Fiber Deployment is on the rise (no shock there).  How do you transfer need-it-now, real experience to a new (and inexperienced) fiber tech?

There are any number of things that you can point to to demonstrate what is driving growth in fiber deployment including regional FTTH/PON initiatives, national high-speed broadband growth, core 100/200G upgrades, or preparation for new services such as 5G that will be with us very soon.

With more and more fiber being laid, there has been an increase in demand for techs and contractors who can characterize and certify fiber, which in turn has led to a rise in the number of people starting a new career as a fiber tech or existing techs with copper or RF experience making the switch to fiber… and I can count myself among the latter having been a CATV RF guy for over 15 years who switched to fiber a little over 3 years ago.

Certification typically means OTDR testing and today’s OTDRs are pretty good at simplifying the setup and configuring for test and interpreting an OTDR trace (e.g. SmartLink Mapper). However, a new tech lacks one critical element: experience. There will be times when things don’t work as expected, results are unclear or ambiguous or some expert modification of test setup/configuration is needed and this can leave a newbie stuck, leading to delays with the job, potential link or service turn-up delays or worst-case, you have to abandon the job and have someone else return to site to re-test.  All of this is time and money and for a contractor, this is often out of their own pocket.

What’s needed is a way to have an expert on call to support a new tech (or techs) and to be able to diagnose test setup or results issues and coach them, basically to impart their experience in order to prevent those delays or site revisits. Having an expert in a van driving around site-to-site troubleshooting isn’t practical from a time, logistics or cost perspective, so it must be remote support. To pull this off, it requires something that allows an expert secure remote access to the techs’ instrument via the cloud, to the instrument test configs, to see test results, to run tests remotely, to push/pull config files and test results to a central location, to see exactly what the field tech sees on their instrument screen.

This is exactly why the Smart Access Anywhere (SAA) application from VIAVI Solutions has been developed. It enables an expert to remotely access and control the VIAVI SmartOTDR and T-BERD®/MTS test platforms from a laptop, tablet/smartphone, or even another VIAVI instrument. You can resolve field issues while a tech is still on-site, coach and support remotely, prevent repeat truck rolls and get fiber links certified and services turned up on time.

There is one extra challenge to address if the support is coming from a central office.  Quite often, internal office networks are protected by firewalls, which can render some remote access or file transfer tools useless due to the necessary IP ports being blocked or unavailable.  Therefore, SAA uses secure SSH tunneling, allowing users to connect to instruments from anywhere – that should keep the IT and security folks happy.

If you’re interested you can see how flexible SmartAccess Anywhere is with a free 30-day trial license. Simply contact your local VIAVI rep or email tac@viavisolutions.com

If you want to learn more— take a look at the SmartAccess Anywhere product brief.

For more on tips and best practices for fiber testing, read the other posts in this Smart Fiber Testing series:

#1 – FTTH/PON Smart Link Mapper

#2 – Smart OTDR Testing

#3 – Importance of Bi-Directional OTDR Testing 

#4 – Two Ways to Cut Fiber Test Time in Half

#5 – OTDR Analysis gets Smarter (and easier)

#6 – Simplifying high-density fiber cable certification 

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    Thank you for the great enlightening article!

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