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Blog | 06 May 2022

Jolan Hulscher on best practices to rollout fiber

In this blog, Jolan Hulscher, Product Manager at Cyclomedia, takes you on a journey through his experience in the process of Cyclomedia's FTTX solution, and answers three important questions when it comes to fiber rollout.

4 months into 2022 and so far I have spoken to over 40 professionals in over 15 CSPs working hard to digitalize Europe by rolling out Fiber. In this blog, I would like to share my experiences talking to network planners, engineers, and business leaders. Through the course of the blog, I will answer the following questions in the context of fiber rollout:

  • How can I avoid the risk of falling behind my competitors?
  • How can I have more visibility and control over the business?
  • How can I keep up with rising customer expectations?

In an ideal world, business leaders want a fast, efficient, and predictable process to succeed. This could be achieved by having the right people in the right place with a seamless flow of data in the organization. However, many CSPs told me that having the right people is a huge struggle. For example, looking at the UK, Manpower estimates 15,000 new workers are needed in the coming years to deliver gigabit speeds to everyone (more information).

With regards to data, there are also improvements to be made. Open data is often not up to the quality level needed and to counter, CSPs are sending time-consuming and costly field surveys out to collect data. Luckily we are living in 2022, and there are more innovative ways to collect data and use that data the reduce the amount of manual labor needed in the fiber rollout process. I will explain this in more detail by answering the questions stated above.

How can i avoid the risk of falling behind my competitors?

Talking to professionals working on fiber rollout, I understood that the mentality is not so much about the risk of avoiding falling behind the competition. The most about being faster than the competition and making sure we could do everything to rollout fiber faster. Because who is first with the cable to the house of a customer, a big chance is that they will take that supplier. Since it’s impossible to every first, the question is raised where do CSPs want to be first? In many cases, there is little information online available to answer that question. To counter that, CSPs use time-consuming and costly field surveys to collect information about households, businesses, and demographics.

From multiple professionals, I understood that the information coming back was often inaccurate and they have to go out again to get it right. That doesn’t sound like a fast, efficient, and predictable process to success, right? CSPs can bring the fieldwork to the desk by using Cyclomedia’s imagery and data solutions. In this way, strategic network planning takes less money and time and CSPs can be faster than the competition.

How can I have more visibility and control over the business?

In the field of fiber rollout, this has all to do with knowing how much is there spent on a fiber rollout project and the communication between departments and with subcontractors. With regards to CAPEX costs, one of the primary drivers is through which kind of material a cable has to go through.

As a director of network planning told me, cutting through asphalt is way more expensive than going through an unpaved area for obvious reasons. Knowing up front how much of these materials the trenches have to go through is essential to having visibility on costs and control over the business.

To help CSPs with this, Cyclomedia has built a data layer that shows exactly where is asphalt, tiles, mosaic, clinkers, or unpaved areas. By using this data layer, CSPs not only get a super precise insight into their costs. 

They can also use the data layer to optimize costs and use it in collaborations with subcontractors. By using the Street Smart software, Cyclomedia’s ‘Google Maps on steroids as one of our customers calls it. Something is easily checked instead of having to go outside again. Therefore, Cyclomedia imagery and data really become the ‘single source of truth’ in the whole value chain of the CSP creating more visibility and control over all its processes. Of course, with the end goal to be faster at the customer and at the same time improve margins.

How can I keep up with rising customer expectations?

Once a network is planned, engineered, and build, the network needs to be maintained. This is especially important in the current consumer environment, where everybody expects something to be fixed or done ASAP. We are not used to waiting anymore. Therefore, you want to be first time right, coming with the right equipment to the job. For example, a professional in the UK told me that when they have to prepare work on a particular pole. They need up-to-date information on the surroundings to make sure the engineer has the right equipment with him.

When looking the Google Maps, the image can be 2, 5 sometimes even 10 years old! This, of course, brings all sorts of problems with it. After starting using Cyclomedia, they always have an up-to-date view of their current assets and could even do a risk analysis by adding more data in. They were able to get their maintenance way better organized.

I hope that this article has given some insight into the fact that Cyclomedia is a great value to the entire fiber rollout process and even the maintenance of it. Last year, we did a study with Accenture to better understand the impact we are making on our customers. Overall we concluded that by using Cyclomedia, CSPs were able to reduce their site visits by 40 to 60 percent. Cut their engineering time up to 80% (if automated network tooling was used). And decrease rework by more than 30%. I believe these numbers are powerful, but I like even more that there are many CSPs happy with our services and continue to trust us to be an essential part of their rollout processes.

How our data can make a big difference in FTTX rollout?