The Fiber Optic Association Inc. (FOA) has introduced a new certification program for fiber-to-the-home/premises (FTTx) technicians that will be offered through the network of FOA-approved training organizations. Many of the 140-plus FOA-approved schools are expected to offer specialized training and certification based on the FOA CFxT (Certified FTTx Technician) program. Details of the program are on the FOA Web site, www.thefoa.org/FTTX.
"Fiber is now gaining acceptance in the final frontier of telephone networks, the 'last mile,' the connection to the home," the FOA said in a release announcing the new certification. "Many homes are connected with aging, low-performance copper telephone wire that cannot even support DSL connection speeds to allow the phone companies to compete with the cable modems used by CATV companies for broadband access."
Phone companies are now realizing, the FOA also said, the only choice for upgrading the subscriber connection is FTTx. Low-priced components and new network architectures along with new broadband services make FTTx financially attractive for the first time. Companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Bell Canada are committing billions of dollars to plans for connecting millions of homes with fiber in the near future.
If any progress is to be made on FTTx connections, literally millions of connections must be made each year, the FOA further explained. If one installer can connect two houses per day, or 500 per year, then 2,000 installers will be needed to connect one million homes. Currently phone companies are hiring hundreds of technicians to install FTTx. CATV companies are considering fiber to replace hybrid fiber-coaxial networks. Municipalities and private developers are looking at installing their own FTTx systems because users are demanding the highest-bandwidth broadband connections for new and future services.
All these plans depend on finding or training adequate numbers of technicians. The FOA, working with operating companies, municipalities, installers, and approved schools, has developed requirements for FTTx training and certification with the goal of providing enough qualified FTTx installation technicians to make these plans possible.