Control4’s new Pakedge Certified Network Administrator (PCNA) program offers a blend of online coursework and hands-on practical learning using Pakedge networking gear to provide dealers and technicians the networking knowledge they need to design, install, and manage wired and wireless IP networks.
The PCNA course curriculum combines interactive coursework, online instructional office hours, and an online certification exam to ensure networking competency for the global Control4 and Pakedge dealer base.
Control4 believes that practical, hands-on training for networking has been lacking throughout the connected home and custom install industry. Technicians, they contend, have learned mainly through trial and error. The result is that the networking foundation of many homes and small businesses tends to be the root cause of chronic issues — caused more so by the lack of best-practice knowledge than through defective or failed equipment.
“Reliable and consistent network design is foundational to a responsive and stable connected home, and it’s pivotal to our dealers’ success and their customers’ satisfaction. Yet today, over 30 percent of support calls we receive from our dealers are tied to network connectivity issues and not equipment failures,” said Martin Plaehn, Control4 CEO. “In our commitment to deliver fantastic connected home experiences via all of our dealers, we are strategically investing to foster a community of skilled network technicians by providing them with a best-in-class network training and certification program.”
Dealers can train and strengthen their team’s networking expertise by having their technicians enroll and complete the PCNA course work from home or office, during work hours or on their own time, without incurring the cost of travel for traditional training. Enrollment in the six-course PCNA curriculum also includes accompanying Pakedge networking equipment (U.S. MSRP value of $2,300) for the hands-on tutorials, including an RK-1 Router with BakPak, a SX-8P Managed PoE Switch, a WK-1 802.11ac WAP with 2×2 MIMO array and 1.3 Gbps aggregate throughput, a P2 Power Distribution Unit, and necessary cables.
Through online, guided tutorials, technicians can learn the fundamentals of how TCP/IP works. They can directly experience the material differences between different types of Ethernet cables (Cat-5e, Cat-6, Cat-6a, Cat-7), and they can drill down into the workings and configuration options of network routers, switches, and wireless access points, as well as learn the logical processes for designing networks for predictable, reliable performance.
Technicians become certified and are awarded a certificate of completion after achieving a passing score on the online PCNA exam, proctored by a third-party. Technicians additionally benefit from retaining the Pakedge networking gear for their own use so that they can continue to gain experience via daily use.
“To date, there has not been enough easily-accessible, practical training for IP networking and there have been no hybrid learning models combining online assignments with direct hands-on practice with network equipment for technicians in our industry,” said Ted Haeger, senior director of training and support, Control4. “We believe our approach and PCNA curriculum will prove effective and may become a new standard for technician training.”
The first two courses of the PCNA are available beginning today for Control4 and Pakedge dealers at www.pakedge.com/pcna. The schedule for the full curriculum of courses is as follows:
• Course 1: Networking Essentials – available today
• Course 2: Switches – available today
• Course 3: Routers – available September 26, 2017
• Course 4: Wireless Access Points – available October 3, 2017
• Course 5: Remote Monitoring & Management – available October 10, 2017
• Course 6: Network Planning – available October 17, 2017
Enrollment in the online six-course PCNA certification program, including the required Pakedge gear, costs $1,250 U.S. up front, with a $600 rebate upon achievement of a passing score on the PCNA Exam within 60 days of registration, bringing the final cost of certification down to $650 per technician.