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 NSTP Program Overview


The Program

The SBCA National Standards and Testing Program is a program where satellite service equipment installers are tested to certify that they have taken the necessary course work/training to pass standardized testing developed by the SBCA and industry leaders.*

Certification is a continuous process of training and testing, where installers can gain higher levels of certification through additional testing.  Certification is valid for two years, after which the installer must be re-certified.  

Program Overview

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 EchoStar 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. 

  • Second, current data suggests that there will be a shortage of 1.5 million qualified technical laborers in the United States in the next two years. Certification will help to minimize any slip in quality within the consumer satellite services industry.

  • As cable continues its digital roll out 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 EchoStar, 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 EchoStar and DirecTV, companies agreeing to the standards and participating in the program currently include: CVS Systems, Installs Inc., Dow Electronics, Mastec Advanced Technologies, Metron North America, the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative(NRTC) and numerous independent retailers.

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 production of logos and marketing materials for the program. Pieces are made available to member companies to promote the program to retail networks and have contributed to the success of the program.

Over 200 trainers from Dish Network, DirecTV and its Home Service Provider unit, Installs Inc, Dow Electronics,  CVS Systems, Metron North America and more are certified to deliver the training residential and commercial certification.

To date, approximately 45,000 installer technicians have taken the exams to become nationally certified and SBCA continues to receive exams to grade 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.

Certification is good for a period of two years. Certified technicians will be notified 3 months prior to certification expiration that they must be re-certified to remain current in the program.

Other advanced knowledge areas will include satellite broadband installation, equipment standards and sales and marketing training, advanced set top box and high definition along with new technologies that are introduced by the industry.  Currently residential exams are available in Spanish, thanks to translation services provided by Thomson Inc., Mastec Advanced Technologies, Dow Electronics, ProInstalls and Learn Satellite Dish.

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