WSTA Monthly Bulletin
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WSTA would like to recognize our 2009 Annual Partners: GOLD - Finley Engineering
Company, SILVER - Interstate Telcom Consulting, Inc. and Kiesling Associates LLP BRONZE
- Computer Systems, LLC, Farmers Union Insurance, HickoryTech, CHR Solutions, Mid
America Computer Corp. (MACC), National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), Power
& Telephone Supply Company, Siepert & Co. LLP and TCA!
Thank you ADC, HickoryTech,
National Information Solutions
Cooperative and Walker &
Associates, Inc. for your
sponsorship with WSTA.
Associate Members, click HERE
to join them!
WSTA 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
WSTA will be celebrating 100 years at the 2010 WSTA Annual Convention to be held May 24-27, 2010. Please
mark your calendars! The combined WSTA Committees [Associate Member Group, Convention and PR/
Marketing] are working together on the 100 year celebration. The committee has been meeting either face-to-
face or via conference call monthly to keep moving forward on the 100 Year Anniversary Celebration.
Emails have been going out to the membership regarding the Centennial Club looking for assistance with
additional expenses associated with the Centennial Celebration. Please see the Centennial Club Contributors to
date. If you would like to become a Centennial Club member, please complete the Centennial Club Form and
send to WSTA. Other emails that have also been going out are: Looking for Item(s) for the Historical Display
[Museum] to be displayed at the Convention and an email asking telephone companies to update their company
information from the 75th Anniversary celebration up to the 100 year celebration for a Commemorative Book.
Other items in the works are the production of a 100 Year Montage, Video from past and present employees
with the cutting edge of yesterday and today, two professional speakers and entertainment.
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WSTA 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY We hope you will be able to join us at the 100 Year Anniversary Celebration at the 2010 WSTA Annual
CELEBRATION Convention – May 24-27, 2010.
WSTA 2010 PLANT CONFERENCE WSTA 2010 PLANT CONFERENCE: Have you registered to attend yet? If not, click HERE! In 2010, we will
be at the Glacier Canyon Lodge & Conference Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin on Wednesday and
WSTA 2010 PLANT Thursday, January 13 – 14, 2010. Don’t miss this 1 ½ day educational opportunity designed by the Plant
CONFERENCE EXHIBITS Conference Committee and Associate Member Group Committee to specifically meet the needs of plant
managers, supervisors and technicians on important topics in the industry.
WSTA 2010 PR/MARKETING
SEMINAR WSTA 2010 PLANT CONFERENCE EXHIBITS: We still have exhibit space available! If you haven’t signed up
for your tabletop exhibit space, call Roxanne Dugan at 608.256.8866 x25 or click HERE!
MAPPING PROJECT WITH WSTA 2010 PR/MARKETING SEMINAR: The PR/Marketing Seminar will be held February 10-12, 2010 at the
COSTQUEST/LINKAMERICA Glacier Canyon Lodge & Conference Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Don't miss out on a very informative and
highly relevant seminar focused on preparing your company for today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. Our featured
DOCKET 05-TR-105 GENERIC guest speaker is Tony Rubleski, The Mind-Capture Group. For more information on Tony Rubleski and to register for the
INVESTIGATION REGARDING seminar please click HERE!
WISCONSIN BROADBAND MAPPING PROJECT WITH COSTQUEST/LINKAMERICA
DOCKET 1-AC-198 BIENNIAL WSTA has been in close communication with Mike Wilson, Vice President of Professional Services for CostQuest
REVIEW OF UNIVERSAL Associates, during the last week regarding the survey revisions and deadlines for Wisconsin's
SERVICE FUND RULES (PSC 160 broadband mapping project. We discussed the revised deadline of December 18, 2009 and the possibility of a
RULEMAKING) conference call between WSTA members and CostQuest/LinkAmerica mapping subject matter experts.
