BG Communications, an emerging network operator, is working closely with a large number of municipalities in Austria to build Open Access FTTH. Since 2021, they, with their subsidiary regioHELP, have been using COS Service Zones to capture customer interest and the COS Business Engine for operations. Automated provisioning is supported by COS’ partnership with Nokia.

In Austria, fibre penetration is not even 10% and especially in many rural regions it is a challenge to participate in the modern digital world. Erwin Moser, co-founder of RegioHELP, is a passionate advocate of projects oriented towards the common good. He was instrumental in the construction of a municipal wind farm as well as a area-wide fibre optic network in his hometown of Munderfing. After seeing the massive local support and benefits of the fibre network, he and his partner Willem Brinkert, co-founder and CEO of regioHELP and BG Communications, started looking for ways to roll out fibre on a larger scale and for the benefit of the region.

“After the expansion of the area-wide community network in Munderfing, my team and I were convinced that this could also be done in larger regions and even more efficiently. It was a matter of finding a model that benefits the regions and the citizens and makes sense from a financial point of view. That’s how we came up with our model. We work closely with the municipalities and the ownership rights are transferred to the municipalities in the long term. But initially we will take on all the work to get the network built and operational. By doing this on a large scale in several regions, we can be much more effective than one municipality could be alone,” Erwin Moser comments.

“To make this model work, we understood we needed an operations platform, a BSS/OSS, tailor built for Open Access and with a proven track record of enabling cost efficient and scalable operations. With COS Systems end-to-end platform, we found what we needed. With everything from the initial interest survey to pre-signups and zero-touch provisioning of services from multiple providers in one platform our operations are streamlined. We can simply do more with less people and scale faster”, says Willem Brinkert.

“We are honored to be supporting RegioHELP in their efforts to bring Open Access fiber to residents in these unserved and underserved regions. It aligns very well with our company mission to help connect the unconnected. We believe our software and knowledge within this space will help regiohelp scale faster and provide affordable high-speed broadband to more people sooner!”, says COS Systems CEO Mikael Philipsson.

 

About BG Communications:
BG Communications is a young innovative company that builds a nationwide fibre infrastructure for municipalities. As a disruptive player in the German-speaking fibre optic infrastructure scene, BG Communications relies on a cooperative model and thus direct cooperation with the municipalities. With the subsidiaries regioHELP eG and Glasfaser Spezial-Bau GmbH, a multitude of tasks are mapped “in-house”, allowing processes to be optimised and synergy effects to be used to enable efficient fibre optic expansion.

About COS Systems:
COS SYSTEMS provides Fiber to the Home operators and network owners all around the world with software for automating and digitizing every aspect of their Broadband venture. The COS software has a strong focus to support the end-to-end process and Open Access for best-in-class ROI and scalability in fiber to the home projects.
Learn more about COS Systems on www.cossystems.com.

COS Systems is a world leader in software for Fiber-to-the-home operators. With a unique offering for the end-to-end-automation of networks open to multiple providers (Open Access Ready networks), COS is extremely well positioned as this operating model grows exponentially world-wide. To grab this market opportunity, COS is looking to fill positions within marketing and sales.

One of the major aftermaths of the global pandemic is the expedited transfer to digital channels for everything from education, work, healthcare and entertainment. This global mega trend combined with massive grant programs, and readily available private investments for broadband infrastructure investments is making our market niche, fiber-to-the-home, explode.

At COS we are confident the future of marketing is digital and extremely targeted. As a digital Marketing Manager at COS you will have the opportunity to co-create our digital marketing strategy and then execute on it. We’re looking for a multi-talented professional who can produce content, drive marketing efforts, and work with multiple platforms such as Hubspot and LinkedIn to build and grow a solid pipeline of leads.

With unprecedented demand for our software solutions and increased marketing efforts, we also have an urgent need to increase our sales capacity. We are looking for Senior Sales Executives in both North America (USA or Canada) and Europe. Experience from the Fiber broadband industry and software is a strong qualification.

