Iowa Communicator - April 22, 2016

Iowa Communicator - April 22, 2016

 


This Week's Headlines:
FCC Releases Updated 477 Data from Non-Incumbent Providers
FCC Releases USF FAQ

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
Save the Date: September 15th EnVision Conference 

Statehouse News:
Legislature Grinds Towards Adjournment
Alliance Economic Growth Priority Signed into Law
E911 Surcharge Allocation Bill to be Sent to Governor

Industry News:
Regulatory Committee Reviews Recent FCC Decisions
USF Reform/A-CAM Sets April 28th Deadline
Huser Reports to Consumer Advocate Meeting
Consumer Advocate Discusses Call Completion
Are Landlines Going Extinct

 

 

 

Member News:
Panora Seeking Technician
Alliance Seeks “I-T” Assistance

Broadband News:
USDA to Award $12 Million in Community Connect BB Grants
Hudson Releases Rural Broadband Study
ICN Searching for Students: Youth in Action for Broadband

IUB Filings:
OCA Bashes CenturyLink’s Service Quality Excuses

Washington News
US House Approves Legislation Blocking FCC Broadband Rules

 

 

 


 



 
This Week's Headlines
 
       
 

FCC Releases Updated 477 Data from Non-Incumbent Providers

   
 

The Wireline Competition Bureau has updated the data showing updates to the Form 477 filings made by non-incumbent providers between February 19 and March 30, 2016, for broadband deployment data as of June 2015.  This spreadsheet included non-ILEC coverage added and non-ILEC coverage removed, and is important for any challenges that Alliance members may want to file by the April 28th deadline.   The files indicates changes impacting Iowa companies including NEIT, Alpine, and Preston Telephone.  The data set can be found at: https://transition.fcc.gov/wcb/RORBlockChanges(30Mar16).xlsx.

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
       

FCC Releases USF FAQ

   
 

The FCC has released a FAQ document responding to questions rural carriers have asked about the recent USF order.  Click here to read it. 

(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.  

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.    

   
Statehouse News     
 

Legislature Grinds Towards Adjournment

   
  The 86th General Assembly is still moving (however slowly) towards adjourning for the year, a feat which is possible next week. This past Tuesday marked the 100th day of the 2016 Legislative Session which is the date that our elected Legislators stop receiving their “per diem” reimbursements for things like mileage, lodging and meals. Now, each minute spent in Des Moines is “on their dime” and not the taxpayers. While this is meant to serve as an incentive to complete their work and adjourn, in recent memory the artificial deadline has come and gone without seeming to have much of an impact on how quickly the gavel falls for the last time.

Typically, at this point the remaining bills that need to be negotiated are budget bills that will fund state government through the next fiscal year. This year is no different in that the Appropriations Committee and its budge subcommittees are still hammering out deals that both parties can live with. Health and Human Services, Education and even Transportation budget bills are some of the sticking points that are holding up adjournment. Conference Committees are being assigned between the Republican controlled House and Democrat controlled Senate that will be responsible for finding a compromise on bills that have not yet been agreed to. As long as that work continues over the weekend it is expected that final adjournment can be achieved before the calendar flips to May.

(Contact Kevin Condon with questions)

   
 

Alliance Economic Growth Priority Signed into Law

   
 

On Thursday, Governor Branstad signed SF 453 into law which is a bill to expand access to pharmacy services in rural Iowa. There are currently 82 “pharmacy deserts” in Iowa. These are communities that 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. 

(Contact Kevin Condon with questions)

   
 

E911 Surcharge Allocation Bill to be Sent to Governor

   
 

Another issue that impacts Alliance members (at least peripherally) are the bills (HF 2439 & SF 2326) being discussed in the State Government and Public Safety Committees that would change the current percentages of allocations from the E911 surcharge fund. Currently, local Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) are directly allocated 46% of the surcharge fund made possible by the $1 per line fee on landline and wireless phone bills. While the issue of how the E911 fund is spent has been debated at the Iowa Capitol for a few years, after a Gubernatorial veto of an effort last session to address the allocation, the Legislature came to a compromise that would raise the direct PSAP allocation to 60% while prioritizing remaining eligible expenses from the fund. The bills will also make a second $4 million allocation to help pay for the state’s Land Mobile Radio system being deployed by Motorola.

