Cloud Therapy: EP 021 – Diversify Your Business Internet Paths

September 12, 2016 Aerocominc

EP 021

When you ordered that back-up fiber Internet line for your company, did you ask your building management company for a map of how the cables are entering the building? Did you ask the ISP for a map of the collapse points?

If not, no worries. Listen to John Stephens conversation with Mike, take notes and use his tips when your next contract expires.

During his 23 years at Time Warner Cable Business Class, John has held nearly every technical position at the company. He knows about diverse paths into buildings because he’s actually built them, engineered them and done troubleshooting on them.

Josh Chamois also makes his usual appearance to tell everyone about a price for a 100M Internet connection that you won’t believe. After that, Mike asks him to find something outstanding in a building in NYC that everyone has heard of…

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Click below to view a fiber map of your building and get a quote on the top 3 ISP’s.

 

Transcript:

Mike Smith [host]: Cloud Therapy Episode 21. Hey, IT Nation, welcome to Cloud Therapy with AeroComInc.com where you learn about the latest cloud and telecom technology that is going to take your career to the next level. I’m your host Mike Smith. Let’s do it. Welcome everyone. Thank you for joining us on Episode 21. Wow! I can’t believe we’ve actually done 21 of these things already. The time is flying. And this episode definitely does not disappoint. Today I’ve got John Stephens joining us. He’s a sales engineer from Time Warner Cable Business Class. And John has actually been with Time Warner for 23 years. He started there when he was only 17 years old as he’ll tell us as someone just working in a store. And since then he’s held all kinds of different positions from every tier of support you can think of, to dispatch, to network engineer, to Ethernet support specialist and now a sales engineer. So he’s done it all for them, really gotten a huge amount of experience and he brings that to the table today in this interview. So John tells us today about the different types of business internet access like fiber, cable and DSL. And what I really got out of this conversation he and I had was the things he taught me about diversifying your access. So if you have two different internet connections coming in, knowing things about the entrances to the building that you should be paying attention to or the collapse points with the circuits that you’re bringing in with the different service providers. So he really gives a nice little list of ways you can check on how diverse your two internet connections truly are. So that’s what I really got out of this. And I know you’re going to get the same thing. So definitely look forward to that conversation. And we also, like we’ve been doing recently, we’ve got Josh Chamois joining us, our resident salesperson here at AeroComInc.com. And Josh is going to tell us how the heck you can get a 100M internet connection, that’s a synchronous internet connection, for your company for only $225 a month. There’s a promo going on right now and Josh is going to explain what type of internet connection that is and some of the details on that, as well as I am going to throw another curveball at Josh and tell him to give us a ballpark for a 100M connection in a very famous building in New York City. Can you guess what building I’m talking about? If not, you definitely have to wait and see for yourself. And as always, I’ve got a free gift for all of our podcast listeners. We love you guys. Thank you for listening. And as a token of our appreciation, I take the time every single month to put together this gift myself, and this month it’s a list of all the promotions, not just one like Josh is going to tell you about but all the promotions on business internet from all the major service providers that are out there right now. And there’s at least 50 line items on this list. So if you’re shopping for business internet, even if you listen to this way after it was originally published, this will give you a good baseline for what you should be looking at in terms of business internet connectivity, what type of pricing should these providers be throwing out to you. So from everything from Ethernet over copper, to fixed wireless, to fiber, there’s a ton of promotions from a ton of different providers. And this lists them all. So all you have to do to get it for free is text the word “ISP Deals” to the number 44222, again text the word “ISP Deals,” that’s deals plural, to the number 44222 and we will go ahead and shoot that document right on over to you for free. All right. So let’s get to the meat of this episode starting with Josh. What’s up, Josh? What do you have for us today?

Josh Chamois:
Hey, what’s up, Mike? I got some good stuff today. So this particular carrier I actually stumbled upon them when helping out one of my existing clients down in Huntington Beach. Their main objective was to get a backup circuit in place on their network. So they danced around or we danced around with a couple different ways we could achieve that with cable, DSL, but they wanted to get something with a little bit more bandwidth and a little bit more reliability.

So we actually found a particular carrier. This particular carrier offers Ethernet over fixed wireless. So they actually have a promotion going on right now through October 2016 and they’re offering a 100M symmetrical, which means 100M down and up, for $225 a month, free install. And the one stipulation is that the building that is in question or that wants to get this great pricing, it must be on their network. So there’s a couple of tools I can use to make sure that we cross that bridge and make sure we’re qualified and good to go on that promotion. But that is one stipulation, it has to be on net.

Mike Smith:
Fantastic. Well that’s awesome. Thanks for sharing that with us.

Josh Chamois:
No problem.

Mike Smith:
And then just like we did last time, I’ve got another challenge for you. Are you ready for it?

Josh Chamois:
Let’s do it.

Mike Smith:
So as we have done in the past, I like to throw out a famous place to Josh and test his skills to see. I give him a little challenge. He needs to find how many fiber providers are there, something like that, and just to show everybody that the things that we can do and how quickly do it and just have fun with it. So all right, Josh, Empire State Building.

Josh Chamois:
Empire State Building.

Mike Smith:
Give us just budgetary pricing for a 100M internet connection, not promotional pricing, I won’t make you do that, that might take a little bit more time. But just give us some budgetary pricing for a 100M dedicated internet connection at the Empire State Building.

Josh Chamois:
Budgetary pricing for a 100M circuit. Al right. Give me one sec. So I’m actually just throwing in some baseline information here, name of the opportunity, contact name. So since you don’t have a real contact, I’ll just put myself there and we’ll do this. All right. So I have a nice little handy dandy tool I use for stuff like this. Believe it or not, this is pretty frequent that I get request similar to this, not just random places but client store, existing clients that might need a quick quote, and it has to be quick, it has to be quick turnaround, so I utilize this tool to get that achieved.

