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News & Alerts

MTA Wins Three NTCA eXcellence Awards

The highest recognition of individual achievement by NTCA is the eXcellence Awards Program, which honors individuals in eight categories.

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association recognized nine rural telecom leaders who have shown exceptional commitment to their communities and the broadband industry during the 2022 Rural Telecom Industry Meeting and EXPO (RTIME). 

The NTCA Excellence Awards recognize broadband providers who have gone above and beyond to support their customers and community members and to advance communications services in rural America. Winners are selected by the association’s Awards Committee comprising NTCA members. The 2021 NTCA Excellence Awards are sponsored by JSI and NECA.

View full press release.

Management Innovation Award

Wanda Tankersley
Chief Operating Officer

Wanda became Chief Operating Officer in 2017 and since then played an instrumental role in leading the company through major milestones and remarkable levels of growth, to create a more connected world for MTA members, employees, and all Alaskans. Throughout her tenure as COO, Wanda overhauled MTA’s product management paradigm, oversaw the restructuring and unification of sales teams to be better aligned and more responsive to market demand, and created a new Commercial Solutions team focused on creating bespoke products for MTA’s Wholesale and Enterprise markets. She led the charge in unveiling a myriad of innovative tech solutions, including Managed Wi-Fi, migration out of end-of-life products, and the suite of three cybersecurity and privacy apps called MTA Shield. Wanda recognized that a company’s success is largely contingent upon the well-being of its employees and urged a series of facilities renovations at MTA to ensure employees have ergonomic environments, mother’s rooms, and collaborative workspaces. She’s also cultivated a culture of impact for the MTA Foundation, pioneering a series of diverse initiatives, and created an internship program for the next generation of telecom leaders.

Key Employee Award

Tyler Aklestad
OSP Network Planner

Tyler excelled in several roles at MTA, progressing through the ranks since his start as a Plant Laborer at age 18. He completed a four-year apprenticeship in the Telecommunications program as a Journeyman Splicer, became an Outside Plant Engineer through cross-training opportunities, and recently became MTA’s OSP Network Planner. Along his journey at MTA, Tyler has fostered a strong connection with the state of Alaska and its traditions by competing in the Iron Dog race, the world’s longest snowmobile race at nearly 2,600 miles. Tyler started his Iron Dog career the same year he began working at MTA, leveraging both experiences over the years to connect with the community around him. He has become an advocate for safety and gives talks at local elementary schools and local businesses about his work in telecommunications and his racing career, fostering pride in the unique challenges and benefits of working and living in Alaska.


Outstanding Marketing Achievement Award

Kerry Youngren
Consumer Markets Manager

Kerry and her team took on a brand modernization initiative in early 2020 in pursuit of a simple goal—to revamp and unify MTA’s brand to reflect its recent evolution and commitment to innovation. Using analytics and survey data, Kerry developed supporting objectives and identified benchmarks to track the project’s success, including growing brand awareness, creating a communications strategy across all channels, producing high-quality content reflective of MTA’s position as the local technology leader, and improving online communication tools. Since the brand modernization campaign launched, MTA has experienced incredible results. They received five “Best of Alaska” awards in 2021. MTA’s net promoter score spiked by more than 10 points and remains the highest it has been and new visitors to MTA’s website increased by nearly 10%.

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News & Alerts

MTA Wins CETS 2022 Best in Class Award

The Customer Experience & Telco Sales Association (CETS) recently announced the winners of the CETS 2022 Best in Class Awards.

