Minimum Point of Entry and Fiber Optics: Issues

Around certain business circles there is a story circulating. The story is about a man who owned a barbershop, ‘Cutting Edge’ and his was the only barbershop in town. Then, without warning a competitor arrived down the street and opened another shop. This would be fine except this new competition, let’s call them ‘Shear Madness’, was charging 10 dollars for a haircut while Cutting Edge had been charging 16.

The barber at Cutting Edge discovered his cash flow was decreasing while the line outside the door of Shear Madness was increasing. The barber was getting worried and losing customers that he had for years. Then, suddenly, the barber at Cutting Edge noticed that a few disgruntled customers that had been going to Shear Madness were coming back to his business, complaining about the quality of their haircuts at Shear Madness. He had an idea. The solution, for Cutting Edge, was to put up a sign out front of his barbershop. It read “We fix 10 dollar haircuts”. Business returned to normal for Cutting Edge.

So what does this have to do with Fiber Optics and Minimum Point of Entry for business customers?

In March, an ‘unnamed’ company wanted to get their IP Network current. The company was using an outmoded IP solution to handle their mission critical data applications. Access to a fiber optic network was not available. Then, with the current rollouts by several companies, particularly AT&T, Google Fiber, and others–the company wanted to take advantage of the functionality for data applications that a fiber-based solution would provide.

This brings to mind the lesson learned by the barber from the “Cutting Edge” story. There was a business need of improving IP functionality at a cost-effective rate and connecting the solution to their office location. The IT Manager for the company had discovered that while a fiber optic solution was available, the cable was only routed as far as the minimum point of entry (MPOE) at a central location in their present office building–but not directly linked to their offices by the local carrier.

He would have to research and outsource the work to a local vendor and ended up, as many businesses have lately, selecting an electrician to connect the fiber optic cable to their offices from the MPOE. The electrician also offered a ‘more affordable’ rate than most of the other vendors researched. The IT Manager believed that the electrician would have the correct knowledge to professionally connect their IP Network to a fiber optic connection at the minimum point of entry.

The IT Manager and company discovered a valuable lesson that sometimes a cost-effective solution is not the best course of action. The electrician did provide a cost-effective rate. What the electrician did not provide is the actual solution.

While this decision might appear to be not thought out, it is a common oversight for IT Managers and similar executives to select electricians for this type of outsourced work instead of those who have had extensive experience in telecommunications and cabling. One cannot blame the IT Manager for making a decision that was placing the fiscal needs of the company first and following traditional practice.

You could blame him for not conducting thourough research. The IT Manager admitted that he “did not call all of the references on the list the vendors provided that I looked at” and also “did not ask specific questions related to the Electrician’s background with fiber optic cabling & MPOE work.”

It is critical to understand four things in this process: the difference between an electrician and cabling technician, what a CLEC is, the process of connecting your office to the MPOE, and what it is ultimately going to cost your company. If you want the benefits of the fiber optic rollouts, then you are going to have to pay the price–just make sure you are paying a fair price to the right company.

Also, make sure each vendor has references and experience to back up their service offering. One ‘barber’ down the street might be cheaper, but the established ‘barber’ who may charge more who does the job right and consistently–just might be the safer and reliable option. Also, it might be a key indicator of success examining the length of time the company has been in business and just who their customer base consists of. Would you place your hair in the hands of a ‘barber’ who has only been ‘cutting hair’ for a year, or twenty–or worse advertised that they could ‘cut hair’ but in truth, let’s say, mowed lawns?

While some electric companies do have technicians available to connect fiber optic networks at the point of entry to your business, many do not.

Luckily, the IT Manager was able to locate a local vendor who had been in business for over 20 years and had cabling technicians who could handle the specified work. The IT Manager explained that the “nightmare” associated with selecting an electrical company to do the work was quickly and professionally resolved.

The experienced telecommunications company had their technicians on the spot within hours and solved the problem quickly. They were able to complete the objective of the IT Manager correctly, the first time. Now, their mission-critical data applications work better and are consistent.

This brought to mind the story of ‘Cutting Edge’, and the thought that while there might be a ’10-dollar haircut’ available, the best solution might be to first contact those ‘barbers’ who are proclaiming ‘We fix 10 dollar haircuts’ first, or at the least have them in your contact list if something goes wrong with the cost-effective solution. It could turn out to be sheer madness for you.

-Prime Buyer’s Report has a free nationwide list of the of the Top Ten Local Telecom vendors in your area. Check out their website for information on companies that doesn’t get broacasted publicly. It is almost like Yelp, but for businesses. They include impartial customer reviews and product information.

-Check out the other companies that offer similar service and compare pricing and personnel by scheduling a free consultation with those companies that offer it as a value-added service. They should not charge your company for an evaluation.

-Meet with at least 5 vendors, ask for references (be sure to contact them all), compare prices and don’t make a hasty decision. Make an investment in the selection process. A tip here is to look at their website and associated social media presence. This can be a key indicator if the company has a solid infrastructure or not.

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