Iowa Communicator - April 15, 2016

Iowa Communicator - April 15, 2016

 


This Week's Headlines:
Alliance Education Session Archive Recording Available
ITTC Opens Invitation to Qualify – Members Urged to Respond

Education & Events News:
Less Than 15 Spots! Register for the Cyber Summit Today!
Broadband Privacy Webcast
Register Today for the 2016 Leadership Conference
Impact 2016 Call for Speakers & Sponsors
EnVision Conference for Video Providers-Sept.15th

Broadband News:
RUS Opens Broadband Loan App Process
Cong. Research Service Issues Report on Municipal Broadband

Member News:
Task Force Reviews Member Data on Extended Area Calling
Members Donate Equipment to Calix
Alliance Seeks “I-T” Assistance

 

 

 

Statehouse News:
Budget Bills Start Moving, Adjournment Possible Next Week
Alliance Economic Growth Priority Sent to Governor
Rules Review Cmte Receives Update on BB Tax Exemption


Industry News:

Article Reminds of Family Benefits of Landline Phones

FCC News:
FCC Issues 2016 Annual Tariff Filing Order
FCC Seeks Comments on OpEx Caps by May 12th

IUB Filings:
ALJ Shares Pals Report on Call Blocking Situation
NEIT Services Obtains Certificate
Aureon Files Access Service Concurrence
Windstream and CenturyLink File Interconnection Agreement
Wide Voice LLC Seeks Certificate
PEG Bandwidth Holdings Submits Add'l Data in Support of App

 




 
This Week's Headlines
 
 

Alliance Education Session Archive Recording Available 

   
 

As part of our continuing efforts to help members consider the ramifications of the recent USF Reform Order, the Alliance hosted an educational call today. 

Ryan Boone, NTCA Regulatory Committee vice chair (Premier Communications), Tom Conry, Farmer’s Mutual Cooperative Telephone, and Don Miller, Northwest Communications shared their perspectives of the Order from an operator’s perspective.  They referred to and discussed a handy guide authored by Tom Conry entitled “Items to Think About

We thank these three leaders for their time in preparing for the meeting, and anticipating what questions or concerns are of most interest to others.  Much of the meeting was dedicated to answering member questions about the challenge process, what types of data should be reviewed, and what items should be focused on in determining whether to elect the new A-CAM Model or the revised Rate-of-Return mechanism.  

Click here to access the recording.  

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
       
 

ITTC Opens Invitation to Qualify – Members Urged to Respond 

   
 

On Wednesday, we distributed a Special Report announcing a new opportunity for members to notify the ICN of their ability and interest in future bidding opportunities to bid Intrastate Ethernet transport services with the ICN. 

The ITTC has not done this kind of ITQ process before.  It is not an RFP for a particular site or sites.  Instead, it allows companies to identify current and future capabilities and interest in future bids.

The ITTC sent this only to Alliance-member GMs in the hopes of generating more response by Iowa’s smaller providers to future RFPs for Ethernet transport service bids.  In the past, most of the bids were received only from the larger providers because the geographic scope of bids was usually large. 

This ITQ includes a new process to allow small providers to participate in smaller geographic areas and obtain pre-qualification for future Ethernet transport RFPs.  The Alliance urges each member to review the ITQ and consider responding by the June 15th deadline.  Click here to read the Alliance Special Report

We have heard some members comment that certain items sought in the ITQ are overly burdensome.  If you have concerns with the ITQ, please share specific examples with Dave Duncan so we can communicate those to ICN.

 

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
 Education & Events News    
  Less Than 15 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: 

Hack Attack:  It’s Just a Matter of Time!

John Nagel, KLJ Engineering

There are 2 types of companies, those who have been targets of cyber-attacks and those who will be.  This presentation discusses the state of cybersecurity, what hackers are after, what happens to stolen data, and next steps for your company.

 

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 to reserve your room.  Be sure to ask for the ICA rate.

(Contact Jolene Davis with questions)

   
   Broadband Privacy Webcast    
   

We will take a closer look at Privacy Policies for our broadband consumers and certain issues we see today. In addition, we will also discuss the FCC’s recent announcement relating to consumer broadband labels.

Speaking bio:

Allison Wallace is Special Counsel at the Davis Brown Law Firm. As a member of the Business Division, Allison practices primarily in the areas of Business Organizations and Transactions, Telecommunications & Utilities, Emerging Companies and Mergers & Acquisitions. Allison assists clients on various business matters, advising those clients on ongoing strategic, transactional, corporate and regulatory matters. She joined the firm in 2015 after a career as general counsel for local and international software technology companies.

Click here to register. 

Please note:  Cyberpass registrants are already signed up.  We will email you the details of the webcast on April 22nd.  

Thank You 2016 All-Star Sponsors:


   
 

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)

   
  Save the Date: September 15th EnVision Conference for Video Providers    
 

The EnVision Conference is September 15th in West Des Moines and will feature great speakers and topics that will provide ideas for enhancing your telco’s video products and services.

We are currently accepting speaker submissions and sponsorships.  Click here for the 2016 EnVision Call for Speakers & Sponsors.    

