Just as cakes don’t bake themselves, fiber networks don’t build themselves. Fiber network planning and baking cakes both need the right ingredients to ensure a recipe for success. The three main ingredients to building any great fiber network are address verification, land base data collection, and existing utility data. All of those ingredients are part of any Fiber to the Home (FTTH), Fiber to the Premise (FTTP), or Fiber to the Business (FTTB) network. Granted, these are not the most exciting parts of building a fiber network, but who takes a bite of chocolate cake and thinks about the flour? Just like using the right flour is important for a great chocolate cake, the ingredients of fiber network planning have to be used correctly for the design to function at its optimal output.
Address Verification The first ingredient to throw into the fiber network planning bowl is address verification. Correctly verifying existing and new addresses directly affects the overall design, in addition to customer satisfaction, construction costs, and revenue from the build out. For example, every triplex counted as a duplex is a potential customer missed, and every unit missed in a Multi Dwelling Unit (MDU) will directly affect fiber allocation and cable sizing. Fiber assignments will have to be reallocated by network engineers to fill the gaps of poor address verification. If someone was invited to a party, but there isn’t enough cake for them, that won’t bode well. Similarly, it won’t go over well if a customer is expecting a service, and that service was not designed extensively enough to reach their home.
Land Base Data Collection Sometimes cakes call for ingredients that may be difficult to find. It’s not your grandmother’s fault that her favorite cake is chocolate beet cake with avocado frosting, and it’s not even beet season. You know you’re going to have to “dig” to find a good beet. Sometimes tracking down your land base for your fiber network design can be just as difficult as finding that strange ingredient. Finding good GIS land base data might require an extensive search on the web, contacting county and city employees, or even embarking on a manual effort to draw in the land base. For a fiber network design, a geospatial land base is key to accurate dimensioning, construction drawings, and permit packages. Inaccurate dimensioning can lead to permits being denied by the approving authority, possibly increasing engineering costs and causing construction delays. Just as it’s never a good idea to leave your grandmother waiting for her chocolate beet cake on her birthday, it’s not a good idea to leave a customer waiting for a promised service.
Utility Data The last ingredient to add to the fiber network planning mix is existing utility data. While there is some utility data that is easy to find, others require a little more time gathering the ingredients. It is often easy to contact a municipality or individual utility owner to get GIS data such as water, watershed, sewer, power, etc. However, due to the increased need for a greater sense of security, cities have become more protective of their data, especially when it comes to gas. Whether the data is easy or difficult to find, where the utilities exist in the real world deeply impacts your ability to design a value engineered network. Maintaining buffer distances and not damaging other utilities during construction of a network is both a time and cost saver. You might even call it the icing on the cake.
No one sets out to bake a cake that they knew would taste awful, just like no one starts out designing a fiber network that won’t function at its optimal output or will leave out valued customers. If data collection during the planning phase of a fiber network is not done correctly, you will be trying to bake a delicious cake without many of the key ingredients. However, if you take the time upfront to gather your ingredients well and add them to the mix in the right order, this will put you on the path to build a fiber network that even the “Cake Boss” would be proud to serve up. Is anybody else dying for a piece of cake right now?…
About Foresite Group
Foresite Group is a multidisciplinary engineering, planning, and consulting firm providing services to public and private sector clients nationwide. Our team’s collaborative process results in creative products and services that help our clients achieve their goals. Our team takes pride in enhancing and developing the cities and communities where we live, work, and raise our families.