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Hiring a Network Consultant: 3 Things to Know

February 22nd, 2022 | 6 min. read

Hiring a Network Consultant: 3 Things to Know
Stu Lahti

Stu Lahti

Stu is the Vice President of Technical Field Services. For three decades Stu has been collaborating with customers to create solutions that help address needs for multifunctional broadband networks, including the development of design architectures and creation CAPEX budgets. He brings over 35 years of deep industry knowledge to all facets of CCI and its solutions.

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Building a network always comes down to a single factor: ROI.

Service providers and operators who are building a new network will be seeking the best rate. By receiving a good rate, they heighten their return on investment.

There’s a difference between building or enhancing a network to deliver what the service provider wants now versus building a scalable network with long-term motivations. A new network should not need upgrades two years later, where a provider forks over more money and adds on to their initial investment.

Discussing options within an ISP Starter Kit can be a great asset for any emerging service provider with a long-term outlook in mind. For existing service providers, discussing a predictive planning report for equipment and technology upgrades can be a great route as well.

CCI Systems prides itself on talented consultants who are people first, network experts second. By maintaining integrity within each CCI team, those values are reflected within the hundreds of relationships built with service providers and operators throughout North America.

During any discussion involving a network build or upgrade, the first stage will take the form of a discovery conversation. Next, your goals and the problems you’re aware of will be thoroughly assessed. Lastly, your team will get ready for the design, the build, and the turn-up phase.

Let’s Have a Conversation About Your Network


Speaking with a consultant doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is important to have the conversation. You will discuss questions and topics, such as:

  • What are your business goals?
  • What are you trying to do with your network?
  • What services do you want to offer your customers?
  • What speeds are you trying to achieve?
  • What capacity do you need?

The question-and-answer session will bring to light the known problems and new problems that need to be solved. Additionally, the insights will give the experts your company has hired for consultation access to your goals.

Based on the conversation and what was acknowledged as far as goals and strategy, suggestions will be provided to create a path forward. For instance, you may be given three options. Both the good and bad aspects of all three options will be outlined to eliminate any bias.

Afterward, your leadership team will be provided the opportunity to make the decision that makes the most sense for your company, and most importantly, for your customers.

Budget Overview and Cost Estimate

Top-level information, like the questions above, can be discussed over the phone. This gives a solution provider an idea of what position the company is in and what the circumstances are around the build. After this initial phase—via call or email, a general proposal can be put together to address the customer’s needs and problems.

An additional option is conducting an assessment on an existing network (this would not be applied to a new build). A network assessment or an outside plant assessment can be done to evaluate an expansion or equipment upgrade in advance.

Once a budget overview is provided or a network assessment is completed, the final solution will always be decided by going on-site for a deeper dive and to ensure nothing was missed.

Problem Solving and Goal Fulfillment in Any Environment

A service provider prioritizes the customer base, so the primary goal of most providers is delivering quality service to meet the expectations of the end user’s contract. Three goals always need to be addressed with a consultant.

Quality Service for End User ccI_network_consultant_router_490346088

Promising a strong signal and connection comes with high expectations when it comes to services. If a provider is serving a cell tower, the network needs to be resilient with 99.99% uptime. That is the business challenge.

In this scenario, the provider’s needs imply a redundant network.

Service Packages

Explaining service offerings in detail and in writing will help determine solutions for what type of network to build to support those packages and how the network must be built.

If 10-gigabit speeds to the homes are required with 2-gigabit upstream, components of the network will need to have certain specifications to meet those requirements.

Network Building and Construction Challenges

Providers will encounter a wide range of building challenges. One of the most common challenges for a service provider to overcome is the speed and timeline of the network build. The faster the network is completed, the sooner cash flow is generated, so speed is the name of the game.

Typically, the need for speed is a symptom of facing off with emerging competition or facing off with existing competition as an emerging service provider.

Design, Build and Turn-Up a Networkcci_netork-consultant_desk_914385378

Once you’ve nailed down your goals for your network and end users, and you’ve been proactive in efforts to problem solve and account for hang-ups in advance, it’s time to discuss construction. But, how do we get there?

Designing a Network

At this point in the process, a service provider can expect to engage with the design and engineering departments.

This will be a collaborative effort between our engineering team. The designer will cover the physical outside plant and lay the cable, while the drafter designs the equipment and core network to feed down the pipes.

Network Equipment and Materials

After the design is completed, it’s time to discuss equipment and materials, and the costs associated with those products. Material lead times can be very difficult to predict, but material supply is critical to smooth project management.

Additionally, bulk ordering of materials and equipment will begin after approximately 100 miles of design have been completed. This is also the time to discuss prices associated with those material costs, accounting for current market prices and how the construction timeline will affect the overall budget.

Construction of the Network cci_network_consultant_pipes_ground

Finally, network construction is planned and implemented. While there are some geographic constraints as to where a solution provider can build and do construction, a good consultant will always have a construction company to recommend for the buildout.

Otherwise, a service provider may choose to work with a local contractor they know and trust. While not doing the construction, some solution providers can help with technical field services (i.e. fiber splicing, turnup, and network testing).

If you come in with a construction plan, you can better navigate how the build is executed with your network consultant or solution provider.

Moving Forward on a Network Build

An emerging service provider with new money in a new area is not going to build an HFC network. It will be 100% fiber-based or fixed wireless, depending on the geography.

New technology will help position a service provider as a formidable competitor within any market they’re entering. This is especially true if the existing competition is behind the curve. For existing service providers, it’s important to acknowledge the need for technology without limitations where speed and capacity are concerned.

Whether your company is the former or the latter, CCI Systems is here to consult with your team to discuss the best options available for any build. By covering the upfront assessments, the design and engineering, and the construction of the build, CCI is a true solution provider with every stage of a network build housed under one roof.

Let’s put together a network assessment, find an appropriate budget, and talk about taking your network to the next level at any stage in the game.

Unsure of where to start as an emerging service provider? Take a look at our ISP Starter Kit and stop relying on guesswork to break out as an industry leader.