BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.
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44 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MAY/JUNE 2016 TECHNOLOGY DIY Fiber Mapping Sometimes a quick-and-dirty estimate is all you need to arrive at a go/no-go decision about a fber extension. Here's how to do it. By Jason Longenecker / New Light Technologies C ongratulations! You're now a local broadband provider, and you've got the fastest service and the best rates in town. Maybe you received some grant funding to build out the initial phase of your network. Now it's time to start growing. Whether the network serves municipal government, community anchor institutions, the commercial sector or local residents, each potential new service address has buildout costs that can make or break the deal. Regardless of how those costs are absorbed, passed on or written of, they factor in the decision to deliver or not deliver service to a particular location. Most providers have that one customer who keeps calling to fnd out when gigabit service will come to her one-room, one-phone, one-Ethernet-jack guard shack at the top of a mountain. To calculate the return on investment for this build, you will need to establish its capital costs, including the costs of outside-plant fber installation and construction. Having the ability to provide a timely ballpark estimate for fber installation allows a broadband operator to qualify leads faster and enables it to focus its limited resources on viable opportunities. Few municipal or community broadband providers can hire full-time sales engineers who are on call to provide same-day estimates. Paying dedicated sales engineers is expensive, and pulling outside-plant engineers of billable projects is disruptive to the provisioning process. Te DIY method proposed here is not a replacement for engineers' skills or knowledge but rather a companion tool that can be used to quickly qualify a sales lead by obtaining a rough estimate early in the process. SELECT A MAPPING TOOL Te geographic information system (GIS) industry, like any other, ofers a variety of commercial and open-source software packages, including desktop mapping tools, web-based mapping tools, map servers, spatial databases and mobile apps. Some operate as stand- alone products, and others are pieces of large enterprise GIS. Te detailed instructions in this article refer to Google My Maps, a free, web-based mapping tool. Why Google My Maps? It's simple to use. It has several data sharing options as well as a sister mobile app. It also provides batch geocoding and ofers multidestination routing. Most desktop and web-based mapping solutions allow users to add data to a map, fnd and zoom to places of interest, measure distances and areas, print maps and share data. Alternatives such as Google Earth Pro and Esri's ArcGIS Earth ofer for free much of the functionality a small broadband provider would need to get started. DEFINE AND MAP EXISTING ACCESS POINTS Conventional wisdom says you don't know where you're going until you know where you've been. Accordingly, the frst step is to map the existing network access points. To avoid being overwhelmed by long lists of service addresses, start by organizing a list of critical infrastructure locations. Tese may