Starting the process of establishing a FTTH operation can be quite an overwhelming experience. Once the decision has been made to begin and the initial regulatory, legal, and funding issues have been addressed, the primary focus often shifts to the engineering design process and the start of construction. This can be a very stressful time for the organization because you are under tremendous pressure to get the system designed and constructed so that you can start generating revenue. However, some simple yet important decisions should be made at this early juncture to both ease the transition into the next phases of your operation and to most importantly save your organization a great deal of time and money. An early decision to use esri GIS software as the backbone of your FMS will pay dividends.
What are some of the questions that you should be thinking about from the beginning? How will your engineering design be drafted? Will your engineers use a traditional CAD program or will they use a GIS based design tool? What type of naming conventions will you use to name fiber infrastructure? Will the software used manage fiber strand records? Will the engineering design pre-designate fiber assignments for all possible customers? Will the design tool allow for staff outside the engineering team to have easy access to the network design data during the design, construction, and post construction/operational phases? Will the design tool have the ability to assist your sales staff in marketing to customers? Will the selected tool have the ability to integrate with an OSS/BSS package once you start to become operational? If you ask the right questions and answer them truthfully, the decision to use an esri GIS based solution is easy.
Let’s start with one of the most important questions, will your network be designed using CAD (Computer Aided Design) or GIS (Geographic Information Systems)? In many cases a typical engineering reaction would be to use CAD. While this approach is, on the surface, sound, it will create complications in the future that could cost your organization a lot of time and money. The reason for this is that modern systems for management of your fiber network are GIS based and if your data was created in CAD, it will need to be redrawn in GIS to be used properly by the fiber management systems that you will ultimately need. Depending on the size and complexity of your network, this could take months to complete which would delay your ability to start utilizing these tools when you need them and definitely cost you financially. The moral of this story is “do it right the first time” and use a GIS based solution.
Enterprise GIS allows you to easily expand the availability of your fiber data to a wide variety of personnel within your organization so that you can enable your staff to work smarter. Let’s look at it from the beginning. While your engineers are designing your network, your management staff can interactively view the design using a GIS Browser. As the construction of the system begins, the status of the network build-out can be seen by everyone. Your sales staff can easily see where service is currently available, and where it will soon be available and have tool to easily select prospective customers to target them for marketing your services. As your network becomes active and you bring systems online to handle billing, provisioning, hardware management, work order management, etc., you can integrate these OSS/BSS systems to your GIS systems. However, you need to be aware that not all GIS based systems have this integration into OSS/BSS systems. So, the selection of which GIS based FMS (Fiber Management System) to purchase can also make a huge difference as your system grows.
Select an enterprise GIS that offers you the right FTTH functionality, the right OSS/BSS integration points, and the right GUI’s for all staff.
The following illustrates the required capabilities of a GIS-FMS that you need to consider in order to avoid costly overhauls to your data and procedures.
A system that offers the users easy access to the fiber network infrastructure data and customer data can:
Engineering, construction, operations, sales, and management all need to seamlessly share information in order to be able to operate at peak efficiency. By achieving true integration between all staffing areas your organization can provide quicker and better service at lower operational costs. This is why the consideration of what software solutions to purchase is so important from the beginning of the process. If a decision is made in the start to choose an FMS product that does not have the ability to grow beyond an engineering design tool, then your organization will end up with some costly choices once you begin to acquire the other systems that will ultimately be needed as you grow. One option will be to keep your existing FMS product and have other systems that are independent of the fiber design data. This will have a negative impact on efficiency and require redundant data entry by staff. Another option would be to keep your initial FMS tool and have custom integration points developed to integrate your disparate systems on some level. A third option would be to select a new FMS tool that is integrated to your other systems. This will require data conversion of the existing GIS data into the format used by the new FMS tool. All of these options carry a major cost in both time and money that could be avoided by considering what your future software system needs will be at the beginning of the system design process. The best option is to select a GIS centric FMS that has total integration points to OSS/BSS – A full turnkey solution that will dramatically save you time and money.