Read more about the open positions on our website and reach out to our hiring manager Isak Finer with any questions.

We’re starting off 2022 by heading out to see our clients, partners and potential customers. COS and their expanded North American team are hitting the road and heading to conferences – In person!

Don’t miss us as we exhibit at NTCA’s RTIME Event February 13-16th. Stop by booth 26 to discuss how we can help you double your take rates!

Next Stop – New Orleans! COS is heading back to FISPA Live!

We’re excited to attend the leading telecom conference for fiber ISP’s. We were too late to get hold of a booth, but schedule a meeting with our team and learn how COS can help you plan for funding, increase take rates and bring zero touch automation to your operations.

Reach out to ashley.poling@cossystems.com!

COS is excited to announce the expansion of their North American market presence and demand with the hiring of Ashley Poling to the position of Senior Sales Executive. Ashley joins COS with roughly 8 years experience in the community broadband and fiber to the home industry.

With a broadband consultancy background, Ashley has extensive experience working with municipalities, electric utilities and cooperatives to plan and launch fiber and broadband networks across the US from feasibility to network marketing.

Her deep understanding of how community broadband networks are planned and implemented will be critical to assisting COS’ existing and potential clients as they look to conduct broadband surveys, aggregate demand and ensure their network is built with quality data and take-rate goals, and that networks are designed for a successful operations with a fully automated and integrated BSS/OSS solution.

Most importantly Ashley brings her can do attitude to COS and dedication and belief that everyone should have access to world class fiber broadband. She is committed to ensuring her customers have the best tools to guarantee that fast, affordable broadband reaches every household, and that broadband operations become feasible across all markets and business models.

“We’re thrilled to have Ashley join our growing North American team. Her broad knowledge in our industry will make her a key player to ensure our, and most importantly, our clients’ success,” says COS Systems CRO Isak Finer.

Open Access models have been garnering more attention in Canada due to public funding requirements and as a part of Public Private Partnership (P3)-based municipal investments.

Isak Finér, COS Systems Chief Revenue Officer, will be speaking at Monday’s panel, 1:00-1:55 PM EST.
This panel will provide context and clarity to the definitions around Open Access, will discuss business and operating models, opportunities for service innovation and explore lessons learned from active Open Access network providers.

Canada’s Rural & Remote Broadband Conference is hosting their Winter Event on Monday, December 13th.

Click here to read more and register for the Event!

COS Service Zones is built to streamline the process of getting a fiber network started and managing the buildout communications. The first step is often a broadband survey, building a comprehensive map of the existing providers, available speeds and the need for better broadband in the community. In the latest release of COS Service Zones, we’ve launched several improvements for the survey portion of the platform.

While there is flexibility to modify and add to the built-in survey questions in COS Service Zones, the standard questions are geared towards asking the most crucial and concise questions. Yet, as with all surveys some people never finish them. The reason might not have anything to do with the survey length, they may have gotten distracted for some reasons or another. In our latest survey release, we split the survey into different steps which will capture survey data throughout. After the customer has searched for their address, next would be their email address, then thereafter we take them through the survey step by step while continuously saving data. This will enable you to later analyze at which step the survey taker drops off. Perhaps it was at the point where proposed services and prices were shown? Can it be an indication that the assortment is not what customers were looking for? Or that the prices are too high?

The other benefit of partially saving the data and requesting the email address early is the follow-up automation we’ve been able to build. COS Service Zones has a template-based email engine built into the platform, it can be used to automate personalized follow-up emails. For the customer that did not complete the survey but did share their email address, the system can now automatically send out an email to that person asking them to complete the incomplete survey, and again emphasize the importance of the data to move forward with the broadband plans. The email will include the link which will take them exactly to the step in the survey where they dropped off previously, they can just complete the last steps instead of starting over. If the person still doesn’t take the survey, another email with a slightly different message will go out after a few additional days. Everything to maximize the number of completed surveys. These emails are also an excellent way to try to figure out why those reluctant to finish the survey feel that way. By simply asking why, they could reply to the system generated email and let you know what issue they had.

