Help flesh out MuniNetworks’ Big List of American Rescue Plan Community Broadband Projects

From the Institute for Local Self Reliance

With the first traunch of American Rescue Plan funds going out to counties and cities earlier this summer, many local leaders have begun to propose projects and seek input from citizens about how they should be used. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) represents an unprecedented amount of money flowing to local governments, but the consequences of operating for more than a year and a half under the burden of the Covid-19 pandemic are such that there seems to be so many things that need attention.

Access to universal, affordable, fast Internet access is among them, but the road from recognizing the need and implementing thoughtful policies is not an equally smooth one for all. Sometimes, a little inspiration is all it takes.

That’s where this page comes in. This is our ongoing list of projects which are under consideration, have been announced, or are under way. Arranged alphabetically by state and organized by whether they are under consideration or are planned, the below are those broadband expansion projects being pursued by cities and counties as they look to expand access via telephone and electric cooperatives, nonprofits, community-owned solutions, or private providers.

This page will be updated in the coming weeks and months, but if you have any corrections, additions, or updates, please email ry@ilsr.org

I am thankful to them for doing this – if you have something to add, please send it their way or send it to me atreacy@treacyinfo.com and I’ll add it here and send it to them.

Here’s what they have for Minnesota…

Planned

The Duluth City Council has approved a plan to spend $12.8 million of the $58.1 million it will receive on infrastructure, including $1 million on broadband. There are no additional details, excepting a line item in a recent press release which says the money could be used to “incentivize broadband providers to the City.”

St. Louis County, Minnesota has earmarked a total of $2 million so far in broadband grant programs aimed at boosting connectivity efforts led by communities in the region. By committing a match, the latter can apply for funds in pursuit of a wide range of planning and development activities. Those grant applications are due in September.

One township already taking advantage of St. Louis County’s grant program is Greenwood, which is pursuing upcoming federal infrastructure dollars along with county funds and considering using some of its own $50,000 in Rescue Plan funds for the local match. Broadband continues to be a primary concern to local leaders, with the township running a broadband survey for residents and businesses right now.

ARPA County and Township Support Amounts Mapped by CNS

CNS has created a new map

As discussions with counties, townships, and cities ramp up, we mapped the ARPA funding amounts for MN’s Counties, Townships and Small Cities so you can see how much each entity is receiving in ARPA funding.

Layers include:

  • County Allocated funding
  • Estimated Township funding amounts
  • Disbursed Township and Small City funds
  • RDOF funded census block groups

Zooming in on the map will show more granular data.

We’ll continue to update the map as more data is released. According the state, not all Township and Small Cities have received their first-round funding yet due to incomplete applications. Note that two rounds of disbursements will be sent, one in 2021, one in 2022 – disbursed funds shown in the map are 50% of their total allocation.

Redwood County gets Lead for Minnesota Fellow to work on broadband

Redwood Falls Gazette reports

Lead For America, Land O’Lakes, Inc., the Mayo Clinic, Midwest Dairy and Scoular recently announced the placement of six American Connection Corps (ACC) Fellows in Minnesota, part of a group of 50 individuals placed in communities across the country. These Fellows will work to increase broadband access and digital literacy as well as contribute to critical community development initiatives in communities across Minnesota. Lead for Minnesota Fellow Patrick Garry was chosen for placement in Redwood County to work with the county EDA on broadband access throughout the county.

Garry arrived in Redwood Falls on Aug. 9 to begin his work as Redwood County EDA Broadband Coordinator. He is not a county employee, rather his position is a contract for service, with Redwood County Economic Development Coordinator Briana Mumme as his host.

Blandin plays a role…

The Fellow position in Redwood County is also funded through the Lead for America program, Americorps, the Blandin Foundation and the Southwest Initiative Foundation.

He’s hitting the ground running…

Garry said his first initiative is a “listening tour” of the county’s communities, businesses, farmers, healthcare providers, schools and any residents interested in access to broadband, to learn more about the needs and impact in the area.

Mumme and Garry agreed that recent federal legislation to fund broadband access throughout the United States will be a valuable tool for the goals of their program. They will be working with the Redwood area internet providers to learn their vision and goals for how best to fill the gaps in broadband access.

