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Esports News & Alerts

2020 MTA Gaming Tournament Takes Alaska Virtually by Storm

Recently, MTA Gaming kicked off its annual gaming tournament a little different than usual. But even virtually, this year’s tournament took Alaska by storm!

The event ran for a total of three days, making it MTA’s first-ever multi-day event, and had 171 attendees log on to battle it out over Valorant, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Tekken 7. Our largest gaming bracket was Valorant presented by Ciena, and this ended up being the largest Valorant tournament in all of Alaska to date.

Despite the physical separation this year, we know that students have been searching for ways to connect with their community and engage in something that they’re passionate about, and this year’s tournament allowed them to do just that. This virtual event also provided students in the Alaskan community (and beyond) the unique opportunity to connect with professionals in the broader world of both technology and now professional sports.

That leads us to this year’s special guest – NBA superstar and longtime esports enthusiast Gordon Hayward. We were so grateful for Gordon’s commentary throughout the tournament, and that he was able to share his passion for esports with members of our community.

Giving Back Beyond the Screen

While this three-day extravaganza resulted in nearly 20 hours of total gameplay and 900 unique viewers, we also received an overwhelming amount of support from our nearly 40 sponsors. With nearly $30,000 raised for the MTA Foundation, and incredible prizes gifted to our participants, we’d say our community as a whole came out on top this year.

MTA Gaming operates on two very important principles; bringing Alaska together in a unique way while also giving back to our community members who are in need of it most, especially now. And while things were a little different this year due to the pandemic, new doors were opened and the stage has been set for future MTA Gaming tournaments, whether in-person or virtual.

After the success we saw this year, we hope to keep this virtual momentum going. There are so many connections to be made between technology and the world around us, and events like this help prove that. Technology enables unique connections between many different dimensions, whether that’s education, community initiatives or even NBA stars. Above all, these events allow us to give back to the community that made us who we are, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future of MTA Gaming.

For more details on MTA Gaming and future events, stay up to date at https://www.mtasolutions.com/esports/.

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News & Alerts

MTA Awarded Grant to Connect Underserved Rural Areas to High-Speed Boradband

MTA, Alaska’s best choice for technology and communications products, has been awarded a $1.9 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of its ReConnect Program, which focuses on building broadband infrastructure in rural America.

MTA will use its ReConnect grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network, connecting 463 people to high-speed broadband in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, passing 220 lots and connecting 65 structures.

The grant is included in $11.3 million in new investments that the USDA is making to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in Alaska, and is part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program.

“We are proud to accept this grant from the USDA that will help us further one of our key missions at MTA – connecting as many Alaskans as possible to high-speed broadband,” MTA CEO Michael Burke said. “With the ReConnect Program, the USDA clearly recognizes that connection via technology is absolutely vital, especially during times like these, and we’re going to work with every partner we can to continue planting the seeds that will help Alaska residents and businesses grow.”

“Broadband is a cornerstone to prosperity in Alaska’s rural communities because it is essential to economic development, as well as access to health care, educational opportunities and connections to people and services,” USDA Alaska State Director for Rural Development Jerry Ward said.

For more information about the ReConnect Program, please visit www.usda.gov/reconnect.

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News & Alerts

MTA Unveils New Location at Shoppes at Sun Mountain

Last year, we proudly announced that MTA would become the preferred technology provider of Wasilla’s Shoppes at Sun Mountain, powering the premier shopping destination with advanced, high-speed internet connectivity using MTA’s totalWiFi.

If that wasn’t enough, we were also thrilled to announce that a new, 6,000 sq. ft. MTA space would be a part of the Shoppes. And now, it’s finally time to unveil this home for our members and the Wasilla community alike.

So how will we use this brand-new space, which was brilliantly designed by the Native-owned and 100% women-owned SALT?

First and foremost, this location will serve as our “Wasilla hub” and features a call center office for our staff.  But it will also be fully equipped with an experiential multi-use area that will benefit members, partners and the community with interactive, high-tech features such as demonstrations of our streaming TV, home networking, and cybersecurity products.

Additionally, it will be available for members to use as a high-tech meeting space for area businesses, with an advanced presentation setup, and of course, fast and reliable connectivity. And in the weeks ahead, it will serve as the “mission control” of our 2020 (virtual) MTA Gaming Tournament, and will serve as a similar home for future gaming expos.

Closing the digital divide and deepening connections between education and technology are obviously quite important to us. Because of this, our new space will be a home for a variety of community education opportunities and workshops in the future.

