What is a Fiber Locator: Key Uses & Features
A fiber locator is a tool or service that is used to discover and distribute information on where fiber optic infrastructure exists. These tools are often used by network operators, telecom providers, VARs, IT teams, and MSPs to determine if a specific building is lit with fiber, or for buildings that are not lit, where the closest fiber infrastructure exists. Fiber lit buildings refer to on-net buildings that are already terminated with fiber from one or more providers.
More than just demonstrating where fiber exists, data generated by fiber locators can offer insight into which carriers have a presence in a certain region, what the competitive landscape looks like, and the fiber and bandwidth demands of local consumers.
Fiber locator tools often serve as a central database for telecommunications information that can be cross referenced to inform planned routes and partnership opportunities for telecom providers.
Using Fiber Locators for Network Maps & Building Lists
The goal of fiber locator tools is to help telecom professionals compile data on their own fiber assets, partner assets, competitor assets, and broader market intelligence in one place. This information is then consulted to plan new routes
This ensures that network teams can create visual representations of all of the fiber in a region, rather than having separate logs for their own assets and information on competitors purchased from third parties in separate files.
This integrated data allows for the creation of network maps or building lists that enhance visibility into consumer needs and competitor presence. Understanding of all of these elements together ultimately increases participation, as operators are more aware of opportunities to build new routes or expand reach through partner networks.
Biggest Benefits of a Fiber Locator
Fiber locator tools and services offer many benefits to network operators, VARs, and MSPs in the telecom space.
First, they enable operators to visualize their own fiber assets, as well as those of other providers, within a certain region. These fiber maps are essential when making decisions on fiber investments. Building telecom and fiberoptic infrastructure is highly capital intensive. Fiber maps and data enable network operators to strategically plan new routes based on their existing assets to ensure they are optimized to maximize ROI.
In addition to assisting in network planning, fiber locator data offers logistical and operational support for network and business management.
Compiling data and updating fiber maps to track lit buildings can be an incredibly time-consuming process. The current manual process for updating building lists and network coverage status, then formatting the information and distributing it, allows for updates only every nine months. Fiber locator tools and services can drastically reduce this time by automatically updating buildings lists and fiber maps, then properly formatting them to send to wholesale, channel, and enterprise clients.
Another benefit of fiber locator tools is that they centralize fiber route information, creating a system of record that the entire organization can refer to. A current challenge that network operators face when creating and distributing network maps and building lists of on-net, near-net, and off-net locations is version control. Traditionally, operators have created these records using static Excel and KMZ files, which were emailed between teams. However, all too often this resulted in network sales or engineering teams consulting the wrong, out of date document when making important strategy decisions. The centralized database offered by fiber locator tools ensure the entire organization is referencing the same current data.
Key Features of Fiber Locators
There are a few features that telecom professionals should look for in the fiber locator tools:
- Data Integration: Select a tool that offers a central repository for fiber infrastructure for owned, competitor, and partner routes and buildings.
- Scalability: Because fiber locators often yield a lot of data, make sure the tool you select can scale to accommodate high volumes of data without disrupting performance.
- Search Capabilities: This will allow operators to search for fiber infrastructure in a certain location. Tools should have search capabilities at the boundary and critical level – meaning they can search for all the routes in a town, or routes at a specific street address.
- Annotation: This feature will allow operators to make notes in building lists to differentiate various routes as existing, planned, competitor, etc.