industry.”

Fazil Bhimani, former owner and the only employee of AGL Consulting assets, will remain an independent data communications consultant, continuing to assist educational institutions and others with their data transport and networks.

Back to top

Connect with MTA

Is there someone in your organization who you would like to add to the distribution list? Send their name, company and email address to and we'll add them to the list.

News Bytes is intended for MTA members. Redistribution is limited to internal audiences only. If you wish to be removed from the MTA email list, you may unsubscribe here: @@unsubscribe_url@@.

© Copyright 2016
Minnesota Telecom Alliance
1000 Westgate Drive, Suite 252 | St. Paul, MN 55114-8679 | Tel: 651-291-7311 | Fax: 651-290-2266 | Email:

Member Directory

Active Members

Copyright © 2018 Minnesota Telecom Alliance, Inc. All right reserved.