We’re beyond thrilled to open this new location at the Shoppes at Sun Mountain. Empowering our members and the Alaskan community as a whole to live more connected lives is at our core, and we believe this new space achieves just that. Our hope for the future of this space is for our local Alaskan community to experience MTA in a whole new, vibrant light.

We will see you there!

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Esports News & Alerts

2020 MTA Gaming Tournament Announces Special Guest Gordon Hayward

A while back, we teased the appearance of a special guest at our 2020 Virtual Gaming Tournament. As this year’s tournament nears, we’re excited to finally introduce you to this year’s special guest: NBA superstar and longtime esports enthusiast Gordon Hayward!

That’s right, when Gordon is not sinking shots for the Celtics, he’s online and live streaming his numerous conquests as he plays Valorant.

A natural-born athlete with a fiery competitive side, Gordon entered the world of esports by competing in local Halo tournaments with some of his close friends. From there, he began to get more involved in PC gaming. On the court, Gordon gains his competitive advantage by anticipating the actions of his defenders. Online, things are not much different, and he uses this same advantage to carry himself, or his team, to victory.

Gordon’s passion for esports has led to him investing in mobile esports company Tribe Gaming. Knowing how much he loves gaming, his goal with this initiative was to help deliver the thrills and experiences he’s encountered to more people around the world.

At MTA, we aim to connect technology to the world around us; whether that’s through education, community initiatives and now physical sports. Our esports offerings have allowed us to do just that. We’re beyond excited to host Gordon Hayward at this year’s tournament because of his passion and understanding of the importance of esports, and for the unique perspective he will bring.  

Registration for this year’s tournament is still open, and you can sign up here to select the bracket(s) you wish to participate in. Make sure to also share the Twitch live-stream information with friends and family to watch you compete – and to see what an NBA star has to say about some of this year’s participants!

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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!

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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/.)

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News & Alerts Service Offerings

MTA Announces MTA Shield to Provide Device and WiFi Security for Members

The new suite of three apps provides device protection and puts members in charge of their information security

Palmer, Alaska – August 18, 2020 – MTA, Alaska’s best choice for technology and communications products, has announced the release of MTA Shield, a suite of three apps that puts members in charge of their WiFi and protects their devices.

MTA Shield provides unique privacy features to keep members’ data private both at home and on the go, a variety of user management tools, as well as identity protection features. When combined with MTA’s totalWiFi package, members will have greater peace of mind than ever before when it comes to their data security and privacy.

The three apps that create MTA Shield complement and strengthen each other:

Shield Home

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

Mobile Shield

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

Identity Shield

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

Following cybersecurity classes MTA offered to members, the co-op created MTA Shield as an advanced cybersecurity tool that is easy and reliable for members to use.

“We’re constantly trying to better understand our members, their lifestyles and challenges, and create meaningful solutions to empower them to live more connected lives, and we know that the internet and our members’ connected devices can be vulnerable to forces outside of their control,” said Michael Burke, MTA’s CEO. “MTA prides itself on being a compassionate co-op, and believes it is our responsibility to talk about the real need for data security and privacy and provide our members a solution. As a leading technology provider in the fast-growing state of Alaska, we always strive to meet our customers changing needs, we are proud to offer these important privacy tools to ensure they can keep their data secure and WiFi manageable.”

In creating the MTA Shield suite, MTA teamed up with global cybersecurity leader F-Secure, which works with top channel partners and over 200 service providers to ensure the enterprise-level security of businesses throughout the world.

“The undeniable benefits that come from connecting more and more of our lives unfortunately can put our home networks, our devices, and even our identities at risk,” said Brian Murray, F-Secure’s Regional Head of Consumer Security for North America. “Securing against these risks needs to be as painless and practical as connecting a new device. The solutions in this suite combine to provide MTA members the power to easily secure their families at home, and anywhere they go.”

About MTA
Established in 1953 as a 100 percent locally-owned and operated Alaskan cooperative, MTA is Alaska’s best choice for technology and communications products. As a key player in the economy of Southcentral Alaska, MTA provides residential and business technology solutions to empower member-owners and patrons to live a connected life. Today, MTA remains as one of the largest technology co-ops in the U.S. Be sure to connect with us on Facebook.

About F-Secure
Nobody has better visibility into real-life cyber attacks than F-Secure. We’re closing the gap between detection and response, utilizing the unmatched threat intelligence of hundreds of our industry’s best technical consultants, millions of devices running our award-winning software, and ceaseless innovations in artificial intelligence. Top banks, airlines, and enterprises trust our commitment to beating the world’s most potent threats. Together with our network of the top channel partners and over 200 service providers, we’re on a mission to make sure everyone has the enterprise-grade cyber security we all need. For more information, visit www.f-secure.com.