Mike Smith:
Yeah, that makes sense. I think a lot of people are probably just browsing and saying, “Hey, we have a 10M right now.” But how much does a 100M cost? When they’re thinking of what kind of bandwidth they want, they’re thinking, “Well, should we go 50? Should we go 100? What’s the pricing of each?” That’s a pretty cool tool.

Josh Chamois:
Right. Yup. All right. So just finalizing the service address here. All right, let me just double-check to make sure that looks good. All right. Boom! All right, tool’s thinking, wheels are spinning.

Mike Smith:
While it’s thinking there, what would you say is probably the most common bandwidth amount that clients are asking you for these days, like the businesses are coming to you saying, “Hey, will you give us a quote on X amount of bandwidth?” What’s the typical amount that you’re seeing? What’s the most common?

Josh Chamois:
I would say the most common is a 100M. It’s competitive. I mean prices are continuing to go down for bandwidth and internet access. So the common number I’ve seen over the last year or so is a 100M internet connectivity.

Mike Smith:
Cool.

Josh Chamois:
All right. So still thinking, still thinking. Again, I think that the tool tends to think a little harder when you have a densely populated area like this where there’s just a ton of carriers that are trying to capture that business that’s in this specific area. I mean we’re talking New York, New York here and prime location if you’re running a business, so.

Mike Smith:
Yeah, it’s probably a lot of carriers that’s pulling information from. But yeah, while we’re doing that just tell us what you did over the weekend, anything fun?

Josh Chamois:
Over the weekend what did I do? My daughter, she had a basketball game, so we did that. Jeez, what else did we do? I think this past weekend was pretty chill now that I think about it. We just came off of about a week and a half, almost two weeks in Las Vegas for my son’s basketball tournament and then a subsequent family vacation which took a lot out of us, so we just laid low just trying to catch up and get back to normal speed of life.

Mike Smith:
Oh man, back-to-back.

Josh Chamois:
Yeah, back-to-back.

Mike Smith:
That’s brilliant.

Josh Chamois:
Lot of late nights and early morning hours. It was tough. But it was fun, it was fun.

All right, so we’re getting close. My tool is finalizing its results. Yeah, so the cool thing is to be able to offer quick information like this from a client. It just really shows value in my tool and myself, which is always a good thing. Speed kills. The faster the better, not only in sports but in the business world as well. And if we can be responsive and quick to act, I think we’re doing well.

So all right, I got some. Now you just wanted some budgetary pricing, correct?

Mike Smith:
Yeah.

Josh Chamois:
All right. So let me scrub this list a little bit. So the cool thing about this tool, it actually gives you quite a few different options. So I’m going to exile some of this access, so I got pricing back for 2 gigs, a gig, 600M, 500, 400, 300, 250, I’m going to narrow this down just to refine this list a little bit. All right. So budgetary bid for 100M symmetrical Empire State Building, best pricing I see right here, 1379.

Mike Smith:
1379.

Josh Chamois:
1379. Yup.

Mike Smith:
And that’s just budgetary.

Josh Chamois:
That’s budgetary.

Mike Smith:
That’s pretty good. So that’s basically the shelf price, 1379. So you know that we can get lower than that, right?

Josh Chamois:
Absolutely, yeah. If I get a channel manager involved, usually we can sharpen our pencil a little bit on that price point and get it down a little bit. Yup, you’re right.

Mike Smith:
What would you say in a high-rise building, in a major metropolitan area, what would you say, is it is a good price right now in – we’re recording this in August 2016 – we got to do the month because the prices are dropping so fast, but what would you say is a good price in your mind for a 100M in a building like that?

Josh Chamois:
In a building like that which per this list is just loaded with different carriers, I would say a competitive bid for a 100M you can probably get it as low as $700 a month. There’s a couple of carriers I have in mind that I won’t disclose the name but I’ve seen them quote bids as low as 600, even 400M dedicated symmetrical.

Mike Smith:
That’s for fiber, right?

Josh Chamois:
That’s for fiber, correct. And so I wouldn’t say 700 isn’t too far out of the realm of possibility, absolutely not, especially in an environment like this with so many different carriers coming in.

Mike Smith:
Yeah. And there’s always the promo that you mentioned earlier where there’s providers out there doing things crazy stuff like fixed wireless for $225, so it can get that crazy.

Josh Chamois:
Yeah. So yeah, message here, if you need more bandwidth now’s the time to look because the prices are extremely competitive, so.

Mike Smith:
Awesome. Well, cool. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for playing along. And we will catch you next time.

Josh Chamois:
All right. Thanks, Mike.

Mike Smith:
So if any of you guys are inside of a business right now that is located inside the Empire State Building, I hope you’re paying at least as low as the price Josh just gave you for that 100M or better, otherwise you definitely need to be contacting us or someone else. But if you want Josh to run a similar query that he just did for the Empire State Building, if you want him to do that for you guys real fast for free, just email us, no big deal, sales@ aerocominc.com or hit us up on our chat window on our website or call us at 877-465-3505, and we’ll be happy to check out something like that for your building. Doesn’t take much time at all, we can actually dig down a little bit further too. And no obligation. We will just do that for you, no big deal. So just give us a call and you’ll actually probably talk to Josh, so that’ll be even more fun, as you can tell he’s a real nice guy.

All right. So on to the next part of our program, we’ve got John Stephens joining us as I talked about in the initial part of this episode. John is a sales engineer, a 23-year veteran at Time Warner Cable Business Class. So he started there when he was 17 years old as he will explain. And he’s going to talk about different types of business internet access and diversifying your internet access. So if you’re going to get two different types of connections from two different providers, especially if they’re going to be wireline providers, you really need to do your homework on whether or not those are truly diverse pads coming into your building. And he gives us some ways to check that and believe me, he knows. He’s actually installed the things in the street for Time Warner, so he knows what he’s talking about.

