GIS for Your Broadband Expansion Project

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Stimulus grants awarded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) encourage the development of broadband networks that create jobs; spur investments in technology and infrastructure; and deliver long-term economic benefits. These projects are under tight timeframes to put stimulus money to use immediately; and often the pressure of designing, building and reporting progress makes comprehensive network data management a lesser project priority.
However, data accessibility by network operators and subscribing providers is vital to efficient network completion and maintenance and successful business development. Maine Fiber Company, Inc., realized this when it began constructing a 1,100-mile, high capacity fiber optic network to extend middle-mile connectivity across the state of Maine. Using its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) federal stimulus grant and private investments, it began building this network from scratch, tracking the network with legacy data formats such as internet maps, CAD and paper files to model cable routes. It soon realized the need for network information management technology that would support cost-efficient construction and maintenance of its expansive and dispersed network area.
The company found that centralizing asset and network data as a single geodatabase, using ArcFM™ Fiber Manager, streamlines network data availability across the enterprise. This solution eliminates the time and costs of maintaining multiple databases and provides the segment length and cost accuracy critical to its business model. Flexibility enables the solution to grow with the company, and cross-departmental data sharing supports efficient circuit planning, analysis and reporting. This advanced enterprise GIS technology supports decision making across the organization that not only streamlines the broadband business startup but also makes long-term management efficient and accurate.

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GIS for Your Broadband Expansion Project