“Each year, CETS (http://www.cets.org) recognizes teams and companies that demonstrate innovation and excellence related to customer experience and telco sales,’’ said Ellis Hill, President of ResearchFirst, Inc., CETS’s management firm. This year’s awards went to two service providers, MTA and Bell Canada, and one vendor company, Calix, each of which executed best in class practices over the last year

MTA has historically prioritized maintaining a physical presence within their community in order to meet members where they are. During the pandemic, they made the difficult decision to close all physical locations, which left them to conduct business solely over the phone. The customer experience has always been at the forefront of their minds, so they sought to re-establish a physical presence for our members while abiding by local, state, and federal safety regulations. They began planning their retail approach in Q2 2021 and fully implemented the plan by Q3. When they first opened their retail location to the public, they did not initially see a large response. With each passing month, they saw an increase in customers who preferred to come into their retail location instead of interacting over the phone. Currently, their retail location is still successfully operating under this plan.

“CETS is more than an organization of telco professionals. It is a collective think tank of connoisseurs of the industry who gather in a safe space to share ideas and best practices. Together we analyze what is working and what is not to aid in our collective success in our home territories. Our team at MTA is extremely honored to win the CETS Best in Class award for 2022,” said William Spear, Sales Manager at MTA.

About CETS

The Customer Experience & Telco Sales Association (CETS) brings together professionals from the service provider and vendor communities within the Telecom industry responsible for direct and indirect sales channels, customer care, and the customer experience. Members share channel best practices and industry trends in these areas with respect to all products and services sold by Telco providers.

View  http://www.CETS.org for more information.

Executive Director: ResearchFirst, Inc. (http://www.researchfirst.com)

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News & Alerts

BMMA Announces Winners of 2022 Best in Class Marketing Awards

Kody Nash, Kerry Youngren, Jonathan Babbitt

The Broadband Multimedia Marketing Association (BMMA) recently announced the winners of the 2022 Best in Class Marketing awards.

“Each year, the BMMA recognizes teams and companies that demonstrate innovation and excellence in marketing broadband services,’’ said Ellis Hill, President of ResearchFirst, Inc., the BMMA’s management firm. This year’s awards went to two service providers, MTA and Kinetic by Windstream, and two vendor companies, Calix and Scout Alarm, each of which executed best in class marketing practices related to broadband products and services.”

MTA has been running upgrade marketing campaigns for a few years, using monthly network improvement reports to send mailers to customers eligible for upgrades as well as newly serviceable addresses. After a pause during the pandemic in 2020, MTA revamped the upgrade campaign in 2021 with new branding and improved copy. The new campaign ran throughout 2021 and was targeted to current customers eligible for upgrades due to network improvements, as well as newly serviceable households and non-customer households in areas where MTA had recently upgraded their network. With the shift to a remote lifestyle of school and work from home, the market was seeking improved bandwidth options. This campaign alerted customers that improved speeds were available so they could upgrade and notified unserved households that they had an alternate provider to consider. Using Alaskan elements in the graphics was a strategic move to stand out from the generic imagery competitors were using and offering a free month for non-customers provided an opportunity for them to test out the service before disconnecting their current connection.

“MTA is proud of our team’s outreach efforts to ensure our network investments are resulting in an improved experience for our members. Receiving recognition from organizations like BMMA affirms that we have the right people doing the right activities. Thank you BMMA and thank you to our member solutions team at MTA,” said Michael Burke, CEO of MTA.

Overall, the 2021 campaign provided a significant sustained revenue boost and was an improved experience for both customers and staff. The updated message is easier to understand and multiple touchpoints with the same message improve retention. The streamlined request process improved both efficiency and tracking, providing a definitive answer to the campaign’s value.

About the BMMA

The BMMA is an international organization dedicated to helping Telco internet service providers and their vendors advance the adoption and use of broadband services.

Our membership includes many of the key Telco and broadband vendor organizations in North America and is open to any broadband industry Telco service provider, vendor, CPE manufacturer, government agency, consultant, analyst, or other party with a demonstrated interest in promoting the mission of the BMMA.

Our goal is to advance the adoption and use of broadband services by identifying key industry success factors and sharing best practice marketing initiatives, new product and customer trends and other relevant industry information.

Please see our website at http://www.BMMA.org for more information or to apply for membership in the BMMA.