So without further ado, here’s my conversation with my good buddy John. Oh, and one more thing, don’t worry, you don’t have to take notes on any of this stuff. Make sure you go to AeroComInc.com/info/blog and we’ve actually got the whole transcript of this podcast. So you can just go to the search bar, search for anything related to this podcast like John Stephens, Stephen is spelled with a PH and you actually go right to this podcast and read all the transcripts right there. So don’t bother taking notes, just sit back and listen and relax and learn a little bit from John.

Welcome to the program, John.

John Stephens:
Hey, thanks for having me.

Mike Smith:
No problem. So tell us a little bit about yourself personally and professionally.

John Stephens:
Sure. I have a long history with Time Warner Cable. I’ve been with Time Warner Cable now for the last 23 years. Yeah, actually, believe it or not, it’s my first job and my only job aside of your traditional 16-year-old flipping fish patties at Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips. I started at 17 in Time Warner Cable in the New York City market.

Mike Smith:
Wow!

John Stephens:
Yeah, it’s been a while.

Mike Smith:
At 17.

John Stephens:
Yes sir, yeah.

Mike Smith:
That’s cool.

John Stephens:
I know. I can remember doing my homework in the executive conference room back in our offices in Staten Island, New York. Believe it or not, that’s how long ago it’s been.

Mike Smith:
So what was your position when you first came in at 17 years old? They put you right into sales?

John Stephens:
No. So we didn’t have all the position alignments that we do now as back then. So you were just kind of whatever happens. And I hate to put it like that, but I was in the what is now known as your cable store experience or the experience center. So I was taking payments, giving out cable boxes, taking in returns of cable boxes among other things and sales because I’m the front line right there face-to-face. At that time, the cable was in its pretty much infancy in Staten Island. So there was a lot of new installs going on at that time. It was a good time to get into the business, and especially being at such a young age my brain was just absorbing everything that was thrown at me.

Mike Smith:
Yeah, that’s really cool.

John Stephens:
Yeah, and it’s progressed over the years until basically I got to a point in 2001 when we have launched the Road Runner product and I was first on board for New York City, well, in that area, in that section of New York City, I should speak more accurately on that, and to do the support. And then I transferred to the Los Angeles market for obvious reasons. No mosquitoes, palm trees and nice weather, all the usual suspects. So I transferred out here and built on that. I went from tier-1 tech support up to tier-3. Then in 2004 I made the changeover into Business Class where that was in its infancy out here as well. We were just building fiber rings and doing a whole lot of investing in the outside plant, as well as leveraging what we had on the legacy side for routers and switches to turn up circuits as efficiently as possible. But that has since grown a lot over the years.

I transitioned out of the call center out to the field and became a field engineer installing and supporting a lot of these fiber circuits that are up nowadays, the larger ones, for that matter. After about, I would say three or four years, then I went to be a network engineer in the edge routing to core routing team. We’re supporting all the network architecture that we had, deploying it. But what was really exciting about that role was the multiple flavors, because at the time the LA Basin was actually a hodgepodge of Time Warner Cable, Adelphia and Comcast because we had taken over, at that time, those two other sections of companies. Adelphia, as we all know, went bankrupt and Comcast there was a territory swap of us.

So we were in the process of flattening the network, and what better time to upgrade everything while we’re flattening it. So I was working on Alcatel, I was working on Juniper and Cisco, so I got just a wealth of growth opportunity out of that and a lot of sleepless nights doing migrations and troubleshooting. In retrospect, it was an amazing time to go through it and I learned an abundance during that time.

And in the evolution they had a sales engineering spot opened for the carrier space and that’s when I took my first step into the sales engineering role to help design and come up with solutions, more so out-of-box solutions. One of our sales leadership, one of our vice presidents, he actually had dubbed me Radar O’Reilly from MASH because he would say, “Get Radar, he’ll figure it out.” And it brings me to today where that’s what my day-to-day is. I’ll get to see something that comes forward, usually more often than not cookie-cutter type of stuff. But there are one-offs where you need a little bit more than just your standard 10M DIA, something that needs a little bit more attention, a little bit more hand-holding, if that makes any sense.

Mike Smith:
Yeah, absolutely, that’s cool. So yeah, you’re sometimes out there just doing some standard stuff and sometimes you’re like MacGyver out there. I like MacGyver better than Radar. You need to tell them, “Hey dude, give me a more respectable nickname there.”

John Stephens:
Yeah. Oh, I got it. I’m just so used to it now.

Mike Smith:
That’s cool. Well, how about personally, any hobbies that you like to do after work or tell us a little bit about yourself after work?

John Stephens:
Sure. Well, ever since being a little kid I’ve always been somewhat of an audio file. And being a child of the ‘80s, I love vinyl. So I’m a vinyl scavenger. I love to get vinyl from the ‘50s and the ‘60s that has obviously superior presses to what you would find anything on vinyl, especially nowadays you are not going to find much vinyl that’s any good anymore unless you pay through the nose. But I do enjoy music a heck of a lot. I can’t say I could play any instruments, that’s for sure, but I have a keen ear for a good audio sounds and I also can’t dance very well but that’s a different story.

Mike Smith:
So I guess is it all types of genres that you enjoy or are there certain couple genres that you like?

John Stephens:
More so jazz, classical, all along those lines. And I do do a lot of volunteering work on the side as well to obviously to help out people that are little or a lot less fortunate than myself.

Mike Smith:
That’s fantastic. Any particular organizations that you support frequently?

John Stephens:
Yeah, really just a food soup kitchens or food pantries, anything that can use to help all help really.

Mike Smith:
That’s fantastic. That’s great. Speaking of vinyl, I think my first ever record that I purchased, I’m 41 years old, so right when I started liking music as a kid, I think that’s when vinyl was right at the end and a lot of people were buying tapes. But I think the first record I purchased was Run-D.M.C. It was something like that. I think it was either Beastie Boys or Run-D.M.C. or something like that. So I think that was right around fifth or sixth grade for me that when rap hit the scene and I think I bought a couple of records and then it was all on the tapes.

