Founded in 1894, Consolidated Communications is a family of companies providing advanced voice, data, and video services to both residential and business customers in Illinois and Texas. Consolidated Communications offers a wide range of services over its technologically advanced network, including local and long distance, high-speed Internet access, digital television, private line, and carrier services.
Billy Young is a Central Office Engineer for Consolidated Communication's Texas operations, and he recently found himself face-to-face with a tricky monitoring challenge.
Young was searching for an RTU that would function reliably in the 110-degree Texas heat. "We wanted to monitor our cabinets, and there was nothing hardened out there that worked within our network architecture," Young said, adding "We were limited on space. We only had one rack unit."
And Young was looking to squeeze a lot of functionality into that one rack unit. "We wanted a T1 interface with Frame Relay support. We wanted an Ethernet hub in the back, and we wanted it to be T1-fed," Young said. "We wanted to have 16 scan points, some control relays and some analog relays, and we wanted it web-based."
Young's search for a solution took him to several vendors. Some of them saw his desire for Frame Relay support as more of a nuisance than an opportunity.
The response from one was, "Absolutely not," recalled Young. "They said PPP was their existing design and they weren't going to change it."
When he had trouble finding an RTU to meet the unique demands of Consolidated's network, Young knew just where to turn. "I've had a good relationship with DPS Telecom. I've been dealing with them for years," he said.
DPS Telecom's NetGuardian RTUs have been performing well at Consolidated for quite some time. "They're reliable," Young said. "We have about 160 deployed at this time, some have been deployed since '99, and I would say we might have a 1% failure rate."
And Young recognizes the value of reliable alarm monitoring. When Mother Nature recently threatened Consolidated's network, Young's investment in monitoring equipment paid off. "Hurricane Rita struck last year, and where we had NetGuardians, we were able to look at the voltage and watch it drop," he said. "We were able to determine from that number when we needed to take a generator out. We could look at sites and tell, 'This one has more voltage than this one, so we need to move a generator here.' These proved to be an invaluable tool during one of our company's biggest crises."
But for this particular job, Young needed a combination of specialized features that no existing NetGuardian had.
Fortunately, DPS Telecom is well equipped to design, produce, and deliver customized products. Because it controls every part of its operations in-house, DPS is able to quickly develop perfect-fit solutions for its very satisfied clients.
Billy Young witnessed the process firsthand. It all started with his call to a DPS sales engineer. After establishing the client's needs, DPS executed its time-tested new product development process. In the end, Consolidated got exactly the product they needed.
The new product is the NetGuardian 216T, and it has already solved several of Consolidated's monitoring problems. "One of our small offices is very remote, and we haven't had detailed monitoring there," said Young. "But since all it took was a T1, we now have monitoring of all our environmentals and network connectivity for some very critical equipment," Young continued. "It gives our technicians access to the network to check email, do testing, or look up records, and it saves time on truck rolls because now we can access it remotely."
When asked about his satisfaction with the final product, Young let his purchase orders do the talking. "I've taken the liberty of ordering fifty, and I intend to order additional units next year," he replied. "What does that say?"
Throughout the development process, Young never questioned whether Consolidated would find the perfect fit. "I had no doubt that whatever DPS committed to, they'd do it," he recalled. "And they have."
Young has advice for anyone else considering a custom-engineered monitoring solution. "They need to get their technical specs and contact DPS Telecom," he said. "We've had nothing but a positive experience. It took very little time, and we got the product we wanted."
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