College Students

Central Maine Community College (CMCC) is the latest entity to offer The Fiber Broadband Association’s (FBA’s) Optical Telecom Installer Certification (OpTIC Path) training program. The training will be offered in cooperation with the Harold Alfond Center for the Advancement of Maine’s Workforce.

CMCC is in the city of Auburn, north of Portland. The program training is 120 hours long and is spread over three weeks. Those completing the curricula will be certified fiber optic technicians and be ready to go to work building fiber networks.

Maine is getting federal funding and private investment to improve broadband and make it available to more communities. This includes $128 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Capital Projects Fund, $260.7 million from the ARPA Fiscal Recovery Funds, $272 million from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, and an additional $30 million grant from the Broadband Infrastructure Program.

The FBA said that there is an existing technician workforce shortage that must be addressed for the funding to be used properly and for deadlines to be met.

“The first step in this process is to ensure that [employers] have qualified fiber technicians to start these builds,” Todd Jackson, the director of workforce development at the FBA, said in a press release. “The OpTIC Path program provides the tools needed for any school, college, or another training facility to effectively prepare skilled fiber technicians to safely build high-performance broadband networks.”

To date, the FBA said it is “engaged with” 40 of the 56 states and territories for roll-out of the OpTIC Path program. It is working with 44 service providers and 70 community colleges and training institutions.

Last month, the FBA reported that the Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center, a free public school in Everett, Wash., would begin offering the OpTIC Path program. It is the first high school to do so.

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