How do you “hack” a 60-year-old Telco B.A.U. approach?

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At US Software Solutions, we have a knack for ingenious Software products that fuel Digital Transformation across multiple industries. Together with our colleagues from Utilities One (one of the fastest-growing American Infrastructure service providers), we research and craft innovative Telecom solutions to accelerate widespread Fiber Broadband adoption across the US.

This time, we teamed up for an in-depth exploration of all the possibilities modern Software brings for Pole Loading calculations. A Hackathon bound to shake the foundations of the Telecom industry and redefine outdated practices through a modern approach and cutting-edge technology. 

What “hacking” is

The term “hack” did not originate from computers. Instead, it originated with MIT's Tech Model Railroad Club in 1961 when club members hacked their high-tech train sets to modify their functions.

Hacking applies to any industry or social dimension. The most known industry is software development, where hacking means accessing unauthorized resources. In marketing, hacking was recently materialized through “viral artifacts.” The business emerged hacking with Uber nascence, which changed how the business was thought, planned, and developed.

A hack can be done whenever new technologies are developed or multiple industries collide, creating new untrodden paths. For instance, Ethical Hacking enhances the security of the system or a network by fixing the weak points and vulnerabilities identified during the testing.

The Telecom thorn 

At US Software Solutions, we work across multiple industries, including Software, Telecom, Power, and Energy efficiency. 

The problem we tried to hack is an old thorn in the Telecom industry. It is how you place new fiber on an existing pole infrastructure network, minimizing costs but benefitting from efficiencies.

Usually, to extend a fiber network to an area using an aerial approach (fiber on poles), you need to do a pole loading analysis (calculations) to verify if a pole will support a new fiber being put on it.

Typically, this problem is addressed through industry-accepted software programs. But before the engineering calculations even start, you need field data, data about the pole itself, its height, type of structure, its diameter, and assessment of the existing communication & power lines, including all tensions with an additional 50 parameters. 

All of them being calculated together will give you, in the end, a mathematical model proving the pole will support (or not) a new fiber load for the next century. Currently, this data gathering is done the way it has been done for the last 60 years – you send a team on the ground to collect data for you.

Data Gathering is costly, mainly because you are paying the overhead for a team’s transportation & accommodations.

Understanding the challenge of getting rid of transportation and accommodation costs, we asked ourselves how to resolve this problem. We decided to use the Uberization approach: use the existing human resources in the area you are placing a new fiber. And the big question we were set to answer was: Is it possible for an untrained man or woman to perform the pole Data Gathering step? If the answer is “YES,” we’d eliminate transportation and accommodation costs.

The solution

The challenge our team, together with Utilities One colleagues, faced was to develop a toolbox and training material to get any untrained man or woman proficient in pole data gathering – in 2 days!

The Hackathon started with a team of 4 engineers, 2 US Software Solutions engineers and 2 Utilities One Telco engineers. Consequently, our team: 

  1. has crafted a non-expensive measurement toolbox; 
  2. developed a mobile application to do all the specific photo-shooting and data extraction. 

The mobile application and the crafted tools at the end should generate the necessary data so that pole-loading engineering can be done. Both parts of the problem were successfully proven as viable! 

Our Hackathon team has delivered a POC (software and hardware) that was tested with some of the Utilities One colleagues (with no prior knowledge about pole line engineering), and the results were fantastic! All the necessary raw data was successfully collected! The toolbox worked perfectly, and the mobile application was used to collect the required photos for pole data generation!

48 Hours of work! Intense software and telco collaboration revealed a fantastic opportunity for Pole Data Gathering – a 50% cost reduction! Put on a national scale, that’s an entirely new business for Telecommunications providers in the US!

Stay tuned; an upcoming launch is planned for this unique Utilities One platform, and we predict this will shake the Telecom aerial fiber design industry!


Sergiu Robu

General Manager

US Software Solutions joined forces with Utilities One to redefine the fundamentals of the Telecom industry. This partnership has the mission to simplify Pole Data Gathering for Telcos, helping them minimize expenses and improve the bottom line thanks to Digital Transformation.

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