Broadband deployment requires advanced education and resources

LightStream President and CEO Brent Gillum appeared in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss the integral role a well-trained workforce plays in building strong, secure and reliable broadband communications networks.

Testifying before the Senate subcommittee on employment and workplace safety, Gillum said with the rise in remote work, distance learning and use of telehealth services, broadband deployment is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity.

“Access to broadband is the backbone of the 21st century economy, and deploying networks capable of delivering this vital service to every American household has become a national priority,” Gillum said. “The telecommunications industry urgently needs an expanded trained workforce so that the United States can remain competitive in the ever-expanding range of sectors that rely on advanced broadband services.”

Thanks to measures such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as well as the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, millions of Americans will be able to connect for the first time, while others will enjoy upgraded networks built to keep pace with ever-increasing demand.

With such a demand for fast, reliable internet service, comes an equal demand for a skilled workforce to build these networks and supplies to sustain and maintain them.

“To develop the telecommunications jobs needed, Congress could help by bolstering the capabilities of post-secondary education, including two-year and four-year colleges, and other institutions and providing support for employers to expand registered apprenticeships and associated technical instruction and certification costs,” Gillum said. “As a long-term matter, efforts to engage students at the secondary level will be important, as well.”

In order to meet the growing needs of consumers and the telecommunications industry, Congress, state and local governments, educational institutions, and other groups will need to band together to develop a skilled telecommunications workforce to support providers as they build their secure, reliable and fast broadband networks.