Investing in Service Assurance

Lindburgh Latchansingh Head of Field Operations and Cellular Systems Technician
Lindburgh Latchansingh Head of Field Operations and Cellular Systems Technician Oren Davis in the new Field Services Operations Centre

24 hours a day, 365 days a year, technology lubricates the wheels of industries that generate the country’s TT$155bn-plus gross domestic product. TSTT recently re-commissioned a high tech multi-million dollar field service operations centre for its major maintenance activities where the emphasis is on proactive service assurance. With over $5bn in assets dedicated to supporting the communications technology needs of government, businesses and individuals, TSTT takes its role very seriously.

For TSTT’s customers, their communications devices and systems are the points of contact with the company. A look under the hood at the engine that makes all of these services and devices work, reveals an elaborate arrangement of power supply systems, cooling systems, fibre optic networks, mobile towers, switching equipment, servers, satellites and much more. Maintenance for a national network spread across the country’s 1900-plus square miles with over 600 remote facilities and thousands of miles of cables requires dedicated expert staff and sophisticated equipment and infrastructure.

Relocating the field service operations centre to its new home on Abercromby Street meant blending robustness, functionality and aesthetics of physical space with the technology used by the cadre of engineers, technicians, managers and administrative staff stationed there. In just under 5 weeks, the office building was transformed with new work stations, flooring and ceiling systems, wall treatments and safety systems to cater to the wellbeing and comfort of employees. On the technology side, the company established the monitoring hub connected to TSTT’s core network and installed independent backup power systems with the capacity to power the entire building and the network monitoring equipment. All told, the field services operations centre embodies the company’s focus on providing a safe and well equipped environment conducive for staff to efficiently execute their duties

In the new environment, the company’s technicians and engineers, equipped with the latest field testing gear, work diligently to keep this behemoth of an engine smoothly shuffling the billions of bits of data on the network to their intended destinations. The challenges of having large sections of the network above ground and exposed to the natural and manmade environment are evident. Lightning strikes on equipment, flooding or cables being damaged by vehicles or fires or fallen trees are part of the routine, however Field Operations have acquired a small arsenal of high-tech gadgets that make them the digital sleuths of this era.

Continuity of service for customers is their first priority because communications technology has come to play such an important role in the way most companies are interacting with their customers. Today it is impossible to have a serious conversation about marketing without referring the threesome of “online”, “mobile” and “social media”. According to one of the world’s leading IT research and advisory companies, Gartner Inc, worldwide mobile advertising which stood at US$3.3bn in 2011 will multiply to over US$20bn by 2015.

Given the importance businesses and individuals put on their use of communications technology, TSTT’s goal is to keep them always connected. Using customised software on a bank of computers and monitors, specialists in TSTT’s Field Operations have the ability to troubleshoot any part of TSTT’s infrastructure. These diagnostic tools are designed to be accessed even via the Engineers’ smartphones to improve their responsiveness and can alert about developing issuessometimes before they escalate into a service outage, giving the team  time to resolve it before it has an impact on businesses. From cooling systems, incoming power supplies and backup generators to mobile communications, wireless Internet and cable systems, the multi-faceted team of specialists operate like crime scene investigators drilling down through a myriad of monitoring systems to get to the root of a potential service issue.

When they need to go into the field, they use systems like , fthe Optical Time Domain Reflectometer is frequently deployed to pinpoint the exact location of a breach on fibre optic cables. Its signal can cover up to 150 kilometres and get search results in minutes where searching by other means could take hours or days. Another device, the Power Quality Analyser, is used to identify a host of subtle issues with power supply which can prove fatal to sensitive communications equipment. These and other tools, coupled with an improved Spares Management System for expeditious repairing or replacement of damaged parts.

Field Services Operations is an indispensible aspect of TSTT’s operations and reflects the level of commitment and investment the company is making to ensure that it is without equal in serving customers and keeping them connected.