A Q&A with Jeff Eiseman, SQUAN general manager of fiber splicing and construction services
New Jersey-based network infrastructure design/build firm SQUAN today announced that Jeff Eiseman has joined the company as general manager of fiber splicing and construction services, a key position as the company executes on expansion plans. In an interview with RCR Wireless News, Eiseman, a cable industry veteran, discussed some of the major trends shaping the telecom and cable industries.
Q: Can you give me an overview of the current level of market demand for fiber splicing and construction services and identify the factors driving that demand from telecommunications service providers and enterprises?
A: The best way to describe today’s market demand is to say that it’s extremely challenging. It seems every Telco, MSO, and Shared Communications Provider down to the CLEC’s are in or are designing a fiber build/rebuild. The main factors we are facing is the preparation for the next gen of technology. FTTX for streaming video, a more robust back-bone and small cell deployment to name a few.
Q: As operators continue to densify networks in support of boosting LTE and laying the groundwork for future 5G services, how do you see demand for fiber splicing and construction services growing over time?
A: We have already begun to see the demand increase for both construction and splicing services as it relates to the 5G roll-out. It appears that everyone who has a fiber presence is preparing to, or currently supplying any and all available dark fiber to this space. The rebuilds that are either in design or have begun are being overbuilt to support the LTE and 5G surge. This segment of the industry will put a great demand over the next 7-10 years on the ability to meet both construction and splicing needs. SQUAN has identified this and is building toward this demand.
Q: As it relates to the enterprise space, fiber is obviously a crucial investment in service of not just
in-building connectivity but also the various IoT-type applications that can hang off of that connectivity. Are enterprise owners, particularly in the commercial real estate segment, making the right investments today to support long-term value creation for their assets?
A: From SQUAN’s vantage point in partnering with various infrastructure partners, it is abundantly clear that enterprise owners are looking long term. We see additional paths being installed for redundancy, thereby reducing or altogether eliminating network downtime, resulting in reduced OPEX spending. Businesses big and small are investing in fiber circuits to increase security and efficiencies within.
Q: Specific to this CRE segment, could you identify best practices related to fiber investment for both a greenfield project and a retrofit?
A: Whether it be greenfield or brownfield the very best practice is to design the plant not for what is needed currently but with a keen eye on future deployment needs and of course the technological horizon. Every day we are building and splicing plant that from the outside looking in it might appear to be over built. However, inside looking forward, we wonder if what we just built will be viable in the near future.
Another best practice that should be adhered to is to have the best available crews perform the work. The handling, Constructing and Splicing of the fiber network should be entrusted to the experienced and well trained craftsmen. The last thing a plant owner wants is that upon turn-up the plant cannot perform up to design specifications, or that in 3 years the network is obsolete.
Q: Given your experience in the cable industry, how do you see the increasing trend of traditional cable companies entering the wireless arena, as well as traditional wireless providers investing in content, impacting the long-term dynamic between these converging industries?
A: Traditional cable TV is a thing of the past. One thing that a few larger MSO’s did back when they began building out the HFC networks is what I mentioned earlier, they over-built the fiber backbone. This allowed the migration to Digital video, Data and voice platforms. The growth of technology, specifically CW/DWDM has allowed them to recapture fiber that can now be re-directed elsewhere.
The next logical product lies in the wireless arena. The convergence of these two industries as we know has already begun and will continue in my opinion, if not completely at least at the infrastructure level.
Q: Given the one-way trend in fiber deployment, is there an adequately skilled workforce that’s ready today to put boots on the ground and meet splicing and construction demand today?
A: There are so many highly skilled fiber crews supporting the needs of our industry, and luckily SQUAN has many of those technicians! The truth of the matter is that the industry, and SQUAN, need many, many more technicians to meet the growth we are experiencing in the aggressively evolving telecommunication world.
Q: If not, what needs to happen to quickly and efficiently develop the workforce to best serve SQUAN’s needs and who is/should be leading that re-skilling/upskilling process?
A: SQUAN faces the same challenges as other growing companies in the sector, and we are investing the necessary time and funding in developing our current workforce. At the same time, we continue to recruit the very best available candidates who are interested in adapting to a broader platform with much more opportunity.
Fiber theory can be taught, fiber experience has to be earned. We believe that there should be a balance between theory and OJT. SQUAN is fortunate to have a team of experienced technicians as well as a management staff who possess the background and experience necessary to ensure the value of the investment in our current and future staff.
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