To read the recent Fiscal Note on SF 2326 please click here

To see the Senate floor debate on HF 2439 please click here and watch from the 3:58:10 mark. For the House floor debate please click here and watch from the 6:40:10 mark.

Click here for the updated bill tracker. 

(Contact Kevin Condon with questions)

   
Industry News     
 

Regulatory Committee Reviews Recent FCC Decisions

   
 

The Alliance Regulatory Relations Committee conducted detailed discussions on the various recent FCC Orders that impact Alliance members, and made suggestions on how the Alliance can assist members in navigating the avalanche of recent regulatory developments.  These include recent FCC orders on Lifeline Reform, Copper Retirement Disclosure, ISP Privacy rules and the recent “broadband nutritional labels” on top of the USF Reform/A-CAM order. 

 

During its meeting, the Committee discussed the widespread confusion arising from questions such as “when do each of these orders become effective” and “what types of notices do companies need to give to customers, and by when?”  The Committee noted that the FCC process starts with a vote approving an order, followed by publication of a written order, then publication in the Federal Register, then approval by OMB and or PRA, and then possible appeals and Orders on reconsideration.  It is often difficult to keep track of which Orders are in which stage of final approval and when the deadlines become applicable. 

 

The Committee asked the Alliance and General Counsel John Pietila to provide guidance in response to these questions. 

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
 

USF Reform/A-CAM Sets April 28th Deadline for Competitive Objections

   
 

The Alliance Regulatory Committee reminds members that the first deadline of the USF Reform Order is that companies contemplating opting into the A-CAM model have until April 28th to file their objections to claims by competitors of service of 10/1.  The Committee also points out that the FCC will need to receive specific data and information rebutting a competitor’s claim of voice and data service; mere allegations are not persuasive. 

 

FCC says thatcarriers filing challenges should file evidence in the FCC’s Electronic Comments Filing System (ECFS) in WC Docket No. 10-90 “to persuade the Bureau that the competitive coverage in the current version of the model is overstated.  There are no specific forms or other procedures.”  Questions may be directed to Katherine King, Special Counsel, Telecommunications Access Policy Division, FCC Wireline Competition Bureau, at 202-418-7491 or [email protected]

(please contact Dave Duncan for more information).

   
 

Huser Reports to Consumer Advocate Meeting

   
  The Office of Consumer Advocate conducts quarterly Advisory Board meetings to educate the public on matters impacting all public utilities.  Alliance Director Gary Clark (Huxley Communications and Ogden Telephone) is a member of that panel. 

During the meeting, IUB Board Chair Geri Huser talked about her “transparency” initiative to make the IUB’s decision making process more open and inclusive, which includes the new monthly IUB Open meetings.  Huser also stated that the IUB will likely propose to eliminate many of the rules in Chapter 22 when it releases its proposed formal rulemaking in the near future.  She says “if the rules are not tied to a statute, we’ll take them out.”

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
 

Consumer Advocate Discusses Call Completion

   
 

Also, the Consumer Advocate gave a report on call completion issues and remarked that the number of complaints has decreased.  This caused Gary Clark to speak up and say the problem persists, but that consumers are tiring of making complaints.  At that point, another Advisory member remarked about his problems dialing his mother in Ellsworth and even the Consumer Advocate said he had trouble calling his mom in Keosauqua.  

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
 

Are Landlines Going Extinct?

