"I use the ArcGIS Explorer [or the] ArcGIS Field Maps app daily. We are approximately 85 percent complete converting to our copper plant into fiber, so when I use the app for our copper plant, I use it to see distance when qualifying cable. This helps me to determine if this customer will need to be bonded for service or not."
Piedmont Rural Telephone Cooperative—Leveraging ArcGIS to Modernize Operations
The legacy technology used by teams was cumbersome, required manual data updates, and allowed for inconsistent data availability and accuracy.
Deploying ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Pro from Esri gave PRTC a comprehensive and collaborative environment for all operations, with easy-to-use maps and data-rich dashboards.
PRTC's GIS laid the foundation for streamlined operations, simplified workflows, and real-time information and reporting capabilities.
GEOGRAPH Technologies, LLC
At first glance, many may believe the "C" in the PRTC logo stands for "Communications." After all, PRTC is a communications company. However, for PRTC, the "C" stands for something the company believes is more important. It stands for "Cooperative."
The team at Piedmont Rural Telephone Cooperative (PRTC) will tell you: the company is much more than communications, more than wireless and telephone and internet. PRTC is a cooperative. As a cooperative, staff members work together to get things done. PRTC customers are members, and membership keeps everyone connected.
Staff will also tell you that, as a local cooperative, PRTC provides superior service to its members. With 24/7 technical support for network operations, PRTC employees are dedicated in providing excellent service. Simply put, PRTC is the local service provider that customers can count on.
As a cooperative, PRTC has been around since 1951and is home to 38 employees. PRTC's network covers roughly 469 square miles, and there are approximately 10,000 members in the cooperative. The PRTC network consists of six ILEC (Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier] telephone exchanges, a single large CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier), and three smaller CLECs. Currently, PRTC is working on fiber-to-the-house (FTTH) build-outs, with the last two exchanges currently under construction.
At PRTC and other telecommunications service providers, the availability and accuracy of network infrastructure maps are a foundational necessity and directly impact the customer and employee experience. The team at PRTC needed a common system of record—a geographic information system (GIS)—for maintaining correct information and enabling secure workflows that allow employees throughout the organization to easily access, update, and utilize data.
Additionally, PRTC needed to simplify the system for verifying both contracts and continuing property records (CPR). Staff needed to move users to a modern solution—and away from problematic legacy procedures—and teams throughout the organization needed an easier method to provide and reference key performance indicators and other reporting information.
The legacy processes and systems included the following problems:
- No remote or disconnected capabilities
- Data and information not easily accessible
- Excessive time needed for verification of continuing property records
- The need to update laptops in the field once a week
- Multiple software licensing and maintenance needs
To rightsize the solution to fit the needs of the organization and meet its challenges, PRTC deployed ArcGIS Online and its suite of applications. PRTC field operations teams utilize applications such as ArcGIS Field Maps for referencing information while mobile.
Additionally, the teams leverage ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online to provide a comprehensive and collaborative environment for PRTC's operations, such as data-rich and easy-to-use maps and dashboards.
PRTC has also deployed the CrescentLink Desktop solution from Esri partner GEOGRAPH to help manage copper and fiber tracing and connectivity in ArcGIS. This collaborative approach helps deliver a seamless and secure sharing of geospatial data to ArcGIS Online which hydrates Field Maps, Dashboards, and other operational ArcGIS applications with up to date network information.
By leveraging the capabilities and flexibility an enterprise license agreement in ArcGIS Online, PRTC was able to achieve a solution for the entire organization with the following advantages:
- No software to purchase, maintain, or stop and scale up
- Seamless real-time data delivery, and the elimination of the weekly need to update data to laptops in the field
- Remote capabilities in areas with no internet access
- Pervasive access to critical information, maps, and applications
- Streamlined and simplified workflows
- Automated dashboards for contracts verification and to simplify the publishing of reporting to management
- Elimination of PRTC's tabular legacy CPR system, replacing it with GIS
Furthermore, PRTC is performing its fiber overbuild of existing facilities by leveraging the tools and applications GIS provides has improved the buildout's accuracy. PRTC also added a workflow with tightly integrated procedures, allowing the team to identify copper to be abandoned or removed over time, and easily verifying field copper ped removals against invoicing.