If you cannot complete the data request by December 18, please complete the survey as soon as possible –
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: with the hard deadline of Wednesday, December 30, 2009.
REGULATIONS PROPOSED FOR
CABLE PROVIDERS Information submitted by Wednesday, December 30, 2009 will allow you to review your company information
after it is compiled by CostQuest/LinkAmerica. In early January 2010, CostQuest/LinkAmerica will have a
review opportunity to check the accuracy of your company information before the information is submitted to
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE II: NTIA. If data is submitted after December 30, 2009, you may not have an opportunity to review it before it is
STUDY FINDS NO DECREASE IN submitted to NTIA.
WSTA is also facilitating a conference call opportunity for members to speak directly to the subject matter
CAPITOL BUZZ: BARRETT- experts at CostQuest/LinkAmerica about the broadband survey questions and deadline.
WALKER RACE COULD SET OFF Below is the invitation to a conference call from Mike Wilson, with CostQuest. The call is scheduled for Tuesday,
POLITICAL SHUFFLE December 22, 2009 from 1:00pm-2:00pm. At this point, we are leaving it open ended for a second conference
call. If a second call is needed, it will likely be the week of December 28, 2009.
CAPITOL BUZZ II: WISCONSIN
IMPROVES ITS RANKING ON
The information to access the call online or dial-in is provided below:
CostQuest Associates/LinkAMERICA has set up a meeting to answer your questions regarding the Broadband
INDUSTRY NEWS: AT&T ENDS Data and Development survey/data request.
LAWSUIT OVER VERIZON
1. Please join the meeting https://www1.gotomeeting.com/join/536426961
INDUSTRY NEWS II: FCC ASKS 2. Use your microphone and speakers (VoIP) - a headset is recommended. Or, call in using your telephone.
VERIZON WIRELESS TO
Dial 213-286-1202, Access Code: 536-426-961, Audio PIN: Shown after joining the meeting
EXPLAIN DOUBLING OF FEES
Meeting ID: 536-426-961
INDUSTRY NEWS III: A.G. VAN
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HOLLEN ANNOUNCES DOCKET 05-TR-105 GENERIC INVESTIGATION REGARDING INTRASTATE ACCESS
SETTLEMENT WITH VONAGE As you will recall, the PSC opened the Notice of Investigation and Technical Conference for Docket 05-TR-105
on October 22, 2009. This is an investigation to examine the structure and level of intrastate access charges,
INDUSTRY NEWS IV: POST- including both switched and special, for incumbent and competitive local exchange carriers. The notice also
BANKRUPTCY, CHARTER states that the docket will address the appropriateness and uses of cost studies and cost data for pricing access
FOCUSING ON BIZ SERVICES service.
INDUSTRY NEWS V: BIGGER U. You may also recall that WSTA decided to become a party in the proceeding and retained Axley Brynelson for
S. ROLE IN BROADBAND IS legal guidance and representation in the docket. The WSTA Regulatory and Accounting Committee met via
LIKELY conference call on Monday, November 2, 2009 to discuss the docket. On the November 2nd conference call, a
subcommittee of the Regulatory and Accounting Committee was formed to discuss in greater detail the
INDUSTRY NEWS VI: approach to the December 7, 2009 technical conference. The technical conference will identify parties in the
BROADBAND SUBSCRIBERS docket, identify the issues list, and determine schedule and process. The subcommittee includes
GROW BY NEARLY 1 MILLION representatives from active member companies TDS Telecom and Mount Horeb Telephone Company; and
associate member companies Axley Brynelson, Interstate Telcom Consulting Inc., John Stauralakis Inc., Kiesling
WSTA MEETING CALENDAR Associates, Olsen Thielen & Co, and Theis Communications Consulting. WSTA officially filed for full party status
in the docket on Thursday, November 19, 2009.
