MTA News Bytes

December 8, 2017

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

Action Items

>> Annual Convention and Tradeshow Exhibit and Sponsor Registration Now Open!

>> Do You Have Used Fiber Equiment You Want to Get Rid of?  

Informational items

>> RoR Reform Order Rule Changes Effective December 4

>> Twenty-eight Minnesota A-CAM Companies Urge Additional A-CAM Funding

>> MN West Technical College Introducing Telecom to High Schoolers

Peer Group Bulletin

>> New! 2018 MTA Peer Group Investment Opportunities!

>> Upcoming Peer Group Events

Safety Corner

>> “Medical/
Recreational” Marijuana Use Laws and the DOT Drug Testing Regulations

People and Companies

>> Arvig Promotes Ben Wiechman to Director of IP Engineering and Strategy

MTA Staff

MTA President/CEO:
Brent J. Christensen
Event Planners:
Ashley Crunstedt
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

February 21-23, 2018: Telco Marketing Peer Group Winter Conference

March 26-28, 2018: MTA Annual Convention & Trade Show
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis

March 18-20, 2019: MTA Annual Convention & Trade Show
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis

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MTA Updates


Annual Convention and Tradeshow Exhibit and Sponsor Registration Now Open!

2018 MTA Convention Call for Proposals

>> Register as an Exhibitor or Sponsor

>> Download the 2018 Exhibitor and Sponsor Prospectus

Join us for our 108th Annual Convention! Be present when telecommunications providers from all across the Upper Midwest and Canada gather for what is recognized by many as the biggest and best state telecom trade show.

This is your opportunity to network with industry leaders and decision-makers, and show them how your business can help them succeed. The MTA Convention provides opportunities for you to showcase your products, highlight your services and develop profitable relationships with new and existing clients. The theme for this year’s convention is “Innovation, Opportunity, Challenge — It’s What We Do.” MTA's Annual Convention and Trade Show is one of the best opportunities around to enhance your marketing and broaden your company’s exposure — and it’s very cost effective.

What you need to know

The 2018 Convention will be held in Minneapolis, MN, March 26–28, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis.  


The fee for an 8’ x 10’ booth is based on MTA membership status.

Early Bird* Rates

MTA Member Booth Rental: $1,000
Non-member Booth Rental: $1,490

Standard Rates 

MTA Member Booth Rental: $1,150
Non-member Booth Rental: $1,640

*Early Bird Discount is available for exhibitors whose contracts are received by the Early Bird Deadline of Feb. 2, 2018.


Extend your brand identity and marketing capabilities with a strong visible presence at the 2018 Annual Convention. Multiple levels of conference sponsorship opportunities are available. Many sponsorship opportunities are first-come, first-served. As in the past, Sponsors will receive priority in the booth assignment process.


Reservations can be made by calling 1-888-421-1442 or online at Please indicate that you are an exhibitor. 

The hotel cut-off date is March 2, 2018 or until the block is filled. Please be sure to book your rooms early!

Hotel Room Rates: $162 plus tax for single and double occupancy; $172 plus tax for triple occupancy; $182 plus tax for quadruple occupancy

>> Download the Exhibitor and Sponsor Prospectus for full details.


If you have questions about the exhibitor or sponsorship information, please contact Carissa Wolf ( at the MTA Office (651) 265-7849.

Do You Have Used Fiber Equiment You Want to Get Rid of?  

MN West Technical College is looking for gently used fiber equipment to train students in the telecom program. The items needed are:

  • Fiber Splicers
  • OTDRs
  • Power Meters
  • Light Sources

MTA members are asked to consider MN West when you retire or replace this type of equipment. MN West has a limited budget to purchase the equipment, so any price consideration is greatly appreciated. For more information contact MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen at 651-288-3723 or A special thank-you to West Central Telephone for their contribution of a fiber splicer. It has been used extensively to train future telecom technicians.

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RoR Reform Order Rule Changes Effective December 4

From NECA’s Washington Watch

The FCC issued a Notice in the Federal Register on December 4, 2017, announcing OMB approval of the information collection requirements relating to §§ 51.917(f)(4), 69.4(k), 69.132, 69.311 and 69.416 amended in the March 2016 Rate-of-Return USF Reform Order for a period of three years (from September 20, 2016, through September 30, 2019). The reforms adopted in the Order required RoR LECs to make tariff filings with the necessary tariff materials outside of the normal tariff filing period. The amendments were effective December 4, 2017.

Twenty-eight Minnesota A-CAM Companies Urge Additional A-CAM Funding

From NECA’s Washington Watch

Twenty-eight Minnesota RLECs who have accepted A-CAM support filed a letter on November 28, 2017, to urge the FCC to take action before the end of this year to authorize additional A-CAM funding up to $200 per month per eligible customer location. They said the mechanism to distribute additional funds is already in place, and if they receive additional funding now, they will be able to design their network upgrades in the most efficient manner.