   
Broadband News     
 

RUS Opens Broadband Loan App Process

   
 

RUS is now accepting applications for its FY 2016 RUS Broadband Loan and Loan Guarantee program.  Loans and loan guarantees will be made in amounts ranging from $100,000 to $10 million for construction, improvement and acquisition of equipment and facilities that provide broadband services to eligible rural areas.

 

Applications are due July 7th, and must be online application system. Applications are available on the USDA website, and must be submitted via the online portal.  Click here for more information on the program.

(please contact Dave Duncan for more information).

   
 

Congressional Research Service Issues Report on Municipal Broadband

   
 

The Congressional Research Service issued a report entitled “Municipal Broadband: Background and Policy Debate.”  It is written for all members of Congress and it notes that three bills have been released in the current Congress addressing this debate.  The report acknowledges that “municipal broadband is controversial” and discuses arguments in favor and arguments opposed to municipal broadband.  Click here to read the report. 

(please contact Dave Duncan for more information).

   
 Member News     
 

Task Force Reviews Member Data on Extended Area Calling

   
 

The Alliance’s “Extended Calling Area” Task Force met this week to review data compiled by Vantage Point’s Wendy Harper on the impact of foregoing intrastate toll revenue in favor of a statewide calling plan.  This was the next in a series of Task Force meetings to analyze the pros and cons of such a plan (including a presentation to the Alliance Annual Meeting in 2015). 

 

The Task Force thanks the 18-20 members who submitted data that was used in this report.  Vantage Point’s Doug Eidahl reported that the data appear to show that we are close to the point where an extended calling plan might make economic sense for members to consider.  The group noted that declining access revenues combined with changes in regulatory and toll costing plans may reduce or nearly eliminate the feared losses of revenues from forgoing access.  


The Task Force decided to wait until the USF Reform/A-CAM model elections were made before pursuing the next steps, which likely will include a webcast and other outreach efforts to explain the benefits of an extended calling area plan. 

 

In the meantime, Task Force members Doug Eidahl, Wendy Harper, Burnie Snoddy and Rich McBurney invite members to contact them for more information. 

(Contact Dave Duncan with questions)

   
  Members Donate Equipment to DMACC    
 

Through a new partnership with Huxley Communications, Minburn Communications, Power & Tel Supply and the Calix company of California, DMACC West campus Network Technology/Telecom students will have some new advanced equipment to train with. Those involved in the partnership include:  Calix Regional Sales Director Lonny Maler (left to right), Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Telecommunications Technology Professor Jay Nickelson, Calix Sales Engineer Bret McElwee, Power & Tel District Sales Manager Mike Brems, Huxley Communications General Manager Gary Clark and Minburn Communications General Manager Debra Lucht.

Thanks to this generous donation of resources and equipment, Industry and Technology students at the DMACC West campus will be able to train and learn about the latest trends in FTTH (fiber to the home). All across Iowa, independent communications providers are deploying “fiber to the home.” These advanced service offerings provide blazing fast Internet speeds to homes and business customers alike.

   
 

Alliance Seeks “I-T” Assistance

   
 

The Alliance headquarters is considering moving to a new “information technology” provider and we know that many of our members offer such services.  Currently, we subscribe to services that include hardware and software consultation and repair, offsite file backup, management and support of network/firewall/servers, virus protection.  From time to time, we do require some periodic onsite support.  For more information, and if you are interested in submitting a bid, please contact Christine Mounts.  

   
Statehouse News     
 

Budget Bills Start Moving, Session Adjournment Possible Next Week

   
 

As reported last week, the Legislature’s “joint budget targets” were released last week and this week the Capitol began to see agreements between the “split-controlled” budget subcommittees on various topics such as Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as Economic Development funding. While several other budget and policy items remain hanging in the balance, conventional wisdom at the Capitol is lining up behind the possibility that the 86th General Assembly is closer to adjournment than it is has been in years past at this point in the session.

As of the Communicator going to print, meetings on the Education and Transportation budgets appear to be ready for action in the Senate Appropriations Committee while the Standings Appropriations bill (typically one of the last bills introduced each year) is moving on the House side. Annually, the Health and Human Services budget that contains spending for all healthcare related issues like Medicaid and Medicare has yet to be released. It is not uncommon for that particular bill to be bogged down in debate during this point of the session.

(Contact Kevin Condon for more information)

   
 

Alliance Economic Growth Priority Sent to Governor

   
 

After volleying a number of times between the House and Senate to correct technical details of the bill, SF 453 is on its way to Governor Branstad’s desk for action. This bill, nicknamed the TelePharmacy Bill, is an effort to help bring a solution to a problem many rural Iowa communities face in accessing pharmacy services. 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. With the help of the Iowa Area Development Group, the Alliance identified SF 453 as a bill to fit that mold.

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. 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. The satellite locations, which provide all of the same services as a traditional pharmacy, are operated by on-site Certified Pharmacy Technicians. All prescriptions are reviewed for accuracy 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.

