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  1. Fiber Optic Internet: A Big Benefit for Small Businesses

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    When small businesses are choosing an Internet Provider, there are many things to consider. How do you choose a trustworthy vendor? Does the vendor own their own network? Is the bandwidth dedicated to my business or shared with others? Is a fiber optic infrastructure the best for my business?

    The benefits of fiber optic vs. copper cable are extensive, but the qualities and capabilities often overwhelm or can seem unnecessary for small business decision makers. However, companies with the need for Internet to complete day-to-day office tasks, medical offices, retail and restaurant establishments, actually have the same core needs as large corporations. Speed, reliability, scalability and security are valid for every business of every size and industry. Fiber optic Internet services provide these core elements, and small businesses benefit greatly from fiber optic Internet solutions over copper cable services.

    • Speed: A slow Internet connection creates diminished productivity, poor employee morale and lost profits. A Sandisk survey revealed that these costly delays equate to one week per year per employee waiting on the company’s network to respond. When reviewing Internet solutions, it’s important to understand that Internet speed is often referred to by download speed, unless otherwise indicated, and upload speed could be much slower. However, service providers offering fiber optic infrastructure have the ability to offer symmetric speed to ensure upload and download speeds and can handle the demands of multitasking simultaneously.
    • Reliability: Fiber optic cable is resilient, strong and more reliable than copper cable and is more resistant to the corrosive elements that attack copper. While fiber optic cable is glass at the core, the surrounding engineering provides protection against moisture, dirt and other environmental factors. Small businesses depend on Internet for reaching patient files, point-of-sale systems, and more. This makes reliability of the highest importance.
    • Security: We already know that cyber security is more than buzzwords, with DDoS attacks being reported more often than ever before. This concern may not be top of mind for small business owners, as the assumption is that breaches are reserved for large organizations, such as government entities or school districts. However, according to a recent CISCO report, 53% of responders to a recent survey of 1,800 businesses indicated they experienced a cyber-attack, proving that businesses of every size and industry are susceptible. The majority of cyber-attacks cost small businesses an average of $500,000 in lost revenue, customers, and commercial opportunities and out of pocket expenses.
    • Scalability: An enormous advantage of fiber. The overall unlimited bandwidth potential, and the opportunity to be flexible as a company grows and changes is not a feat easily executed with copper cable based infrastructure.

    Many businesses have reported that utilizing a fiber optic connection produces a higher ROI than a copper cable connection. A 100% fiber optic based network has proven to be the best solution when it comes to Internet connectivity, improving overall activity and performance. DQE Communications has four tiers of 100% fiber optic Internet Service, providing businesses the speed, reliability, security and scalability required to successfully run your office, no matter the size or industry.

    References: ECMag & Wired

  2. Understanding the meaning of fiber make ready

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    “Fiber make ready” refers to the process of preparing a utility pole to receive a new fiber attachment. This process must be completed when a service provider is expanding fiber service to a new geographical area, but is more complicated and takes more time than many people realize. Here’s an overview of what fiber make ready entails, and how it can affect DQE customers.

    In most communities, utility poles are owned by the local government, a utility such as the electric company, or the telephone company – or sometimes, a combination of entities. Cooperation with the owner of the poles is necessary for DQE or any other service provider to add anything new to that pole, such as fiber-optic cable.

    The fiber make-ready process

    The process has several steps, as follows:

    •  The entity wanting to place a new attachment (in this case, fiber) on the pole must contact the pole owner with the request.
    • The owner of the pole then determines if there is room for anything new, and rules out any issues with safety or capacity. Any problems must first be addressed before the process moves forward.
    • The owner of the pole then sends back the “make-ready” cost to the requestor. This cost must be paid before the process can move forward.
    • If the owner concludes there are no issues, every entity that has something attached to the pole must send a worker to the pole to move wires to make space for the new attachment.
    • The new attachment can finally be placed on the pole.

    This process can be time-consuming, expensive and difficult when multiplied over the number of poles and the number of companies involved. In order to expedite the process, “One Touch Make Ready” (OTMR), where a single contractor is authorized to make all the pole attachment changes at once, has been enabled in a few municipalities – usually through legislation. However, OTMR is not in place or expected anytime soon in DQE’s service area.

    Regulations governing fiber make ready

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has developed regulations designed to streamline the process and ensure fair access to poles, as fiber networks are expanding rapidly to meet increased demand. Pennsylvania and West Virginia are among the 30 states that defer to the FCC’s authority on the make-ready process (the others have their own regulations).

    The regulations, which were issued in 2011, state that the timeline for new pole attachments is limited to 148 days from the time the request is received, when fewer than 300 poles are involved. If the expansion involves more than 300 poles, additional time is allowed. It’s important to note that these timeframes are just guidelines, and there are no penalties to the owners for not meeting them. In fact, more often than not the timeframes take much longer.

    DQE works diligently to expedite each step involved in fiber make ready. However, our customers should know that the process is still time-consuming and requires the cooperation of many different entities, and as such will dictate construction timelines.

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