INDUSTRY CALENDAR Attached is a summary of the December 7, 2009 Technical Conference prepared by Bob Abrams with Kiesling
Associates. Also attached is our draft proposed issues list developed by the sub-committee, prepared by Judd
2009 -2010 WSTA JOB Genda with Axley Brynelson.
TRAINING & SAFETY TRAINING
PROGRAM In addition to WSTA filing for party status, there have been recent conversations and questions about groups
such as WSTCA and WLOTA filing for party status in the docket.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE From a representation perspective, the diverse interests of WSTA member companies will be fully considered
INFORMATION! and represented as our subcommittee develops strategy and comments. The diverse membership interests
may include CLEC specific issues, cooperative specific issues, and issues specific to ILECs operating under
COMMITTEES alternative regulation plans. The function of the subcommittee will be to gather, discuss, and synthesize the
various arguments related to 05-TR-105, which will include these diverse interests.
Find out general information about
WSTA's Committees and get However, a coordinated effort with WSTCA and WLOTA supporting the strategy and comments of the WSTA can
updates on committee activities be helpful and complementary to our collective effort. A unified message from WSTA with coordinated support
each month. from WSTCA and WLOTA can strengthen our position.
For questions, please contact the Please contact Bill Esbeck with additional questions, comments, or concerns.
staff liaison of the committee.
DOCKET 1-AC-198 BIENNIAL REVIEW OF UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND RULES (PSC 160 RULEMAKING)
The ‘biennial review’ of the USF Rules attached to this docket is a misnomer, as the rules have not been
modified since 2000. Regardless, the WSTA has been fully engaged in the rulemaking throughout the process,
including filing comments with the Commission and meeting with individual commissioners.
The Commissioners have taken action on the rules within the last few months, and the re-drafted rules have
been officially transmitted to the relevant legislators in the Capitol within the last two weeks.
At the WSTA Board meeting earlier this month, the board discussed the fact that there are still concerns with
the rules (see attached document). WSTA will continue to lobby on behalf of the membership to modify and
improve the rules during their legislative review by the standing committees. Unless the review period is
extended, the standing committees typically have 30 days to review and comment on the rule.
The rules were officially received on Friday, December 11, 2009 by the Senate Committee on Commerce,
Utilities, Energy, and Rail. Again, unless the timeline is extended, the Committee’s jurisdiction would last 30
calendar days, until January 11, 2010. WSTA was in contact with Chair Plale’s office on Monday, December 14,
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2009 about requesting an extension of the review period and holding a public hearing. We have already heard
back from Senator Plale's office that they will be holding a hearing and extending their review period, although
additional details are not available at this time.
Please contact Bill Esbeck with additional questions, comments, or concerns.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: REGULATIONS PROPOSED FOR CABLE PROVIDERS
An effort is underway at the Capitol to restore some controls over how the cable industry operates in
Wisconsin. Legislation signed into law just two years ago drastically deregulated the cable industry, which
supporters said would help to bring competition and lower prices to Wisconsin consumers. The measure allowed
video providers to negotiate statewide franchise agreements, rather than negotiating with each community
where they want to have a presence. However, UW-Madison telecommunications professor Barry Orton says
that hasn’t happened. He says rates have continued to go up and the bill has allowed companies to cherry pick
new areas for service, leaving those in rural or underdeveloped areas still with few options. Legislation at the
Capitol (Assembly Bill 606) would roll back some of the changes approved by lawmakers in 2007. Orton says it
would restore some local government control, give funding back to public access channels, and allow the Public
Service Commission (PSC) to regulate cable providers.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE II: STUDY FINDS NO DECREASE IN CABLE RATES
Almost two years after Wisconsin enacted a law meant to encourage competition among cable-television
providers, the rates for basic and expanded-basic services have gone up rather than down, according to a
Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) report recently released. The report analyzed 10 providers' monthly charges for
basic and expanded basic service in 17 Wisconsin municipalities in July 2007 and July 2009. Over the two-year
