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NAB, Others Urge Hill to Fund Tower Crew Training

(Image credit: Future)

Facing 5G wireless buildouts, broadcast next gen (ATSC 3.0) buildouts and the C-band transition, communications associations are pushing Congress to pass legislation to help train the workforce that is needed for those infrastructure deployments.

That came in a letter to congressional leaders from associations including the National Association of Broadcasters; CTIA, the wireless association; and CCA, the competitive carriers association.

Related: FCC Says Broadcasters Can't Use Vacant Channels for ATSC 3.0

They said the shortage of properly trained workers jeopardizes those buildouts, which impedes the closure of the digital divide. "The ongoing pandemic illustrates so clearly how essential our industry and our workforce are, with so many Americans forced to work, study and play remotely. But we cannot do all that is necessary without an adequate supply of workers," they said.

They told the legislators, including Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee (according to a copy of his letter), that they depend on that workforce and Congress needed to fund development programs either in stand-alone legislation or as a package of bills.

They pointed out such bills are already in the pipeline, including: H.R. 1848, the Communications Jobs Training Act, which would provide $60 million over three years for classroom and field curriculum and certification programs; S. 3355, the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act, which would direct the FCC to study and make recommendations about workforce needs; and introduced H.R. 3255, the TOWER Infrastructure Deployment Act (there is also a Senate version, S. 2363), which would create an FCC advisory council on apprenticeship and education programs. 

Related: FCC, OSHA Release Tower Safety Guidelines

While the bills are not a solution, they are a step in the right direction, they said, and urged Congress to take that step and treat it as a bipartisan and technology-neutral legislative priority.

The letter was sent to "the chairman/chairwoman and the ranking member of the House and Senate Commerce Committees and their respective Communications Subcommittees, plus the chairman and ranking member of the House and Senate Labor Committees and their respective subcommittees with jurisdiction over workforce issues."