Navigating the network lifecycle: An introduction

For those of you that have been in the telecom industry for some time, the following story will more than likely resonate with your own experience. I was introduced to 3-GIS through one of its owners, Tom Counts, and was intrigued with the niche that they had built for themselves specifically in the fiber market. 

At the time, 3-GIS had recently been awarded a project with a large Silicon Valley-based company to support a national fiber to the home (FTTH) buildout we affectionately code named The West Coast Company or WCC for short. Personally, I was struggling to see a future in my current role and decided that I wanted to support Tom and the 3-GIS team. Little did I know this decision would put me on a path to support an industry that I love with some of the most talented people I know! So, I turned in my notice, took a 3-day vacation, and showed up at the 3-GIS office on Monday morning.

That first week was a whirlwind. While I had significant experience supporting customers with GIS based solutions across multiple domains, I had no idea about the diversity and complexity of fiber networks.

Our CTO, Tommy Siniard, took me under his wing and quite literally set me up a desk in his office for the first several weeks of my employment. He told me later that this move was not just to help me learn our system and the market as whole but also for him to see if he could trust me to support WCC on one of the largest projects 3-GIS had been awarded.

Several weeks later, I asked Tommy if I was ready, and he put me in the game. After missing my first flight (I was a bit new to corporate travel!), I got on a second flight and landed in California to be introduced as another project resource, and my journey began.

My previous experience had been focused on supporting local and federal government customers, so needless to say, the Silicon Valley culture was quite foreign to me. The trappings—such as scheduling a meeting at the teacup, playing Skee-Ball, free breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, onsite oil changes, and cubicle laundry service—were all a bit strange but rather necessary if we were going to be successful.

Our team of solution engineers and data analysts quite literally worked day and night to ensure that our system could support an organic, at-scale FTTH deployment across 13 major NFL cities in the United States. One of, if not the largest, greenfield network deployments at the time.

The next three years of my life were consumed with developing new processes, supporting planning and engineering activities, then transitioning those activities to support deployment and construction. After construction, we ensured that we were considering all aspects of customer turn-up and long-term maintenance.

At 3-GIS, we now refer to these stages collectively as the network lifecycle. Each element has its own critical factors to success which at times can conflict with future stages. Our job involved balancing the tradeoffs between stages while configuring our solution to satisfy the short- and long-term, at-scale project needs.

In future blogs, we intend to take each element of the project and elaborate on not only our successes, but also spend quite a bit of time recounting our failures and the lessons we learned from them.

Our goal in these writings is quite simple. With the advent of available funding across the globe, organizations have either embarked on or are considering building new fiber networks quite literally from the ground up. Our experience supporting large network builds has yielded a treasure trove of lessons learned and best practices.

These experiences should be shared as we continue to cross the digital divide and provide broadband availability to all. I hope you will follow us as we recount our journey and maybe we can provide some insight into the challenges you may be facing. Stay tuned!

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