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Esports News & Alerts

2020 MTA Gaming Tournament Goes Virtual

Esports have gained significant momentum throughout Alaska over the years and MTA is proud to continue leading this charge. Our annual esports tournament has played a critical role in deepening connections between education and technology while serving as a hub connecting Alaskans through competitive gaming and community building.

After a widely successful event in 2019, with the turnout more than doubling from 2018, we’re thrilled to experience this year’s event right alongside you.

Despite the hurdles our communities have been facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we know the event must go on – nothing can stop MTA Gaming! So, to ensure we keep all our participants and community members safe, we’ve decided to take our 2020 Gaming Tournament virtual. As one of our most popular and fastest growing events, we couldn’t be more confident that this year’s tournament will be a landmark one in the evolution of MTA Gaming, and in our journey to help our community stay connected while staying home.

Spread out over three days, this year’s tournament will feature even more games, competition, community partners and even a few special guests. Additionally, various gaming brackets are available so that those of all skill levels have the chance to compete. The fun kicks off on Friday, November 6 and lasts until Sunday, November 8, with a variety of prizes available each day. The schedule for the weekend will be as follows:

Registration is now open for all three days. The first 100 gamers to register will automatically be entered to win a RESPAWN Gaming Mouse Pad Table! The lucky winner will be announced the week prior to the tournament. To register, go here and select the bracket(s) you wish to participate in. Once registered, make sure to share the Twitch live-stream information with friends and family to watch you compete.

If you’ve never participated in a gaming tournament, connect with fellow Alaskan (and beyond!) gamers on Discord to immerse yourself in the community. Additionally, we’re creating a series of video tutorials that lay out everything you need to know as you navigate our online tournament – stay tuned for more information.

Whether we’re all in the same space or just in the same virtual space, participants like you are the reason for the continuously growing success of MTA Gaming and esports in Alaska, and we can’t wait for this year’s edition!

Categories
News & Alerts

MTA Recognized by FCC as Honoree of the Inaugural Digital Opportunity Equity Recognition (DOER) Program

MTA has been recognized by the FCC as an honoree of the inaugural Digital Opportunity Equity Recognition (DOER) Program for our efforts to close the digital divide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We couldn’t be more proud of this honor and want to give thanks to our employees who came together while apart by quickly mobilizing initiatives to ensure our communities remained connected – from public WiFi locations, free upgrades for educators and students, supporting local businesses and committing to not disconnect anyone financially affected by COVID-19.

On March 16th, MTA implemented remote work for as many employees as possible. The following day, we closed our retail locations and eliminated in-home services to protect our staff and member-owners.

Within two weeks, 90% of our workforce was successfully working remotely.

During this transition to telecommuting, our staff worked tirelessly to ensure that while our physical offices are temporarily closed, all of our member solutions remain  available.

At the same time, our staff across departments collaborated to not only keep our communities connected, but to provide as much support and relief as possible. Here are a few ways that they made that happen:

  • Signed and supported the “Keep America Connected” Pledge, which urges providers to waive late fees and not terminate service to any customers facing economic hardship due to COVID-19
  • Partnered with the City of Wasilla, Palmer, Houston, and the Mat-Su Borough to install drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots so those without internet at home are able to connect, as well as an eLearning Enablement program that provided nearly 3,000 free upgrades to students and educators as they transitioned to distance learning
  • Participated in local activities such as the “The Great American Takeout,” which supported local restaurants, and powered a local live-streamed fundraising concert
  • Successfully ran MTA Gaming’s first all virtual esports tournaments that raised funds for both Wasilla Area Seniors, Inc. and the Mat-Su Seniors Center, helping the latter continue delivering food to seniors through its Meals on Wheels program

The efforts of our staff during this time are inspiring and their commitment to the communities we serve is clear. Thank you to all of our employees!

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News & Alerts Service Offerings

From Student to Specialist: An Alaskan Tech Journey Leads to MTA Shield

By: Zak Wolf, Product Specialist

As a young high school graduate in Alaska, I always foresaw myself in a career utilizing technology to develop and bring new products and services to life. Today, I am fortunate to work for one of the state’s technology leaders, leading a team through the development of innovative software that would help make life better and safer for thousands of local individuals, families and businesses.

But through MTA, that dream has become a reality not just for me but for its members.

