Installation is only one part of upgrading, augmenting and replenishment of network equipment. Once installation of equipment is completed, it needs to be commissioned and integrated with related network elements so as to reliably provide a telecommunications service.
In the OSP (Outside Plant network), when working with RF networks and HFC networks, it is necessary to commission devices (configuration of RF drive levels, optical alarm thresholds, etc). When TPS commission, we configure equipment dependant on its installation characteristics. For example, when an amplifier is commissioned, it is configured so that a pre-determined RF output level can be achieved. The configuration will significantly vary, dependant on the in coming RF levels, which are governed by the distance from the signal source (e.g. optical node), the quantile and type of passives and the length and type of cables used.
All of these configuration parameters are pre-determined by our RF designers, but of course vary on a instance-by-instance basis, meaning that the technicians performing final commissioning are essentially “fine-turning” the configuration. All work performed by TPS is done so on live, production networks. As such, it is important to reduce any network impact time and keep it to a bare minimum. We achieve this in many ways, but its very important that staff are trained on the quick and correct operation of test equipment, hardware and procedures. One of the ways TPS achieve this is to train staff with the use of our tailored and configurable test bed network. The “test network” allows any “real-life” network element to be accurately configured and tested.
Commissioning for IP networks is a little different, in that specific software and port configurations need to be performed on routers and switches. TPS staff are experienced and working with Cisco, FirstMile, AlliedTelesyn, Cablevision, Nortel, Arris, Fibrolan, Dell and Juniper network switches and routers. Often configuration will include setting of VLAN’s, port speeds, duplex orientation, etc. When using optics (such as SFP transceivers), we use Cisco’s DOM (Digital Optical Monitoring) to measure optical input and output, or failing that fall back to using light sources and optical power meters.
After configuration and commissioning is performed, we typically need to certify our work. We do this by performing proof of performance testing.
During performance of commissioning works, we also test and verify that installed alarm triggers are working and notify the appropriate upstream systems. For example, with a rack installation we typically install and commission PDP (Power Distribution Panel) CB (Circuit Breaker) and RF (Rack Feed) alarms. The intention is that should a circuit breaker be triggered, then the alarm will trip and notify staff at the operators AMC (Alarm Monitoring Centre) or GOC (Global Operations Centre). When commissioning racks for nbn in newly established network sites, it also became necessary to commission DEM’s (DC Environmental Monitors). A DEM will measure currant flow, voltage and temperature. Ultimately, when we commission these, we install current clamps over DC feed cables. We calibrate these during the commissioning phase by adjusting the software settings in the DEM, when compared to performance of calibrated voltage measuring equipment.
When we commission a new device, for example a optical receiver, we encounter DOA (Dead on Arrival) hardware. To combat this occurrence from hindering the deployment of a program, we carry spare modules and components so that they can be changed out onsite. Swap out incorporates the disconnection and reconnection of cables, swapping of the faulty module, but also cross grading firmware within intelligent modules. We do this because some of our clients request that specific versions of firmware and software be used.
TPS also record serial numbers of all recovered, replaced and installed active equipment. We do this to update our clients inventory systems, but also so that we provide traceability for all hardware deployment and can later target specific batches of equipment deployed in networks.
After installation and during commissioning it is necessary to connect to other equipment within the telephone exchange or data centre. This connectivity is usually a combination of optical coaxial and data links. During the planning phase of the works, ports are allocated in other devices and they are checked for availability during our audits. Final connectivity isn’t usually established until we commission and integrate the equipment. With IP networks we deal with addressing and sub-netting requirements, however with RF networks, we often find that our integration works usually trigger additional configurational and certification works on existing equipment.
For example, when we deploy an ONS rack, we establish connectivity for broadcast and return sweep from existing RF combiner racks. If these racks are “out of specification”, then we need to address these issues first. Because most broadcast links are provided with analogue optics, slight environmental changes to the optical path (micro bends, shifting of cables in the OSP environment, reaching of links, etc) modify the RF output of the various receivers along the way.
Recertification of these broadcast links can trigger minor or major works. For example, a very slight adjustment (if optical levels are in specification) can be achieved by adjusting the RF properties of the receiver. However, more major adjustment can trigger a requirement to also adjust upstream and downstream devices. This could be as major as adjusting 5+ optical nodes, several network sites, or as minor as adjusting some amplifiers in the same rack. No matter how complicated, TPS staff are experienced at identifying cause and providing remedial actions so as to meet design specifications for all work they perform.
Ask us today how we can help with complicated augmentation, commissioning and integration solutions today.