John Stephens:
You know it’s funny, is when I was a little kid my parents had just a panoply of 45s and the one that I loved the most was labeled or called Hooked on Classics and it was just some hodgepodge together of classical songs just put together and I remember being a little kid thinking, “Why do I like this?” But it grew and then when everybody else is playing Milli Vanilli, I was rocking Manhattan Transfer.

Mike Smith:
That’s true. You bring up the 45s, I’m like, “Actually I take that back.” I think Prince’s 1999 on a 45 single was probably my first and then I think it was Men Without Hats, the Safety Dance.

John Stephens:
Safety Dance. I actually have that still.

Mike Smith:
That’s awesome.

John Stephens:
Yeah, that was great.

Mike Smith:
Yeah, that’s cool. I see those stores here and there with vinyl in there and I’m not a vinyl collector myself, but that’s cool. I don’t know what I did with those records but I probably just chucked them or something. But yeah, it’s interesting that you said the ones from the ‘50s are made with higher quality though, huh?

John Stephens:
Oh, 100%. Even when you go to thrift stores or even Goodwill for that matter, you’d be surprised what you can find out there and you basically just pick up the record and feel it and you see how much heavier it is in comparison to something, for argument’s sake, like your Michael Jackson Thriller album from the ‘80s. The quality is just not there. But if you get something that’s In Living Stereo it actually will say on the cover, wow, that’s amazing. It sounds, to me, light years better than any CD I’ve ever heard.

Mike Smith:
Wow! I didn’t know that. I just assumed it wasn’t as good a quality. I was thinking, “Oh, they made them thicker because they have those record players in cars and you don’t want to scratch it on as you’re bumping around in your car.”

John Stephens:
Yeah. And that may have been the school of thought back then. But if you hear it on a regular home system that you may have at home, my goodness, you’d be shocked at the difference that the vinyl from back then how much different it is from today.

Mike Smith:
That’s cool. Gosh, I didn’t think I was going to learn that today, but that’s awesome. Thanks for sharing.

John Stephens:
Hey, no problem.

Mike Smith:
Yeah, all right. So today John and I were talking before the podcast about his topic and since he works for Time Warner Cable, I don’t know if there’s anybody who does more access circuits than they do or at least it’s got to be a close tie there. So one of the things John knows about more than anything else is access. I think he decided to talk about the different types of access available and also the advantages of each type of access and then in addition to that, the ways you can setup diversity of access. Obviously limiting downtime is a big deal and access is getting less and less expensive. So with that companies are interested in diversifying their access to make sure they have as much up time as possible. So John’s going to cover all those topics for us today. And with that I’ll just turn over to you, John.

John Stephens:
Sure. So the main thing as it pertains to access and transport, a lot of the times people look to have that diversity built-in. Before we go into the diversity, let’s just do a glaze over here on the different access transport technologies where you have your standard twisted-pair service with DSL or the likes of that, where it’s very low cost and high availability. And then you’ll go into more of the cable company, one where the cable modem, the DOCSIS cable modem. Again, it’s a low-cost modified SLA best effort service. It’s a little bit different from your twisted-pair service because it’s not distance critical to the central office, the way those are, and it has an asymmetrical bandwidth.

Then you have your fiber optic connections whereas you have high availability. The SLAs are obviously four 9s, five 9s, depending on upon who your carrier is and working with a symmetrical bandwidth. And as with fiber, you can have 1 gig, 10 gig, 40 gig, it really depends on what the needs are. And honestly, when someone’s ordering any one of those transport technologies, the long pole in the tent is cost and it always is. But aside of the monthly recurring cost you have to think of what it’s going to cost to you if it goes down. So while your bill maybe, let’s just say for argument’s sake, $80 with a cable modem, but if that cable modem goes down you stand to lose, I don’t know, $150 an hour, you have to think of weighted out risk, “Okay, does it make sense to just go bump it up to $400 a month solution to save me from having to worry about the possibility of this going down,” at least on a guaranteed level, and get your money back, having the carrier put their money where their house is, if you will.

Mike Smith:
Yeah, I even think of it at even a higher cost. Just from my standpoint having on the company for 13 years, I always think of the cost as payroll, just having butts in seats. And if your internet goes down, I’ve had our internet go down before, and everybody just sits there when it goes down and they just act like, “I can’t do anything. I can’t work, our internet’s down.” And so basically you’re losing that payroll for that amount of time, at least 80% of what you’re paying those people, if not all of it.

So I always look at it like if you really do the math, you go, “Gosh, how many people do you have on payroll that are using your internet connection on site, how much are you paying them per year,” and you can break that down to an hourly cost story. You go, “If we lose our internet, literally how much money and payroll efficiency are we losing that we pay people to work and they’re not working?” And you boil it down that way. But I think a lot of times, from the IT department, sometimes it’s hard to translate that to management. But I think that’s really important for IT professionals to really understand that concept and speak that way to their management.

And I think when they do, it’s like everybody kind of goes, “Oh, yeah, that’s true.” And it really, like I said it, emphasizes the need for diversity because that has totally crept up on us, the need for internet. I mean, gosh, when I first started in telecom in ‘99, we used to actually ask the question, “Is your internet critical to your business?” And if so, then we’d sell them the T1. If not, you sell them DSL. And now that question is a joke. It’s like, “Is internet critical to your business?” You’re like, “Who says no to that?”

John Stephens:
Right, exactly. Exactly. And it goes down to even just like a point-of-sale. You have, let’s say, your standard some sandwich shop, at $5 a foot-long and you’ve got 20 people online and your POS is down and they want to use their credit card, you’re in a bind, to say the least. So it’s all worth the investment versus the headache. I’ve heard it said, “What’s the price you put on your sanity?” As a business owner, that to me is a big field, outside of what you had mentioned there with the labor costs because those can be a lot more than the $5 foot-long.

