Radio Dealer Plans RF/IT Courses to Boost Technician Base (10/29/12)
Monday, October 29, 2012 | Comments

By Sandra Wendelken
A mobile communications radio dealer in Connecticut plans to launch an RF and IT technical school next year, using space in its new 35,000-square-foot company facility in Manchester.

Bruce Marcus, chief technology officer (CTO) of Marcus Communications, said he hopes to work with several nearby universities to offer a certificate course for RF/IT technicians. The Marcus Communications building would serve as the laboratory environment and offer hands-on training. He also envisions an intern program with his company so his employees with experience can mentor the students.

The company has applied for a 170-foot self-supporting tower that can expand to 250 feet on the premises. The tower will support Marcus Communications’ commercial mobile radio network, and it could be used for training, including how to install antennas. In fact, Marcus has 24 antennas on his site to test different RF characteristics and transmitters. The building has 2.5 miles of Category 5 (Cat 5) cable installed.

“There’s a big hole in this industry for blue-collar techies,” Marcus said. “They could make as much money as in other industries if not more. The job has changed from straight RF knowledge to IT or a mix of the two.”

He said the coursework will begin with electronics and IT fundamentals, specifically power supplies. The study material will then expand into computers or RF generators. “They all cross over,” he said.

Manufacturers have shown a great deal of interest and have offered support through equipment and literature. Marcus plans to bring in instructors and perhaps teach some courses himself.

“I’ve been in the business 43 years, and I have a lot of knowledge, and I want to transport that knowledge,” he said.

The United States isn’t a leader in math and science education. In addition, the cellular business has become a “black box” world with technicians not really understanding the technology. “There is solid knowledge on this side of the pond too, and we need to develop the resources in the field to sustain our own security,” he said. “We need people trained in RF and IT to sustain the complicated networks that are out there. When I talk to some people about interference, they look at me like I’ve got two heads.”

Marcus said he started his business in 1969, and the last two years have been his best ever. He is deploying several Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) networks for local customers and is implementing products from various overseas manufacturers.

“We’re trying to keep the technicians home grown,” he said.

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