2023 is the year to turn ideas into reality for fiber rollout

March 17th, 2023 by · Leave a Comment

This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Clark Stevenson, Senior Director Customer Success, IQGeo

The last few years have tested and proved our deep reliance on the telecom industry. With growing consumer demands on internet infrastructure, broadband operators have had to innovate fast to keep pace with demand and technology. Fiber broadband promises homes and offices the high-speed internet needed to perform data-intensive activities, with 5G adoption also increasing as more of these tasks (like video conferencing and data streaming) take place on-the-go.

The industry has come a long way in developing the infrastructure that is needed to deliver universal broadband. Digital maps that field and office teams can use to integrate business-wide data, and create a complete network of assets for better tracking and management, are emerging as operators help businesses create a digital twin of their networks. The internet is integral to day-to-day life and business, and operators are evolving to meet new market demands and seize the revenue that’s on the table as the sector continues to grow.

As telecom operators embrace innovative technology for next-generation internet performance, the imperative to accelerate fiber rollout gathers pace. In the US, fewer than half (just 43%) of households have access to fiber broadband. Even 5G, which offers mobile high speed connectivity, only provides coverage to 53% of the US, depending on the provider.  While deploying the latest technology is important to meeting performance KPIs, speed is the critical business success factor in the race to capture market share and boost revenue. It’s all about velocity.

Business operations also stand to benefit from the wider integration of diverse data streams using creative strategies. For example, Weather-related disasters cost the US more than $29 billion in 2022, and operators need to ensure  network resilience to mitigate the effects of the ongoing climate crisis. Response to downtime must be rapid and efficient, with the data at your fingertips to understand and minimize disruption when disaster strikes. The greater network dependability borne from this effort reduces customer churn, and in turn, secures long-term revenue targets.

With velocity the name of the game, there’s no time like the present to reimagine the operational processes that fuel your business. As the COVID-19 pandemic steered many industries towards remote or hybrid working models, it created increased demand for high-speed connectivity in homes and businesses in rural areas. In fact, without the need to be in offices, many workers left the city in favor of a more rural life, creating broadband demand in new, harder to service, locations. And with this move, high-speed internet access at home went from being a personal luxury to a business necessity. Policymakers responded accordingly, from the $45 billion ‘Internet for All’ initiative proposed by the US government, to the EU’s effort to reduce the costs of rural internet service provision. There’s a window of opportunity for operators who have the vision to execute rapid rollout plans.

From ideas to reality – problem solving and rollout

The new technology and innovation in this sector are one part of the long-term solution to widespread high-speed internet. But operators who also focus on high-speed problem solving can bring meaningful solutions to current and future industry challenges.

With high demand, the right technology, and the backing of governments, the time is now for action, with the window of opportunity wide open. Below are outlined three ways that telecom operators can shift from ideas to delivery.

  1. Incremental improvement yields better results than total transformation

It’s tempting to think of technological rollout as a “big bang”: a huge breakthrough that brings overnight transformational change. However, when velocity is the aim, the big bang approach is higher risk and slower to deliver. Operators could be left waiting years for the technology to be perfected. Ideally, implementation would have a 100% success rate, but in reality, this won’t always be the case. Waiting for a revolutionary shift is expensive, inflexible, and often provides marginal benefits.

Operators should instead consider high velocity, rapid turnaround projects. By focusing on solving smaller problems, short-term results can be rolled out with greater agility, reducing the risk to the business and delivering a consistent stream of benefits. The approach justifies future innovation and creates a virtuous circle of investment and business improvement.

This approach begins by identifying a specific area of the business that needs attention, and implementing a smart, targeted solution. For example, operators experiencing inefficiency with field crews and contractors can develop new mobile solutions for construction teams. As efficiency benefits are realized, it can be adapted for rollout to other areas of the business facing similar challenges, incrementally improving the whole organization.

  1. Building an empowered, motivated workforce

The greatest technology and cleverest strategies in the world can fail if they are not human centric. After all, your workforce is at the very core of your business. To be successful, your employees must have the tools and authority they need to drive greater operational velocity.

Organizations will realize greater benefits with a sharper focus on their workforce. Employee buy-in to the methods and solutions offered are vital, as they’ll be the ones using the technology. Operators should invite them to the evaluation process, listen to their experience in-the-field, and ensure that they fully understand how to describe, support, and use new technology effectively.

Investing in new employees will also help. Hiring and retaining talent, especially digital-natives, will protect an organization’s workforce into the future. Almost everybody is feeling the strain right now. A study by McKinsey revealed that 87% of organizations are either currently experiencing skills gaps, or expect to face this issue in the next 5 years. The same study finds this especially true of the telecom sector. Hiring and retaining top talent now is vital to building a resilient business.

To do this, one must embrace and leverage the talents of the digital-native generation. For example, integrating data from business practices into a single shared network view – whether in the field, remote, or office-based – caters to the strengths of Gen Z and Millennials, while breaking down information silos and democratizing data, processes, and technology.

  1. Learn from the best

One of the best ways to understand how to implement a velocity business strategy is to see it in action. Telecom operators can analyze the successes of other operators and implement learnings into their own organizations.

Many operators have successfully implemented a velocity business strategy by implementing fiber distribution solutions and deploying software that integrates all design and build processes into a single, unified platform – accessible both in the field and in the office. Operators who have achieved this can move into new markets seamlessly and increase their market share, as well as revenue.

Telecom operators who are struggling to get started can look to others for inspiration and see how they have successfully leveraged their workforce and implemented new technology – and take advantage of our industry’s rapid growth opportunities.

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Categories: FTTH · Industry Viewpoint

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