Iowa Communicator - April 8, 2016

Iowa Communicator - April 8, 2016


This Week's Headlines:
Revised A-CAM Model Run Released –Challenges due Apr. 28th
Webcast Info Available on Archive
Alliance to Host USF Reform Call

Education & Events News:
Less Than 25 Spots Left! Register for the Cyber Summit Today!
Register Today for the 2016 Leadership Conference
IMPACT Call for Speakers

Member News:
Note the New “Iowa Communicator” E-Mail Address
Danville Hosts Congressman Loebsack on Broadband Tour

Statehouse News:
Alliance Files Comments on Broadband Tax Exemption..
Joint Budget Targets Announced; no Broadband Funding




Broadband News:
FCC Releases NPRM on Privacy Guidelines for BB Customer Data
FCC Approves Consumer Broadband Labels

Compliance News:
Portal for Form 481 Now Available; Due July 1st
FCC Provides Guidance for Lifeline Re-certifications

FCC News:
FCC Announces 2016 Local Service Rate Floor
NTCA Seeks Info on Rural Telemedicine Pilot Program

IUB Filings
Alliance Connect Changes Name to Aureon Communications

Industry Events:
South Dakota to Host NIST/Cybersecurity Conference


This Week's Headlines

FCC Releases Revised A-CAM Model Run – Challenges due April 28th


The FCC has released its latest version (v2.2) of the A-CAM that utilizes Form 477 data from June 30, 2015 as well as the implementation of many of the factors listed in last week’s USF “Rate-of-Return” Order.   The FCC notes that this is not the “final” version of the A-CAM, and the final version will be released later.  Click here for the spreadsheet showing the illustrative results. 

The FCC has also released a Public Notice describing its streamlined challenge process and indicating a number of critically important factors for members to consider.  RLECs have only 21 days to challenge the locations that competitors identified as “served” in their Form 477 data.  That means challenges are due April 28th.  Competitors then will have an opportunity to make any corrections to their data, but only corrections made by a deadline specified in the Public Notice will be included in the final version of the A-CAM. 

Among other things, the FCC Notice and illustrative results provide information on:

· whether each rate-of-return carrier qualifies to opt-in to the model based on competitive provision of service and whether the ILEC already provides 10/1 service using either FTTP or cable technology;

· the amount of model-based support that will initially be offered to each carrier that elects the model (subject to downward revision if too many opt in, and subject to revision for the competitive coverage challenge process)

· population-density buildout requirements for each carrier;

All members are urged to give immediate attention to these FCC documents.   The FCC recognizes that you most likely will need to consult with financial and/or engineering experts to assist you in these matters.

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

  Webcast Info Available on Archive    

The FCC hosted a webcast on Monday to give an overview of its USF Rate-of-Return Reform Order.  In case you could not attend the meeting, it is available on FCC’s website.  To view the webinar recording click here.  To access the presentation slides, click here.   

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

  Alliance to Host USF Reform Call     

In the aftermath of last week’s USF Reform Order, the Alliance will host an open conference call at 9 am Friday April 15th

The call isFREE and open to all Alliance members.  Three leaders who participated in the USF reform discussions as members of the NTCA Regulatory and Policy Committee will lead this call:

  • Ryan Boone, NTCA Regulatory Committee vice chair (Premier Communications)
  • Tom Conry, Farmer’s Mutual Cooperative Telephone
  • Don Miller, Northwest Communications

We know that you will be invited to join many webcasts and other educational events offered by consultants, other associations and other industry sources, so this event will provide a different perspective, and not attempt to replicate those. 

Ryan, Tom and Don will share their perspectives of the Order from an operator’s perspective.  They will talk about the factors, data, and important information they want to examine for their own companies to determine whether to elect the new A-CAM Model or the revised Rate-of-Return mechanism.  They will also share their opinions on near-term timelines and action plans. 

This presentation will include plenty of time for questions and answers from attendees.  If you have specific questions that you would like the panelists to consider beforehand, please send those to Dave Duncan by Thursday, April 14th at 10am and he will forward them to the panelists.

To RSVP, email Christine Mounts and she will send you the call-in details as well as some informational materials that will be discussed during the call.  The call is FREE and open to all Alliance members. 

We request that each company use only one phone-in port (for example, multiple employees could listen together in a conference room) because we are nearing capacity of the bridge we are using.

TCA will also be hosting events on the issue:

April 13, 2016 –

TCA View – Live! Understanding the USF Reform Order

April 27, 2016 –

TCA USF Reform Workshop

(Contact Dave Duncan for more information about USF Reform; contact Christine for information about the conference call)

 Education & Events News    
  Less Than 25 Spots Remain! Register for the Cyber Summit Today!    

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.

(Contact Jolene Davis with questions)


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)


Impact 2016 Call for Speakers & Sponsors


The Iowa Communications Alliance Technicians, Marketing & Front Office Training Committee is planning the agenda for the 2016 Combined ConferenceNovember 9 & 10 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.     The conference will include general sessions and tracks for each personnel type:  Marketing professionals, front office/customer service reps and technicians.  There may also be a few ITC managers in attendance. 