To see the complete 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)

   
 

Rules Review Committee Receives Update on Broadband Tax Exemption

   
 

Last Friday, the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC) received updates on the status of broadband tax exemption rulemakings that are being carried out by the Department of Revenue (DOR) and the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO). The OCIO was called in for an unusual “special review” by the ARRC because there was some irritation that the OCIO had not yet begun the stakeholder consultation process for an exemption that has been law since July 1, 2015. The OCIO explained that the office’s process has been moving forward and that the agency would be reaching out to stakeholders this month to begin discussions about how the OCIO will certify broadband applications for tax exemption.

More importantly in the short term, DOR was on the ARRC agenda to discuss their hand in the rulemaking which will determine the amount of exemption broadband providers will receive on their tax bill. Unfortunately, DOR’s first attempts at calculating exemptions for rural carriers are unacceptable due to inconsistency in how the Department is using the “3 prong approach” relating to cost, stock & debt, and income. DOR did apologize for the length of time it has taken the agency to get to the formal rules process that the Alliance has been heavily involved in. DOR hosted a public hearing on the rules earlier last week and the Alliance participated and submitted comments on the rulemaking document that is being considered. 

The Alliance has been and will continue to aggressively work with the DOR, lawmakers, the Governor’s office and others in the telecom industry to address areas of the rulemaking that fail to achieve what the Alliance believes was the “legislative intent” of the bill.

The following are recent and future important dates in the rulemaking process:

·         Notice Filing Publication Date – March 16, 2016 (click here to see the filing)

·         Public Hearing Date – April 6, 2016 (click here to see the Alliance comments)

·         Rules Review Committee Appearance – April 8, 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

(Contact Kevin Condon for more information)

   
Industry News     
 

Article Reminds on Family Benefits for Landline Phones

   
 

This week’s Wall Street Journal had an interesting article that talks about the positive impacts that a family-shared landline telephone has on family interaction and the social growth of youngsters.  It is entitled “What Children Learned from the Shared Family Phone.” 

 Click here to read it.  

(Contact Dave Duncan with questions)

   
FCC News    
 

FCC Issues 2016 Annual Tariff Filing

   
 

The FCC has issued an Order relating to “Material to be Filed in Support of 2016 Annual Access Tariff Filings.  In the Order, it notes that while rate-of-return incumbent LECs historically would not have been required to file access service tariffs this year, under the USF/ICC Transformation Order, however, rate-of-return incumbent LECs subject to section 61.39 of the Commission’s rules must file a Tariff Review Plan this year, and it must also reflect the revised 11.0 percent rate of return in all relevant calculations. The Order contains other important information relating to Tariff filings, so click here to read it. 

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
 

FCC Seeks Comments on OpEx Caps by May 12th 

   
 

The deadline for responding to the FCC’s proposed additional rules regarding allowable expenses, on methods for reducing support in competitive areas, increasing support for RoR carriers in tribal lands and unserved areas, and streamlining ETC annual reporting requirements is May 12.  Click here to read the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
IUB Filings    
 

 

ALJ Shares Pals Report on Call Blocking Situation

   
   In response to an email from Doug Pals giving another example of how “rural call completion problems persist,” ALJ Amy Christensen has issued an Order allowing others to read the email on offer any response.  Pals is a party to one of the call blocking investigations at the IUB, and so therefore, all other parties in that contested case are entitled to participate or respond.

Pals’ email included a summary of a recent call completion difficulties where a customer of Marne & Elk Horn Telephone was unable to receive an interstate call from a Minnesota originating party using Level 3 service.  Pals also urged the IUB to take appropriate next steps to make originating carriers track, identify and fix this problem from their end and to levy financial penalties where appropriate.  Click here to read it. 

(please contact Dave Duncan for more information).

   
 

NEIT Services Obtains Certificate

   
  The IUB has granted a certificate to provide resold local exchange services to NEIT Services, LLC.  NEIT Services intends to provide resold local exchange service in Decorah, Waukon and Postville.  Click here for more. 

(please contact Dave Duncan for more information).

   
 

Aureon Files Access Service Concurrence

   
 

As part of its transition to a new corporate name, Aureon has filed an Access Service Concurrence with the IUB.  Aureon concurs with the switched access tariffs of Qwest, Frontier and Windstream. 

(please contact Dave Duncan for more information).

   
 

Windstream and CenturyLink File Interconnection Agreement

   
 

CenturyLink has filed an Interconnection Agreement with Windstream for IUB approval. It seeks an implementation date of the first day after IUB approval.  Click here to read it. 

(please contact Dave Duncan for more information).

   
 

Wide Voice LLC Seeks Certificate

   
  Wide Voice LLC (a Las Vegas corporation) has filed an Application for Certificate to provide competitive local exchange service in all CenturyLink areas in Iowa.  Wide Voice intends to use its own facilities and the re-sold facilities of other carriers to offer VoIP service.  Click here for more. 

(please contact Dave Duncan for more information).

   
 

PEG Bandwidth Holdings Submits Additional Data in Support of Certificate App

   
 

In response to a request by IUB staff member Vince Hanrahan, PEG Bandwidth has filed information about its organizational chart and financial statements.  PEG is seeking a certificate to provide local exchange service.  Click here to read the filing. 

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
   
       
   

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