“What motivates our group is a shared vision for what rural America can be,” said Garry. “We hope to curate collaborative environments that foster innovation and build upon our past. We realize we can only complete this goal with community support and advocacy.”

Zayo Announces 400Gig-Enabled Network – passes through MN

Businesswire reports

Zayo Group Holdings, Inc., a leading global provider of fiber-based communications solutions, today announced the planned deployment of thirty-one high capacity, 400G-enabled long haul routes across North America and Western Europe.

The availability of 400G client-side wave capabilities will allow Zayo to deliver multi-terabit capacity across its underlying global network, enabling higher transmission rates, reduced cost per bit, increased data transfer speeds and significantly greater bandwidth capacity — key features that support enterprises on their digital transformation journeys. Up to 800G transmission will be available in select areas as Zayo deploys significant speed enhancements in anticipation of future network needs.

This optimized wavelength network is designed to provide a direct route for multi-cloud and multi-market connectivity, ideal for content providers, hyperscalers, carriers and data centers. The upgrade will also enable reduced physical space requirements as well as reduced operation and maintenance costs resulting from a 40% reduction in power consumption.

The race to 400Gb/s has accelerated in recent years, with an increasing number of users, applications and devices driving exponential demand for increased bandwidth. Exceeding the current standard of 100G, Zayo’s new routes will provide a fourfold increase in maximum data transfer speed, supporting 5G technologies including Internet of Things, cloud-based computing, edge computing, virtual reality, high-definition video streaming and artificial intelligence.

Big news for Minnesota? The network will pass through Minnesota. (See map below, which might misplace Minneapolis in MN but gets the network here.)

DLF Chair talks about broadband and other topics in Park Rapids (Hubbard County)

Park Rapids Enterprise reports

When DFL Chairman Ken Martin visited the Park Rapids area Tuesday, he discussed issues relevant to Hubbard County and the surrounding area in an interview with the Enterprise.

There were two questions on broadband…

What infrastructure needs will be addressed in this region?

We’re excited about the bi-partisan deal. It’s the largest infrastructure bill ever to pass in our country’s history. It is investing in the infrastructure of tomorrow while repairing the infrastructure of yesterday. It’s going to invest in bridges and roads, wastewater treatment plants, clean energy, electric vehicles, upgrading public transportation options and broadband.

I think of this through the lens of rural electrification that happened in the 1920s and 1930s in this country. It helped rejuvenate small town America and main streets. Without that, a lot of parts of the country would have been left behind.

Thanks to this infrastructure package, high-speed internet is going to be provided to every corner of our state. That’s an exciting development that should bring more jobs to communities here and that will allow people who work in different industries to stay in greater Minnesota.

Because more people are able to work remotely, there’s an opportunity to reimagine the workforce. But that requires good broadband access. We need to build that infrastructure that will result in economic development in places like Hubbard County and help diversify and expand the tax base.

When will better broadband reach this region?

As soon as this infrastructure bill is signed into law I think the money is going to start flowing out to communities. I don’t know the exact timeline for that but I think money will move quickly like with the American Rescue Plan. There is a great disparity in internet services in greater Minnesota because some internet providers have invested their own money in fiber optics and high speed internet capacities and others have not. This funding will help equalize that by providing money to companies who can then access it through grants to provide higher speeds and have the capability to do that, whether fiber optics or cell service. There are a lot of pockets in the state where you go five miles in one direction or the other and you are getting high-speed internet or not. That’s what we have to fix right now so it’s not this patchwork but wherever you live you will get the same level of service. This is an equity issue as well. A lot of people are being left behind. Their job or their schooling is being impacted by the fact that they don’t have access to high speed internet. We have a responsibility to address that. It’s a huge part of the infrastructure plan and will allow people in rural America to start to prosper again.

EVENT Sep 22: Northeast Minnesota Regional Broadband Summit

Another invitation to a regional broadband meeting, which is being held as a precursor to the MN Broadband Conference in October…

The Blandin Foundation, Dept. of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation, Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, Northland Foundation, and Northspan are set to co-host a virtual summit highlighting the challenges and opportunities related to broadband.

The summit, scheduled for Wednesday, September 22nd will be held on Zoom from 9:00-11:00 AM. It is free for all attendees, and participants will learn how other communities across the region are responding to this challenge and how an innovative, connected economy can create a dynamic future.

