Broadband Communities

OCT 2016

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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54 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | OCTOBER 2016 SERVICE PROVIDER STRATEGIES a buildout or an installation disrupts anything on a residential or business property. FOLLOWING MOBILE e last 10 years have brought many more mobile devices. is is a major new factor that influences the pace of fiber rollout. e wireless carriers are anchor tenants for us, so our strategy is to follow them where they deploy cell towers; that way, we can easily build fiber to these towers. From a demographic perspective, cell towers are located near population centers, and from a residential or commercial perspective, these towers are located near shopping areas – all great targets. Following mobile to the towers is a way to get into these areas. If mobile devices talk to the switching center, it's more attractive for the carrier to use our fiber to backhaul data. What carriers get from us now, as opposed to 10 years ago, is 10 gig service. Mobile devices have whetted consumers' desire for easy-tap access to all the gadgets and digital services in their lives. But they don't want just access to videos, texts and games. Soon, consumers will need to be connected to the IoT to control their security cameras, car maintenance sensors, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, lights, lawn sprinklers and thermostats – almost anything that has an on-off switch. Every appliance, electronic device and machine will be connected via the internet. All those sensors and all that data will need to be computed, channeled and coordinated. e car will talk to the calendar, and the calendar will send a notice to fix the engine so the owner can take that long weekend road trip. Every home electronic device, whether for entertainment, security, transportation or cleaning, is going to be connected and communicating – and to fully use this amazing power, consumers will want to control it all with a smartphone and an app. EATEL is positioning to bundle IoT services by offering turnkey managed services that put control into consumers' hands. On the business side, the cloud- based phone systems and contact centers that integrate with Salesforce. com, for example, also need more bandwidth for voice. e PBX is actually now in the cloud, and that's putting pressure on upload speeds. People are shifting their computing and storage into the cloud, which works well with a fiber-to-the-home or fiber- to-the-business connection. Utilizing the cloud demands a symmetrical connection. People need to upload their data as fast as they download it. For example, working with Dropbox documents or Microsoft Office 365 is easier with a symmetrical connection. is is where fiber technology really comes in handy to leapfrog the competitors in the cable space. Right now, cable companies are using asymmetrical connections for high download speeds. ey typically offer much lower upload speeds. is is certainly an area where fiber stands out as a better option for homes or businesses. BURYING FIBER PAYS OFF As was the case 10 years ago, it's still more expensive to lay fiber underground. However, EATEL decided to put most lines underground anyway. We saved costs associated with power installation and maintenance, and construction was easier than it would have been in most places because of the area's soft ground. Approximately 70 percent of the buildout was underground, and 30 percent was aerial. Construction crews follow the same routes as cable on poles and then go underground once they come to a neighborhood. Although digging underground is more expensive, we observed over the last 10 years that the incremental expense paid for itself from a liability perspective. One major direct hit from a hurricane can cause multimillion- dollar damage. From a reliability perspective, burying the fiber also worked out better over the long run. We put the fiber into a conduit, with the exception of the last drop into the home, so it is better protected than aerial fiber. And because the fiber is glass, burying it does not create the same exposure that burying copper lines does. Groundwater can short out copper, but glass is not a conductor, so water does not harm it. Labor continues to be among the largest expenses, but we improved our design and construction process to reduce overall cost. We moved to a single duct for distribution of fiber and now utilize "direct bury" for drops. We've also started to consolidate fiber trunk and distribution cables into a single hybrid cable and pushed electronics farther into the field to reduce cable size. WORKFORCE TRAINING As we continued the migration from copper to fiber, we consolidated the separate workforces into a single installation and repair team. Early on, when the majority of the network was copper-based, creating a small team of specialized technicians and engineers to handle the initial overbuild was necessary. Now that 98 percent of the network is fiber, the skill sets needed for installation and maintenance of fiber have become standard in the organization. I think our next specialized workforce will focus on the IoT and home security and automation in the residential space and on managed and cloud services in the business space. EATEL improved its design and construction process to reduce the costs of laying fiber. For example, it consolidates trunk and distribution fiber into a single hybrid cable.

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