2017 MTA Spring Convention: March 27-29

The annual MTA (Minnesota Telecom Alliance) conference is coming up – March 27-29 in Minneapolis. It’s also a big and great show with topics ranging from policy, to technology, marketing, industry new and business management. The trade show alone is a fun look at what folks are doing.

Here’s a peek at the agenda

Monday, March 27

Breakout Sessions (3:00 – 3:50 pm_

Enabling Faster Speeds at the Network Edge – Karthik Kailasam, Emerson Network Power

Automation and You: Automating Everyday Life and Business Tasks – Shaun Carlson, Arvig
Selling Ethernet Transport in a Tariff Environment – Iris Carrasquillo, NECA

Breakout Sessions (4:00 – 4:50 pm)

Evolving Broadband Privacy Requirements – Shannon Heim, Dykema Gossett

Achieving High Availability with NFV – Mike Gates, REDCOM

There Has to Be an Easier Way! – Gwen Schaffer, Olsen Thielen CPAs

Opening Reception at Hyatt (5:00 – 6:30 pm)

Tuesday, March 28

Breakout Sessions (9:30 – 10:20 am)

5G: Embracing the Opportunities – Ben Humphrey, Finley Engineering Company, Inc.

Leading Millennials – Debbie Johnson, Minnesota State Community and Technical College
How “Big Data” Can Support Revenue – Andy Rangen, 7Sigma Systems, Inc.; Aaron Hautala, RedHouseMedia

Breakout Sessions (10:30 – 11:20 am)

Fiber Indexing for Multi-Use – Erik Gronvall, CommScope

Building a Profitable Modern Video Offering – Mark Chambers, NeoNova; Terry Kucera, NeoNova

Culture Branding: The HR + Marketing Connection – Jenna Monse, Cooperative Network Services; Christine Castagneri, Cooperative Network Services

Breakout Sessions (11:30 am – 12:20 pm)

Personal Cyber Security: A Clear and Present Danger – Jon Brown, Vantage Point Solutions

Make World-Class Wi-Fi Your Differentiator: How to Optimize Carrier Class Wi-Fi in Your Subscriber’s Home – Ben Chan, Calix

Hot Topics in Labor & Employment Law Under the New Administration – Tom Revnew, Seaton Peters & Revnew

Issues Update Lunch (12:30 – 1:30 pm)  – Ron Kresha

Exhibits Open – 1:00 – 6:00 pm

Wednesday, March 29


Keynote – John Kriesel

More Info on NU-Telecom Border to Border grant project in Brown, Wabasha and Goodhue Counties

The New Ulm Journal published more info on the NU-Telecom state funding broadband expansion…

NU-Telecom will receive $850,486 in grants for a $1,889,968 project to build fiber connections to homes and businesses in the rural areas of Hanska, Mazeppa and in and around Bellechester. In a press release, NU-Telecom President and CEO Bill Otis said the company expects the projects to begin in the spring.

“We’re very pleased that we were selected in the border-to-border grant process,” he said. “We appreciate the support form the local businesses and residents. The grant will be utilized to extend our network and bring broadband services to customers in these rural areas, including providing GB speeds via fiber to the home, which will exceed 2026 state speed goals.”

State Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) said more than $1 million in broadband grants will be used to expand access to Hanska and Redwood and Renville counties.

“Broadband access is critical for folks who want to do business in Greater Minnesota, and these grants will allow this to happen,” Torkelson said. “I commend those who worked together and made these grants a reality.”

More info on Border to Border grants in Douglas County

According to the Alexandria Echo Press

Help is on the way for nearly 300 households and 39 businesses in Douglas County that are frustrated with slow, unreliable Internet connections.

Two grants were approved in the Douglas County area.

Runestone Telecom Association received a grant of $700,674 that will bring high-speed Internet service to 267 households and 32 businesses in the Holmes City area. Runestone will build on a 2015 broadband grant to expand further into that area.

The goals of the project include reducing the number of people leaving the area, reducing economic disparities and mitigating the digital divide.

The total eligible project cost is $1.4 million, with a $700,674 local match…

Internet speeds in the Holmes City area are slow. Some connections are slogging along at speeds of only 1 or 3 megabits per second, Hedstrom said. The project will increase that 1,000 times to 1 gigabit per second…

Another broadband grant, this one for $68,240, was awarded to Gardonville Cooperative Telephone. The project will serve 28 unserved households and seven unserved businesses in the Lake Louise area. It’s expected to improve business development and help attract new residents and employees to the area.