period, charges for basic service – which includes local channels and a few other cable offerings – increased an
average of 21.2%. Charges for expanded basic service – which includes local channels and other news, sports
and entertainment – increased an average of 11.5%. Some portion of the rate hikes could be attributed to a
35% increase in the average number of channels included in basic service and a 14.7% increase in the average
number of channels included in expanded basic service. But, increased competition has not brought down
rates, according to the audit requested by state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) and Rep. Peter Barca (D-
CAPITOL BUZZ: BARRETT-WALKER RACE COULD SET OFF POLITICAL SHUFFLE
With a single ballot next year, Wisconsin voters could simultaneously determine the future of the state's three
largest governments and its largest school district. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett set up that scenario recently,
when he officially announced his candidacy for Wisconsin governor. With that declaration, Barrett became the
only major Democrat in the race and the leading contender for his party's nomination to succeed Gov. Jim
Doyle. At the same time, polls indicate that Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker holds a strong lead over
former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. If Barrett and Walker both win
their respective parties' nominations, voters statewide next November would be deciding not only who the next
governor would be, but also whether to open a vacancy in the office of Milwaukee mayor or Milwaukee County
executive. This also means that, for the next year, Milwaukee's two highest elected officials will be running
against each other for the state's top office.
CAPITOL BUZZ II: WISCONSIN IMPROVES ITS RANKING ON TAXES
Dented by income tax cuts and a marked spending slowdown on education, Wisconsin's national status as a tax
hell is fading. Hell has not frozen over. But in comparison to other states, Wisconsin's total tax bite on incomes
plummeted to just above the national average in newly released figures. And the Badger State's consistent top-
five tax perch has slipped steadily down to 15th in the latest rankings. Wisconsin even dropped below the U.S.
mark on both taxing and spending based on another common measure, dollars per person. That is a first on
taxes going back at least two decades. On spending, it's the second straight year. The Journal Sentinel
analyzed 2007 census figures on taxing and spending by state and local governments to reach the conclusions.
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The data is the latest available. What's going on? Has Wisconsin really shed its high-tax ways? If so, how?
Those who closely watch the rankings agree on much about the new figures but react to them in differing ways.
INDUSTRY NEWS: AT&T ENDS LAWSUIT OVER VERIZON WIRELESS ADS
AT&T has given up on a lawsuit that sought to force competitor Verizon Wireless to pull its "There's a Map for
That" commercials. AT&T filed the lawsuit in federal court in Atlanta early in November, saying the Verizon ads
are misleading and amount to deceptive trade practices. However, recently, AT&T and Verizon filed a joint
notice to withdraw the case. Several weeks ago, a judge tossed out AT&T's request for a temporary restraining
order and a permanent injunction to stop the ads, but scheduled a hearing to give the AT&T attorneys another
chance to make their case. The ads show maps of the United States with areas highlighted to depict where
third-generation, or 3G, data network coverage is available. Verizon's coverage, in red, is clearly wider than
AT&T's, in blue. AT&T said those maps could mislead viewers because there it still has regular voice coverage
and slower data service in many areas where it doesn't offer 3G. In response to Verizon's ads, AT&T has
launched an ad campaign with actor Luke Wilson saying AT&T has the "the nation's fastest 3G network."
INDUSTRY NEWS II: FCC ASKS VERIZON WIRELESS TO EXPLAIN DOUBLING OF FEES
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently asked Verizon Wireless why it recently doubled the
fees it charges customers when they break their contracts on "smart" phones. In November, the carrier hiked
the maximum early contract termination fee for smart phones to $350 from $175. Like other carriers, Verizon
subsidizes the cost of the devices for contract-signing customers, then expects to make that money back in
service fees over the term of the contract. The FCC's letter to Verizon asks how consumers will know whether
the increased fee applies to their phone, and whether it's spelled out anywhere except in the formal customer
agreement. The FCC is also asking the carrier about $1.99 data access fees that have appeared on the bills of
customers who don't have data plans, but accidentally initiates data access by hitting a button on their phones.
