Iowa Communicator - March 25, 2016

Iowa Communicator - March 25, 2016

 


This Week's Headlines:
Local Rate Floor Increases to $18 June 1st;Notices due May 1st
Regulatory Relations Committee Meets

Education & Events News:
Register Today for the Cyber Summit April 27th
Register today for the 2016 Leadership Conference

Legislative News:
Progress Being Made at the Iowa Capitol Towards Adjournment
Alliance Economic Growth Priority Passes House 94-0
Senator Grassley Town Hall Meetings Announced
Capitol Insider Call--NEXT Friday, April 1

Industry News:
Alliance Meets with Rev. Dept on Broadband Tax Exemption

 

 

 

Member News:
Laudner to Join NTCA & White House Rural Council Meeting

Compliance News:
FCC Form 499-A Due April 1st

FCC Filings:
FCC Revises Confidentiality Procedures for Form 481 Filing
FCC Copper Retirement Disclosure Rules Go into Effect

IUB Filings:
Hoteligent Seeks Certificate

 



2016 Annual Meeting & Expo Highlights
Click the above link for tons of photos and highlights from the event!


 
This Week's Headlines
 
 

Local Rate Floor Increases to $18 by June 1st; Customer Notices due May 1st

   
 

During its meeting this week, the Regulatory Relations Committee discussed the upcoming FCC mandated local rate benchmark increase to $18 per month effective June 1st and wanted to share information with the members. 

The Committee noted that LECs who fail to meet the rate benchmark will lose high cost USF support.  Under FCC rules, LECs must report the rate increase by July 1st.  The residential ARC charge will increase to $2.50 per month effective July 1st while the multi-line business ARC charge will remain at $3.00. 

LECs must still provide 30 days’ notice of the local rate increase to their customers, meaning such notices must be sent by May 1st.  In addition, LECs must still send a copy of that notice to the IUB after it is sent to the customers.  As a result of the de-tariffing procedures, the IUB no longer has any required format for such rate increase notice.  Companies must update the rates indicated on their service/rate catalog to reflect the increase.

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
 

 

Regulatory Relations Committee Meets 

   
 

Newly-appointed committee Chair Janell Hansen led this month’s Regulatory Relations Committee meeting.  During the meeting, the Committee discussed a number of recent FCC and IUB actions. It also previewed three important Orders expected by the FCC – the USF Reform/ACAM Order; the Lifeline Reform Order and the new ISP Privacy rules. 

The Committee also discussed the extensive filings made by CenturyLink, OCA and others in the investigative hearing on whether CenturyLink failed to comply with service restoration standards in dozens of consumer complaints.  It noted that CenturyLink acknowledges that “it has not consistently met the specific repair intervals set forth in the Board’s rules for every out-of-service trouble report” and other rules, but says its non-compliance is largely been due to factors beyond CenturyLink’s control (weather, industry factors, and the growth in broadband service).  The Committee discussed the impact of the upcoming ruling on future claims that LECs fail to meet established rule and standards.

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
 Education & Events News    
  Register Today for the Cyber Summit April 27th    
 

Cyber threats to your business are increasing daily. We invite you to join your colleagues at the first Iowa Communications Alliance Cyber Summit where you will identify your risk level, learn how to prepare your network and your staff for a possible attack and develop a plan to respond to an attack.

The agenda is full of Cyber Security experts including representatives from Iowa Homeland Security and the State Chief Information Officer. Here’s a look at just one of the sessions during the conference: 

Protecting Your Data & Your Customers’ Data

Jay Nickelson, DMACC Instructor, Network Technology/Telecommunications

Vicky McKim, INS Manager-Enterprise Business Continuity

Practical & technical aspects of protection will be discussed during this session.  Vicky McKim will discuss your cyber polices and employee training programs including establishing basic security practices to protect sensitive business information, communicating policies to all employees on a regular basis, establishing rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data. Jay Nickelson will discuss the technical practices of protecting your data including controlling access to workstations, securing your wifi networks, email security practices, resetting desktop passwords and much more. 

Click here for the full conference agenda and to register today. 

Hotel reservations:  ICA has a room block for $129 plus tax at the Courtyard Marriott in Ankeny.  Call 515-422-5555 by April 5th to reserve your room.  Be sure to ask for the ICA rate.

   
 

Register today for the 2016 Leadership Conference
June 8 at the Kirkwood Hotel, Cedar Rapids, IA

   
 

Join ICA members at this one-day conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.   The conference agenda provides a unique blend of speakers and topics from our opening Keynote Speaker Dr. Bill Withers, industry experts from South Slope Communications & Kiesling Associates and attendees sharing best practices in our most-requested open forum discussions.  Click here for the full conference brochure. 

