Broadband companies are dealing with a people shortage issue

Broadband companies are dealing with a people shortage issue. There has been much discussion about how much supply chain interruptions may hinder fiber and cable development in the United States, but labor shortages are swiftly emerging as another major concern that might limit broadband deployments.

Broadband companies are dealing with a people shortage issue

According to Jim Capuano, CEO of Ohio-based operator Horizon, if the supply chain is problem number one, staffing difficulties would be number two.

Horizon:

Horizon is a 125-year-old company that operates an ILEC unit that serves residential clients and a CLEC unit that delivers enterprise fiber. In recent years, the business has started to use its middle mile fiber to expand into fiber-to-the-home deployments. It has announced or begun projects in several Ohio markets, including Circleville, Greenfield, Washington Court House, Lancaster, Zanesville, Athens, Logan, Johnstown, and Hillsboro. It competes with AT&T, Frontier Communications, and other major cable companies.

Capuano stated that

The operator plans to deliver fiber to around 11,000 passings inside its ILEC footprint by 2022. Increasing fiber coverage to almost 50% of its region. It is also planning greenfield installations in 30,000 places. It hopes to add at least another 30,000 passings by 2023. Then, scale up to roughly 100,000 passings each year. He described the latter amount as a “solid ambition,” adding that 200,000 passings each year would be an “aspirational goal.”

While the operator has been working hard to get its supply chain in shape. Capuano has identified the workforce as a big issue in the future.

“Honestly, I feel the construction staff are the most difficult aspect.” The number of contractors required to develop networks of any size, as well as the current labor market. “I believe it will be the limiting factor for many of us in terms of how much we can create,” he added.

Capuano is not alone in bringing this issue to light. Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge cautioned last week at a MoffettNathanson investor conference. That “there is no labor pool there.” There is currently no competent labor force available to repurpose all of the building that needs to be done. It must be constructed and trained.”

“It’s going to be difficult,” he added. “There is no labor force for any occupations wherever… “There are hundreds of open vacancies.”

Frontier recently identified labor as a major barrier to deployment. While AT&T hinted at its worries this month. When it introduced a new training program for fiber employees in collaboration with Corning.

AT&T executive Jeff Luong

AT&T executive Jeff Luong told Fierce at the time that it’s “never simple to bring on people and develop the pool of resources” to power major expansions. Also, the number of operators embarking on massive expansion projects is worsening the problem.

Horizon’s Capuano compared the scenario to the market in 1998-2000. when the industry was scurrying to hire experts with even the most basic computer knowledge to assist manage network operations centers. However, the situation has changed, he noted.

“It’s no longer about aptitude; we just don’t have enough people.”. “I’m not sure there are enough people in the country to support the expansion we’re experiencing right now,” Capuano said. “I’m not sure how this will end.” There are plenty of excellent opportunities available.; we just don’t have enough people to fill them.”

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