Executive Director: ResearchFirst, Inc. (http://www.researchfirst.com)

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News & Alerts

Empowering Future Generations of Women Tech Leaders

By Wanda Tankersley, COO

The U.S. Census estimates that computer and engineering occupations hold 80% of the science, tech, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce; but of these positions, only about 15% are filled by women. Narrowing this gender gap in tech is the driving force behind the national non-profit organization Girls Who Code.

Partnering with like-minded organizations to advance future generations in the communities we serve is at the heart of our mission here at MTA, and we were thrilled to serve as the official tech partner of Girls Who Code Camp for Mat-Su Borough students. On June 1, we kicked off the first day of camp, where I had the honor of delivering a keynote presentation on my experience as a woman in tech. The final day of camp was held in our new location at the Shoppes at Sun Mountain. The day was spent exploring the high-tech workspace we’ve created there, hearing from a women-led panel of MTA employees, and collaborating as teams. The panel, featuring women of various career paths within MTA, had a strong focus on how each department uses tech.

Heading into this women-powered week, I reflected on a time when I was in these young women’s shoes. Today, I’m the COO of a tech powerhouse that generates over $100 million annually, though this hasn’t always been the case. I was a solidly average student in middle and high school, and I didn’t come from a particularly fruitful background.

When I think about how I transitioned from where I started to where I am today, I think about the wonderful teachers I had that encouraged me every step of the way. For me, education was the key for me to change the life I had been born into, and I grabbed onto that like a lifeline. By the time I finished college, I had become a strong student – not because I was the smartest in the room, but because I was curious, persistent and hard-working.

Even in my professional life, though, tech has not always been at the center of what I do. I started off in accounting, working for one of the Big Four accounting firms, but soon realized that what I love doing most is solving problems to help make a community the best it can be – and working in both tech and telecom allows me to do just that.

It was awe-inspiring to be able to share my story and experiences with the young women of the Mat-Su Borough, and to help serve as the beacon of light that once guided me to where I am now. I, like MTA as a whole, remain dedicated to fostering and empowering the next generation of women tech leaders and setting them up to pioneer our community’s ever-bright future.

We thank Girls Who Code for allowing MTA to be a part of this journey and look forward to future partnerships that can help get young women excited about all the possibilities that the tech field can offer them.

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News & Alerts

Planting the Seeds of a Well-Connected Alaska

By Michael Burke, CEO of MTA

As the leader of a forward-looking technology and telecommunications company, one of our core missions is to connect as many people as possible – just as it should be for broadband providers anywhere, but especially in rural areas.

I like to look at my role as that of a landscape architect: doing everything I can to plant the seeds of broadband infrastructure that will support amazing growth and progress in Alaska for decades into the future. 

For MTA, working to close the digital divide is not just a new trend or goal for this year – we’ve been focused on it for decades. We were pleased to receive 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. Making broadband more accessible throughout Alaska is also one of the reasons we undertook the massive AlCan ONE fiber network project in 2020 (connecting Alaska to the lower 48 over the State’s first all terrestrial fiber broadband network) and continue our Alaska Plan build-out to provide our service areas with better connectivity. 

The recent passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has enhanced our jobs as landscape architects. I expect this law to change the landscape of broadband in our great state for generations to come.

Expanding reliable broadband access in rural areas is crucial for students trying to get an education, entrepreneurs trying to keep their small businesses running, and patients in need of telehealth services. This became clearer than ever during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when students in more remote areas found themselves stranded without high-speed internet necessary for virtual education. 

While we don’t yet know how this new law will specifically affect each MTA member, it will be a huge boost for Alaska as a state – and will be especially tangible and consequential for Alaskans in remote, underserved areas.

Crucially, this law prioritizes funding to community-built networks and co-ops like ours, rather than offering incentives to large, private companies – giving back to communities and their businesses along with the individuals using broadband in them. The law also includes various opportunities for rural and tribal communities, including Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure grants and funding for tribes through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grant Program.

