You have looked at your business, and the mess of telephone and outdated networking systems, and decided that your business needs to update to a more modern communications and IT infrastructure. That decision was the easiest part. Now comes one of many difficult questions, what next? Where do I go? Who do I talk to?
Well one of the next steps is to find a fiber optic contractor who specializes in Fiber Optic Installation, and here is a few concepts to keep in mind while on that search.
Who Are They?
Generally speaking, a fiber optic contractor is a person that you choose to oversee most if not all the aspects of a given project. A general contractor does this on a construction site; a fiber optic contractor will do this for the implementation and installation of fiber optic cable. Most customers are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of installation so a quality contractor will walk the client through the process and suggest alternatives to what a customer had in mind as well as inform the client when less expensive options are available.
The most important part of the relationship between contractor and customer is the contract. This document should be detailed and list the requirements for the project. Well written and fair contracts make for good business so be sure that this document indicates exactly what is going to be installed, acceptable margins for efficiency lost when tests are conducted on the cables, and any documentation. Remember if it is not in the contract the contractor does not HAVE to do it.
Licensing requirements vary from state to state. Check with your state to determine if they license fiber optic contractors, if they require licensing for fiber optic contractors, and if fiber optic contractors are bond eligible. A licensed and bonded contractor is one of the best ways to ensure you are made whole in the event that the job is left incomplete for one reason or the other.
All installers should be licensed. Organizations like the Fiber Optic Associations (http://www.thefoa.org) offer specials classes for licensing. If your potential contractor has a buddy who is real good at that sort of thing it would be best to find someone else to do the work.
What Do They Do?
You have interviewed numerous contractors, discussed what you like done and found a person that is within your budget and is capable of doing the work requested. Both you (the client) and he (the contractor) have signed the contract. So what’s next? Well that is both simple and complex. The contractor gets to work.
The contractor begins by planning out the job. This is one or the more herculean tasks a contractor has to do. Material, sub contractors, inspectors all have to be accommodated within one schedule that will have to be checked and updated constantly to ensure that the job is done on time and as close to budget as possible. The budget will determine the types of material used and how experienced the sub contractors used will be. The more experienced the installer, the more they will cost but the guarantee that their work is quality and won’t need to be redone is more likely.
Security may also be hired depending on the components needed for the install, as theft of these items can be a problem. This will vary depending on the client’s job site and should be addressed by the contractor ahead of time.
Once planning and scheduling are completed the contractor will set up a check list of tasks that need to be done before the installation can start, during installation, and after installation. These tasks include insuring work place compliance, testing lines, testing workmanship. If you hardly ever seem to see your contractor on site you should be concerned. Once more anything can be written into a contract and asking to be furnished with a checklist of what tasks will be done and approximately when is not unreasonable.
Assuming that this cable installation is going to take place at all outside determine who (either the client or the contractor) is responsible for calling about buried cables and lines before digging begins. Quality contractors won’t have any second thoughts about calling local municipalities and other services to determine where water mains, high voltage lines, gas lines, other buried fiber optic cables, etc. are located. Any contractor that wants to start digging before these are in place does not have his, yours, or anyone else’s safety in mind. Once those dig flags are up work can begin.
It is around this time that trenching and running cable will start. If you have done your homework prior to selecting your contractor this process will be as painless as possible, and have very few hiccups.
Do I Need One?
The answer is short and simple. Yes. As a client you have a business to run. A contractor spends forty to fifty hours a week making sure that the install is staying on track, that subcontractors arrive and finish on time, that the correct equipment and material arrive when and where they are supposed to. This is a full time position, and the last thing you want as someone who already has the full time responsibility of running a business is a second full time job.