Deployment of next-generation mobile communications networks will dramatically change the way network infrastructure is designed and deployed, requiring many new qualified engineers and technicians. That’s one of the key points in the newly-released white paper from the Wireless Infrastructure Association.
Titled “Getting Ready for 5G: Preparing a Skilled Workforce for Future Wireless Networks,” the research shows new blood is needed to ensure the wireless industry can keep up with the growing demand for mobile networks, by providing required coverage and capacity.
Produced by WIA’s Innovation & Technology Council (ITC), the report provides detailed information on the trends that are driving demand for 5G networks, and the technical changes that are expected to be incorporated into next-generation specifications. The report further delves into the new skill sets that will be needed to support next-generation networks and explores various options for the industry to train its workforce in these emerging skills.
The wireless industry already faces a shortage of qualified technicians for current networks and deployments; it must develop more qualified and skilled technicians through on-the-job training, as well as classroom and online education. “The wireless industry is experiencing a major labor shortage and a skills gap,” said WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein. “Wireless jobs are changing and they are changing incredibly fast. We are hearing from most of our wireless infrastructure employers that they have a hard time filling positions with applicants that have the skills they need.”
While 5G technology is not yet standardized, the lack of formal definitions has not discouraged interest, investment, or declarations of deployments throughout the telecommunications sector, said Dr. Rikin Thakker, Chairman of the Workforce Development Working Group and VP of Telecom and Spectrum Policy at the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC); he’s also a professor at the University of Maryland. “It is crucial that the wireless industry take steps now to provide the technical training needed for 5G to its existing workforce and prepares to train and educate new workers as the industry continues to expand and mobile broadband reaches a greater base of users,” Dr. Thakker said.
Other members of the ITC’s Workforce Development Working Group and contributors to the new white paper include Matthew DeGino, an RF engineer focused on DAS and small cells for Crown Castle International and Nate Fuentes, business development manager, North America for CommScope. Ray Hild is a consultant for JMA Wireless and Kurt Jacobs works on business integration, product management and market development for JMA Wireless.
March 6, 2018