We are asking for your input as a member of this association to help provide high quality information to its members.   The committee will begin selecting topics/speakers program at their next meeting.     Click here to download the Impact 2016 Call for Speakers.  

(Contact Jolene Davis with questions)

 Member News     

Note the New “Iowa Communicator” E-Mail Address


Starting next week, our industry update emails from the Alliance will arrive in your email inbox from the sending address of “Iowa Communicator” and not from Christine Mounts or Jolene Davis or other Alliance employee email boxes. 

Members tell us that the weekly industry updates and periodic special reports are important to their business, so we will consolidate all of these informational emails under a common branded header.  Please make sure your spam filters accept emails from the [email protected]

(Contact Christine Mounts with questions)

   Danville Hosts Congressman Loebsack on Broadband Tour    

Tim Fencl and Danville Telecom became the most recent Alliance member company to show 2nd District Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa City) the quality and reliability of Iowa’s independent communications industry. On Thursday, Fencl hosted the Congressman during the scheduled district “work period” where U.S. House members return home to conduct meetings with constituents. As a member of the House Commerce Committee Congressman Loebsack sits on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the Federal Communications Commission.

Loebsack participated in the discussion to talk about Danville’s role in the communications network that has allowed the Greater Burlington area to achieve the #1 ranking of communities for economic growth among cities that are located along the Mississippi River. The tour began in West Burlington before moving on to Wever and then Keokuk, all areas served by Danville’s network.

Congressman Loebsack was the co-author of bipartisan legislation, H.R. 4596, the Small Business Broadband Deployment Act, that unanimously passed the full House of Representatives by a vote of 411-0 last month. This legislation, which Loebsack drafted along with the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Greg Walden (R-OR), extends the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) exemption from its enhanced transparency rules for small Internet service providers (ISPs) for 5 years. 

To read more about H.R. 4596 please click here

(Contact Kevin Condon with questions)

Statehouse News     

Alliance Files Comments on Broadband Tax Exemption after Revenue Conducts Hearing


On Wednesday the Alliance participated in the Department of Revenue public hearing to discuss the rules being drafted to administer the broadband tax exemption from House File 655. Unfortunately, DOR’s initial drafts of the rulemaking greatly diminished the impact of the tax exemptions benefit to rural communications companies.  

During recent meetings, the DOR has assured us that it will “make every effort” to exempt any and all value added by a network expansion project.  

After the hearing was concluded, the Alliance filed comments again urging the Department to ensure that companies who qualify for the exemption do receive the full 100% exemption for broadband installations.  The Alliance specifically states that any increased value caused by qualified broadband installation, whether measured by the cost approach, the stock & debt approach, or the income approach, should be excluded from the final assessment.  We also urge the Department to ensure the exemption applies to all conduit, pedestals, enclosures, electronics, and other supporting equipment that is used in delivering or protecting equipment that delivers broadband services in addition to the “labor, construction, building, and furnishing of new physical infrastructure used for the transmission of data that provides broadband services.”  Finally, we put in writing many of the assurances the Department verbally made during several recent meetings regarding the exemption and the application process.  Click here to read the comments we filed. 


Today the DOR and Chief Information Officer will both be called before the Legislature’s 10-member Administrative Rules Review Committee to give an update on the status of rulemakings relevant to HF655.

(Contact Kevin Condon with questions)


Joint Budget Targets Announced; no Broadband Funding 


Wednesday, the legislature released its “joint budget targets” representing a key domino to fall in the move towards the adjournment of this legislative session, perhaps even this month.  “Joint targets” are the agreement between the Appropriations Committee Chairs and party Leadership that will set forth how big “the pie” is that the Legislature will spend in the upcoming fiscal year which begins on July 1st.  Now that the size of “the pie” is known, the budget subcommittee chairs can move forward with finalizing their spending proposals for state agencies. According to a Des Moines Register article, the new agreement represents an increase over last year’s budget by 2.4%.

Under the agreement the State of Iowa’s budget will expend approximately $7.35 billion dollars during the 2017 Fiscal Year which includes a 2.25% increase in state aid for K-12 education. Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, the Legislature did not dedicate any funding towards the broadband expansion grant program established during the 2015 session. As other surrounding states like Wisconsin and Minnesota continue to appropriate state resources to industry efforts to expand networks, Iowa will continue to lag behind what is becoming a regional and national trend of relief towards the high-cost of providing connectivity in low-density areas.

To see the updated 2016 Alliance Bill Tracker please click here.

Also, don’t forget to see the Alliance Legislative Counsel Paula Dierenfeld’s weekly update every Monday morning on our Good Government Blog

(Contact Kevin Condon with questions)

Broadband News     

FCC Releases NPRM on Privacy Guidelines for Broadband Customer Data


The FCC released the 147-page text of the proposed rules on Broadband Privacy guidelines.  The Commission voted to approve the rulemaking and seek comment during last Thursday’s open meeting. The FCC says the rules “give broadband customers the tools they need to make informed decisions about how their information is used by their ISPs and whether and for what purposes their ISPs may share their customers’ information with third parties.” 

