SBCA's National Standards and Testing Program began with
a series of meetings and conference calls in 4th quarter 2000 among SBCA, DIRECTV, and EchoStar.
After meeting with DIRECTV and Dish Network separately to discuss the need
for a national standards and certification testing program for satellite
technicians, a formal meeting with the top trainers for both platforms was
held jointly in Denver in December 2000.
At that meeting, the participants decided that the
satellite industry should proceed with a National Standards and Testing
Program. Among the reasons cited for the program are:
- Installation is a key component of ensuring long
term customer retention. The need for an industry accepted
installation standard is a critical component of ensuring satellite
remains the leader in customer satisfaction.
- Satellite services are expanding well beyond small
dish installation; more services = more complexity.
- As cable continues its digital rollout and expands
its high-speed broadband offerings, satellite's ability to consistently
provide quality installations and outstanding customer service will
continue to separate it from its wired competition.
- As both J.D. Power and Associates and Consumer
Reports have noted, satellite enjoys a superior customer service rating
among its multichannel competitors. Sustaining and improving those
ratings is critical to the future success of the satellite industry.
- A national program that provides training and
testing will lend credibility to the industry as a whole and give
satellite a competitive edge in an increasingly complex playing field.
- This national, unified set of standards agreed to
by the DBS platform providers and other industry stakeholders, and
administered and tested by the SBCA, the national trade organization that
represents all aspects of the satellite industry, will provide a
self-regulatory function that will serve consumers and prevent less
effective government regulation.
With all parties in agreement that the industry needed
a national certification program, the flow of information and training
documents began, with the SBCA serving as the third-party entity responsible
for assembling training and testing materials from the satellite providers
and other interested parties. The group decided to proceed with a
program of at least four initial levels of certification. Small Dish
Installation, Multiple Satellite Antenna Installation, Commercial
Installation, and Broadband Installation.
SBCA began the task of constructing and developing,
from its own materials and from material provided by member companies,
especially DIRECTV and Dish Network, the training manuals for the first two
levels of certification of the National Standards and Testing Program:
Small Dish Installation and Multiple Satellite Antenna Installation.
Following a lengthy vetting process, the first two
levels of the training, testing and certification program were agreed to in
the spring of 2001. In addition to Dish Network and DIRECTV, companies
agreeing to the standards and participating in the program currently
include: Installs Inc., Dow Electronics, Mastec Advanced Technologies,
the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) and numerous
In June and July 2001, SBCA began its
Train-the-Trainer program for the first two levels and certification exams
became available to retailers and installers with the program's official
launch at SBCA's 2001 National Convention and Exposition in Nashville.
The industry marketing and logo development campaign
started with the SBCA marketing working group in May 2001. Pegasus,
NRTC, Comedy Central, and Madeline Berger of MB Strategists contributed to
the production of logos and marketing materials for the program.
Over 200 trainers from Dish Network, DIRECTV and its
Home Service Provider units, Installs Inc, Dow Electronics, and more are
certified to deliver the training and tests for certification.
To date, approximately 45,000 installer technicians
have taken the exams to become nationally certified and SBCA continues to
receive and grade exams from program participants daily. The SBCA and
its network of trainers currently certify over 1000 technicians per month.
Demand is only expected to grow with the introduction of new products and
services along with the industry acceptance of the NSTP program.
The SBCA National Standards and Testing Program has
been recognized by the states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Louisiana, and
Wyoming as part of their Low Voltage Licensing Criteria.