My journey started at Mat-Su Career & Technical High School, which was made up of students who truly wanted to excel at a trade. I chose “Information Technology” as my pathway, and studied topics ranging from 3D modeling and engineering to AutoCAD drafting and electronics. The students all strived for the same thing – a focused career in their field of choosing following graduation.

Before long, I was beginning that career at MTA, working my way through roles in tech support and sales (where I honed skills in product and technical acumen as well as documentation) before eventually being offered a role in product development. I was thrilled to have this opportunity and take on more responsibility and creativity at MTA; starting with process design and improvement before slowly taking on MTA’s business voice solutions.

In this role is where I was given the most responsibility to date: taking on my first full-cycle development project: MTA Shield. For background as to why and how MTA Shield came to fruition, it’s worth taking a step back and looking at the context of MTA and the world more broadly.

It’s estimated that data breaches exposed over 4 million private records in the first half of 2019 alone, making it increasingly clear that the need for safe and secure access to internet is at an all-time high.

MTA doesn’t just provide access to internet and technology – we see it as one of our core priorities to keep the members of our co-op safe with solutions that they can trust, and also ones that are easy to manage.

As our members’ usage continued increasing year over year, MTA launched Unlimited Internet at the end of 2016, while the remaining issue of long-term capacity was solved by the recent completion of AlCan ONE, which connected Alaska to the lower 48. Between the roll-out of Unlimited Internet and the rise in connected devices (which were now more manageable through MTA’s totalWiFi™), it was clear that there was more that needed to be done to keep things secure on the micro level.

We started by hosting a series of cybersecurity classes, and we realized how great their interest – and concern – was. Thus, the idea for MTA Shield was born. This is a project that’s been many months in the making and one that’s required a great deal of communication and vigilance both internally between our development, security and executive teams and with members.

On a personal level, the MTA Shield development and roll-out put me in charge of a variety of vital tasks that I’d been preparing for throughout my education and career: vendor selection, packaging, pricing, branding, employee training, sales enablement and ultimately, market launch.

To make this project a reality, our team decided to partner with Finnish cyber security and privacy company F-Secure to help us create a detailed project plan to keep us on track and get the job done. Based on their credentials and reputation, we knew they would be the right ones to ensure our members were as secure as possible.

Now, we are excited to finally roll-out MTA Shield itself: a new suite of three apps that provide total device protection. These apps work in conjunction with each other and allow our members to take charge of their network security.

MTA Home Shield works with our totalWiFi gateway and provides advanced transparency and protection for your entire WiFi network. In addition to preventing attacks on WiFi devices, it also offers content filtering, device and user management; and provides the ability to set rules, such as screen time limits and pausing WiFi access during certain times for all or specific devices.

MTA Mobile Shield can be used at home and on the go. Downloaded directly to your mobile devices, it performs virus and malware scans and offers tools for safe browsing.

MTA Identity Shield prevents your personal information from ending up in the wrong places by detecting when your identity information is at risk and helping them take action. It also helps our members create and store stronger passwords.

Our product team has been proud to take an outside-in approach to this development and every other type of problem-solving by getting out of the office to better understand our members. By observing their lifestyles and challenges, we’re able to create meaningful solutions to empower them to live more connected lives.

Throughout this test of my skills, organization and leadership, I learned many things. Most notable was the importance of internal and external communication when there are so many moving parts (especially now, with much of the team working remotely); I can’t stress enough how vital keeping in touch with your team is throughout major projects. Additionally, having a detailed project plan with key milestones and deadlines is crucial.

  • There were so many firsts for me during the creation of MTA Shield, and it’s helped me bolster my understanding of not only starting a project like this from the ground up, but also the vigilance that is required to be successful in doing so. It’s been exhilarating to see MTA Shield come to fruition, and I’m so excited to continue working with the MTA team moving forward to create more innovative products that empower our members and build better realities for them.

Now that I’ve found myself in the role that I was so determined to achieve all the way back in high school, I’ve been proud to help empower future generations of tech leaders as well. I recently visited Mat-Su Career & Technical High School with fiber kit demos and other projects that I hope will inspire young students to follow their dreams and make them a reality.

(For more information about MTA Shield, visit https://www.mtasolutions.com/mta-announces-mta-shield/.)