Dr. Wither’s; Keynote Address will be
Organizational Culture—Keeping it Simple.  He will reference Patrick Lencioni’s,  book
The Advantage at the conference.  Each attendee will receive a copy of the book with their registration. 

Advance copies are available if you would like to read the book prior to the conference.  Register today and we’ll ship your copy today!


(Contact Jolene Davis with questions)

   
Legislative News     
  Progress Being Made at the Iowa Capitol Towards Adjournment    
 

The week started off with Governor Branstad signing a bill into law that will couple the Iowa tax code with the Federal code specifically on accelerated depreciation under Chapter 179. While the depreciation method applies broadly to various individuals, it is particularly important to farmers and other small businesses to will immediately depreciate equipment purchased rather than over a series of years. The bill also codifies some changes to the sales and use tax exemption for manufacturers that have been sought by the industry for over 15 years.

Following that action by the Governor, on Tuesday the Conference Committee negotiating the K-12 education spending bill met to approve an increase in school funding of 2.25% or $153 million dollars. The bill then moved to the floor of both chambers the next day and passed the Senate 44-6 and the House 55-41. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature. Just as with the tax coupling bill, the Senate has indicated they will not proceed on other budget bills until the Governor acts on the compromise education spending bill. For an excel document showing the statewide impact of 2.25% supplemental state aid and a breakdown by district, please click here.

As bills on key issues such as these fall into place, there is a feeling at the Capitol that more compromises will be reached on the remaining budget bills and the debate calendars will continue to shrink as the target adjournment date of April 19th approaches. Tax and spending bills are largely the only legislation that remains active at this point but the Alliance will remain engaged at the Capitol until the final gavel falls.

(Contact Kevin Condon with questions)

   
 

Alliance Economic Growth Priority Passes House 94-0

   
 

This year, the Alliance Board of Directors instructed the Legislative Committee to be open to new ways that the association may step outside of the “telecom silo” that is natural for our group to focus on during the General Assembly. Not wasting anytime, the Alliance identified an effort at the Capitol with the help of our friends at the Iowa Area Development Group that would help fix the “pharmacy deserts” that exist in may rural parts of Iowa.

There are currently 82 “pharmacy deserts” in Iowa. These are communities which are 10 or more miles to the nearest pharmacy. The situation in these rural areas is getting worse as over the past 2 years, 71 pharmacies have closed across the state. The population served by these pharmacies would equal the 5th largest city in Iowa.

Telepharmacy is a solution which brings pharmacy services back to areas where traditional pharmacies can no longer operate profitably and also saves struggling pharmacies from closing. This new type of pharmacy is a safe, effective, and affordable solution to provide health-care to rural areas. Physical locations, which provide all of the same services as a traditional pharmacy, are operated on-site by Certified Pharmacy Technicians. All prescriptions reviewed for accuracy and appropriateness by a pharmacist. Patients also have immediate access to a pharmacist for OTC and prescription counseling through a HIPAA certified secure video call.

The Alliance supports the bill as a way to promote economic growth and retention in rural Iowa. As engaged members of our rural communities, our health-care providers and our shared customers benefit greatly and become more self-sustainable when they have a local retail pharmacy. The bill was amended in the House before passing 94-0 so it will now head back to the Senate where the bill previously received a vote of 50-0.

To read a recent Des Moines Register article on the effort, please click here.

To see the Alliance Bill Tracker for all the legislation of interest, please click here. 

(Contact Kevin Condon with questions)

   
 

Senator Grassley Town Hall Meetings Announced

   
 

Senator Charles Grassley will host three town hall meetings in northwest Iowa next week.  Here is the schedule:

  • Monday, March 28th from 2:15 to 3:15 at the Ocheyedan Senior Center, 845 Main Street, Ocheyedan
  • Monday, March 28th from 4:15 to 5:15 at the Rock Rapids Public Library, 102 South Greene Street, Rock Rapids
  • Tuesday, March 29th from 8:45 to 9:45 at Northwestern College, DeWitt Learning Commons-Vogel Community Room, 101 7th Street Southwest, Orange City

The Senator’s town halls provide an opportunity to thank your members of congress for past engagement on issues important to you as well as the chance to raise questions or concerns in a public setting. 

   
  Capitol Insider Call--NEXT Friday, April 1    
  As we (hopefully) enter the last month of the 2016 Legislative Session the Alliance will host another “Capitol Insider” call and hear updates about the activity at the Statehouse from Director of Public Affairs, Kevin Condon. 

The call in details are:

What: Alliance “Capitol Insider” Conference Call
When: Friday, April 1st
Time: 9:30 AM
Dial in #: 641-591-6903
Pass code #: 752128

Please contact Kevin or Christine with any questions at 515-867-2091. 
   