But now I want to talk about the diversity. A lot of the times people will get, let’s say, a cable modem and a twisted-pair solution or whatever they get from the wack. But the problem is you have to look at it, sure you have two different pieces of equipment, you have two different lines, but you’ve got to look deeper than that. You’ve got to see, first of all, how are they coming in the building, are they coming in on separate entrances into the MPOE? That’s your first line right there. Obviously heading north back to the provider’s network, you’ve got to see how it’s physically cabled into the building because if you’re in the same conduit and there’s a construction company outside drilling and bust the conduit, breaks both cables, now your diversity is gone, you have a collapse point right there, all services are out.

So what you want to do is make sure that if you have, again, a twisted-pair from the wack or whatever, the DSL, and then you have a cable modem from, let’s say, Time Warner, you want to make sure that they’re coming through on separate conduits so just in case there’s any issue. And that’s just the beginning. Then when it gets out into the street, being underground, you want to see that it’s traveling at different route.

Mike Smith:
So wait a minute, sorry to interrupt you, John. But on the conduit side, how do you figure out if those two connections are going to be in a different conduit? When those sales reps are sitting there talking to you, how do you take the conversation away from, “Hey, let me get a quote, but get some real information on is this going to be coming in the same conduit as our current connection?”

John Stephens:
That’s actually a really good question. Typically your building manager should know or like an ROE team from the carrier will more than likely know for sure if they’re coming in along the same path. Each one of these carriers, including Time Warner, has an ROE team, or the likes thereof.

Mike Smith:
What does that stand for?

John Stephens:
Route of entry. That will be able to identify if it’s a conduit that, let’s say, Time Warner Cable put in when they pulled in the copper or something that they’re just riding in Verizon’s conduit or AT&Ts.

Mike Smith:
So maybe it’d be like at some point if they like the pricing and the solution looks good, at that point start pressing that sales person that, “Hey, I really want to talk to somebody, maybe an ROE team or can I talk to your sales engineer about is this going to be delivered in a separate conduit,” and really say like, “Hey, we’re not going to move forward until I figure this out because this is a big deal.” Because I can see all these sales are going to glossing that over going, “Oh, yeah, totally.” But I’m like I wouldn’t listen to the sales rep on that in my experience. I’d definitely get an engineer in there whose job isn’t to be the yes man, whose job is to get the right people involved and go find someone from the ROE team maybe, right?

John Stephens:
Yeah. And that’s basically what happens. Let’s say in Time Warner’s world we have a site survey that basically has all that detail and we have construction folks that do it as well, so if that level of detail is requested, it can be provided. That’s a business as usual for us.

But in that same rule apply it as it pertains to the outside as well, be it overhead poles or underground, you want to know what route it’s traveling to be diverse from your LEC and your cable company. You want to make sure that it is, again, at least as separate as possible because the lower cost ones, like your cable modem and your DSL for example, more likely they’re going to be traveling along the same path or they may have some collapse points along that path back to the central office or back to cable company’s hub site.

Mike Smith:
Now what’s a collapse point?

John Stephens:
Let’s say whatever cabling, whether it’s the optical node cabling for the cable company or whatever cabling that they use from the LEC is along the same, let’s say, route on the same span on a pole or an underground vault.

Mike Smith:
So it’s like a collapse point is where they consolidate conduits or whatever and go, “Hey, these are all coming in from different paths and here’s where they collapse down into a single path or we put them on the same pole?”

John Stephens:
Yes, sir. That’s right.

Mike Smith:
Got it. So that makes sense to understand where those are saying like, “Yeah, it was diverse up until First Street, and on First Street there was a collapse point where it all became the same.”

John Stephens:
Right. And you will have that a lot of times. You’ll see that in areas where you have some, for whatever reason, challenges, a mountain for example, like down in St. Black Mountain there is literally only one path up, I’m just using that as an example. Or you have SoCal Edison, you’ll have the cable company, they are all right in the same path, so that’s a collapse point.

So there’s a lot of variables that will dictate a collapse point if it is down to something like that. But usually it’s just a cost thing. It really is contingent on what they’re actually using as far as DSL or big cable company, whatever they’re having there. And it’s all a matter of planning. The cable company, for example, could just use whatever going into the building, whatever conduit is already there, or they can put their own. It really depends on it. It goes with the whole negotiation with the property management.

John Stephens:
Yeah, that makes sense. In terms of cost threshold, because I know coming from the sales standpoint there’s always cost thresholds where service providers start to do more for a customer where if a customer is going to spend a couple hundred bucks a month on a transport internet circuit, the provider’s not going to do a whole lot for you because they’re going, “Hey, all in all we’re making $10 month in profit off this thing, by the time we pay everybody we’re not going to do anything special.” But at what point that you see the customer start to be able to dictate that kind of stuff where they’re like, “Hey, I know you don’t have anything built in, but can we get a diverse path all the way back to your PoP that’s completely separate from what we have?” Is there threshold like, “Hey, if they’re spending 1,000 bucks a month, a couple thousand bucks a month on a gigabit circuit,” where’s that threshold, do you think?

John Stephens:
It really is the contingent. So that’ll be the part of the initial question that I would ask is, “Are you looking to be diverse from who you currently have?” Assuming they have a circuit in place already, right? So I would ask, “Okay, are you looking to be diverse from them?” And then when we trigger a site survey, when they do a sidewalk, “Please be diverse,” or “a separate conduit from what the LEC is using,” and “please take,” let’s say, “eastbound route back to hub site to be diverse from the LEC.” Just off the top of my head type of an ask on a site survey, so our construction department.

And that’s more along the lines of a fiber request, because then what they’ll do is, it’s how our ring is designed. So when we bring fiber into a building, it’s basically just a fiber lateral off the ring. So we have an eastbound route and a westbound route into a hub site, one of our critical infrastructure buildings. So what we’ll do is we can tell them, “Hey, take this route as opposed to this route so that it could be diverse, number one, from let’s say the LEC, or number two, be diverse from ourselves.”

So if we have, Time Warner, let’s say, has a circuit in there already, they want diversity but they don’t want to go to the LEC, we can do it being diverse from ourselves just by nature of the ring going in westbound route back to our hub site and then connecting to either a separate router altogether or a separate card on the same router that has power redundancy, route engine redundancies. It’s like two routers in one because it’s fully redundant to itself. So that’s part of it too.