Given how technologically skilled and forward-thinking Alaska’s workforce has become in recent years, the sky is truly the limit, and we will do everything we can to harness those skills and innovation with the new resources arriving in Alaska with the help of this law.

Despite these advancements in the workforce, our digital divide remains too vast in some areas, but the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is an important first step. Our team will continue briefing and working with elected officials, Tribal leaders and business leaders to keep planting new seeds however and wherever we can to ensure Alaska’s continued growth.

With support from our members and leaders from throughout the state, we are optimistic that a lack of broadband in underserved areas will be a thing of the past in the not-too-distant future.

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News & Alerts

A New Look for MTA, Inspired by You

By Kerry Youngren, Marketing Manager

As the leading technology provider in Alaska, we know our work is constantly evolving – and never done. Whether it’s completing large-scale network upgrades that will connect Alaskans for generations, or taking the lead during times of crisis, MTA has been committed to serving the communities we live in for nearly 70 years.

MTA has come a long way from our founding in 1953. And we know what’s to come: better, stronger connections to each other, powered by the network we’ve designed and constructed for the areas we serve. That area has also grown, with Alaska being more high-tech and forward-looking than ever before.

As we advance with our community, we want to make it clear that this progression is inspired solely by you, our members, and your needs. This path toward the future is represented in a recent modernization to MTA’s look-and-feel and the launch of our new website that we are proud to share with you.

Our members are not static, and as we develop new solutions and enter new markets, the way we present our brand must constantly adapt to our ever-evolving audience while staying true to our Alaskan roots.

Different from a rebrand, these enhancements are designed to breathe life into what is already there. And all of this is more than just a new mix of colors, fonts, and a website. Our goal with this launch is to modernize and unify our brand, while staying true to our mission. It includes better online communication and introduces unique, meaningful experiences for residential, business, enterprise, and wholesale customers.

But before we decided on the new brand direction, we did our homework. (Being MTA, would you expect anything less?) This included research within our service area as well as taking a close look at the core values of MTA as a brand and where we’ve been.

Where we’ve been:
Where we’re going:

Right now, we are truly entering a new era for MTA: we completed the historic AlCan ONE all-terrestrial fiber line, which will provide a secure connection to the lower 48 and beyond for decades; we’ve cut the cord on traditional TV and ushered our members to a streaming lifestyle; we’ve expanded into new markets with the introduction of unique, meaningful experiences for residential, business, enterprise and wholesale customers; and we’re delivering an elevated online experience with new products like totalWiFi and MTA Shield.

In short, it’s the perfect time to revamp our identity. There’s new energy and focus from the Alaskan tech and business community and our products and services lead the charge in enabling this exploration. Our brand refresh visually symbolizes our commitment to innovate.

Of course, we could not have done this work alone. We worked alongside our creative partner Alopex, a Palmer-based agency that is leading the way for web development and design in the state. 

Alopex is one of many innovative and outstanding companies that have sprouted up in Alaska as of late; with more and more businesses launching in the Palmer area, Alaska’s tech future is bright and we are eager to work alongside them – and be inspired by them – in years to come.

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News & Alerts

Education is the Key to Closing the Digital Divide

By Wanda Tankersley, COO

Education, at any level, allows us to learn and refine valuable skills that help us in our everyday lives. It provides a whole window of experiences and opportunities that one might not otherwise have. 

In today’s digital age, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education is a vital component to accelerating both technological literacy and innovation throughout our communities. Unfortunately, there can be barriers in place that prevent equitable access to this type of education.

MTA is committed to tackling these education disparities across the communities we serve in order to level the playing field and bring us one step closer to closing the digital divide. A large way we’re able to do this is through the MTA Foundation, which exists to promote technology awareness, economic development and enhance entrepreneurship by way of grants, scholarships and other donations.

