INDIANAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--USIC, LLC (“USIC”), the leader in underground utility damage prevention, is engaging state broadband leaders and internet service providers (ISP) in collaborative efforts to ensure the utility locating resources required to support nationwide broadband deployment funded by $42.45 billion in Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program grants over the next five years.
“As the states work to develop and refine their five-year action plans for administering the BEAD Program and ISPs plan infrastructure deployment, the need to address utility locating resources is critical to protecting existing underground infrastructure, ensuring the safety of excavators and the public, and meeting project timeline requirements,” USIC Vice President of Government Affairs Nancy Mitchell commented. “During this planning stage, USIC is focused on establishing collaboration with state broadband offices on workforce development solutions that will be key to ensuring the damage prevention industry’s ability to meet the significant increase in locate requests. We are also working to make ISPs aware of the need to provide project forecasts to utility locators well in advance to allow them the time required to plan for staffing needs.”
USIC provides public utility locating (811) services in 48 states with a team of more than 10,000 locate technicians, each of whom must undergo six weeks of training to become certified and up to six months of on-the-job-training to become proficient, underscoring the need to prepare well in advance to support historic levels of broadband deployment. This is especially critical in rural areas with potentially fewer locate technicians and smaller labor forces.
Among the BEAD Program five-year actions plans published by state broadband offices to date, many recognize the impending impact of the nation’s labor shortage as it pertains to information and communications technology workers and address the challenge with plans for workforce development programming. USIC has begun collaborating with broadband leaders to explore opportunities for utility locators to participate in such programming to build a workforce aligned with broadband deployment in their state.
Excavator education initiatives will also be key to preventing damages, project delays, and safety risks. Collaboration by broadband leaders, regulators, 811 centers, ISPs, and utility locators will be necessary on such considerations as:
‒ Requiring out-of-state excavators to receive training on the damage prevention laws of the state in which they are deployed
‒ Encouraging excavators to participate regularly in meetings of the utility coordination committee in the area in which they are deployed
‒ Providing guidance to excavators on locate request submission practices key to eliminating unnecessary marking and remarking by utility locators, enabling them to focus on time-sensitive tickets – USIC has a video and handout for use with such educational initiatives.
To learn more about USIC’s collaborative initiatives for aligning utility locating resources with BEAD Program infrastructure deployment, contact USIC Vice President of Government Affairs Nancy Mitchell.
USIC is America’s largest provider of underground utility damage prevention services with operations in 48 states and corporate headquarters located in Indianapolis, Indiana. The company, which serves more than 1,400 telecommunication, electric, gas, water, and sewer utilities, as well as municipalities, performs over 84 million locates each year. Additionally, USIC provides a range of advanced utility services and solutions offered by its affiliate companies, Blood Hound, Reconn Utility Services, and On Target Utility Services.
David Parker, USIC Vice President Corporate Affairs