United States Telecommunication Training Institute
In preparation for the 1982 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Nairobi, Ambassador Michael Gardner asked leaders of major, often competing, U.S. ICT corporations to join together with senior U.S. government officials to provide diverse tuition-free training for qualified communications professionals, regulators, and entrepreneurs from the developing world. The affirmative response was overwhelming and, as a result, the USTTI was launched at the Nairobi ITU conference as a public-private, non-profit partnership dedicated to aggressively sharing ICT knowledge with women and men dedicated to making modern communications a reality throughout the developing world.
USTTI training empowers developing country officials with the skills needed to manage their spectrum, deploy wireless technologies, develop national broadband plans, implement national Cybersecurity strategies, support Internet deployment, launch cloud services, protect children online, and ensure sound emergency communications plans all while working to support the rule of law. Thanks to the steadfast contributions of USTTI corporate and government board members, as well as hundreds of volunteer ICT experts from government, industry and academia throughout the United States, the USTTI has graduated 10,000 women and men in 172 developing countries.
The model for USTTI’s continued and effective program is simple: each year hundreds of ICT experts from industry and government provide intensive tuition-free training to women and men who are involved, typically at senior levels, in their developing countries ICT infrastructure. The USTTI’s training takes place at industry and government offices throughout the United States where these ICT experts volunteer their time and high tech facilities. This efficient volunteer approach allows the USTTI to conduct its tuition-free curriculum with a lean five-person staff working out of the USTTI’s office in Washington, DC.
The USTTI Board of Directors reflects the dynamic public-private partnership that remains a core principle of the USTTI’s approach to training. Corporate Board members of the USTTI are: Adiel Akplogan, Vice-President Technical Engangemt, ICANN; Rebecca Arbogast, Senior Vice President, Global Public Policy, Comcast-NBC Universal; JB Ballard, President, SPX Communication Technologies; Ellen Blackler, Vice President, Global Public Policy, Disney; Andrew Sullivan, President & CEO, Internet Society (ISOC); Jared Carlson, Vice President, Government Affairs and Public Policy, Ericsson; Gonzalo de Dios, Associate General Counsel, Intelsat; Belinda Exelby, Head of International Relations, GSM Association (GSMA); Navid C. Haghighi, VP & General Counsel, International Operations, Regulatory Affairs & Public Policy Verizon; Will Hudson, Senior Advisor for International Policy, Google; Karim Antonio Lesina, Senior Vice President International External and Regulatory Affars, AT&T; Paul Mitchell, General Manager, Telecom and Internet Governance, Microsoft; Jayne Stancavage, Executive Director and Communications Policy, Intel Corporation; Tom Wasilewski, Vice President, Government Affairs, QUALCOMM Incorporated; and Dr. Robert Pepper, Head, Global Connectivity, Policy and Planning, Facebook. USTTI Board Member companies provide tuition-free training at their corporate facilities, finance the general overhead costs of the USTTI, and designate a senior executive to serve on USTTI’s Board of Directors.
Senior communications officials from the Federal Government also play a critical role in the success of the USTTI, and are represented on the USTTI Board of Directors by: the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Administrator of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA); and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and United States Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, U.S. Department of State.
In addition to their membership on the USTTI Board of Directors, U.S. government officials and their departments and agencies provide significant training as well as other in‑kind and scholarship support for USTTI participants. In 2019, FCC provided vital training through its seven courses in spectrum management, spectrum monitoring, and regulatory and privatization issues while the NTIA will offer spectrum management and Internet policy training courses. In addition, the NTIA provides a grant to the USTTI to fund and support a hands-on, interactive, senior level Internet policy making seminar. The NTIA also provides an annual grant to help publish the USTTI’s Course Catalog and Annual Report. Finally, besides participating in USTTI leadership seminars, the State Department provides valuable support by utilizing its extensive network of officials in developing countries to process candidates for USTTI training.
The United States Congress has recognized the significance of the USTTI’s global training outreach through special amendments to two legislative acts: the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 and the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act of 1986. These amendments explicitly authorize support (including use of staff, other appropriate resources, and service on the Board of Directors) of USTTI’s activities by the State Department, FCC, and NTIA. Importantly, for 2019, the State Department has provided the USTTI with a grant to support the travel and subsistence needs for USTTI applicants from the poorest developing countries.
To ensure a robust learning experience for all USTTI scholars, the USTTI Board of Directors is committed to maintaining the relevance of the USTTI’s diverse cutting-edge curriculum. Instead of operating a costly training center, USTTI offers the vast majority of its tuition-free training in corporate and federal training facilities and laboratories that are volunteered by our sponsors across the United States. As a result, the same facilities used for corporate and government in‑house training also effectively serve as classrooms for USTTI scholars.
Throughout the past thirty-seven years, the USTTI has offered a total of 2,313 diverse training courses and graduated 10,000 women and men who are the key ICT regulators, managers, and service providers in 172 developing countries. As the USTTI concludes its 37th year of training, the increased popularity and need for the USTTI’s tuition-free training is reinforced by the fact that in 2019, the USTTI’s curriculum attracted 7,284 applications for the 706 available training slots, a 10:1 ratio of qualified applicants for each USTTI training slot.
For USTTI scholars, the free exchange of ideas and experiences with professionals from the United States and around the world is critical to maximizing the benefits of USTTI training. This exchange of information begins prior to each training course, with an important orientation session hosted by the USTTI staff in Washington, DC.
USTTI orientations are mandatory and typically held on the last business day prior to the first day of training. During these one-day orientation sessions, USTTI scholars familiarize themselves with topics that may be addressed in training, receive introductory materials, and acquaint themselves with fellow participants. In addition, USTTI orientation sessions often include discussions about communications policy in the U.S. led by government officials, academics, and policy experts from the business and legal community. Importantly, these meetings provide an excellent forum for the exchange of professional, cultural and technical information that is critical for the fulfillment of training objectives.
Orientations also provide the USTTI staff an opportunity to brief scholars on a variety of subjects, including the history and layout of the nation’s capital, Washington, DC. Weekends are flexible to allow USTTI scholars to explore Washington or use the day to travel to alternate training cities when necessary.
GRADUATION and DEPARTURE
Most USTTI training sponsors conduct a graduation ceremony at the conclusion of each US-based program, where certificates are awarded to USTTI scholars in recognition of their successful completion of training. In addition, an oral and/or written evaluation takes place at the completion of USTTI training. These evaluations are a reliable means for USTTI graduates to identify additional training needs and ensure that the USTTI curriculum continues to respond to the emerging technology and policy priorities of officials and entrepreneurs throughout the developing world. In accordance with the Conditions of Participation form signed at orientation, all USTTI graduates receiving travel funding assistance through USTTI grants must return to their home countries within three days of graduation.
Among those joining Ambassador Gardner as founding members of the USTTI Board were: William McGowan, founder of MCI Communications; Dr. Joseph Charyk, Chairman of the Board and first President of the Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT); Charles Wick, the Director of the United States Information Agency (USIA) during the 1980s; Dick Nichols, Vice-President of AT&T International; and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, former United States Senator from New Mexico and the twelfth man to walk on the moon.