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April 7, 2020

The Center Educates Certified Fiber Optic Technicians to Advance the Region

Now that the construction phase of the KentuckyWired project is complete in Eastern Kentucky, citizens are eager to see broadband improvements. However, it is important to understand that the completion of the middle-mile is only the beginning of the process.

The KentuckyWired initiative serves as the middle-mile access point to high-speed internet. From there it is up to each community, Fiber Board, or local Internet Service Provider (ISP) to develop a last-mile plan to extend internet access to every business and resident within their communities. The development of the last-mile will provide consumers with additional internet options. The result is competition that breeds efficiency by driving bandwidth up and costs down.

The Center for Rural Development is taking action to support the implementation of last-mile fiber services in Kentucky. The Center sponsored fiber education for last-mile service providers and industry professionals as they prepare for their use of the wholesale services provided by KentuckyWired. Through a partnership with KCTCS a Certified Fiber Optic Technician (CFOT) class was offered at the Somerset Community College, London campus.

One of the CFOT training attendees was Chris Campbell, Operational Efficiency Consultant at Windstream. Campbell has been in the telecommunications industry for twenty-six years, and is experienced working with fiber.

“In 1993 I joined the U.S. Army and had my first exposure to Fiber optic transport. In 1999 I was working for GTE telephone in Lexington, KY and attended a week-long fiber optic splicing class. Since then I have placed, spliced and troubleshot fiber optic cable in an outside plant (OSP) setting at various times. I have also worked with technicians while troubleshooting long haul fiber optic transport,” explained Campbell.

The recent CFOT training class dealt with an introduction to both fiber and the application in the industry. Course goals were to gain a basic understanding of fiber optic’s functions/applications in the premise and outside plant. The class consisted of 20% Classroom and 80% hands-on lab application.

“This course helped reinforce some things I knew but had forgotten and it has helped refamiliarize me with the things Windstream’s techs have to do and deal with during residential and business fiber optic installs. In my opinion this class is best suited to someone who either doesn’t have any experience with fiber optic cable or only has experience with placing/splicing OSP fiber optic cable. It gives a good overview of what fiber is, how it works, and the different applications and kinds of fiber optic cable,” said Campbell.

Course outcomes included identifying different types of fiber and their applications, safety in handling fiber and fiber preparation, and preparing and applying Straight Tip (ST) connectors by epoxy and anaerobic adhesive. Additionally, the students learned about testing fiber optic cable and connectors both visually and with the use of an Optical Loss Test Set (OLTS), as well as different types of splices and their application and long line test with an Optical Time Domain Reflectometer (OTDR). The course also covered network design and budget loss analysis and installation procedures for fiber in both premise and outside plant applications.

“For me, this training was different than any other fiber optic training I have been to over the years. It is great as an introduction for people getting into the telecommunications field. The class length is valuable in the sense it is short enough that if someone decides it isn’t for them there isn’t a huge investment, but if they are interested they have a solid start to go find more knowledge on the subject,” Campbell added.

The mission of The Center is to positively impact the communities within 45 counties of Southern and Eastern Kentucky. Through supporting the implementation of KentuckyWired infrastructure, The Center is working to close the digital divide. Those interested in learning more about broadband training opportunities are encouraged to contact The Center at broadbandinfo@centertech.com or 606-677-6000 or visit www.centertech.com.

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