College, Greenlight to pilot nation’s 1st fiber optic program

Wilson Community College and Greenlight are no strangers to partnerships. In fact, we work together on projects, courses and more. But there’s never been one like our newest venture — a fiber optic certification program. In fact, it’s the first of its kind in the entire nation.

The Fiber Broadband Association just announced this program will be piloted at WCC. The new program — optical telecom installation certification, or OpTIC — is a unique curriculum that was designed by experts in the fiber industry to fill the existing fiber skills gap and expand fiber across the United States. It will consist of 144 hours of combined class instruction and labs, provided through Wilson Community College, and paired with a 2,000-hour apprenticeship experience at Greenlight and other regional partners.

The apprenticeship is fully approved by the U.S. Department of Labor. Students who complete the program will be certified as an FBA-accredited OpTIC technician.

“Wilson was North Carolina’s first gigabit city and is now home to many advanced workforce training programs that are focused on fiber optics,” said Gene Scott, general manager of Greenlight Community Broadband’s outside plant and chair of the FBA education subcommittee. “We are thrilled to be associated with the first school to offer the FBA’s OpTIC program. The citizens of Wilson understand that fiber technology has the ability to change lives by bringing economic and quality of life opportunities to the communities that can access it.”

It’s no secret that the demand for faster, stronger broadband networks is increasing at lightning speed. And with the pandemic throwing all of us into the tech world in one way or another, whether it be the need for fast internet speeds for online classes, Zoom calls for work and telehealth appointments, we know that now is the best time to launch this program.

Fiber has proven again and again that it outperforms better and is certainly more reliable than any other broadband technology. But we can’t implement more fiber if we don’t have skilled workers in this field ready to deploy the services.

“The need for a highly trained fiber workforce has never been greater, so we’re thrilled to launch a certification program that will be extremely valuable to the industry,” said Deborah Kish, vice president of research and marketing at the Fiber Broadband Association. “We expect the OpTIC program to be recognized across North America as the gold standard among training programs directed at developing highly competent fiber splicers, premise installers and technicians that are required for today’s fiber deployments. Moreover, this certification program will help create jobs across North America and encourage more broadband deployments are fiber first.”

It’s pretty incredible that Wilson was the first gigabit city in the state, and now Wilson Community College will be the first college in the nation to pilot this new fiber optic training program. We are excited to get started, and we’re thankful for the opportunity to once again partner with Greenlight.

After the initial pilot phase has been completed, this program will be executed through strategic partnerships in the region to ensure that the OpTIC technicians put through the program will find employment in many diverse workplaces, including other network operators and network contractors, so lighting up North Carolina residents with top-tier fiber broadband connections won’t be hindered by a lack of available trained candidates.

For more information on the OpTIC program, contact Robby Taylor, WCC director of workforce development, at and 252-246-1421, or Wes Hill, dean of business and applied technologies, at or 252-246-1339. #WilsonCC — we make Wilson work.


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