Let’s take a step into the past – it’s 1935. Rural Midwest. The Great Depression has gripped the United States, hitting some of the nation’s rural communities the hardest. As the nation struggled to right itself, the emergence of public, member-owned cooperatives bringing electricity to its rural communities was a beacon of hope for many working people.
Today, many electric coops founded in the 1930s are still active and thriving, evolving constantly to meet the needs of their members. In fact, many electric coops now offer cable, internet, solar installation, and more, in addition to electricity. As the nationwide push to bring broadband to our rural and underserved communities accelerates, many electric coops are left with the task of not only delivering high-speed internet to their members, but designing, building, and operating that network in-house. For many, a fiber management system is quickly becoming a necessity – building a virtual home for the physical internet.
In this post, we’ll look at three ways electric coops use VETRO FiberMap, and how a secure, reliable system of record is crucial to building and maintaining a vast fiber network.
1. INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT
Electric coops themselves are often all too familiar with the daily struggles of their members. By their nature, they cover large tracts of land, often reaching thousands of customers in multiple counties. This means keeping track of many miles of fiber, hundreds of poles and access points, and, generally, managing what is often an extensive and complex network infrastructure. In a conversation with VETRO account executive Mark Baragary, he stressed the importance of reliable, accurate infrastructure data for rural coops.
“Usually, a coop is covering a lot of land,” he says. “Often covering multiple counties across a large rural area. So, the ability to put reliable, accurate data into VETRO is a need we see all the time. For instance, if you need to do a truck roll, you want to know that the techs you’re dispatching to address an infrastructure issue have accurate, up-to-date data on what exactly needs to be accomplished, and where.”
Reliable, real-time data is a cornerstone of VETRO’s platform, allowing network operators to spend less time identifying issues, and more time addressing them.
“We’ve also seen a few coops use VETRO to manage non-fiber lines as well,” Mark said. “Obviously, we’re purpose-built for fiber, but every network asset in the platform is fully customizable. If you want to use VETRO to track not only your fiber cables, but power lines or other utilities, we’re with you every step of the way.”
VETRO’s flexibility in customization has been a long-time darling of our customers across industries and sectors. With customizable, strand-level control of every inch of your network, VETRO makes it easy to map what you want, where you want, how you want.
2. DATA SHARING AND REPORTING
While accessing reliable infrastructure data is critical to the operation of a fiber network, the ability to share that data with associated parties is just as important. Coops use electrical poles, have subterranean and above-ground infrastructure, and often work in tandem with other utilities or government entities to deliver services to their members. The ability to upload and share that data with other departments is crucial, making for a much more streamlined experience for a network operator.
Along those same lines, electric coops have a deep connection with their members, and a nuanced understanding of their wants and needs. The ability to share data points with the public is something a lot of coops deem paramount. Mark expands on that below:
“As federal money gets out there, having some type of system that can easily share with the public where everything is has become pretty crucial. Whether it’s Z-Manager, our customer-facing demand aggregation tool, or just through our share function, it’s become really important from a reporting standpoint. Not just reporting, but also as an opportunity to capture business. The ability to gauge customer demand in a certain area, then come away with the knowledge of where and when you need to build lines, is something a lot of coops love about VETRO.”
Like many electric coops, maybe yours is using third-party engineers or designers to help build your network. Something coops may struggle with on the reporting side is the bill of materials, which, according to Mark, isn’t always the easiest to use.
“Having that reporting feature right in VETRO has been something that has made a lot of lives easier,” he says. “Because you don’t have to go through multiple systems; you can just check it on the map. And while you’re building your map, you can go in and say ‘okay, this is how many feet of fiber I need, this is how many manholes I need, this is how many poles we cross’, etc.”
3. COST SAVINGS
Streamlined, accurate infrastructure data and the ability to share it, both within the organization and with the public, are hallmarks of the VETRO platform. While you can dive into the details of what makes our system so easy to use—simple, streamlined circuitry mapping, comprehensive equipment management, a lightning-fast, cloud-native environment—all of it really boils down to putting time back into your day. Electric coops choose VETRO because saving time = saving money, and we make it easier than ever.
Electric coops exist to serve their communities, and let’s be honest: we’re all trying to save a buck here and there. VETRO’s real-time infrastructure reporting means potential issues are identified before they become major setbacks. Your constituents depend on your coop to keep the lights on and the internet up, no matter the circumstances. Being able to get ahead of the curve means less time and money spent mopping up major network issues.
For the most part, electric coops are in a uniquely strong position to deliver broadband to their rural communities. As long-standing, established entities, they’re often household names already, and their existing infrastructure means they have a clear idea of what it takes to build and maintain a fiber network. Tracking that data, says Mark, is where some fall down.
“Usually, coops have a good idea of what route they’re going to follow, how many poles they’re going to need, where they need to dig if they need to dig,” he says. “But they don’t have a good way of actually tracking that data. That’s where VETRO comes in. Say you have an outage in the northwest part of your service area. Are you going to send a team all that way, take an entire afternoon, just to address what you think might be the issue? I’m not.
Infrastructure management, data sharing & reporting, and greater cost savings are all benefits of VETRO near and dear to the hearts of our coop customers. Using reliable, real-time data within VETRO’s platform lets you spend less time identifying issues, and more time addressing them. Access to accurate, digestible data will turn the heads of both your members and partners, allowing you to design seamlessly and build confidently. At the end of the day, VETRO gives our coop customers peace of mind, putting time back into their day and money back into their wallets.
Interested in learning more about how VETRO is helping electrical cooperatives deploy fiber? Click here.