Industry News     
 

Alliance Meets with Revenue Department on Broadband Tax Exemption

   
 

On Tuesday, representatives from the Alliance met with a team of staff from the Iowa Department of Revenue to discuss the broadband tax exemption created during the last legislative session. Unfortunately, as has been reported, the DOR has had difficulty releasing example calculations that allow rural carriers the ability to realize a true, 100% property tax exemption on new plant installed after July 1, 2015. The meeting this week was a productive one and Alliance members should be cautiously optimistic that the conversation with DOR is moving in the right direction. It is clear that the Legislature’s intent in passing this bill was to treat all broadband providers equally in securing a tax exemption and the Alliance will continue to advocate for a methodology that helps our members maximize the incentive provided by the law.

In an important development, representatives from the DOR again indicated that the agency would make every effort to include legitimate claims of “value added” by the new plant in their calculations for RLECs. While the initial deadline of February 1st has come and gone, the rules will need to be finalized before member companies know for sure the outcome of the negotiations underway with the Department. The Administrative Rules Review Committee of the Legislature has been notified of the rulemaking which means that the “clock is ticking” with the final rules expected to be adopted and en force in June 2016. A public hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday, April 6th at 10 AM in Des Moines for those interested in participating to highlight the importance of “getting this right” the first time so that the broadband industry may utilize the tax exemption to bring more connectivity to more Iowans.

Remaining Key Dates:

  • Public Hearing Date – April 6, 2016
  • Adopted Filing Date – April 22, 2016
  • Adopted Filing Publication Date – May 11, 2016
  • Second Rules Review Committee Appearance – Early June
  • Rule Effective Date – June 15, 2016

Special thanks goes out to Kiesling & Associates’ very own Todd Thorson and Burnie Snoddy for their involvement in the meeting this week!!!

To see the rule noticed to the ARRC, please click here

(Contact Kevin Condon with questions)

   
Member News    
 

 

Laudner to Join NTCA Delegation and White House Rural Council Meeting

   
 

NTCA has announced that it will participate in an event sponsored by the White House Rural Council entitled, “A White House Convening on Rural Telehealth,” on March 30th in Washington, D.C.  The event will feature remarks and collaborative sessions with officials from the Obama administration and NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, as well as leaders from state and local government, academia and the practitioner community.  One of the invited participants is Ron Laudner, Omnitel Communications (Nora Springs).  Participants will identify and make recommendations on barriers and opportunities to increased deployment and participation in telehealth services.

(Contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
Compliance News    
 

FCC Form 499-A Due April 1st

   
 

All contributors who pay more than $10,000 to any of the USF funds must file FCC Form 499, Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet, by April 1st.  Form 499-A reports revenue information for calendar year 2015.

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
FCC Filings    
 

FCC Revises Confidentiality Procedures for Form 481 Filing 

   
 

The FCC has issued a revised Protective Ordergoverning the filing of, and access to, FCC Form 481 financial information filed by privately held rate-of-return carriers.  The FCC says that privately held rate-of-return ETCs who wish to file confidentially any portion of FCC Form 481 now need file only one copy of the confidential version of the form with the Secretary’s Office and file a redacted version of the form online.  It will no longer be necessary to file two courtesy copies of the confidential version of the form.  This Protective Order also substantially reduces the number of dockets into which submitting parties must file information.  

Click here to read the Order.  All ETCs must file Form 481 by July 1.  This filing includes the information required by Section 54.313 such as outage, unfulfilled service request, and complaint data, broken out separately for voice and broadband services, information on the ETC’s holding company, operating companies, ETC affiliates and any branding in response to section 54.313(a)(8); its CAF-ICC certification, if applicable; its financial information, if a privately held rate-of-return carrier; and its satellite backhaul certification, if applicable.

Form 481 must not only be filed with USAC, but also with the FCC and the relevant state commission.  Although USAC treats the filing as confidential, filers must seek confidential treatment separately with the FCC and the relevant state commission if confidential treatment is desired.

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
  FCC Copper Retirement Disclosure Rules Go into Effect    
 

The Office of Management and Budget has approved the information collection associated with the Commission’s network change disclosure rules pertaining to copper retirement notices.   It estimates that 663 RLECs and 87 non-rural ILECs that must comply with these reporting requirements, at an estimated total annual burden of the information collection of 575,840 hours.  OMB says this time burden will incur “no annual cost.”   Click here for more. 

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
 IUB Filings    
   Hoteligent Seeks Certificate     
 

Hoteligent Telecommunications, based in Florida, seeks a certificate to provide interconnected VoIP service to small and medium sized business customers throughout Iowa using YMax Communications as its underlying carrier.  Click here for more.  

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
   
   
   
   

2016 Committee Volunteers –March Open Enrollment

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