Another important set of data collected in the COS Service Zones survey phase is the customer’s current internet speed, by asking them to initiate a speed test. To ensure that the data is as accurate as possible, the survey will first confirm if they are using the connection that they would replace with a new fiber connection. If the answer is NO, then the speed test will not show up at the end of the survey, as that would corrupt the data. Often those who are not using their home connection are at some public place like the library or at work, where they typically have faster speeds than their home service. We’ve also added automation to maximize the number and the accuracy of the speed test results received. For those who took the survey and never completed the speed test from their home connection, an automated reminder email will be sent out. And those who indicated that they were not using their home connection and later never completed a speed test, another email will be sent explaining that once they are using the connection that they would be interested in replacing, they can follow the link in the email that will take them to their mypages, where they can start the speed test. The result of the speed test will automatically be mapped to their submitted survey. This process will also fetch the IP address, which determines the current home connection provider, thus a map of the competitive landscape can be understood.

These are just some of the new features that are now live with the latest system upgrade. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you would like a walkthrough of everything COS Service Zones helps you with in the initial phases of your fiber project and throughout the buildout or expansion!

A small budget, long distances and low population density surely does not sound like the best prerequisites for a fiber network buildout. By working in a structured, but still creative way and with a good dialogue with the local community it is still feasible. It has been proven over the last six years since Kitsap PUD started to work with COS to build demand for and operate their Open Access fiber network.

To understand how this success story began, we must jump back all the way to 2003. As members of NoaNet (Northwest Open Access Network), another customer of COS, Kitsap Public Utility District (KPUD) got access to the fiber backbone that was built throughout the rural parts of Washington State. In 2003 KPUD started building a middle mile network, branching off from the NoaNet fiber ring and connected their first community anchor tenants; schools, libraries, navy facilities, but also a number of businesses. Being a water utility and not having the big budgets as some of the electric utilities in Washington State have, it was a slow but steady buildout that generated a small, but positive cash flow. An excellent starting point for any community wishing to initiate a fiber project as not only costs can be lowered to the anchor institutes, but that the revenue from those fiber connections will also stay local.

Over the coming years, the incumbent telecom companies didn’t improve their presence in the county much and not only businesses, but also residents started to ask if KPUD could expand their fiber network to reach them, as some other PUD’s in the state had done. KPUD decided to find a way to determine if there was a big interest for this and that is when they started working with COS Service Zones. Within just a few days from launching the site, the response was overwhelming with over 2000 completed surveys. The lack of high speed and quality broadband in the county was clear.

KPUD is running their network on an Open Access model and is operating it using COS Business Engine. This means they are not themselves providing the retail services but invite private sector providers to do so. Already from the start several Service providers saw the benefit of being able to reach new customers without any investments in infrastructure, even though the numbers were initially small.

So, without a big budget how were they able to expand their networks in these rural areas? The secret recipe is called LUD:s (Local Utility Districts). While the middle mile network is expanded by a mix of cash flow revenue, tax dollars and grants, the last mile connections to the homes are paid by the homeowners, but it is not a one-by-one thing. Instead, in neighborhoods or areas where KPUD has identified a high demand with COS Service Zones the total cost for the buildout is calculated and the cost per household is determined. Residents will decide if they want to participate or not and high participation obviously leads to a lower cost. Residents have the option to pay upfront, but many choose to spread the cost out over time through one of the partnerships KPUD has established with local banks that will allow a long term loan with a fixed interest rate and a lean on the property. Even if these costs can in some less densely populated areas be quite substantial, people are willing to sign up knowing it will not only provide a better internet service, but also increase their property value. Just recently the very last homeowner who didn’t opt-in initially in one of the first LUD’s decided to connect – effectively a 100% take-rate in that neighborhood, even though the last mile connection has to be paid by the homeowner. Another rural COS Open Access customer, neighboring Mason PUD3, is also using a model where customers can pay off their installation over time with a $25 monthly construction adder to the cost of their service for 12 years.