The total eligible project cost is $153,348, with an $85,108 local match.

More info on Border to Border grants in Le Sueur County

According to Le Center Leader

A new round of state grants could extend broadband to thousands of businesses and households throughout areas of rural Minnesota, including a portion of Le Sueur County, that now are without reliable internet access…

In Le Sueur County, Heidelberg residents will see an increase in broadband speed by 250 percent. Starting this June, Eckles Telephone Company in New Prague will serve 51 unserved households, seven unserved businesses, 40 underserved households, and four underserved businesses in the rural Heidelberg area.

John Sonnek, Director of Operations at BEVCOMM, Eckles’ parent company, said that once residents and business owners have their copper internet cables switched to fiber, they will have a choice of four different speeds, ranging from 30 megabytes to 1 gigabyte.

“There shouldn’t be any interruption to the broadband at all (during construction), and the only down time will be when they physically come to your house to change over from copper to fiber,” Sonnek said.

The grant covers 40 percent of the project, a total of $188,000. BEVCOMM will pay for the remaining $182,000.

Sonnek added that “the project needs to be in place by June 2018.”

Pope County working on broadband survey to measure broadband need and interest

According to the Pope County Tribune

Not everyone in Pope County has access to high-speed Internet, and county officials are working to improve that access and to provide faster speeds in all areas of the county.

The first step in that effort is to determine what areas of the county are lacking access and speed and what residents would like to see improved.  A Pope County Initiative group, headed by Information Technology Director Donna Martin, is currently working to improve Internet access for everyone in the area.  And, to measure the current level of interest in higher speed Internet access, the team is conducting a survey, which is being mailed to every household in the county.  The survey is  designed to get opinions on current and needed Internet access and seeks responses.

Residents have two ways to complete the survey.  They can fill out and return the mailed survey, which should be arriving at residences this week.  Or, residents can complete the survey online by going to http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3155201/New-Survey.  The survey only takes a few minutes to complete, but Martin said she would like to get a high percentage of county residents to complete the survey.  “That’s why we are mailing it to every residence and business in Pope County,” she said.  Those who are mailing back the survey are asked to use the enclosed “dots” to seal two sides of the brochure and attach the postage also provided.  There is no cost to the resident to mail the survey back.

The results of the survey will help the county in its efforts to secure a grant that will help pay for a feasibility study, and, it is hoped, will ultimately result in state or federal funding to increase access and Internet speeds for the entire county.

More info on Border to Border grants in Otter Tail and Wadena Counties

More info from The Fergus Falls Daily Journal on Minnesota Border to Border Broadband grants in their area…

Otter Tail County

Otter Tail Telcom was awarded $517,441 as part of 71 grants issued for Greater Minnesota…

The funding will assist with access to high-speed internet in the Fergus Falls and Battle Lake areas, according to a press release from DEED.

The project in Fergus Falls will provide service to 79 unserved households near Elizabeth and rural Fergus Falls. The total eligible project cost is $558,542, with $279,271 local match.

The Battle Lake project will serve 62 unserved households in the Clitherall and Battle Lake areas. The total eligible project cost is $476,340, with a $238,170 local match.

Wadena County

A grant of $718,850 was awarded to the West Central Telephone Association in Wadena. The broadband expansion project will provide access for 174 unserved homes and 13 unserved businesses in Bluffton and Blowers townships in Otter Tail County and portions of Rockwood, Leaf River, North Germany and Wing River townships in Wadena County.

The total eligible project is $1.5 million, with a $778,755 local match.

“Receiving these grants for increased broadband access is essential for our area’s future prosperity,” said state Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria. “Greater access to broadband provides for better economic opportunities for our businesses and our workers, as well as outlets for students to do additional learning.”

New maps of US municipal FTTH networks – including three in Minnesota

Gotta love a hometown tool! The folks at Community Networks (Institute for Local Self Reliance) just published a map of citywide, municipal, Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) networks across the US with more info on each network – including info on the three in Minnesota: Monticello Fibernet, Southwest Minnesota Broadband Systems (SMBS) and WindomNet.


I’m not going to say Minnesota is well above average – but we’re not below average either.