Last week we got to the point where Verizon sent AFC a letter about the poor quality of deliveries for FiOS Lab Tests. Well, things began to sort themselves out and in July Verizon announced service in Keller, Texas.
Things were still pretty shaky from a product quality standpoint, but they were good enough for us to begin. And what happened was – Verizon sold the product like hotcakes. We completely sold out the first Optical Line Terminal (OLT) very quickly. I have no idea what they thought in Verizon, but we were stunned.
We had similar experiences in other locations as they began rolling out FiOS. But I have to tell you that Murphy stalked this project. What could go wrong did. A simple example is when Verizon got the first shipment of Optical Network Terminals (aka ONTs – the boxes put on the side of homes) they could not accept the way we shipped them. So, we had to take them back and repackage the shipment.
It wasn’t just us. There simply weren’t standards and methods that covered what we were doing. We often defaulted to methods that we could all at least look at. An example was environmental testing of ONTs. They were replacing the Network Interface Device (NID) that was on the side of the home. NIDs are passive. They are simply wiring. An ONT requires electronics to convert the Fiber Optic Signals to Twisted Pair, Ethernet and Coax. The only specification available (the one for NIDs) required us to add a LOT of hardening to the ONT. Was it required? Who knows, but the only specification that was for that kind of equipment said it was.
Verizon had to train a lot of people to change its deployments. We could tell when a new area started rolling out because problems we had seen in more mature areas started occurring again. We had lots of calls to help manage the roll-out. Many times our product quality didn’t even hit the top 10 issues that were going on. We were just one piece of what was a huge project inside Verizon.
I think many people forget how hard it is to take technology and make it deployable by semi-skilled labor at a pretty high volume. Their goals were to be able to deploy 2 customers per day per tech and to do so at the same service level as Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS).
So as things went, FiOS was going to work. Which given our ONT cost was good and bad. But the Tellabs acquisition was proceeding as well. Which is up next.
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