Angela Bennink, Telecom Director at KPUD, explains that the Open Access model is a big proponent of the network and the choice it offers make people more willing to sign up and connect. Subscribers know that the competition between multiple providers will ensure a good quality of service and reasonable prices. And switching between providers is made extremely easy by the self-service broadband Marketplace provided with the COS Business Engine operations platform.

“Our biggest challenge now is keeping up with demand,” says Bennink.

Especially during this Covid-19 pandemic the need for broadband has been extreme. The proximity to Seattle, across the water also makes the population grow at a rapid pace. 100 000 new residents are expected in the coming three years and KPUD is working with developers to make sure they put in conduit for fibers as they build.

“We have slowly and steadily grown and we will add close to 500 new customers this year and as many next year. We have found a model that really works with our prerequisites and the functionality to streamline the capture of interest and the operations of our Open Access network provided by COS System’s platforms has been a part of that success,” says Bennink.

“It’s been an absolute honor to have been part of KPUD’s journey from the first survey responses coming in, to the successful growth they are showing today. They have proved that with a strong localized strategy and perseverance rural fiber is possible,” says Isak Finer, Chief Revenue Manager at COS Systems.

Fiber network deployments can be separated into two distinct phases – Distribution network buildout and customer connections, often referred to as “drops”. COS Business Engine has always automated the activation of the ONT to validate and document the connection between the service location and the installed equipment to guarantee correct service provisioning. With the latest release of COS Business Engine we’ve launched a full workflow solution for managing and documenting customer connections.

Once you’ve got fiber built to the street, connecting a new customer to your network may sound to some like an easy task. “Just send the crew out and get it done!” Well, this is another one of those things in running a fiber network that are easier said than done. If you start to break down all the work of getting a customer installed into smaller tasks, you will quickly realize that it requires an almost overwhelming amount of planning, coordination, information sharing and documentation to avoid problems.

 

A typical workflow could look like this:

1. A customer has signed up and you’ve decided it’s time to connect their home.

2. Drop design. A fiber drop assignment must be made from the connection point in the street to the house. It requires information about where the fiber terminal is, what it looks like at the location, which building and where on that building the fiber should be connected, etc.

3. Staging the drop. As the fiber drop design is complete a person has to access that information to know what equipment has to be prepared for the installation crew as they go out to do the installation. What length of drop cable is to be used? Which type of ONT? What kind of enclosure?

4. Build the drop. A crew will take the prepared material and drive out to the home to connect and bury/hang the drop fiber cable from the fiber terminal in the street to the wall of the house to connect. It’s key that the correct material has been prepared and that fiber drop information is easily accessible.

5. Install the network interface unit. This is where the fiber drop cable terminates at the outer wall of the house.

6. Install the ONT/CPE. This is the final step, before the subscriber can go live with their service. The in-home installation crew will drill through the outer wall and pull a fiber through to the inside of the house and install the ONT where the customer has chosen to put it. It includes the activation and confirmation that the correct ONT is installed at the correct location. If this is not correct, service orders from one customer could be provisioned to the neighbor! Such errors can be incredibly time consuming to resolve since you may have to come into customers’ homes.

7. Configure the service and test the connection port is performing as expected.

 

All these tasks must be coordinated, and every person/crew involved must know for sure that the previous step was successfully completed. Imagine if a crew has an appointment to make the final installations in the customer’s home, then meeting up with the customer who has stayed home from work excited to start using their new service, and then finding out the fiber drop to the house has not yet been completed. That’s a huge waste of time and that subscriber will in a matter of seconds go from excited to extremely disappointed. This might be the worst possible scenario, but lack of control in this rather complex process will be extremely costly.

It’s also extremely valuable to have good documentation of how the work has been performed. Not only to continuously verify that installation crews/subcontractors are doing quality work, but also for future support and maintenance.