MN West Technical College Introducing Telecom to High Schoolers

MN West Technical College, Granite Falls and Jackson, is working with high schools to get students interested in telecom careers. Currently they are working with the school districts in Lamberton, Redwood Falls, Wabasso, and Windom. Curriculum is a combination of online instruction and in-person technical labs. MTA member companies are encouraged to work with the high schools they serve to determine if this is something of interest for them. High schools interested in exploring this exciting opportunity should contact either Pam Jensen at or Terri Pelzel at  More information can be found by clicking the links below.

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

New! 2018 MTA Peer Group Investment Opportunities Now Available!

Get tons of visibility and have engaging conversations with members, build relationships with small, but highly focused groups, and support our core cause.

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 2018!

Sign up online or download the 2018 Peer Group Investment Opportunities for full details.

>> Sign up today!

Upcoming Peer Group Event

2018 Telco Marketing Peer Group Winter Conference

February 21-23, 2018 | Watch for more details!

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Safety Corner

“Medical/Recreational” Marijuana Use Laws and the DOT Drug Testing Regulations

Recently, some states passed initiatives to permit the use of marijuana for so-called “recreational” or “medical” purposes. On May 29, 2014, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law the new Minnesota Medical Marijuana Law (MML), making Minnesota one of 22 states to adopt a law authorizing the use of “medical” marijuana.

Because of these new laws, the U.S. Department of Transportation has received several inquiries about whether these state initiatives will have an impact upon the Department of Transportation’s longstanding regulation about the use of marijuana by safety-sensitive transportation employees, including truck drivers. 

The U.S. DOT wants to make it perfectly clear that the state initiatives will have no bearing on the Department of Transportation’s regulated drug testing program. The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation — 49 CFR Part 40 — does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason. Therefore, Medical Review Officers (MROs) will not verify a drug test as negative based upon learning that the employee used “recreational marijuana” when states have passed “recreational marijuana” initiatives.

The U.S. DOT also firmly reiterates that an MRO will not verify a drug test negative based upon information that a physician recommended that the employee use “medical marijuana” when states have passed “medical marijuana” initiatives.

So how does the Minnesota Department of Transportation handle the new medical marijuana law that was signed into law by Gov. Dayton? This is where it seems to get cloudy; the Minnesota Department of Transportation mirrors the Federal Standard on Drug Testing. However, the MML generally provides state criminal and civil protections to patients who enroll in a state registry program who may use or possess marijuana. Registry participation requires certification by a health care practitioner that a patient has been diagnosed with one of the nine qualifying medical conditions. Given the direct conflict between federal and state law, we can anticipate that the employment law provisions of the MML will be subject to legal challenge.

I am not an attorney and do not play one on the job, so I cannot give legal advice to companies on how to handle a positive drug test of an employee who uses “medical” marijuana. But I do predict that this will be addressed soon in the courts. Most other states with marijuana initiatives do not give employees the protection that the Minnesota MML currently gives employees, which prevents employers from taking adverse employment action on the basis of a verified positive marijuana test result because of medical use. 

In regards to “recreational” marijuana use, let’s say an employee goes to a state such as Colorado, where recreational use is legal, and uses marijuana and then returns to Minnesota and is tested because of a random, reasonable suspicion or accident and tests positive for marijuana. The MRO would uphold the positive result and the employee would proceed with the steps outlined by the Department of Transportation.

Employers and employees need to understand that the dust hasn’t even begun to settle on this issue and there will be more laws passed on medical/recreational marijuana use as time goes by.

Take Care,
Dan Berg, M.S.
Senior Safety Consultant

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People Companies

Arvig Promotes Ben Wiechman to Director of IP Engineering and Strategy

PERHAM, MINN., NOV. 30, 2017— Arvig, the area’s leading broadband provider, announced that Ben Wiechman has been promoted to Director of IP Engineering and Strategy. Wiechman is responsible for leading network engineering and service delivery for the company. He will report to David Arvig, Vice President/Chief Operating Officer.

“I’m pleased to announce Ben’s promotion,” said David Arvig. “As technology continues to evolve rapidly, we recognized a need within our IT department for a dedicated service delivery team to ensure we continue meeting the ever-changing demands of the industry. This last year, Ben exceeded expectations as he filled the role of interim Director of IT during Shaun Carlson’s absence, and I’m excited to see what he’ll bring to the table in this new position.”

Ben has more than 12 years of experience with telecommunications, system administration and network engineering. This includes experience with fixed wireless network design and operations, software development, automation, server virtualization, and service provider and enterprise network design and operations. He has worked as a system and network administrator, later serving as the supervisor to the system administrators and as a Senior Network Engineer. He filled the role of interim Director of Information Systems beginning in early 2017 before moving into the position of the Director of IP Engineering and Strategy.

Ben holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Writing with a minor in Computer Science. He holds a Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) certification, as well as a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching certification, and served in the Minnesota National Guard.

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