Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018 - 22
201 8 TOP OPS AWARDS
INDEPENDENT PROJECT LAUNCH
Last June, MCTV launched Excellerate, a fiber-to-the-home internet
service with symmetrical upload and download speeds of up to 100
Mbps. The project rested on an ambitious plan to deploy more than
1,200 miles of fiber, and one year later, approximately 800 customers
use the service. That take rate is more than satisfactory to MCTV,
winner of our Independent Project Launch of the Year award.
" At this time, our main goal is not to connect customers, " explains
Bob Gessner, president of the Massillon, Ohio-based company. " Asking
people if they want to switch from coax to fiber doesn't do much.
It's not an easy sell. They don't yet see the need for fiber. "
As a family-owned business, MCTV has the luxury of taking a long-term
view of investments and returns. Excellerate grew not so much out of
immediate customer demand as out of a recognition that demand will
soar as more households begin to rely on multiple devices for highbandwidth
needs, such as gaming and streaming video.
Right now, the focus of the project is building the backbone, but
there is no great sense of urgency in that regard either.
" We don't feel a real time pressure to complete [the construction], "
Gessner says about Excellerate's deployment, in which
fiber is paired with Passive Optical Network (PON) technology.
The fiber optic connection is delivered from MCTV's headend
to a neighborhood connection, where it is spliced and then
run to about 32 homes. The new network overlays the existing
hybrid fiber/coaxial cable (HFC) system.
The first stage of the Excellerate deployment involved system
extensions into unserved, rural areas, where customers
had either dial-up or satellite internet service but no wired
provider. " It was sort of a proving ground of our construction
techniques, " Gessner says. " It also gave us an opportunity to
test the cost efficiency of building fiber into rural areas. "
Two things that the Excellerate project has not involved are a
significant increase in the MCTV workforce or a heavy reliance
on outside contractors for design. Instead, it leveraged the MCTV
team's willingness and ability to reinvent itself. The company's
technicians were retrained for a fiber-to-the-home network, and
Gessner credits them for taking the initiative themselves.
" Excellerate came from the guys in the field who said, `We
think we can do this,' " he says. " They're the ones who said
let's do PON. They did the research, tested the equipment,
trained themselves on how to design and how to splice.
They retrained themselves to be a 21st Century workforce. "
Technicians re-tasking themselves was possible because of
MCTV's decision in 2009 to go all digital. The company recognized
that its system problems at the time were plant-related,
stemming from both age and on-the-fly engineering, Gessner
says. Along with an all-digital system, the company developed inhouse
tools for " proactive maintenance. " As a result, it was able to
reduce the need for on-demand service technicians and preventative
MCTV Plant Engineer and Aerial Construction Supervisor Zack Kennedy
previously conducted preventative maintenance of RF, and then he took
the initiative to lead the aerial construction in-house. " Our teams started
from the experiences we had with RF and have continuously learned
new methods and practices that allow us to create a custom plant, "
Kennedy says. " Everything that we are doing for Excellerate has been
designed in-house and is custom to our needs. "
His favorite part of working on the Excellerate project has been the chance
to expand his knowledge and expertise into new areas, Kennedy said.
" Our team has truly taken this time to grow together, and the project has
opened my eyes to a really impressive camaraderie among the individuals
in the field, " he says. " We have one common goal-to empower our
employees and our customers and strengthen the communities in our
footprint, and that's exactly what we're doing with Excellerate. " n
- Caron Carlson
EXCELLERATE BY THE NUMBERS
MILES OF FIBER
MILES OF GLASS
HOURS OF MANUAL LABOR
Cablefax: The Magazine
Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018
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