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OneTilson: Unifying Wireless and Fiber Teams to Build Networks Faster

By Justine Carbonell & Riley Dow

In the telecommunications industry, wireless and wireline builds are often thought of as separate projects, even being procured independently and run by separate organizations. Tilson recognized the drawbacks to this approach, and the challenges it created for our customers and internal teams. Tilson’s mission is to build networks, not just contractual units. The OneTilson approach was designed to align the goals of our customer’s wireless and fiber builds so they get their network turned up faster.

Tilson was selected to deliver both fiber and wireless portions of a 5G network in the same market. The wireless team was tasked with securing the site location and obtaining licenses and permits for wireless node placement and ordering power. The fiber team was responsible for designing and constructing fiber that would eventually light the site up. As part of the OneTilson approach, Tilson adopted a three-step methodology to connect two technical systems, two workflows, and two management techniques:

By unifying the three processes, we were able to build and deploy a network faster for our customer.

Bridging the Technical Gap

Our first objective was to connect the internal systems that both the wireless and fiber teams utilized to track and manage projects. Work elements change quickly during construction, and we needed a system that could handle these changes. It was critical to put in place a new overarching system that did not require additional reporting. 

In doing so, it was important to focus on data integrity as whole. Using Tilson’s Geographic Information System (GIS) we were able to align location-based wireless node projects with linear fiber network projectsA clean data set was then created to feed the database integration. Once this connection was made, both Tilson teams could now use one interface to see both wireless and fiber teams project data.  Instead of managing both project independently, the teams managed their projects with awareness of how the other project was impacting their project.

Bridging the Workflow Gap

After the initial step of database integration, we needed to identify data significant for each team. The key here was to review and define wireless- and fiber-specific terminology. Acronyms like “REC” or “RFDS” are commonplace in Wireless, but newer terms for Fiber teams. Likewise, acronyms like “WO”, “NFID”, “OTDR” are unique to fiber teams. Once data units were identified and defined, we were able to detect handoff points and the milestones that preceded them. By accurately forecasting and actualizing the milestones in real time, we were able to efficiently plan and deploy an integrated network.

Bridging the Management Gap

Collaboration, communication, and consistency are vital elements to bridging the management gap. The 1830 definition of collaboration is “united labor”. For Tilson, this meant that we needed to bridge two independent teams with different scopes, objectives, and management styles to focus on one goal, deploying a network faster. This unification started at the strategic planning level when senior leadership identified a gap in network deployment. It became evident that in order to efficiently build the network, the Wireless and Fiber team’s priorities needed to be aligned. Through this unification and alignment, the project management team was able to collaborate to focus on critical geographical areas of deployment. Communication was improved by scheduled meetings focused on risks, timelines, and goals.

OneTilson: Building Networks, Not Units 

By adopting a three-step methodology to connect technical systems, workflows, and management techniques, Tilson was able to unify internal and external processes to better align deliverables for the customer. The OneTilson approach ultimately promoted cross divisional collaboration to aid in the success of the completion of the project.


Justine Carbonell & Riley Dow

Justine Carbonell & Riley Dow

Justine Carbonell is a Regional Director for Tilson’s Site Deployment team. She has worked at Tilson for three years and covers a national footprint working with major carriers. She has worked in the telecommunications industry for over 13 years executing site acquisition, construction, and fiber programs across the United States.

Riley Dow serves as a Project Manager for Tilson. Riley started her career as a civil and environmental engineer and naturally migrated into full time project management.  In the last few years, she has found herself managing large scale programs focused on designing and installing network infrastructure that includes the deployment of 5G networks. Riley has a B.S in Civil Engineering from the University of Maine.

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