Among other things, the FCC proposes data security requirements, risk management practices, training policies and customer authentication requirements for broadband providers to safeguard consumer information.  It also proposes that providers alert affected customers of data breaches no later than 10 days after discovery and notify the FCC of any breach of customer data no later than seven days after discovery.  Providers must also alert the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service of breaches affecting more than 5,000 customers no later than seven days after discovery of the breach.

The rules are limited to broadband providers and do not impact edge providers such as Facebook, Netflix or Google.  Comments on the voluminous proposals are due May 27thClick here to read them.

(Contact Dave Duncan with questions)


FCC Approves Consumer Broadband Labels


The FCC has distributed new “broadband labels” as models for communications providers to use to provide consumers of mobile and fixed broadband Internet service with easy-to-understand information about price and performance and “help consumers make informed decisions about the purchase of broadband service.”

The Consumer Broadband Labels will include:

·         Price: Price points, including various charges that seem confusing to consumers like overage, equipment, early termination and administrative fees.

·         Data Allowances: This is the carrier-defined plan limit after which consumers will face some consequence, such as additional charges or slowed data speeds.

·         Performance: Broadband speed and other performance metrics.

Click here for the FCC Press Release.   Click here for the mobile broadband label and click here for the fixed broadband label. 

(Contact Dave Duncan for more information)

Compliance News    


Portal for Form 481 Now Available; Due July 1st


USAC has announced that ETCs can now log into E-File and access the revised FCC Form 481, the Carrier Annual Reporting Data Collection Form.  This year’s Form 481 is due Friday, July 1, 2016.   FCC Form 481 is required for all ETCs participating in the High Cost and/or Lifeline programs.  USAC notes that carriers may begin the filing, but will not be able to certify the filing because the form and instructions are still pending OMB approval.  As a result, the "certify" button and bulk certify options will be disabled until approval has been made.  Click here for more from USAC. 

(Contact Dave Duncan for more information)


FCC Provides Guidance for Lifeline Re-certifications


The Wireline Competition Bureau has issued guidance to assist ETCs in determined whether to elect USAC to perform Lifeline certifications for their subscribers in 2016.  ETCs must provide notice to USAC by May 2, 2016 if they intend to have USAC perform the recertification process on their behalf for 2016. Any ETC that used USAC to perform recertification in 2015 will be presumed to elect USAC to perform recertification in 2016 unless the carrier notifies USAC otherwise by May 2, 2016. 

USAC will recertify all SACs of the electing ETC unless the ETC affirmatively indicates to USAC which SACs USAC should not recertify.  ETCs that did not elect to use USAC last year and that do not make an election by May 2, 2016 will be responsible for conducting recertification of their subscribers.  ETCs should perform their election or revocation by sending an email to USAC at [email protected]Click here to read the Public Notice. 

(Contact Dave Duncan for more information)

FCC News    

FCC Announces 2016 Local Service Rate Floor 


The Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice announcing the 2016 local voice service rate floor for incumbent ETCs would be $21.93, but it noted that because it has waived the full impact of the local rate increase for four years, the actual rate floor will be $18.00 per month.  To the extent that an ILEC’s local rates plus state regulated fees in 2016 are less than $18, that carrier’s high-cost support will be reduced on a dollar-for-dollar basis.   In addition, the local rate maximum is set at $41.07.  ETCs must certify in their FCC Form 481 (due July 1, 2016), that the pricing of their basic residential voice services is at least $18 but no more than $41.07. The Bureau also announced the reasonable comparability benchmarks for broadband services which are dependent upon download speeds, upload speeds and usage allowances.  Click here for the FCC’s Public Notice.  Click here to reference the FCC’s explanatory data. 

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)


NTCA Seeks Info on Rural Telemedicine Pilot Program


We have been asked by NTCA to solicit member input to assist the White House Rural Council in developing ideas for rural telemedicine pilot programs.  This follows last week’s rural telemedicine event with a number of federal agencies and a number of communications providers including Ron Laudner. 

The input on pilot programs seeks areas in which a robust broadband network already exists, and could include the deployment of CPE to users and health care facilities or other steps to develop greater telemedicine use in rural areas.  Some ideas proposed at last week’s meeting included assisting veterans’ acquisition of tablets that can be used to interface with the VA telehealth website, and providing assistance with training.  Please forward any ideas or proposals you have to Dave Duncan, who can forward them to NTCA for presentation to the White House Rural Council.

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

IUB Filings    

Alliance Connect Changes Name to Aureon Communications


Aureon followed up with its recent name change announcement by making a filing with the IUB notifying of the name change from Alliance Connect, LLC to Aureon Communications, LLC.  The company is authorized to provide CLEC service throughout Iowa.  Click here for the notice. 

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

 Industry Events    


South Dakota to Host NIST/Cybersecurity Conference


For those who cannot get enough information about cybersecurity, the South Dakota Telecom Association is hosting a two-day event on May 3-4 in Sioux Falls.  This event is co-hosted by Dakota State University and SDN Communications.  We encourage those who cannot attend our Cyber Summit on April 27th to consider this event, or even consider attending both.  Click here to register.  

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)


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