   
 

An AP story summarizes recent efforts by larger carriers to push voice deregulation across the nation.  It says that thirteen states in the past three years have said telephone companies can use wireless and VoIP to provide basic service.  Maine recently approved legislation phasing out COLR obligations, as well as price and service quality regulations over voice service.  Click here to read the story, which has been widely published.  On a related note, we expect the IUB will issue its formal rulemaking in the near future to reduce the service quality rules in Chapter 22.

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
 Member News     
 

Panora Seeking Technician

   
  Panora Communications Cooperative is Seeking a Technician. Click here for the listing and to view more openings on the Career Center.     
 

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.  

   
Broadband News     
 

USDA to Award $12 Million in Community Connect Broadband Grants 

   
 

USDA is soliciting applications for grants to establish broadband in unserved rural communities through its Community Connect program.  It will offer up to $11.7 million in grants, with the minimum set at $100,000 and the maximum award is $3 million.  Grant applicants must be able to match up to 15% of the total amount of financial assistance requested and deploy 10/1 service.  Click here for the News Release.  For more information on how to apply for grants, click here

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
 

Hudson Releases Rural Broadband Study

   
 

The Hudson Institute has released a study entitled “The Economic Impact of Rural Broadband.”  The report found that more than $100 billion in e-commerce is supported by rural broadband nationally.  Among other things, it lists data by state and it says that the total impact of rural telecommunications in Iowa was $876 million in 2015, with 1.431 jobs.  It also says that while more than half of that benefit accrues to rural areas in Iowa, the urban impact is about $395 million.  Click here to read it. 

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
 

ICN Searching for Students: Youth in Action for Broadband

   
 

The Iowa Communications Network (ICN) is accepting student applications for its Statewide Youth Broadband Advisory Council (SYBAC) for the 2016-2017 school year.  The SYBAC will be made up of eleven (11) young leaders from across Iowa.

Students will identify effective strategies to improve broadband connectivity and community environments.  This year SYBAC students have discussed a range of topics including free public Wi-Fi, the new Amazon ECHO product, driverless cars, lack of strong reliable broadband in some Iowa schools, and LiFi (Light Fidelity). Students enrolled in 10th - 12th grades in Iowa during the 2016-2017 school year may apply for membership. Meetings will take place monthly, beginning in September 2016 through May 2017, via video conference, teleconference, and/or in-person. Council members also will communicate via e-mail.

Application period has been extended until May 9! Students interested should visit ICN's website at https://icn.iowa.gov/benefiting-iowans/sybac or the Broadband Matters' website at https://broadbandmatters.com/sybac.

   
IUB Filings    
 

OCA Bashes CenturyLink’s Service Quality Excuses

   
 

The Consumer Advocate asks the IUB to open yet another investigation into alleged service restoration delays by CenturyLink customers.  CenturyLink resists, and points out that other dockets are investigating similar claims so the Board need not open another one. 

The OCA responded with a frank and direct shot at CenturyLink in its latest filing, and suggests that at least nine board rules may have been broken, meriting full investigation.  OCA says that this complaint represents another failure by CenturyLink to provide adequate facilities and timely repairs for interruptions of service. Its filing included phrases such as:

·         CenturyLink, again, is alleging weather issues as an excuse. Precipitation is common in Iowa and not an excuse for delayed repair. Weather is too easy for CenturyLink to raise and all too common in these complaint proceedings responses.

·         CenturyLink, by failing to keep itself in a state of readiness to restore interruptions on a compliant basis, has allowed the quality of service in some areas to degrade and deteriorate. It has done so in violation of the Board’s rules. It has endangered the safety and health of the affected populations.

Click here to read OCA’s filing.

   
Washington News    
 

US House Approves Legislation Blocking FCC Broadband Rules

   
 

This week the US House of Reps voted to stop the FCC from regulating broadband access fees. 

H.R. 2666, the “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act” was approved on a party line vote of 241-173.  The vote is largely symbolic, as its fate in the Senate is uncertain, and because President Obama indicated he would veto the bill. 

(contact Dave Duncan for more information)

   
   
   
   
   

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