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All West Communications is a telecommunication company based in Kamas, Utah and has been serving customers since 1912. The company provides telephone service, dialup, high-speed internet access, digital cable television, and call centers throughout several western US states. All West also operates a premier web-hosting business and a cellular service.
In Utah, harsh winters make on-site maintenance a daunting task. But regardless of weather conditions, it is the responsibility of the All West IT department to monitor and protect the operation of fiber optic lines, microwave radio towers, and switching equipment.
That's a pretty big challenge says Darcy Kunz, All West's V.P. of IT Engineering and Operations. "Some of our sites are at 10,000 feet,' said Kunz. 'We have to use a snowcat or snowmobile to get to them in the winter. It can be pretty dangerous."
"It makes getting up to the site extremely difficult," added All West's Wireless Manager Jimmy Clegg. With every visit to the site being dangerous, an insufficient monitoring system means a lot of unnecessary risk and expense.
All West recently expanded its network and needed to purchase monitoring equipment for new sites. When they contacted their alarm vendor, however, they met a major setback. 'Our existing equipment had been discontinued and was unavailable, but we still needed to upgrade and be able to monitor our old equipment, plus our new equipment,' said Kunz. With the inability to add monitoring to their sites, All West faced a serious threat.
As Kunz searched for a solution to his discontinued equipment problem, DPS Telecom came to mind. Kunz had already spoken to DPS at a tradeshow and had been receiving the monthly DPS Ezine The Protocol for several years. After his web-based research, Kunz signed up to participate in a DPS Live Meeting Room.
A Live Meeting Room allows prospective clients to get immediate answers about their network reliability in a personal web conference. The webcast features a slideshow with application drawings, a simultaneous phone call, and an interactive chat box that connects the client directly to a DPS monitoring specialist.
Kunz remembered that speaking to Ron Stover was an excellent experience. "It worked wonderfully. It gave us a good idea of what could happen, what DPS equipment did, and how it would fit in our operation," said Kunz. "It was a great way of presenting the information we needed to make a decision. Ron had the entire staff at his fingertips, so if there was a question that came up, he could bring them online and answer our questions immediately."
After weighing their options, All West purchased and deployed a T/Mon NOC and a fleet of NetGuardians.
To better interact with their new equipment Kunz and his staff flew out to DPS headquarters to participate in a weeklong Factory Training Event. "Training was very beneficial," said Kunz. "It gave us a good idea of what we needed to do." Kunz, Clegg and All West's Network Administrator Greg Limb agreed that DPS training was a big step toward improving their monitoring, "the product was awesome and so was the hospitality,' said Limb. We will be able to really make some changes with this new information."
Armed with new knowledge from the DPS training, Kunz and his staff will return to Utah to begin implementing monitoring improvements. Kunz will be installing SiteCAMs at several remote sites. "By watching our technicians we can help step them through what is going on," said Kunz. "It can also help if we have an intrusion alarm or a fire alarm. We can instantly see what's going on."
Before attending training, Kunz's staff had already taken advantage of their T/Mon NOC to reduce their dependence on the company call center. "T/Mon has added email and text message notification to our technicians, so we do not need the call center as much as we used to. Before we would have to rely on someone trying to get a hold of us. Now alarms are sent to us immediately."
During training, Wireless Director Jimmy Clegg learned another use for his T/Mon system. "During the winter we get a lot of snow, and we need to exercise the generators." Jimmy said. "I was impressed by how we can use T/Mon and NetGuardians to latch our generators. That has been really helpful because we need to exercise those units."
Using control relays to operate their generators remotely instead of traveling to the site will cut down on a lot of costly windshield time for All West.
During their week of training, the All West staff took full advantage of the DPS technicians and learned new ways to better monitor their sites. With their new knowledge and equipment, they can more effectively reduce risk, expense, and lost revenue.
And if they encounter any problems, All West can call on their DPS partners. "The DPS technical assistance group was wonderful," said Kunz. "They got us going, and now with training, we can start to do it ourselves. DPS has been very beneficial."