Presented as Conexon's latest turnkey service option for electric cooperatives, Construct includes not only job- and project-ready professionals, but a school to train fledgling fiber splicers.
Rural fiber-optic network design and construction management specialist Conexon on July 8 announced an expansion of its services to include a full-service splicing business, named Conexon Construct, and an affiliated training program. The company says the initiative aims to create new opportunities for fiber network construction professionals, while ensuring "a ready supply of best-practice oriented professionals for the ever-increasing number of rural fiber broadband projects."
Presented as Conexon's latest turnkey service option for electric cooperatives, Construct includes not only job- and project-ready professionals, but a school to train fledgling fiber splicers and prepare crews to begin splicing paths on fiber-to-the-home projects across rural America.
More than 50 industry professionals recently gathered at the company's facility in Georgia for a ribbon cutting ceremony. in conjunction with a graduation for the first class of splicers trained as part of the program.
Within the broadband industry, Conexon notes the demand for splicers continues to increase, as federal, state and county funding make more FTTH projects possible.
In the past year, Conexon says its personnel have been responsible for splicing more than 300,000 connections on networks across America - many of the jobs outsourced to construction contractors. "The Conexon Construct program provides an opportunity to train new hires to Conexon standards with a uniform, safety- and quality-oriented approach to methodology and technique," added a company statement.
"Training our own splicing crews puts us in control of our projects and allows us to maintain the highest quality of work," said Jeff Fincannon, SVP of Outside Plant at Conexon. "There are not that many trained professionals out there to do this job, and there are few hands-on training opportunities for this position. With Construct, Conexon is helping to create solid, safe jobs in rural markets and providing the hands-on education and experience necessary to excel at it."
The new endeavor offers community benefits as well, contends the company, by sparking economic development with the creation of new jobs in local markets in Georgia, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, among other locations. All personnel will train in Georgia and will then be assigned to job sites closer to their home upon completion.
"We've made our commitment to rural broadband clear through the number and breadth of our projects," Conexon Partner Randy Klindt commented. "Conexon Construct is another way we can impact the local communities we serve, by introducing jobs and education that wouldn't otherwise be available. Our splicing program helps everyone succeed - our trainees, our co-op clients, and Conexon all benefit from readily available professionals as a resource to improve efficiency and decrease costs on fiber broadband projects nationwide."
Splicers who train at Conexon Construct will focus on Conexon's core distributed tap architecture methodology, learning to splice taps during the two-week certification course at the school. They will then will be assigned to a job build to put their new skills to work.
Six splicers will be trained every two weeks as the school launches, with the opportunity to expand to 12 splicers per class. The curriculum will be led by lead instructor Jason Bell, who joined Conexon from Ervin Construction with more than 15 years of experience in the business.
"When our new hires leave the training program, they will have everything they need to do the job. We are teaching them the Conexon way," said Paul Marie, Conexon Splicing Division Manager. "They'll leave in a truck with all their tools, supplied by Conexon, so they can go to their first job in their own vehicle and be set up for success from the beginning."
Conexon plans to offer advanced splicing techniques coursework as the program grows and is considering making the two-week certification program available to its co-op clients' installers who maintain the lines after network deployment.
"Conexon splicing school has taught me the right skills and techniques in a controlled environment to take the next step in my fiber splicing career to become an experienced professional in every sense of the word," said JP Arango, one of the school's first graduates. Arango, of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., is a splicer starting on Conexon's Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation network build.
Within the first year, Conexon Construct expects to certify more than 150 splicers trained to the highest quality standards for fiber construction.
"It has been a journey to make the vision of Conexon Construct a reality, and I am proud to watch our first class of trainees graduate, knowing they have all the skills the job requires," concluded Conexon's Fincannon. "We are changing these people's lives and offering an entirely new perspective for the future they would not have in other jobs in their rural communities."
Interested applicants can find out more about Conexon Construct at conexon.us.