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Preventing Copper Theft in the Telecommunications Industry
Category : commercial
2011-02-04

When Cogeco Cable, Ontario’s second largest internet, telephone, television and data management provider, decided to install surveillance systems in a few of their newly built NOC (switching stations), they called upon several security providers to demo their products. The install they requested was very basic: four to five cameras; a small system with very minimal requirements. Discouraged by the remote locations of the switching stations and the relatively small revenue this kind of installation would generate, a number of these providers didn’t bother to tour the facilities or show up for in-person demonstrations. As with every one of our clients, however, i3International was determined to take every opportunity to demonstrate the full potential of the product and exceed the client’s expectations. After meeting with two of i3International’s leading reps, Cogeco Cable was impressed not only with the product and prices, but the level of service that the company was clearly willing to provide.

Short for network operations center, a NOC (switching centre) is the physical space from which a large telecommunications network is managed, monitored, and supervised. It is the central location where the company's servers and networking equipment are located. Cogeco’s request for surveillance arose from the fact that these switching stations were unsecure and unmonitored. Their remote locations made these stations a target for copper theft – a new epidemic that is plaguing telecommunication sites across the country. Copper theft is a growing concern in the telecommunications industry, as thieves target copper cables at remote utility substations and along telecommunication lines. Cogeco Cable was looking for an affordable surveillance solution to protect their switching stations from this rising threat.

As part of every assessment, i3International’s sales personnel are trained to evaluate not only the client’s immediate requirements, but to determine whether a superior, more cost effective solution exists that the client may not have considered. After realizing that a number of different bodies within the organization had been looking into security independently, i3 decided it would be useful to bring the heads of these various departments together in one room to discuss their individual needs. As such, they invited the operations manager, the head of fire and safety division, and the head of security into a discussion forum that allowed them to address all of their separate concerns. The discussion revealed that among their unique concerns, a common denominator was emerging in the fight against copper theft: namely, in addition to surveillance requirements, there was a real need for card access and intrusion alarm.

Based on these requirements, i3 International designed a presentation to demonstrate the possibility of combining all three needs -- card access (portal), surveillance (DVR and cameras), and intrusion alarm (using a third party system) -- in one unique, functional, and affordable system. The proposed solution was based upon providing the client with surveillance of the facility, access to card access, and access to a remote control FOB. The FOB would give the client the ability to hit a two button alarm for help. The alarm would go to a central monitoring station that could remote into the system, determine the nature of the emergency, and then dispatch appropriate assistance. What’s more, the client would be able to remote access to the site and open doors for emergency personal. Cogeco Cable loved the solution and promptly adopted i3 as their product of choice. Due to the extreme versatility of the technology, i3 International was able to offer a unique and affordable solution -- one that provided a seamless data stream of control management.

To date, Cogeco Cable is extremely pleased with the system. In particular, they like the affordability of the product and the versatility of being able to access and control so much remotely. They also find the system to be “extremely user friendly and easy to learn.” As they had initially suspected, based on the lengths that i3 went to exceed their expectations in the early stages, Cogeco has reported tremendous satisfaction with the ongoing sales support they have received. They remain in close contact with, and have an excellent working relationship with, the integrator. Currently, Cogeco and i3International are on the verge of finalizing negotiations for a significant upgrade to their existing sites. So far, i3International has completed installations in all of their retail outlets with more being planned for 2010. Nine of the existing NOC locations have already been equipped, with another 75 in various stages of construction. A purchase order for a large dollar amount has been agreed to in principle.

Trends indicate that the demand for illegally acquired copper is not going away any time soon, and will continue to rise with the rising price of copper. Telecommunications companies like Cogeco Cable will need to invest in safeguarding and monitoring equipment that is flexible enough to evolve with the changing technology. While hardware is what everything resides on, hardware becomes quickly outdated. One of key strengths of i3International’s remote monitoring software is its expandable, adaptive, and modular nature. As the technology changes, the software can easily be migrated over to another hardware platform, prolonging the life of the client’s initial investment. Most systems have a shelf life of four or five years. Due to the flexibility of their technology, i3 is able to prolong that initial investment from five years to seven or eight.

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