REGISTER HERE

The summit includes information about:

  • Community broadband and innovative economy projects
  • Successful regional infrastructure projects
  • Arrowhead Intelligent Region grant recipients and their plans

Agenda includes:

  • Welcome & Introductions
  • State of Minnesota Office of Broadband Development
  • Intelligent Communities Framework and Community Projects and Project Panel Speed Round
  • Providers and Communities on Successful and Planned Infrastructure Projects
  • Arrowhead Intelligent Region Grant Recipients

Attendees can register for the Northeast Regional Broadband Summit HERE.

The regional summit is a part of Blandin’s annual statewide broadband conference, Building on Broadband: Inspiring Progress. This year’s statewide conference is virtual and will take place October 12-14. Visit the conference webpage for more information.

EVENT Sep 16: South Central & Southeast Regional Broadband Conference

An invitation to a regional broadband meeting, which is being held as a precursor to the MN Broadband Conference in October…

South Central & Southeast Regional Broadband Conference is being hosted by Region Nine Development CommissionSouthern Minnesota Initiative FoundationSE MN TogetherSoutheastern Minnesota League of Municipalitieswith support from Blandin Foundation and the MN Office of Broadband Development as part of the annual broadband conference, Building on Broadband: Inspiring Progress. This year’s statewide conference is virtual, and will take place October 12-14, with the 12th being dedicated to regional updates. You’re invited! Visit the conference webpage for more information.

Join us Thursday, September 16, for a regional broadband conference at the Owatonna Arts Center. This will be a hybrid conference allowing for in-person and virtual attendance. Hosts are actively monitoring the COVID-19 infectious rates and will notify attendees if a virtual only format is necessary. See the draft agenda .

As counties and statewide Regional Development Commissions (RDCs) consider how to use American Recovery Act funds for broadband investments, now is a good time to ask:

  • Who is being served?
  • Who is being left behind?
  • What are our opportunities to collaborate or stretch dollars?
  • How will we maximize these investments to spur equitable economic recovery?
  • What action steps are needed at the local level to support successful implementation?

Feedback gathered during the conference will be compiled with other RDC findings and rolled up to the Blandin Foundation’s statewide conference (virtual), and taking place October 12-14, with the 12th being dedicated to regional updates. You’re invited! Visit the conference webpage for more information.

Be Prepared for Opportunity!

Blandin Foundation is seeking communities/counties to participate in their Community Broadband Resources: Accelerate! program beginning in September.  Blandin decided to launch a 2nd cohort of communities due to the enthusiastic response from our first cohort that completed the program in June.  We hope to have a group of 3 – 5 communities participating as a cohort and would like to start in late September as soon as we have our community cohort on board.

In essence, we ask that each community form a steering team with at least 8 people.  In our first cohort, teams ranged from 8 – 16 members that committed to participating in weekly meetings, each Friday morning from 9 – 11 am.  We do not keep attendance and ask only that people make a good faith commitment.

Each week has a theme.    From 9-10, all of the communities meet together to: 1) learn from experts; 2) hear from Blandin members; 3) learn from each other.  The second hour is devoted to each community’s steering team meeting where the teams plan their upcoming work.  We also ask that members watch an archived video webinar some time during the week on that week’s topic.

Through the process, each community will conduct a community survey using a standardized survey.  MN Extension will assist on data reporting.  In our last cohort, communities combined online and paper surveys.  Local communities are responsible for doing any data entry with the paper surveys and for any mailing or publicity costs.  In the first cohort, we used the statewide speed test web site to gather that data.  I am uncertain as to the availability of that site for our purposes.

Provider interviews are also a part of the process.  Several community-friendly providers participated on community teams in the first cohort.

We spend quite a bit of time on mapping, public private partnerships, public finance, etc.

The last two weeks of the program are devoted to the creation of a community broadband plan where Blandin staff works with each community to finalize their plan and a presentation that they can bring back to local elected officials, community groups and members, and broadband providers.

The application process is quite easy and informal.  The list of steering team members is the key element.

If you would like to know more, contact Bill Coleman at 651-491-2551 or bill@communitytechnologyadvisors.com.  He would be happy to do a quick webinar to ensure there is clear understanding of the process.