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Esports News & Alerts

Bridging Virtual Victory with On-The-Ground Support: Giving Back to the Community with MTA Gaming

By: Brandon Meiners, MTA Esports Coordinator

On May 1, MTA Gaming successfully hosted the Virtual Victory esports tournament, its first official event under its new brand. Bringing Alaskans together to duke it out over Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the event helped build connections and support our community during what is a difficult and isolated time for many.

With nearly 40 gamers participating, a live Twitch stream and play-by-play commentary, and a total of $300 up for grabs among the top three winners, Virtual Victory lasted nearly six hours. The event was a great success and set the tone for future MTA Gaming events, both digital and in-person.

Giving Back Beyond the Screen

Successful on the screens, the Virtual Victory tournament was a win for our community, too. In total, the tournament raised $2,000 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.

MTA Gaming works in two ways: uniting our community through a shared activity and giving back to our community members. And in our current situation, many of our older residents are vulnerable, in need of support and connection. Adapting the model of our esports programming means we can better help meet their needs.

Integrating esports into older adults’ lives isn’t always a seamless transition, but many older adults in our community are technologically adept or curious to learn more. Even for those who aren’t, their needs are still important. Evolving MTA Gaming tournaments into an engine to drive donations back into the community also helps us bridge the tournament’s impact for Alaska’s gaming community with a meaningful impact for all of the surrounding residents of the Mat-Su Valley.

The success of this tournament and being able to give back so much to our community as a result illustrate an important point: technology enables and powers connections between people in many dimensions. We’ve seen this over and over again through our constant collaboration and relationship building with local businesses, our esports partnership with the Mat-Su Borough School District and hosting Alaska’s largest esports tournament for the gaming community.

We are excited to keep planning and growing our Virtual Victory esports series with more tournaments and more contributions to help the community. For more details on MTA Gaming and future events, stay up to date at https://www.mtasolutions.com/esports/.

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News & Alerts Wholesale

Planting the Seeds of Alaska’s Connected Future

May 26, 2020
By: Michael Burke, MTA CEO

Today, MTA Fiber Holdings, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MTA, completed construction and officially commissioned AlCan ONE (Alaska Canada Overland Network), the first and only all-terrestrial fiber network connecting Alaska to the contiguous United States and beyond. 

AlCan ONE began construction in spring 2019, and with its completion, it establishes a secure, reliable fiber connection to any point in the contiguous United States. The line runs nearly 300 miles from North Pole, Alaska, to the Canadian border. From there, it connects with Canadian internet carriers, extending MTA’s existing network through Canada and on to major hubs in the Lower 48.

As our game-changing AlCan ONE fiber network comes to life today, our role in growing Alaska’s internet capacity digs even deeper into Alaska’s internet landscape.

Telecom Leaders Can Learn from Landscape Architects

When landscape architects start out looking at a plot of land, they have vision. They’ll consider and plan for the space, and then they’ll dig in, planting and designing a future, with a scenic oasis emerging over the years. In the early days of a garden or landscaped space, it’s hard to see what seeds or the tiniest of sprouts will become. But, where the average person might not see potential, landscape architects have vision. They trust their talents, knowing there’ll be a beautiful landscape that will grow up and into the space.

All of us at MTA work in telecommunications, but, in a way, we’re also like landscape architects. We have technological vision. In building the AlCan ONE network, we are laying the groundwork to meet our communities’ needs for today, while ensuring we meet internet demand and help Alaska’s economy, businesses and people grow and thrive in the future. We trust our digital capabilities and know what’s to come: better, stronger connections to each other, powered by the network we’ve designed and constructed.

For our members – as well as Alaskans across the state – AlCan ONE’s completion today means you’ll now benefit from a robust internet transport connection. And, as our state grows and demand for internet capacity increases, the network’s capabilities will scale, with potential to expand in capacity to more than 100 terabits per second.

The successful commissioning of AlCan ONE is not just a win for MTA – it is a win for all of the people and businesses of Alaska. We could not have completed this groundbreaking project without the help of other telecom carriers, communities, businesses and legislators who helped make this possible, and we’re confident that the benefits of this highly successful project will be felt by all.

We look forward to developing partnerships with telecommunications organizations across the state to plant even more seeds for the success of Alaska’s internet future and to further maximize the value of AlCan ONE for all Alaskans.

[For photos of the AlCan ONE project in process and more information on MTA Fiber Holdings, LLC, please visit: www.mtafiber.com.]