But as far as the outside plan is concerned, as we’re talking about redundancy, it doesn’t stop at the end pole of the building, it’s got to continue on out into the street back northbound into the provider’s network.

Mike Smith:
That’s a great point because we’ve sold a lot of fiber to customers and I can maybe tell you one time where a customer wanted to see the fiber maps of how it was going to be built out and demanded that it be on a diverse path. So just for everybody listening, I mean that’s just something, if a provider is going to build fiber, which I don’t know maybe half the time if you’re getting fiber coated there, if there’s a build involved, that’s a great time to get involved. And the provider is not going to bring it up to you if you don’t bring it up to them. They’re just going to install it in the easiest, fastest way possible. But if diversity is a big deal to you, it’s true, it’s like they’re building it out anyway, that’s a great point, make sure you bring it up there and say, “Hey, we want a diverse path from our current circuit that we have and here’s the way that’s coming in,” so that they know. Because otherwise if you don’t say anything, they’re not going to say anything to you.

John Stephens:
And the other thing too is if you want to know what path they are in now, it’s simple as making the phone call to the building management and saying, “Okay, I want to order a circuit from, let’s say, Charter or Time Warner, and right now Verizon is coming in on. I know they’re coming in and I have a circuit with them now. Can you tell me what conduit they’re in?” And your building management should be able to give you that level of detail.

Now, Verizon or AT&T, let’s say, can tell you what route they are taking back to their CO, they should be able to provide you with at least something along those lines. And then you just give that to, let’s say, Charter, Time Warner, Comcast, anyone of the usual suspects, and say, “I need you to be not on any of this route.” And that gets uploaded into a site survey and cost it out so that we know exactly how we have to build it to be fully diverse.

Mike Smith:
That makes sense. And the provider will let you know at that point, “Hey, it’s going to cost us this much, we can do it for free because it’s not going to cost a whole lot and your monthly recurring charges are going to cover it,” or the provider will say, “You know what, we can do it for free without the diversity that you requested.” And if it’s going to cost them a lot of money to build out that diversity, the provider will say like, “Okay, well we can do it that way but it’s going to cost you extra amount, 1,000 upfront, like 2,000 bucks upfront for us to install it that way,” or whatever the case is.

John Stephens:
Yeah. And a lot of the times too, it really is contingent on what type of diversity your end user is looking for. They may be just looking for building ingress diversity and not too much worried about what’s going on outside as far as the poles are underground. And I’ve seen that, and they’re totally fine with that. But they want building diversity. And that’s a simple phone call to the building management.

Mike Smith:
Yeah. And I guess the logic there would be that they’re thinking, “Well, if something gets cut further out into the street, there’s going to be a lot more people affected,” so they’re going to fix it faster as opposed to if something’s just going on in our building, then the timeline for them to fix, there’s a lot less customers affected so there’s going to be slower time to repair than if you have thousands of people down that provider’s going to be out there within hours fixing it. But if it’s just your building, that might be a longer process.

John Stephens:
Yeah. You know what’s interesting too is when they pull the fiber in, depending upon the design and how much fiber the carrier has out in the field, they will always obviously pull in a pair, but it could be a pair that goes from your site directly back to the CO like just one long jumper, duplex jumper back there. Or it could be a pair to a field MUX that separates it out on channels and then just has a common pair that takes it back to the central office or hub site where there’s the MUX on the other side to break out the channels again.

But I’ve actually been in scenarios where you’ll have the pair end-to-end, no field MUX involved. And believe it or not, only one fiber was damaged but the circuit went down. So what you’re able to do in that scenario is, as a field tech you put a MUX at the customer site and amongst back at the central office shoot the fiber and make sure one of the strands is good and bring it right back up while they fuse and find the break in the one strand and fuse and splice it. I’ve seen that in the past too oddly enough.

I was out in the field working one time and I had a customer go down and I just had one of my techs go to the hub site. I shot the laser across, we figured out that one was no good, that specific strand was no good. I shot the other one, he was able to see it light. I said, “Okay, get an add-drop filter, let’s bring this back up now so they don’t have any further down time and construction and they don’t have to lower the escalation on the ticket and not take their time but just get it done and mitigate impact to the customer.

Mike Smith:
That’s cool. Everybody who’s listening, take notes. And there’s also going to be show notes on our website. So if you go to AeroComInc.com/info/blog, you can find this episode and look at that stuff because that’s the type of stuff if you’re troubleshooting, if you’re troubleshooting downtime with a provider, you might want to bring that kind of stuff up to them and say, “Hey, is there any way you could do this?” Because a lot of times the technicians have never done that before or they never heard of stuff like that being done and sometimes they’re open to suggestions. And you bring that up, they go, “You know what, that’s a good idea. Maybe we should try that. There’s something.” And so take note, that type of stuff might help you get back up and running faster than as opposed to if you just try to let them figure it out.

John Stephens:
Yeah, and a lot of the times it could be something as simple as it’s running too hot. And the carrier may not even realize it. And how you could tell, just to throw it out there for the troubleshooters, is if your circuit goes down, let’s say it’s a fiber circuit, and your port will have a status light lit, that’s the smoking gun each and every time. But if you take the fiber and just slightly bend it, it causes attenuation. If the port comes up, it’s coming in too hot, your carrier needs to pat it down with, I’m making something up here, 5 dB pad, and they put it on there, it’s done. Impact is mitigated.

Mike Smith:
Jeez, I’ve never heard of that. I’ve never heard a provider say, “You know what, you went down because our fiber was running too hot.”

John Stephens:
The link went into the other was coming in too hot. And you could literally just take a pen or a pencil and just wrap the fiber around the pen or pencil, it will cause attenuation and it’ll bring it right back up.

Mike Smith:
Wow, that’s cool. I’m sure everybody’s getting something out of this for sure now.

