FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr recounted his tower climbs for attendees of the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) convention in Grapevine, Texas Monday evening. He recalled his first effort, close to the ground, on a bucket truck with NATE member Shentel in Woodstock, VA.
His next climb was a 50-foot climb at the indoor training center for another NATE member, Sioux Falls Tower. But then FCC Chairman Ajit Pai climbed a 131-foot tower and Carr could see the race was on.
That’s when Carr “impulsively” agreed to ascend the 2,000-foot KDLT-TV tower in Rowena, South Dakota, as a crew for Sioux Falls Tower prepared the structure for a new antenna as part of the broadcast television repack. “The work that tower crews do every day—from building new cell sites to maintaining 2,000 foot towers—is not easy,” said Carr. “And that’s particularly this time of year when cold weather and ice only make your jobs more difficult.”
5G tower workers, he noted, wear hard hats, ride bucket trucks and clip into harnesses and scale towers. “If these 5G heroes didn’t throw 40 pounds of tools onto their backs and climb into the sky, none of the other 5G jobs would exist,” noted Carr.
The U.S. needs more tower workers, Carr said, adding the federal government must be a better partner when it comes to training 5G workers. The Commissioner toured Ericsson’s new training center in Lewisville, Texas yesterday. Carr met a former combat engineer who “showed me the ropes today, and just one of the skills needed for these 5G jobs, when we clipped into harnesses and practiced a controlled descent.”
Carr said he also recently learned about the Tower Installation Program at Aiken Technical College in South Carolina. The program prepares students for apprenticeships in the tower industry in weeks, not years, with advanced programs and associates degrees available after that. “I have heard directly from you that demand is high for workers with these skills, and having more TTT-1s in the pipeline will reduce the burden on crews and companies that are already stretched thin,” the Commissioner said. “We will explore more training opportunities like the one at Aiken College going forward. This is tough work, but you shouldn’t have to travel across the country to find a place to get trained.”
He also commended the Women of NATE, for their efforts in getting the word out about career opportunities in wireless infrastructure.
February 5, 2019