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3 Ways Mobile Tools Improve Fiber Network Management

Wade Anderson - Jun 2, 2021 1:30:00 PM

3 Ways Mobile Tools... (featured image)

The old way of managing fiber networks doesn’t work anymore. Spreadsheets, static drawings, and handwritten notes fall short when trying to capture details about fast-growing, ever-evolving fiber networks.

The complexities of today’s networks demand a software-based System of Record (SoR) that is optimized for fiber operations. This is essential to store tribal knowledge, retain control, respond to incidents, and deliver excellent customer service. And, as discussed in my last post, maintaining a fiber network is a lot like keeping a house clean - you have to put in time and effort regularly to stop disorganization and chaos from overwhelming your business.

Today I want to discuss the next chapter in this story. To achieve your highest fiber network management potential (a.k.a. Level 3 maturity), you will need mobile tools that enable your field teams to take an accurate, up-to-date view of the fiber network with them wherever they go.

With the right set of mobile tools, you can accelerate the exchange of information between the field and the office, improve troubleshooting, plan more effectively for the future, cut operating costs, and deliver better service to your customers.

In this post, I dive deeper into each of the benefits of mobile to help you understand why mobile capabilities are a must-have for modern fiber network operators.

1. Streamline Communications

It used to be standard practice for field technicians to take notes using pen and paper while out in the field. After answering service tickets, they would (hopefully) jot down details about what they did and send that information back to the office. Operators in the office would then update fiber records accordingly.

However, information would often get lost, incorrectly recorded, or delayed in transit. Field techs would get busy dealing with other issues and forget to submit updates about previous work. When (or if) field techs got around to passing off their notes, database managers wouldn’t know if the changes made still represented the current state of the network. The result is constantly degrading network quality.

Of course, you know this all too well. Fiber networks are always changing. Long feedback loops between the field and office can create massive update backlogs and make it almost impossible to know exactly what’s happening to the network in the field.

Mobile tools fix this problem by empowering field techs with real-time read and write access to network data. They can update fiber records from anywhere using portable devices, like tablets and smartphones, as soon as they finish addressing service requests. Office workers can then trust that the information in the database truly represents the as-built network.

Mobile tools save operators from needing to set up workarounds or other communication channels between the field and the office. Field techs can directly update the System of Record, both online and offline, in a way that doesn’t add complexity or burden to their jobs. This virtuous circle of data quality means that office staff can now make informed decisions about how to maintain the network properly.

2. Improve Maintenance and Repairs

A second benefit of mobile fiber management tools is the ability to significantly improve maintenance productivity. When issues arise, field techs have reliable data at their fingertips to help them plan troubleshooting response efforts and reduce MTTR.

They don’t have to call the office for more context about a specific problem. Instead, they can look up what they need about particular assets or attributes, develop a plan of action, and get subscribers back online again quickly.

In addition, sophisticated mobile tools integrate with third-party platforms, like Google Street View or Google Maps, allowing field techs to visually assess a site before heading to the location. Should field workers need additional support, they can also contact office staff knowing that they share exactly the same network view using a common System of Record.

After responding to a specific incident, field crews can add notes or upload pictures through their mobile tools to accurately capture the work completed. In doing so, technicians make it easier for others to diagnose problems even faster down the road.

Professional mobile tools have a positive compound effect on the efficiency of network operations. The quality of your fiber records actually improves over time, enabling future field crews to make informed decisions and handle incidents with tremendous efficiency.

3. Enhance Planning and Design

Because of the capabilities highlighted above, mobile tools also enhance planning and design.

Field teams can use mobile tools to redline and markup digital documents, maps, and more directly on their devices, to support development projects. Here again, operators benefit from third-party visualization platforms, like Google Street View or Google Maps, to study environments in detail in combination with fiber records to make the best possible decisions when approaching new installations or service tickets.

For example, OSPInsight Mobile shows network components on top of Google Street View images so that operators can see how assets are positioned in real settings. Our platform also allows users to click on individual elements within these views to access attributes and related objects, which is essential when needing to understand capacity availability and plan the most cost effective routes.

The merging of real-world views with mobile tools eliminates much of the headache of designing fiber networks. Operating teams have instant visibility into all geospatial elements that affect development planning.

Mobilize Your Database with OSPInsight

As a fiber operator, you should be able to run your network from the office or the field at all times. OSPInsight Mobile makes this easy.

Our new platform runs seamlessly on all modern iOS, Android, or Windows devices, online or offline. You can push app updates or sync data across thousands of mobile devices in your network without compromising performance. As a result, everyone in your organization stays on the same page, and you can get maximum value from your fiber network.

To see OSPInsight Mobile in action, sign up for a free, full-feature trial today.

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