Using advanced GIS to optimise fibre optic networks

Fibre optic networks are rapidly expanding due to the unprecedented technological evolution the communications industry is experiencing. Fierce competition and demands for service reliability are also key drivers in this growth. However, telecoms providers are increasingly encountering a lack of real-time information and necessary connectivity.

Conventional Geographic Information System (GIS) tools have been found lacking. They do not have the necessary level of detail or ability to model the relationships. This means that many providers are finding it difficult to integrate with operational systems and coordinate a network’s logical and physical elements.

Therefore, it is vital that telecoms network operators use advanced GIS technology. Fibre optic networks are an essential piece of critical infrastructure, and advanced GIS technology is the solution for optimising and maintaining the rollout of these highly evolved networks.

Increased reliance on data

We have all become accustomed to having access to high-speed internet services on multiple devices all the time, but especially at home. Residential consumers expect to be able to access everything from streaming television shows to playing video games across several devices and multiple users. For businesses and critical services, such as utilities and public safety, they simply cannot function without reliable communications systems.

As a result, there are now many providers competing for telephone, internet, and entertainment business. The market is saturated. On top of this, is the bundling of multiple services, add-on options, and the rapidly changing wireless environment.

Fibre optic networks have evolved into a fundamental component of high-speed broadband communications networks required for smart grid, fibre to the home (FTTH), and intelligent information management systems. Thanks to fibre optic networks, each of these solutions link sensors, communications, and critical infrastructure through high-speed backhaul communications.

Technological advancements

5G is expected to dramatically speed up the development of next-generation solutions. These include autonomous driving, augmented reality, the digitalisation of infrastructure, Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities, and much more. It will also provide improved high-speed and low-latency wireless networks.

Network operators must solve a variety of problems before 5G can be fully effective. For example, knowledge sharing, field activities management, and control of infrastructure costs. Operators will need intensive collaboration between the field and back office and wider availability of analytical tools for real time activity insights.

The rise of IoT will also present data and network capacity challenges that are too complex for traditional network connections. This is where fibre optic networks come in as they enable organisations to improve the data and establish a more robust smart grid.

Implementation challenges

Fibre optic networks are highly complex to develop and can be very expensive. Getting the design right the first time will minimise cost overruns. The challenge is that many telecommunications providers develop the network designs internally and have external engineering firms managing the more detailed designs and overall implementation. This decentralisation usually means that users rely on tools like spreadsheets, which can lead to errors. Digital solutions can help centralise the design and implementation processes.

However, there is often also a lack of real-time information and the necessary integrations and connectivity. Instead, telecommunications network operators need a network model that delivers accurate, current information across their organisation.

This is where advanced GIS technology comes it. It can streamline engineering processes and maintain an operations-ready network model accessible across the business. Indeed, these solutions can provide location-based information and tools for the complete lifecycle of civil infrastructure and fibre network management – from design and construction to maintenance and operations, both in the back office and the field.

Advanced GIS

Advanced GIS deliver additional benefits beyond the geolocation and spatial analyses provided by traditional GIS tools. Firstly, they create models to support most functions by filtering and rendering information in ways that are useful for each operator on-the-fly: as text, maps, schematics, or diagrams. They also remove any duplicated data.

They deliver a better ROI through engineering capabilities with other business systems, such as comparing alternative design proposals from technical and financial perspectives. The lower data latency and universal access allows advanced GIS solutions to support time-sensitive use cases, resulting in faster operations, greater efficiency, and enhanced capabilities.

Finally, advanced GIS can reduce fibre optic network financial risk by assessing high-level costs of proposed plans. This enables planners to design and assess alternative proposals for buildout, including the building of distribution points, service areas, and deployment methods.

Advanced GIS is undoubtably the key to ensuring that the expansion of fibre optics networks is as efficient as possible. Using advanced GIS will reduce costs, improve processes and ultimately ensure that global telecoms networks can expand as needed.

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