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Honoring Outstanding Contributions to the Industry at Fiber Connect 2023

At Fiber Connect 2023 in Orlando, the Fiber Broadband Association once again recognized the individuals and organizations who have contributed to the betterment of communities around the country and the industry at large. Such efforts are increasingly important as the association continues its growth and fiber reaches millions more households through the efforts of its members and others.

“The Fiber Broadband Association is proud to recognize those that go above and beyond to advance our mission to connect every community and person to reliable fiber broadband services,” said Gary Bolton, President and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association. “They’ve shown unrelenting dedication to the fiber broadband industry.”

Fiber Lifetime Achievement Award
Stephen Hardy, Lightwave/Broadband Technology Report

Stephen Hardy was presented with a Fiber Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his more than 40 years of service covering the industry. As Editorial Director for Lightwave and Broadband Technology Report, Hardy has been a trusted pillar of the fiber broadband editorial community.

“Stephen has dedicated his entire career to reporting on the telecom industry’s ups and downs, innovations, trends, and market pressures and did it with fairness and accuracy,” said Bolton. “He has been a trusted source in our industry and while we wish the best for him in his retirement, we will miss him dearly.”

Stephen Hardy, telecom industry veteran, received the Fiber Lifetime Achievement Award at Fiber Connect 2023.


Chairman’s Award
Gary Bolton, President & CEO, Fiber Broadband Association

Each year, the Chairman’s Award honors an individual or company that has shown tremendous effort to promote, educate, or accelerate Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH). Bolton received this year’s award for his leadership in fiber broadband advocacy and championing FBA members’ ability to advance fiber deployments across North America. His work is helping to close the digital equity gap so that every community can access the benefits of reliable, high-quality internet.

“Gary’s passion for fiber broadband is contagious. He works diligently to create awareness about the elite capabilities that only fiber can deliver and his efforts are convincing North America that when fiber leads, the future follows,” said Joseph Jones “JJ,” Board Chairman at Fiber Broadband Association and President at On Trac, Inc. “Gary is a pillar of our industry and leading an organized effort to connect every American to fiber broadband services and raise the quality of life for generations to come. We are proud to recognize him with this year’s Chairman’s Award.”

Bolton’s leadership has expanded fiber broadband’s public policy influence, workforce development initiatives, FBA’s research library, and FBA membership—more than doubling it in less than three years. He has worked to ensure policymakers are well-versed in fiber’s benefits, leading FBA to provide resources to committees and departments. Within the last 18 months, the U.S. Department of Commerce and NTIA declared priority for BEAD projects using end-to-end fiber; the Treasury Department encouraged American Rescue Plan Act funding recipients to prioritize fiber; and the FCC rejected Starlink’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund long-form application.

Under Bolton’s leadership, FBA also addressed the fundamental industry issue of workforce development. FBA published the Workforce Development Guidebook, providing an extensive framework for how states can use BEAD funding to solve local fiber workforce needs, and distributed it to all 56 state broadband and workforce development offices. FBA completed the Optical Telecom Installer Certification (OpTIC Path™) program pilot course in May 2022 and has since spread program engagement to 40 service providers and 67 community colleges and training institutes across 39 states.

FBA President & CEO Gary Bolton was surprised to receive this year’s Chairman’s Award at Fiber Connect 2023.


Gene Scott Education Award
S&N Communications

Before his passing in 2022, Gene Scott served as Chairman of FBA’s Education Subcommittee and was instrumental in the development of FBA’s OpTIC Path workforce development program. The Gene Scott Education Award recognizes a person, community, or institution that has significantly impacted the advancement of education in the fiber industry. S&N Communications has been an enthusiastic supporter of FBA’s Optical Telecom Installer Certification (OpTIC Path™) workforce development program. 

Among its many contributions to the OpTIC Path program, S&N Communications leveraged its practical experience employing fiber optic technicians to develop the popular “Documentation, Values, and Success in the Field” module for the OpTIC Path course. The module distinguishes FBA’s program from other fiber optic training courses by highlighting actions to help make technicians successful in the field, including a focus on safety, craftsmanship, documentation, and customer service. 

S&N Communications also served as a valued participant in the OpTIC Path Train the Trainer classes, implemented new video recording tools for the course, continues to enthusiastically promote the program to state organizations, and pioneered a partnership with the Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC) to leverage the OpTIC Path program, expand training focus, grow the fiber technician workforce, and support intense fiber network construction plans across the U.S.  

S&N Communications won the Gene Scott Education Award. Andy Gibson accepted the award at Fiber Connect 2023.


Photon Award Winner
Brendan O’Boyle, National Sales Manager, Preformed Line Products; and Chair, Deployment Specialists Committee, Fiber Broadband Association 

The Photon Award honors a Fiber Broadband Association member who, through volunteer contribution, has demonstrated a high level of dedication to the organization and has contributed greatly to the industry. 

Brendan O’Boyle is a long-term active member of the Fiber Broadband Association. He helped create the Deployment Specialists Committee and devotes countless hours of service to the committee, the broader association, and its events. He led the arduous effort to craft the first Fiber and 5G whitepaper and played a critical role in the development and rollout of the Fiber Broadband Association’s OpTIC Path workforce development program.

Brendan O’Boyle from Preformed Line Products and Chair of FBA’s Deployment Specialists Committee won this year’s Photon Award at Fiber Connect 2023.


Star Award Winner 
Northern Colorado Community Fiber (NOCO Community Fiber)

The Star Award recognizes a person, community, or company that has gone above and beyond what is expected in the advancement of Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH). 

NOCO Community Fiber is a partnership between municipality-owned communications utilities and the county they empower. It is dedicated to the delivery of reliable, high-quality, affordable fiber broadband and has demonstrated that this critical connectivity is achievable when communities collaborate on creative solutions and profitability is removed from the equation. Collectively, the city-owned broadband utilities in the partnership have stood up the option for Fiber-to-the-Premise to over 125,000 addresses in five years. Now with an additional $10,000,000 in county and state funds, NOCO Community Fiber is working to serve 2,650 rural and harder-to-access locations, with more to come as financial resources are available.

Northern Colorado Community Fiber received the Star Award at Fiber Connect 2023.