The Foundation’s annual scholarship program is designed to encourage students to pursue a variety of educational goals – whether they’re first-time college students, returning students, those participating in vocational or homeschool programs or students pursuing professional development that leads to a degree or certification. The scholarships support these students as they enhance their technology, business and entrepreneurial skills. 

However, the importance of education also extends outside of the classroom. Closing the digital divide across our communities goes beyond just providing access to necessary technology or internet connectivity.

The Foundation also awards grants and donations to businesses and organizations within our communities to not only provide them with innovative technology, but to also educate them on how to use this technology to set them up for success.

To date, the Foundation has awarded almost $420,000 in scholarship funding to help mold the next generation of Alaska’s leaders, as well as over $60,000 in grants to empower local businesses and organizations. We love the community we call home and we firmly believe in investing in education to support members and help bridge this gap. 

To learn more, visit: https://mtafoundation.org/ 

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Esports News & Alerts

MTA Gaming Takes Alaska Esports to New Heights

By: Jess Gilbert, PR Manager

After winning the 2020 Best Virtual Event by Alaska Business Magazine, we knew we had to level up in 2021. We did just that with Alaska’s first Esports League. The MTA Gaming efforts have always been about cultivating a strong, tech-forward community of passionate gamers. That community told us they wanted more than one weekend, and we delivered.

Spanning multiple weeks, the inaugural season officially began November 15, with championship rounds that took place January 29 & 30 at the MTA Gaming Virtual Tournament. This season’s games included Fortnite, APEX Legends, Super Smash Bros, Rocket League and League of Legends.

Adding to the fun, we had some special guests join us – former Seahawks player, Luke Willson, and Logan Kimmell, with Kimmell Gaming. As avid gamers themselves, both are passionate about the way gaming can bring people together – whether they’re an NFL player, a teacher, a student or anyone else. We had the chance to interview both Luke and Logan during the tournament, check it out below!

As our returning competitors already know, the pandemic forced us to host 2020’s tournament virtually for the first time. Though this could’ve been a major setback, we instead saw it as an opportunity to take both MTA Gaming and our valued community of esports enthusiasts to new heights.

It’s because of the unwavering support from you – our fans and sponsors – that we were able to embark on this entirely new journey. But it’s also because of you that we get to better the communities we serve.

Since its inception, our annual gaming tournament has served as a signature event to benefit the MTA Foundation, which provides scholarships, donations, grants and other tech assistance throughout Alaska. This year, we managed to raise more than $33,000, with special thanks to our Elite sponsors Ciena and Monster Energy.

MTA Gaming certainly made a virtual splash last year, but this year we created a tidal wave. We’re already looking forward to everything in store for the 2022-23 season!

To learn more, visit: https://www.mtasolutions.com/esports/virtual-tournament-2021-2022

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News & Alerts

On MTA’s decision to exit the Fixed Wireless business

Published in the Frontiersman, Sunday, February 25, 2018.

MTA is keeping pace with the evolving communications industry. From humble beginnings in 1953 as a rural cooperative, MTA has sought to serve as many Alaskans as possible and thrive throughout a time packed full of technological advances.

That same philosophy holds true in today’s technology-driven marketplace. The wireless industry is highly competitive and changing rapidly, requiring a tremendous amount of continual infrastructure investment. After a thorough review, MTA made the decision to exit the wireless market. MTA must use its resources wisely and resist the temptation to provide service to a small segment of the population at a tremendous cost to the majority of member-owners. Our business decisions must represent the entire base of our member’s interests.

On the heels of this decision, came the decision to end our Fixed Wireless service to a remote section of the Susitna Basin. This service is an out-of-date technology that is failing at an increasing rate. It was delivered by the wireless spectrum and tower infrastructure that MTA owned while operating as a wireless carrier. Recently, MTA sold its towers and spectrum as a result of exiting the competitive wireless arena.