John Stephens:
MacGyver.

Mike Smith:
There you go. That is a total MacGyver move. “Anybody got a pencil on me or on you?” That’s awesome. Well, cool, those are some good points. Any other topics you wanted to cover on diversity?

John Stephens:
Yeah, if I can toot the Time Warner horn for a second here, what’s great with Time Warner is we’re able to do be diverse from ourselves not just on ring diverse, ring east-west diversity but we have adjacent rings that we can pull back to as well. So I’ll just use San Fernando Valley for example. We have the east and west valley rings, so your main ring that you would normally pull from to get a lateral would be obviously readily available. We could also pull from an adjacent ring so that it goes back to completely different real estate and infrastructure so that you could have a one-stop-shop diverse solution within the same carrier. I’ve seen that. I don’t know to the level of detail your LECs can do, but Time Warner, and I’m sure other cable companies, can do that as well.

Mike Smith:
Yeah, that’s true. I remember when I was working for XO Communications we used to call it multi-homed, it would be like where all of your traffic is coming and going out of a different core router of theirs where they give you a diverse path back to a separate central office within that service provider and a different core router that all of your traffic is going in and out of it. Obviously they’re going to charge you for that. But if somebody wants a lot of diversity, if someone’s getting a gig circuit or 2 gig circuits, something like that and they really care about diversity, that’s a great point.

John Stephens:
Yup. And that diversity, to me it’s a big thing, especially when you go off into higher bandwidth circuits, your 10 gig wave or something like that. Anybody that orders 10 gig definitely has need for speed and they don’t want any downtime. So when you’re factoring in diversity, you want to make sure end-to-end that that thing is diverse on those higher bandwidths.

Mike Smith:
Yeah, absolutely. Obviously if you need that much bandwidth, your business is really leaning on that connection, so yeah. So a lot of bad stuff is going on if you’re down.

John Stephens:
Oh, my goodness, yeah. I’ve seen customers that will request transport circuit and look to LA for example, look to completely circumvent downtown LA, they don’t want to go near just to avoid any disaster.

Mike Smith:
Yeah, that’s true because especially in cities there’s always a lot of digging and construction going on.

John Stephens:
Yup, that’s the main thing. And if it does go down, especially like you said digging in those cities, even if it adds on a couple of milliseconds of latency, your latency is so low to begin with on an optical wave that it’s not even really noticeable. Obviously depending upon what application you’re using, there are variables there. But it may be worth it to mitigate any type of downtime if you can request to the carrier, “Hey listen, I want to go,” let’s say, “from Ventura down to Costa Mesa but I don’t want to take in the route of downtown LA, can you please route it somewhere else?” That can be done.

Mike Smith:
Very cool. Well, cool. I think that’s some great information. I think everybody learned a little bit on there as far as access circuits both and ways to diversify it. I know I did and I’ve been around access transport circuits for 16 years and you just taught me a couple of things. So that’s awesome. I know people listening got a couple nuggets there.

John Stephens:
Well, I’m glad to be of help.

Mike Smith:
Yeah, all right. So let’s get a little less serious and let’s talk about your experience in the workplace and let’s hear a good story out of you about most interesting or funny, whatever moment that you’ve seen in the workplace or one of them at least.

John Stephens:
Sure. Oh, wow. Boy, it actually brings to mind a whole bunch of things. I’ll keep it funny and productive.

Mike Smith:
I like it.

John Stephens:
So IT folks generally know what they’re doing and they do it well. But what I have seen out there is they do Layer 2 very well, Layer 3 very well and so on, but what I will say is I do notice a lot of challenges on Layer 1, your cabling. I’ve been in scenarios where I’ll go out and do a trouble call and do a test and I’m able to test with pull throughput, let’s say, a gig’s worth of traffic, but the moment they connect, let’s say, whatever they have the host, the PC or what have you, it back in and they’ll try to test with their machine, they’re not seeing in that throughput. So then I’ll walk back with them to where they have their racks and I can honestly tell you without, I’ll illustrate it for you, probably about five inches worth of RJ45 cables hanging in front of a multiple switches, not one cable is labeled, and there is no cable management going across, so you can’t even tell what it’s plugged into, number one, and you can’t even get to it. So there’s a huge value add there and lessons to be learned on that.

And the second thing is I’ve seen where on Layer 1 you’ll have an interconnect between your Layer 3 switch and down into your access switches. And I’ve seen it where they’ll use a single-mode 15-kilometer optic or something along those lines for 10 feet worth of jumping. And again, going back to that attenuation thing, it’s running too hot, it should be on multi-mode. So I’ll go out there and see that and then just get an overview of how they have their networks setup. I’ve literally been in that scenario where you go up to and go, they will show you where the cross is connected and you just bend it, everything comes back on. Or you’ll have CRC errors, you’ll be logging all kinds of errors on the port and no one will know why, they’ll blame the carrier. But if you look at the optics or even a dirty cable will cause that too. I’ve seen that too. You got to clean them.

John Stephens:
Oh, my gosh. I have been thinking about that. Obviously I’m not even an IT guy, let alone start going to the cable, but I have been thinking about cables being dirty. Because in our own office, it’s like officers we’ve had, I’ve had no clue how those cables were ran and a lot of them, they’re just through ceiling tiles and everything like that. And whenever we’ve had outages, the provider is always going, “Well, what about your cabling?” And I’m like, “I don’t want to talk about my cabling. Let’s not go there, it’s not that I guarantee you, it’s not my cabling.”

Mike Smith:
I’ve seen that. And the fiber is what a fiber jumper between switches, usually people just pull it out of the bag, pop the things off and take them and touching the fiber tips with their fingers, and that right there could cause you all kinds of problems. And I’ve seen it happen.

Now, another time I went to do a trouble call, kind of customer that was down and we had our construction folks who shot the cable and it’s like within feet of where it was supposed to be. I get onto the site, I don’t have any light and I’m inspecting around and go outside and sure enough, I guess outside there was a sewer plate that was just the loose enough that as people would go by you could hear it “bloom, bloom” as people going by driving on the street. Well somehow or another the cable came through the vault out onto the street. Now as they’re driving by, they are just smashing the cable right in front of the building.

