Consolidated Telephone Co
About the customer

Consolidated Telephone Co is a family owned and operated communication service provider with century-old roots in the Sandhills of Nebraska. It serves customers across Nebraska covering over 8,500 square miles, and this is one of the least populated operating areas in the contiguous United States. The telco aims to provide equitable access to quality phone and internet services regardless of how remote customer properties are located.

Industry: Rural CSP
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Solution: Open modular transponders and muxponders
Products: DCP-404 muxponder, DCP-108 transponder, and DCP-1610 transponder

The challenge

A cost-efficient alternative with short lead times

With rapidly increasing internet traffic in 2021, Consolidated’s 10G internet backhaul was exceeding capacity and it was time to upgrade to 100G. The incumbent transport vendor was experiencing long lead times and could not deliver a solution in a reasonable timeframe. As a result, Consolidated began looking for alternatives and got in touch with Smartoptics.

Although Smartoptics never charges license fees for alien wavelengths, the incumbent vendor did and this posed a challenge to creating a cost-efficient multi-vendor setup. In spite of this, the Smartoptics team was able to quickly deliver coherent transponders and muxponders running over the existing line system that came in under budget.

Consolidated’s central office manager, Mike Jones, minces no words in describing the challenges rural CSPs have with finding a fair and reliable optical networking vendor:

“As a small company, being married to one vendor has come back to bite us in the past. We’ve had vendors that worked really well with small independent telephone companies like us. But then they were acquired or grew, started focusing on the big fish, and left us high and dry. We were delighted to discover that Smartoptics is not a gigantic company and caters well to our needs with competitive prices, flexible products, and short lead times,” says Mike.

The Solution

A recipe for unmatched cost efficiency and ROI

After this smooth and successful initial experience with Smartoptics, it was time to take the next step in 2022. Mobile backhaul capacity usage was also increasing, driven by the growth of next-generation networks. The telco had a flat 10G ring stretching 400 miles and had received requests for connectivity to cell sites. To meet this need, Consolidated upgraded the ring to 100G, becoming one of the first CSPs to deploy the Smartoptics DCP-404 for this upgrade. The layer 1 muxponder is unique in offering QSFP-DD line support, and when combined with industry-leading low power consumption, it offers excellent cost efficiency.

“We did a thorough cost analysis and Smartoptics yet again proved to be the most effective and cost-efficient solution. I love the flexibility that the future-proof Smartoptics muxponder gives me: I can run low-cost 100G now to bring the cost down and can easily go up to 400G in the future. Smartoptics also plays nice with network elements from other vendors, which makes my life easier in managing a disaggregated network. This way, we can choose and combine the networking solutions with the best return on investment and value for money,” says Mike.

the Result

Smartoptics understands the unique challenges of rural CSPs

Rural CSPs like Consolidated face completely different challenges and operating conditions than telcos in more densely populated urban areas. In Consolidated’s case, the network has to cover 8,500 square miles with only 4,000 subscribers. The largest town has a population of 1,000, and out of 25 towns, most have only 100 people or less.

“We pride ourselves on providing quality service in a very sparsely populated area. Just imagine that we put in 32 miles worth of fiber to pick up 20 customers. This is why cost efficiency is absolutely crucial for us. We have to be very creative when designing our networks and we like creative companies to work with, like Smartoptics. Their small footprint offering, hands-on approach and medium size are a great fit for rural CSPs like us. Smartoptics showed a clear understanding of our needs and I’m confident that their solution will serve us well for a long time to come,” says Mike.

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