Verizon says that as of a few months ago, it doesn't charge when a customer starts a data service, then quickly
turns it off.
INDUSTRY NEWS III: A.G. VAN HOLLEN ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT WITH VONAGE
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen recently announced that he, along with 31 other states reached a $3 million
settlement with Vonage, one of the nation’s largest providers of a service known as “Voice over Internet
Protocol,” an Internet-based phone service. The settlement is the result of a two-year multistate investigation
led by the State of Wisconsin. The State of Wisconsin will receive $408,000 as a result of this settlement. The
settlement, which will become effective upon entry of a Consent Judgment by the Dane County Circuit Court,
also requires Vonage to make significant changes to its marketing practices and honoring of consumer
cancellation requests, as well as provide extensive refunds to eligible consumers. “Companies who make
representations about price and service need to make those representations clear and hold up their end of the
bargain,” said Attorney General Van Hollen. “Today’s agreement with Vonage requires disclosures to prevent
future communication breakdowns and ensures that consumers who are owed money are paid.”
INDUSTRY NEWS IV: POST-BANKRUPTCY, CHARTER FOCUSING ON BIZ SERVICES
Charter Communications is banking that a fresh focus on providing high-speed Internet and phone services to
businesses will help it climb back to profitability post bankruptcy, Cable Digital News recently reported. But the
Madison-area's dominant subscription TV provider could use more resources to handle some of the requests it
is receiving from business customers, including some seeking out help with cell backhaul, according to the
report. "We do not have the staff and resources right now to handle all of the cell backhaul requests coming
from all of the towers going up in our footprint," Fred Davies, Charter's director of IP architecture and product
development, said, the story reported. "So we're ramping up to accommodate that, which is a good thing."
While the focus on business services wouldn't help the company's dismal customer service ratings, an improved
bottom line could enable the cable company to apply more resources to improving that service.
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INDUSTRY NEWS V: BIGGER U.S. ROLE IN BROADBAND IS LIKELY
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began to lay the groundwork for a bigger federal role in the
broadband business recently, outlining the hurdles the U.S. needs to overcome to improve the availability of
high-speed Internet access. The FCC identified a number of issues the government should address, including
the high cost of laying new broadband lines in rural areas, a lack of airwaves for wireless Web access and ill-
informed consumers. "This focus on broadband is a reflection of a recognition that the U.S. is lagging behind,"
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said at the agency's monthly meeting. The FCC is drafting a National
Broadband Plan, which will lay out ways the government can improve broadband service in the U.S. The plan is
scheduled to come out in February, and it's uncertain how many of its suggestions will ultimately be adopted.
Already, some big cable and telecommunications companies are concerned the agency wants to impose rules
that could undermine their business strategies and profitability.
INDUSTRY NEWS VI: BROADBAND SUBSCRIBERS GROW BY NEARLY 1 MILLION
The 19 largest cable and phone providers in the U.S. – representing about 93 percent of the market – acquired
910,000 net additional high-speed Internet subscribers in the third quarter of 2009, according to Leichtman
Research Group Inc. The 19 companies now account for more than 70.8 million subscribers. Cable companies
have about 38.7 million, and phone companies about 32.2 million. Other broadband findings for the quarter
● The top cable companies added about 650,000 subscribers, representing 72 percent of the net broadband
additions for the quarter versus the top phone companies;
● Broadband additions in the third quarter were about 70 percent of the additions in the third quarter of
2008, with cable having 75 percent as many additions as a year ago and phone companies having 60
percent as many additions as a year ago;
● Charter Communications, the dominant cable provider in the Madison-area, added a net 52,400
broadband subscribers in the third quarter, giving it 3.01 million; and
● AT&T grew by 90,000 to 15.63 million, and Verizon grew by 63,000 to 9.17 million.
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WSTA Monthly Bulletin
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