Will supply chain issues hinder fiber deployment? AT&T say yes. Frontier, Lumen, Windstream say no.

Fierce Telecom reports

AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches warned investors supply chain issues would likely prevent the operator from reaching its goal of delivering fiber to 3 million new locations in 2021.

Speaking during an Oppenheimer conference, Desroches said that up through the second quarter AT&T “hadn’t really experienced any impact” from global supply chain disruptions, thanks in part to its status as a “preferred” customer. But he noted “since the start of the third quarter we are seeing dislocation across the board, including in fiber supply.”

Desroches estimated that as a result “we’re probably going to come in a little bit light” of the 3 million target set earlier this year, “probably around 2.5 [million].” He added AT&T doesn’t expect the shortages to impact it over the long term, but said highlighting its struggle was “really important for context because if we’re feeling the pain of this, I can only imagine what others in the industry are experiencing.”

From Frontier (new article)…

Last week, Frontier increased its deployment targets, stating it plans to rollout fiber to 600,000 new locations in 2021, up from an original goal of 495,000. Speaking at a Cowen investor conference on Thursday, Frontier’s chief network officer Veronica Bloodworth stated it is “not experiencing supply chain issues” and has taken several steps to protect itself from labor and materials shortages as its build progresses.

“Materials and supply is one area you could run into a constraint, we don’t have that currently,” she said. “We have diversified our supplier base, we’ve put commitment contracts in place…and we’ve changed our inventory on hand appropriately to make sure that we are insulated against supply chain issues.”

From Lumen (CenturyLink), Windstream and Consolidated…

Lumen’s Head of Mass Markets Maxine Moreaux made similar comments in an earlier Cowen session. “We have not seen any issues,” she said, adding “we have diversification not only in equipment and fiber but also in labor.” Like Frontier, Lumen recently said it plans to accelerate its fiber investments.

Likewise, a Windstream representative told Fierce it has “secured all of the supplies necessary to meet our current build plans.”

Jennifer Spaude, SVP of investor relations and corporate communications at Consolidated, told Fierce it remains on track to achieve a target of upgrading 300,000 passings to fiber in 2021, adding “our partners are confident they can supply us with sufficient equipment to maintain our operational pace.” However, she acknowledged “inventory is limited on next-generation chips that deliver multi-gigabit speeds” and it is “evaluating alternative CPE” which can be used if necessary.

A third party gives some perspective on the differences…

Asked to weigh in on AT&T’s predicament, Dell’Oro VP and optical transport market analyst Jimmy Yu noted some players locked in supply agreements long ago. “Verizon (luckily) had a supply agreement in place a few years ago that assured supply with Corning. I don’t think AT&T did. Hence, AT&T doesn’t have a secured supply like Verizon,” he told Fierce.

Yu added neither Lumen nor Frontier “are investing in access (fixed and mobile) at the same pace as AT&T and Verizon. So, those two operators will not have the same demand level as AT&T.”

MLEC is expanding FTTH in Aitkin County (MN)

Aitkin Age reports…

Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative (MLEC) has announced that MLEC Fiber Internet will become available for more customers in 2022.

More detail…

The Phase 5 project will pass approximately 300 homes and businesses and will provide up to 1 gigabyte per second symmetrical Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Internet service. FTTH is the fastest and most reliable Internet available.

MLEC will partner with Consolidated Telecommunications Company (CTC) on the construction of this project and expand its MLEC Fiber Internet network. The project area includes the west side of Farm Island Lake, runs east to Sunset Lake, then along Tame Fish Lake Road all the way to Highway 6.

The Phase 5 project will create a redundant link to CTC’s existing infrastructure. This will make the company’s fiber network stronger and prevent internet outages.

“In addition to Phase 5, MLEC Fiber has continued construction on our Phase 3, Phase 4, and East Lake projects,” said the release. “If you live in one of the project areas, there is still time to sign up. Crews are working hard to get as many customers connected as possible before winter comes.”