 

Deployment portalThis screenshot shows the installer’s view of the installation workflow. The customer and service location information is there and also the status of each and every task in the installation workflow.

 

With the new customer installation workflow in COS Business Engine we’ve solved all of these potential pitfalls. As soon as a new customer location is created, either manually or by an import, but most likely through the integration to our demand aggregation platform COS Service Zones, a complete installation work order is created. This work order includes a set of predefined tasks that can then be assigned to the appropriate installer responsible to execute it. Each person will have a user profile set up in COS Business Engine where they will be able to access all the relevant information about the task to be performed on their own device. An installer will have all their work orders and tasks listed on their overview page as they log into their installer view in COS Business Engine.

Any files, be it drawings, signed contracts or pictures taken in the field, will be available to not only the admin user, but also every installer with tasks to perform in that specific customer connection. With real-time access and updates there is no need to distribute papers and manually confirm work performed using phone or email.

This new functionality is part of the standard set of features delivered with the COS Business Engine and we’re excited to receive feedback from our existing and new customers as they start using it.

Finally, a special shout-out to the great team at WideOpen Networks in Virginia who are using our full product suit to manage everything from initial interest surveys, to pre-signups in fiberhoods with take-rate targets, taking deposits, managing the customer connection workflows described in this blog post, to the Marketplace where subscribers can manage their own service orders on their Open Access network and finally billing. Their vast experience provided invaluable feedback in our development of this new functionality.

The FTTH market is set to grow at an unprecedented rate in North America, with skyrocketing demand for high-speed internet and both grants, public and private funding more readily accessible for fiber projects. To meet this surge in demand COS Systems is strengthening its presence by welcoming Linh Nguyen to the team as the Customer Success Director for North America.

“We are delighted to have found a person with such a perfect professional background and personality as Linh.” says COS Systems CEO Mikael Philipsson, who also recently joined COS Systems as the company sets out for rapid growth.

Linh has extensive telecom experience, with the last fifteen years focused on almost every aspect of FTTH (Fiber-to-the-home). He started his FTTH career as one of the early employees at MetroNet and held various management positions within Engineering, Network Planning and Operations as the company grew from one to 15 communities served. The last five years before joining COS, Linh spent at Nokia as a Business Development Manager for the Fixed Networks with a focus on Tier 2 & 3 Market FTTH Operators.

In his current position as Customer Success Director, his vast experience in so many aspects of FTTH roll-outs and operations is extremely valuable. The COS Systems software suite is built to streamline everything from initial broadband interest surveys to zero-touch activation of subscriber orders placed on the online Marketplace. The software implementation projects typically include a lot of knowledge sharing and discussions on how to best configure the platforms to meet and exceed the operator’s expectations, and most importantly, create a fantastic subscriber experience. With his background, Linh can not only understand our clients’ needs, but also advice on best practices in FTTH operations.

In his free time Linh and his family love to travel near and far to experience new cultures in different cities and countries.

“The first couple of months with COS has been great! As the company is headquartered in Sweden I’ve had the opportunity to start learning the Swedish culture and how a Sweden based company operates. The Swedes are humble and are more likely to be too modest in what they can achieve than to over-promise. The software they have developed over the years is nothing but incredible in terms of the automation and efficiencies it brings to FTTH operators, “ says Linh.

Bringing Linh on-board is only the beginning and COS is actively recruiting more FTTH champions in the USA over the next couple of months.

“We are currently looking for two sales executives and believe we will also recruit another Customer Success Manager by the end of the year. Reach out to any of us at COS if you are interested in joining a successful international software company with ambitions to help give everyone access to fast and reliable internet and a connection for the future, “ says COS Systems Chief Revenue Officer Isak Finer.

Partnership to optimize network construction in line with customer demand and priority service zones, capitalizing on forecasted ~$100B near-term investment in network infrastructure.