Mike Smith:
You’re like, “No, that can’t be.”

John Stephens:
It was just the cable I was going into there and you don’t know how that could have happened, but somehow or another it made it through.

Mike Smith:
Probably someone like me was cabling it.

John Stephens:
Well, just a vandalist or some sort probably just for whatever reason got bored and opened up the thing and pulled it through.

Mike Smith:
Just pull something. Jeez. That’s terrible. Well, cool, those are some good stories. Now tell us a little bit about Time Warner. You mentioned it before. Anything else going on exciting with you guys that you’d like everybody to know or things that you guys do particularly well?

John Stephens:
Yeah. Well, first and foremost, you probably heard, it’s been abuzz in the media is that we recently got acquired by Charter Communications or Spectrum. So as it stands right now, we’re still working as two separate companies. So it’s business as usual for now. But the plan as management team does tackle the task of putting the three networks together, I should say, it’s Time Warner, Charter and Bright House as they put us all together, that will evolve and it’ll be one footprint. But as of right now we’re still working as three separate companies. So that is obviously on the road map, if you will.

You’ll hear a lot of discussions out there about getting, let’s say, QoS on your circuits, more so on fiber you’ll hear the requests. I have voice traffic, I need to get your bronze plan or your platinum plan for QoS. The good news with Time Warner Cable’s on the fiber circuits is we don’t oversubscribe so there is no need for QoS. Any time there’s a QoS offering, that just smells of the provider oversubscribing their network and that’s not something that Time Warner does on the fiber side. On the coax side it’s different story, it’s best effort. But on the fiber side it’s just not the case, we don’t do it.

Now on the flip side is, going back to what we had discussed earlier, all Time Warner’s critical infrastructure is five years old or younger because in 2011 we completely upgraded the whole network at least for the LA market. Some other markets are newer, Texas, Carolinas, New York City and the Ohio’s, in Ohio rather, they may be newer depending upon when they did their upgrade. But for California, 2011, we did every core router, every edge router, every legacy switches, it’s gone, everything has been completely upgraded. And in 2012 Forklift upgraded the whole entire optical backbone. So all of our infrastructures, there’s of plenty of bandwidth to be had. And it’s nothing but good news for Time Warner on that level.

Mike Smith:
Yeah, that’s cool. So all of you IT professionals listening, if you’ve used Time Warner in the past and it’s been over four years, three, four years since you’ve used them, chances are this is a completely different network now than they had before. So it’s really a double take at Time Warner is what I’m taking from that because a brand new infrastructure on the backend is definitely going to lead to a super high quality of service to their customers.

John Stephens:
And versatility too. A fiber circuit is wonderful to have, but it doesn’t mean a hill of beans if the infrastructure it’s connecting to that piece of fiber is connecting to a router or a switch back at the CO that’s from 2001, antiquated equipment. I guess that to me is a huge point of Time Warner. Our engineering team put a lot of time and blood, sweat and tears into designing a network that has the most versatility and has the best gear, and they’re always changing. That’s the thing too is they’re getting ahead of the curve. Even on the DOCSIS side we’ve been upgrading all of our CMTS gear put to the latest and the greatest to make sure we can launch new versions of DOCSIS to get more bandwidth. So really coming out of Time Warner’s tent there’s just nothing but good news.

Mike Smith:
Good stuff. And now as the mergers are happening, it’s just more and more network out there you guys have to play with.

John Stephens:
Yeah. Yeah, it’s true. It’s true. Charter is great company. I’ve worked alongside with them in the past in the carrier space. A great company, awesome leadership. So excited to work with them and our friends at Bright House too, that this should be an awesome opportunity for us to team up and help some folks out.

Mike Smith:
Awesome. Well, thanks for sharing and thanks for coming on the show and giving us a ton of new information that, I guess that I’m sure that people who are listening got something today that they didn’t know before, which is always to go and learn a little bit more every single day. So I know you helped us do that today for sure.

John Stephens:
I appreciate it. Any time.

Mike Smith:
And I’m sure that we will have another topic here in the near future. We’ll ask you to come back on. But in the meantime, have a great day and thanks again.

John Stephens:
No problem. Thanks for having me on.

Mike Smith:
Wasn’t John awesome? I loved the part about the collapse points. I think that made a lot of sense to me as well as taking a look at or actually calling your building management to learn about the entrance that the providers are taking into the building and where the lines are coming from. I thought there was some great tips that everybody listening could definitely learn from. And in my experience, I’m telling you, nobody ask those questions. I’ve sold a lot of internet connectivity to businesses and a lot of secondary internet connections and still no one’s asking those questions. So you guys, great advice there, take note of it, ask those questions the next time you’re getting a secondary internet connection for your company.

All right. Before we go, I just wanted to give you a quick reminder about the free gift, it’s a list of all the major Internet service providers’ promotions that are going on right now for business internet access. All you have to do to get it is text the word “ISP Deals” to the number 44222 and we will send you that free copy, that’s a gift for you guys. Also, if you have any questions for John Stephens from Time Warner Cable, no big deal, just email us at podcast@aerocominc.com. We will be happy to accommodate answer any questions or even arrange a call with John if you’d like.

Last but not least, make sure you visit our website aerocominc.com/info/blog and look up this podcast in the search bar and you’ll have a transcript of this entire podcast so you don’t have to take notes.

So, few quick reminders. Take advantage of those and have a fantastic day. I hope you learned just a little bit because that’s the goal and we’ll see you next time.

IT Nation, thank you for joining us on Cloud Therapy with AeroComInc.com. Visit us at AeroComInc.com, that’s A-E-R-O-C-O-M-I-N-C dot com and head on over to the blog section for notes on everything we talked about today as well as our blogs, provider reviews, and of course the best quotes for any technology.

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