Some question if the decision to end Fixed Wireless service to remote customers is counter to the cooperative spirit. In reality, the cooperative model requires organizations like MTA to make business decisions that are beneficial to the entire member base, such as exiting the wireless business. All of MTA’s decisions are grounded in our mission to be Alaska’s leading broadband technology company, to dedicate resources necessary to preserve the cooperative and pioneer critical economic development opportunities for the community.

Today’s wireless carriers and satellite communications companies specialize in delivering voice and internet service to the most remote locations. MTA’s research confirmed that satellite service is available to virtually all customers currently receiving Fixed Wireless service. In the alternative, Fixed Wireless customers can install an antenna comparable to the existing Fixed Wireless antenna to facilitate delivery of superior LTE wireless service to their homes.

MTA is a vibrant cooperative. The decision to exit the fixed wireless business was difficult, but necessary to preserve the resources of the remaining 99% of the cooperative. MTA has provided financial and technical assistance to affected customers to ease the transition.

This information will provide MTA Fixed Wireless customers with potential alternative solutions. Learn more.

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News & Alerts

BMMA Announces Winners of 2021 Best in Class Marketing Awards

Shielded Network

MTA Shield was launched through a partnership between MTA and F-Secure, and was successfully rolled out in a tight three-month timeframe thanks to extensive research and the teams’ mutual dedication to educating and empowering customers. The two companies launched MTA Home Shield (secure router), MTA Mobile Shield (endpoint protection) and MTA Identity Shield (identity protection/password manager) with single-sign-on (SSO) implemented across all three products using MTA’s existing myMTA account structure. The partnership has continued through internal and external campaigns, agent training, agent events, and more.

“Thanks to F-Secure’s thorough efforts, comprehensive project plan and dedicated launch team, we were able to keep to the launch timeline as planned and successfully roll out this vital product to our members,” said Jonathan Babbitt, MTA’s V.P. of Product Management, Marketing and Sales.

While MTA Shield has only been available for a few months, its initial success and impact is significant. A good portion of the success so far is directly attributable to two major launch activities: the first being the research that MTA performed at the beginning of the project, which helped to ensure the product met the needs of the Alaska market in everything from pricing to the product’s names; the second major activity focused on training. MTA’s agents know why cybersecurity is important, both at home and on the go, and they’ve been able to educate customers while identifying the best product bundle for each family’s lifestyle. This combination of research and training has allowed MTA to be extremely successful with the new MTA Shield suite of products.

MTA Shield ensures members’ devices are safe and secure, and that their personal data is not at risk; this is invaluable in today’s world. Understanding the importance of this, MTA decided to make MTA Shield free to all its employees. F-Secure, aware of the impact that it would have on sales and support experience as well as word-of-mouth, fully supported the effort. This effort will continue to ensure that MTA employees continue to grow as champions of all three products.

“MTA’s focus on understanding their members needs and informing their agents have helped make this launch a huge success,” said Brian Murray, F-Secure’s Regional Vice President for North America, Operator Sales. “The solutions in this suite combine to provide MTA members the power to easily secure their families at home, and anywhere they go. We’re proud to join with MTA in accepting this award, and we’re even prouder to help give their members the freedom that comes from being in control of all your information security.”

About the BMMA

The BMMA is an international organization dedicated to helping Telco internet service providers and their vendors advance the adoption and use of broadband services. Our membership includes many of the key Telco and broadband vendor organizations in North America and is open to any broadband industry Telco service provider, vendor, CPE manufacturer, government agency, consultant, analyst, or other party with a demonstrated interest in promoting the mission of the BMMA. Our goal is to advance the adoption and use of broadband services by identifying key industry success factors and sharing best practice marketing initiatives, new product and customer trends and other relevant industry information.

Please see our website at http://www.BMMA.org for more information or to apply for membership in the BMMA.

Executive Director: ResearchFirst, Inc. (http://www.researchfirst.com)”