Greenwood Township looks at local, state and federal options for broadband funding

The Timberjay reports on broadband funding and hopes for Greenwood Township…

Chairman Mike Ralston told the Greenwood Town Board that the township’s $5.5 million request for broadband funding is part of the just-approved Senate Infrastructure bill, having been put on the list by both Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar.
This funding, if approved by the House of Representatives and signed by President Joe Biden, would provide the vast majority of the estimated $6.6 million project.
The township will also be applying for grant funding from a new St. Louis County broadband program that will award a maximum of $400,000, and grant dollars from the IRRR.
Greenwood Township also received $50,316 in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, but whether the board will set aside those funds for a local match to the proposed broadband project is yet to be determined. The township will receive a similar amount in 2022.

Supervisor Sue Drobac asked Ralston why other board members weren’t informed that the township had received the American Rescue Act funding as of the end of July. She said that members of the township’s broadband committee had submitted their own application.
“We need more communication,” Drobac said. “We spent a lot of time on this.”
Ralston agreed, and said he had sent the application to Deputy Treasurer Tammy Mortaloni to complete.
“There was a long list of COVID-related items we could use it for,” he said.
The board asked the broadband committee, which includes Drobac and Supervisor Barb Lofquist, to be in charge of submitting the grant to the new St. Louis County broadband program, which will distribute a total of $1.75 million in American Rescue Plan monies for broadband projects. That grant application is due in September.
The board voted down a motion by Drobac to place the $50,316 in American Rescue Plan dollars into a restricted broadband account, with Ralston and Supervisors Carmen DeLuca and Paul Skubic all voting against.
The board then approved, unanimously, a motion that any grants written specifically for broadband infrastructure would go into a restricted account. This still leaves the township the option of using some or all of the $50,316 for the broadband project.
A survey for township residents to gauge interest in receiving broadband should be available on the township website, www.greenwoodtownshipmn.com, and all township property owners will be mailed a letter urging them to complete the study, or to return a paper copy as soon as possible.

New FirstNet Cell Site Launches in the Kabetogama State Forest to Support First Responders in Northern MN

AT&T is making announcements of more deployments – again

What’s the news?

Northern Minnesota’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located in the Kabetogama State Forest near Kjostad Lake about an hour north of Virginia.

This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling along Orr Buyck Road and Crane Lake Road, located in the remote wilderness of northern Minnesota. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

This is the second FirstNet site to launch in this part of northern Minnesota this summer. In May, we added a new, purpose-built cell site located on the Echo Trail northwest of Ely near Meander Lake and Lake Jeannette State Forest – one of the first primarily powered by solar in the Midwest region. This site along the Echo Trail has already provided coverage to first responders who battled the Bezhik wildfire just a few miles south of the tower.

Why is this important?

We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. Other FirstNet sites already launched in Minnesota include Bagley, Blackduck, Cloquet, Echo Trail (northwest of Ely), Finlayson, Graceville, Grygla, Hovland, Isabella, Kellogg (Hwy 42), Lewiston, and Williams.

New FirstNet Cell Site Launches in the Kabetogama State Forest to Support First Responders in Northern MN

AT&T is making announcements of more deployments

Minnesota’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications thanks to the FirstNet® network expansion currently underway by AT&T. We’ve added a new, purpose-built cell site located near Kellogg in southeastern Minnesota. This FirstNet site will provide coverage when traveling north and south along Highway 42 between Kellogg and Plainview. It will also give first responders on FirstNet – America’s public safety network – access to always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data.

Why is this important?

We look at FirstNet as the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. And unlike commercial networks, FirstNet provides dedicated mobile broadband. To ensure AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are putting coverage and capacity where first responders need it most, the FirstNet build is being done with direct feedback from state and public safety officials. This helps ensure Minnesota first responders connect to the critical information they need – every day and in every emergency. Other FirstNet sites already launched in Minnesota include Bagley, Blackduck, Cloquet, Echo Trail (northwest of Ely), Finlayson, Graceville, Grygla, Hovland, Isabella, Kjostad Lake, Lewiston, and Williams.

702 Communications Announces new Internet Exchange, FMIX

An announcement about a new Internet Exchange in …

702 Communications of Fargo-Moorhead announces the establishment of a new Internet Exchange, FMIX, in its hybrid data center in Fargo.
Peering reduces latency and enhances end-user experience. Connection to the FMIX will allow partners to directly exchange traffic, bypassing long Internet routes.
“We’re excited to have the FMIX switch in our data center,” explained Brian Crommett, CEO of 702 Communications. “With Hurricane Electric, 702 Communications, Paul Bunyan Communications and Park Region Telephone already connected to the exchange, our users are all essentially right next door.”
Steve Howard, the Information Technology and Development Manager of Paul Bunyan Communications
agrees,” Paul Bunyan Communications is happy to connect to the Fargo-Moorhead Internet Exchange. This is a great service that will benefit internet users throughout the region.”
FMIX
The FMIX was founded to allow free peering between carriers and customers. For questions on the
exchange, email info@fmix.com.