Denver, Colo. – January 28, 2021 – Communication Service Providers (CSP) across North America and global markets will now be able to harness real-time, geospatial data to streamline customer sign-up to connection experience and significantly reduce network build-out duration.

Today COS Systems, provider of market-leading software platforms COS Business Engine and demand aggregation platform COS Service Zones, announced a partnership with Render Networks (Render), an innovative Digital Network Construction platform, to optimize the end-to-end delivery of fiber and wireless networks.

With escalating consumer expectations for connectivity and the forecasted $100B near-term investment in network infrastructure, optimal delivery is critical. The industry is looking to efficiencies and ‘best-of-breed’ technologies to accelerate broadband accessibility. This newly formed digital alliance and fully-integrated approach break through traditional network rollout constraints with proven demand, deployment, and network services management technology.

Together, COS and Render enable CSPs to quantify demand, build dynamically in response to evolving priorities, and – with real-time geospatial insights – dramatically improve deployment durations and connection experiences.

The COS software suite provides a customer and revenue-focused approach to network rollouts. COS Service Zones covers everything from initial broadband surveying to driving demand with pre-sign ups that inform deployment priorities. COS Business Engine provides customer-centric delivery of services, from the initial installation of equipment to a self-service marketplace that supports True Open Access Network, increasing customer choice while maximizing network utilization and revenue.

Render’s Digital Network Construction platform converts network designs to sequenced tasks for field crews and enables construction teams to build based on optimal build scenarios without manual, paper-based processes. Accurate as-built data is progressively collected and readily integrated into downstream systems, including COS Business Engine.

“With skyrocketing demand for connectivity and bandwidth, our industry is looking for solutions to rapidly deliver network infrastructure. Previous regulatory and funding constraints have subsided, and it’s incumbent on us to collaborate and seamlessly integrate to enable CSPs to achieve their network objectives.

At COS Systems, we’ve spent more than a decade automating traditional network processes. By integrating with Render, the industry has a highly automated network deployment and operations solution generating significant efficiencies for fiber and wireless projects.” said Isak Finer, CMO & VP North America at COS Systems.

“Given the pace at which the industry needs to deliver these networks, the ability to dynamically build for the greatest potential return has never been more important or achievable with the integration of our respective innovations,”

“Customer expectations are rising, and a digital-first demand to delivery approach can achieve significantly faster network ROI. We’re thrilled to partner with the team at COS Systems to accelerate the delivery of critical communications infrastructure at a time when it’s needed most.” said Sam Pratt, CEO for Render Networks

Both organizations are founding members of the Digital Network Alliance; best-in-class technology innovators with a shared mission to make available an integrated, end-to-end digital value chain for communications infrastructure planning, delivery, and operations.

About COS Systems
COS SYSTEMS is a leading provider of software to plan, deploy and operate modern broadband networks that support services from one or more providers, using a powerful yet simple self-service interface. Specializing in True Open Access Networks, COS Systems takes customer needs and delivers innovative software solutions that streamline operations, accelerate revenue, and deliver more satisfied subscribers. Learn more about COS Systems at www.cossystems.com

About Render Networks
Founded in 2013 with a mission to build networks better, Render has a successful history of streamlining large-scale network construction for network operators and construction teams across Australia and the United States. Utilizing GIS, mobile and automation technologies, Render’s Digital Network Construction approach solves the complexities associated with network deployment by digitizing design and construction workflows and eliminating manual hand-offs. Render converts a complex network design directly into simple tasks, defined on a map-based interface and sequenced for optimal delivery, resulting in cost and time efficiencies of up to 50 percent. Real-time, geospatial data provides a single, integrated view of progress to all stakeholders, improving project visibility and control across network rollouts.

For more information about Render, visit www.rendernetworks.com and follow Render on LinkedIn and Twitter

For additional information contact:

Isak Finer
CMO & VP North America
COS Systems
+1 (540) 988-3224
isak.finer@cossystems.com
www.cossystems.com