  1. 1. APPLICATION NOTE GIS for Your Broadband Expansion Project – Enterprise GIS boosts projects from grant to growth Abstract Stimulus grants awarded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) encourage the development of broadband networks that create jobs; spur investments in technology and infrastructure; and deliver long-term economic benefits. These projects are under tight timeframes to put stimulus money to use immediately; and often the pressure of designing, building and reporting progress makes comprehensive network data management a lesser project priority. However, data accessibility by network operators and subscribing providers is vital to efficient network completion and maintenance and successful business development. Maine Fiber Company, Inc., realized this when it began constructing a 1,100-mile, high capacity fiber optic network to extend middle-mile connectivity across the state of Maine. Using its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) federal stimulus grant and private investments, it began building this network from scratch, tracking the network with legacy data formats such as internet maps, CAD and paper files to model cable routes. It soon realized the need for network information management technology that would support cost-efficient construction and maintenance of its expansive and dispersed network area. The company found that centralizing asset and network data as a single geodatabase, using ArcFM™ Fiber Manager, streamlines network data availability across the enterprise. This solution eliminates the time and costs of maintaining multiple databases and provides the segment length and cost accuracy critical to its business model. Flexibility enables the solution to grow with the company, and cross-departmental data sharing supports efficient circuit planning, analysis and reporting. This advanced enterprise GIS technology supports decision making across the organization that not only streamlines the broadband business startup but also makes long-term management efficient and accurate. Introduction In 2009, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) appropriated $7.2 billion for distribution by the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information 1 ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2013 Schneider Electric. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced, photocopied, transmitted, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without the written permission of the copyright owner. www.schneider-electric.com Rev 2013--0
  2. 2. APPLICATION NOTE Administration (NTIA) to expand broadband access and adoption in communities across the United States. The aim of building communication networks is to create jobs; spur investments in technology and infrastructure; and deliver long-term economic benefits. With economic growth the spotlight on these projects, network developers need to present the realistic data necessary to activate broadband business. In addition to reports serving the regulatory agencies involved, developers need comprehensive network data to meet the public-facing aspects of the projects — to bring provider services and end-users on board and realize the business intended. In this paper, we look at how stimulus grant recipients benefit from using an Enterprise Geographic Information System (GIS) to help them design, report and manage their telecommunications networks — and move from grant to growth. If you build it, they will come The ARRA Broadband Stimulus announced in 2009 was issued to encourage the development of broadband networks that would support economic growth, as stated in the legislation — “The awards are designed to help underserved — and often hard-hit — communities overcome the distance and technology barrier by expanding connectivity between educational institutions, enabling remote medical consultations and attracting new businesses — as well as the jobs that come with them.” In other words, if broadband networks are built, subscribers will come. With access to high-speed internet, businesses will be able to compete in a global economy. 2 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2013 Schneider Electric. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced, photocopied, transmitted, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without the written permission of the copyright owner. www.schneider-electric.com Rev 2013-0
  3. 3. APPLICATION NOTE Project progress trumps data management Managers of grant-based broadband projects are under pressure to put stimulus money to use immediately and design and build networks under tight timeframes: the ARRA grants require project completion in three years. Some project managers must use multiple design and build contractors to accomplish the permitting and licensing required by the different utilities and municipalities. Valuable time can be consumed just in pole permitting issues, including the applications involved in using existing poles, setting new poles or performing pole loading engineering calculations. With an emphasis on building and showing progress, managing physical network data often is a low priority. Without proactive information management, projects tend to collect network data using traditional means such as CAD files, diagramming files, spreadsheets or even stacks of papers. While these data handling tools provide a snapshot during the build, they are islands of information that do not interface with each other or with enterprise information management systems — and, consequently, minimize the data leveraging that can add significant business value. Data accessibility is vital Broadband network projects want to take advantage of data management that offers the collaborative aspect needed to effectively deploy the network and the long-term solution needed to efficiently manage the network. With a centralized and integrated network data solution that makes appropriate data accessible, the network operator can make good decisions related to asset location and network capacity. Sharing the network. Open access, or middle-mile, projects offer the same access and pricing to the large provider or small local provider. Assuming there is capacity, anyone who wants to use the network to provide service can pay for access. These providers need to understand where everything is connected and the physical connection that allows them to provide service. Maintaining the network. These projects are, in many cases, running through very rural areas with long runs of fiber cable. Without a system that tracks connections and can accurately determine points on a network, it takes longer to identify where a fault is located and to restore service. Marketing the network. Network operators need the big picture to know what’s available, to provide accurate cost estimates to potential service providers and to collect the proper revenue owed them. Paying proper taxes on the network. Accessing ‘big picture’ information provides the data necessary to differentiate lit and dark fiber and what counties and municipalities are traversed. Maine Fiber Company, Inc. received a $25.4 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) federal stimulus grant; with it, and private investments, it constructed a 1,100-mile, high capacity fiber optic network that extends middle-mile connectivity across Maine. This network included laterals to reach the state’s university and community college campuses, government offices, public safety and economic development and training facilities. Service providers, international carriers and higher education institutions are using this open access, dark 3 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2013 Schneider Electric. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced, photocopied, transmitted, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without the written permission of the copyright owner. www.schneider-electric.com Rev 2013-0
  4. 4. APPLICATION NOTE fiber network to make lit services available to 110,000 households and 600 community anchor institutions, including the most rural and underserved areas of the state. Putting enterprise GIS to work The challenge Building this vast network from scratch, Maine Fiber began to track the network with legacy data formats such as internet maps, CAD and paper files to model cable routes. With this approach, Maine Fiber realized it could only roughly approximate distances and, consequently, only estimate the cost for a customer to lease cable from point A to point B. Further, using these legacy data sources was time-consuming. Knowing the intended network would cover an expansive and dispersed area, cost efficiency of construction and maintenance was vital. Maine Fiber Vice President Dwight Allison explained, “When we tried to map those fibers on our own, we almost immediately arrived at the conclusion that it was going to be nearly impossible. We needed technology that could help guide us as we grew.” Figure 1. ArcFM Fiber Manager maintains broadband asset and network data in a single database in an open system, making it available to network operations and business processes. The solution After evaluating several telecom GIS systems through a competitive bid process, the company chose ArcFM™ Fiber Manager, an extension of the Schneider Electric ArcFM Solution Enterprise GIS based on the Esri ArcGIS® platform. It centralizes asset and network data as a single geodatabase — a ‘single version of the truth’ — that streamlines network data availability across the enterprise; see Figure 1. The results The fiber network is managed in one system. The centralized asset and network repository offered by the ArcFM Fiber Manager eliminates the time and costs of maintaining multiple databases and offers cross-departmental data sharing for improved decision making. 4 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2013 Schneider Electric. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced, photocopied, transmitted, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without the written permission of the copyright owner. www.schneider-electric.com Rev 2013-0
  5. 5. APPLICATION NOTE Accurate length measurements = accurate billing. When the company used ArcFM Fiber Manager to track the length and position of a 75-mile segment of fiber optic cable already installed, it found a difference between the system report and the field test of only 200 feet, an error of less than one half of one percent. The company is confident it can use this software to quickly and accurately provide the distance and cost critical to its business model, without the need for costly field testing. Splice information is easily maintained. ArcFM Fiber Manager’s productivity tools provide the dynamic functionality to model, manage and optimize the addition of thousands of different splice points and connections and efficiently analyze how the spatial location of its network relates to a prospective communication service provider. The solution can grow with the company. With GUI-driven work flows to add, remove or alter functionality, the company has a flexible management model that supports customer additions and network segment leasing while the network expands. The system can link to a billing platform; generate customer inventory reports; plan capacity; and audit pole attachment billing. Cross-departmental data sharing for improved decision making. The accurate asset and network data that results from efficient data maintenance is available to enterprise users for circuit planning, analysis and reporting. Conclusion Companies like the Maine Fiber Company did not exist before they received a stimulus grant. In a way, they have fewer barriers to adopting a more advanced fiber optic network management system than a 100-year-old telephone company. Yet, communication operations new and old can benefit with an advanced enterprise GIS technology such as Schneider Electric’s Fiber Manager to optimize utilization and management of their broadband infrastructure. With it, they have a solution that is — • Established – A proven solution growing rapidly in implementations • Flexible – Uses a data model that can easily be modified and updated as needed • Open – Makes database available to other standardized enterprise systems for reporting and analysis • Collaborative – Includes out-of-the-box tools that support interaction with stakeholders 5 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2013 Schneider Electric. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced, photocopied, transmitted, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without the written permission of the copyright owner. www.schneider-electric.com Rev 2013-0
  6. 6. APPLICATION NOTE • Future-proof – A platform that not only streamlines business startup but also makes long-term management efficient and accurate 6 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2013 Schneider Electric. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced, photocopied, transmitted, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without the written permission of the copyright owner. www.schneider-electric.com Rev 2013-0

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