Here’s a quick definition of an Internet Exchange from Wikipedia

An Internet exchange point (IX or IXP) is the physical infrastructure through which Internet service providers (ISPs) and content delivery networks (CDNs) exchange Internet traffic among their networks (autonomous systems) and peer together.[1] Typically, IXPs occupy standalone buildings with their own switches.[2]

IXPs reduce the portion of an ISP’s traffic that must be delivered via their upstream transit providers, thereby reducing the average per-bit delivery cost of their service. Furthermore, the increased number of paths available through the IXP improves routing efficiency and fault-tolerance. In addition, IXPs exhibit the characteristics of what economists call the network effect.

Some readers may be acquainted with MICE (Midwest Internet Cooperative Exchange), a similar initiative

Fiber Broadband Association to Launch National Fiber Optic Technician Training and Certification Program

Fiber 2021 Connect is happening this week and with it come exciting announcements from the Fiber Broadband Association, starting with their Fiber Optic Technician Training and Certification Program…

Today at Fiber Connect 2021, the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) announced its The program features unique curriculum designed by leading experts in the fiber community to quickly scale technical education, fill the existing fiber skills gap and accelerate fiber deployments across North America.

The demand on service providers and communities to build better broadband networks continues to increase. The pandemic highlighted the need for speeds to support bandwidth-straining remote work and education, telehealth and streaming entertainment. The best option to deliver this capacity is fiber because it delivers the best performance in speed and reliability than any other type of broadband technology. However, there is a shortage of qualified fiber workers which creates a tall hurdle in deploying fiber in many regions of North America.

“The Fiber Broadband Association is responding to the needs of service providers in anticipation of the U.S. government’s infrastructure plan to dedicate $65 billion on broadband build-outs across the nation,” said Mark Boxer, FBA Board Member, lead for FBA training and certification program and Technical Manager, Solutions and Applications Engineering at OFS. “We are addressing the fiber workforce shortage with the OpTIC program, providing relevant training to equip workers with the knowledge and skills needed to build fiber networks.”

The program will be offered nationwide through vocational schools, community colleges and veteran training programs. Wilson Community College in Wilson, N.C., will be the first to pilot the OpTIC, curriculum, consisting of 144 hours of combined class and lab courses followed by a 2,000-hour apprenticeship that is fully approved and recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor. The Fiber Broadband Association and its OpTICS apprenticeship program is recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor as a National Program sponsor, eligible for state and federal grants. The program will include technical content for today’s fiber technician as well as plenty of hands-on practice, with the goal of compressing the time needed to equip them to be safe and productive in the field. Participants that complete the program will be certified as an FBA Accredited OpTIC Technician.

“Wilson was North Carolina’s first gigabit city and is now home to many advanced workforce training programs that are focused on fiber optics,” said Gene Scott, General Manager of Outside Plant at Greenlight Community Broadband, and chair of the FBA education subcommittee. “We are thrilled to be associated with the first school to offer the FBA’s OpTIC program. The citizens of Wilson understand that fiber technology has the ability to change lives by bringing economic and quality of life opportunities to the communities that can access it.”

“The need for a highly-trained fiber workforce has never been greater, so we’re thrilled to launch a certification program that will be extremely valuable to the industry,” said Deborah Kish, Vice President of Research and Marketing at the Fiber Broadband Association. “We expect the OpTIC program to be recognized across North America as the gold standard among training programs directed at developing highly competent fiber splicers, premise installers and technicians that are required for today’s fiber deployments. Moreover, this certification program will help create jobs across North America and ensure all broadband deployments are fiber first.”

To learn more about the FBA’s OpTIC program, please visit https://www.fiberbroadband.org/certification.

These are good jobs and I’m glad to hear about the program. Also, policymakers always seem impressed by initiatives that create an immediate need for jobs; so I think that will help too.