Federated Wireless is working with the Learning Alliance Corp. to increase the number of technicians that can work on installations in the Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) shared spectrum band. The two firms say that they plan to issue 2,000 certified professional installer certificates over the next two years.
Specifically, Federated and the Learning Alliance will work together to provide training on all aspects of a CBRS installation, from the spectrum access system (SAS) to the radio. The two firms said they will use augmented and virtual reality technologies to help provide students with hands-on installation experience. In addition, the Learning Alliance said it is committed to increasing the diversity of the telco workforce and believes it can attain that goal because more than 40% of its students are minorities.
Cesar Ruiz, president and CEO of Learning Alliance, said that the goal is to familiarize students with the entire CBRS system. “We don’t just want them to be certified, we want them to know the equipment, the SAS, the IRUs, the baseband and the requirements for troubleshooting this entire system.”
Federated, which has been a big proponent of the CBRS spectrum band and helped commercialize the band, said that through its partnership with the Learning Alliance, it hopes to increase the number of technicians that can work in the CBRS band and therefore increase the number of communities that can benefit from shared spectrum services.
Finding qualified workers
But finding workers and getting them the right training is an issue for every part of the wireless industry, whether it’s CBRS technicians or network engineers. In fact, many wireless industry groups have warned that workforce shortages could slow 5G rollouts, particularly in rural parts of the country.
In March, a trio of U.S. senators introduced new legislation that would award millions to boost minority participation in telecom job training programs. The Improving Minority Participation and Careers in Telecommunications (IMPACT) Act would create a $100 million grant pool for historically black and tribal colleges and universities, and other minority-focused institutions, to fund the creation of programs designed to prepare students for jobs building 5G and fiber infrastructure.
The IMPACT Act was applauded by many telecom groups, including the Wireless Infrastructure Association and NATE, the communications infrastructure contractors’ association.