ACE Power Adopts Fiber Broadband Association’s OpTIC Path Program

Workforce training course expands to help build fiber networks across North America and close the digital equity gap forever.

  • Fiber Broadband Association

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Alcorn County Electric Power Association (ACE Power) is the first employer to adopt the Fiber Broadband Association’s Optical Telecom Installation Certification Path (OpTIC Path™) program with plans to launch its first course by the end of 2022. This adoption expands the OpTIC Path program to new types of learning institutions beyond community colleges. The program is now offered or in consideration at 40 colleges, learning institutions, and employers in 32 states and two countries outside the U.S.

ACE Power is no stranger to firsts—it was America’s first rural cooperative and the first electric cooperative in its region to offer multigigabit broadband service. ACE Power now offers its members up to 2Gbps of data and delivers fiber broadband service to about 6,700 customers. The co-op will leverage the OpTIC Path course to accelerate fiber technician training for new and existing employees.

“Our goal is to continuously improve power and internet infrastructure to keep reliability high and costs low. We can’t do that unless we have a full, well-trained team of fiber technicians,” said Brandon Curry, Network Engineer at ACE Power. “We wanted to be an early adopter of the OpTIC Path program. It will create a more knowledgeable workforce and develop more confident technicians, helping them learn more in one course than they could in one year on the job. This program will help fill a long-existing void and other service providers will be quick to follow our lead.”

By becoming an OpTIC Path training center, ACE Power can maximize skills training while minimizing impact on customer service. Technicians do not have to take time off to attend a class; instead, they can remain on the ACE Power campus and be available should an issue arise.

“The team at ACE Power helped us early on to shape the OpTIC program by providing valuable feedback on what skills are needed across the fiber broadband industry. We’re pleased to see the co-op launch its own course so quickly and bring the program’s benefits to Mississippi,” said Deborah Kish, Vice President of Research and Workforce Development at the Fiber Broadband Association. “Fiber is the only broadband technology capable of supporting current and future capacity demands, so it is crucial that we expand and properly train the fiber workforce. The benefits of fiber broadband will improve quality-of-life for decades to come.”

ACE Power is also working with local colleges and cooperatives to expand adoption of the OpTIC Path program. It has been working with Northeast Mississippi Community College to help with training and hopes to help other cooperatives in its area adopt the program.

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