30 Jul GeoTel data sets can help plan telecommunications infrastructure
by Sabbithry Persad | 27 Jul 2018
Telecommunications infrastructure data sets can help service providers plan for network expansion, assist with knowledge management, and view the competitive landscape
On early September 2017, Hurricane Irma slammed the southeast as a Category 3 storm carrying winds up to 130 mph. After causing catastrophic damage in Barbuda, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Anguilla, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several other islands, the storm made its way to the continental U.S., making landfall in south Florida and bringing with it surging waters that not only damaged above ground electrical poles and stations, but also critical underground telecommunications equipment that affect Internet fiber and cable.
While natural disasters such as hurricanes and heatwaves pose one type threat to the physical Internet infrastructure, another type of threat comes from maritime activities. Underwater accidental cable breakage may be caused by ship anchors or fish trawlers. Such activities are said to occur around 100 times a year. “The industry is accustomed to cables breaking,” says Time Stronge, a researcher at TeleGeography. “They are armored when they are close to shore and generally they are buried slightly under the sea floor closer to the beach.”
Other activities that threaten our Internet structure include construction projects or the occasional sabotage from treasure hunters and aggressors, although maritime activities and natural disasters are more likely to cause cuts or breakage.
More recently, climate change has been on the radar of potential threats to the physical Internet infrastructure. New research suggests that coastal internet infrastructure lies squarely in the path of rising sea levels in the next 15 years, with most of the damage predicted in the next 100 years expected to come much sooner. “That surprised us. The expectation was that we’d have 50 years to plan for it. We don’t have 50 years.”, says Paul Barford, a University of Wisconsin—Madison professor of computer science.
When telecommunications equipment goes down, so does hundreds of thousands of businesses and individuals’ ability to get work done. It can cause major disruption in some cases causes chaos. And when business cannot operate, Internet and cable TV providers receive a surge of calls from perturbed customers who want to know when service will be restored. For reasons such as these, telecommunications companies must respond to threats to the physical Internet infrastructure by planning to restore existing networks and designing future network infrastructure upgrades and expansions (such as 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT)) with the goal of minimizing the interruption/disruption of service to existing customers.
Planning, however, hasn’t been smooth sailing for telecommunications companies, according to a Broadband Forum marketing report. Telecommunications companies face several planning challenges. These can start with high risk inaccurate information and documents produced by planning and design tools used by field engineers who then pass them manually to network management and maintenance teams and then to service provider operational support systems, causing challenges for services providers to guarantee accuracy of that resource information. Another hurdle presents itself with service providers resource information on fiber infrastructure in their own systems. Several service providers record their resource data in spreadsheets or paper records, raising new challenges. First, there is a difficulty in evaluating this resource to give accurate input when planning. Second, the planning work itself “is based upon potentially inaccurate information,” leading to high expenses and/or low use of existing resources. Third, there are hurdles to data sharing between team members/departments, which leads to less collaboration. Finally, the last challenge lies with the limited potential to leverage data visualization to drill down into these resources, which are mostly in the form of text, to extract insights.
A going thought regarding these challenges is that there are limited tools in the marketplace that possess the robust capabilities to aid in fiber planning. Several fiber network planning and schematic software programs out there such as OSPInsight (network planning), GIS software from Pitney Bowes, GIS software from ESRI (network planning), or AutoDesk (schematics planning) can help service providers plan their network infrastructure and reduce these planning challenges. But what these tools lack and what adds another level of value that planners may find exciting and cost saving is the ability to integrate telecommunication data sets—a series of telecommunications network infrastructure data such as carrier fiber routes, fiber lit buildings, cell towers. These data sets are used by service providers to overlay GIS data to plan the cable plant route, create documentation for the network, identify high-revenue opportunities, or even gain a competitive advantage for network expansion and upgrades before planning begins.
For nearly twenty years, this is where GeoTel Communications leads the way. The company researches and digitally maps 15 telecommunication infrastructure data sets onto the highest quality street data and other land-based maps available and delivers this data in multiple formats, which include GIS and SaaS. “The telecom data helps planners and decision makers to glean meaningful insights in their planning phase and make informed location-based and strategically and fiscally sound decisions,” says Dave Drazen, the CEO of GeoTel.
The GIS format may be imported and layered into network planning and schematics software, making it a natural part of planning for those who already have the network planning tools or are considering them.
In lieu of the integrating telecom data sets into fiber network planning and schematics tools, GeoTel offers a cutting-edge self-serve SaaS product called TeleTracker® that allows users the ability to work with the full 15 telecommunications data set library without the need for GIS experience. This web-based software allows planners to produce layered data visualization maps from the convenience of their favorite web browser on any mobile platform for a fraction of the cost of traditional GIS platforms. In addition to cost savings, TeleTracker® offers planners the flexibility of sharing access across the organization to key stakeholders such as C-suite executives, engineering managers, and marketing and sales teams.
If fiber network planners wanted deeper expert insight into the telecommunication data sets on a case-by-case basis, GeoTel also offers professional reporting services that manipulate those spatial data sets and present the data in several other types of data visualization formats including bar graphs, pie charts, line charts, gauge charts, scatter plot, spider chart, table, and area chart formats.
GeoTel is the leading provider of telecommunications infrastructure data, including Carrier fiber route data, and Fiber Lit Buildings, which is key for the planning and implementing of communications infrastructure, including wireless technology such as 5G. For over seventeen years, GeoTel’s products have been providing companies and government entities with the leverage and insight necessary to make intelligent, location-based business decisions. For more information or a demo, please contact our experts at (800) 277-2172.