OneNet has many moving pieces that work together to fulfill our goals and mission, and the infrastructure department is a critical helping hand. The team comprises seven individuals, all of whom bring their unique expertise to the table. Infrastructure is responsible for all physical maintenance of OneNet and the Oklahoma Community Anchor Network hubsites and tower locations.
The team includes Randy Crosby, director of network infrastructure, Ian Litchfield, project manager, and Bruce Gordon, optical specialist. The hands-on technicians include James Billings, Chris Simon, Robert Prince and Aaron Muse.
Crosby says a typical day for the team involves traveling to various locations across the state. “The techs drive to a location to install equipment at a subscriber location or perform a maintenance visit at a hut or tower. Often the team meets with a vendor or contractor to install or repair equipment. It just depends on the day, and we may do these responsibilities numerous times a day,” he said.
The variety of responsibilities is what makes this team unique. “We never have the same daily activities, so it is never boring. One day we are sweeping floors or spraying vegetation, and the next we are connecting a new 100 Gigabit Ethernet circuit or designing new fiber optic cable routes,” said Crosby.
The team’s responsibilities vary from day to day include heating and cooling operation, battery, generator and UPS systems, which are essential for our systems to run smoothly and for all OneNet subscribers to have stable broadband services. They also handle site security, access control, vegetation control, and tower lighting. In addition, the team handles equipment placement and recovery and copper and fiber cabling, which are critical to OneNet’s network and make the day-to-day schedules for the team unique almost every time.
Infrastructure technicians travel to locations where there are equipment issues and either repair or identify the equipment at fault, working with OneNet’s network and systems teams, as well as subscribers and vendors. Infrastructure connects and maintains the physical equipment at hubsites and subscriber locations.
“Our techs interface directly with subscribers to verify their connections are working, ensuring that OneNet’s subscribers are happy and taken care of,” said Crosby.
Two team members are specifically focused on specific areas that contribute to OneNet’s success. Gordon, our optical specialist, maintains and troubleshoots optical fiber and plans expansion of OneNet’s optical network footprint to ensure reliable access to the internet. Litchfied, our project manager, oversees project management and implementation for all OneNet departments.
Technology is important to the infrastructure team, and the team is always looking for tools to help monitor daily staff activities and obtain feedback from subscribers to continuously make improvements and provide top-tier service.
“The use of Salesforce and Asana’s project management tool has helped streamline daily task assignments, completion and reporting.These tools also help us integrate feedback we get from other sources,” said Crosby.
Often the team has the opportunity to contribute to projects with the state’s higher education institutions. The team recently assisted with two leading-edge projects for the University of Oklahoma.
“We worked with an OU researcher to monitor earthquake activity utilizing OneNet’s underground fiber-optic cable in northern Oklahoma. We are also working on deployment of 100 Gigabit Ethernet ring linking OU’s three main campuses,” said Crosby.
While work around the world changed with the start of the COVID pandemic, when many organizations switched fully to remote work, the infrastructure team continued to work in the field, while following pandemic protocols, to ensure thatOneNet’s subscribers had the services required to continue serving their communities during the pandemic.
“The team has continued with our daily routine with only a short break at the beginning of the pandemic. Team members have masked up and continued on. The team has not worked together unless absolutely necessary to maintain some level of social distancing. Our team continues to complete their duties as if the pandemic did not occur,” said Crosby.
OneNet’s technical needs are unique, and the infrastructure team members have the specialized backgrounds and trainings to meet those needs.
“Most of the infrastructure team members have backgrounds with telecommunications companies or facilities management companies. OneNet has provided specialized fiber and optical equipment training, as well as internal training courses on network equipment,” explained Crosby.
Although the team is unique and has differing skill sets, they all work together in harmony in order to achieve the common goals of OneNet’s success.
One of the things that motivates the team is the role they play in OneNet’s mission.
“Knowing that we have been a vital part of the education process in Oklahoma is fulfilling for our team. It may not be visible to anyone outside of our group, but we take pride in keeping the connections up and running for our subscribers,” said Crosby.
Story by Dominique Brignac, Strategic Communications Intern, Fall & Spring 2021