Trellis advocates a wire-once philosophy

The "wire-once" philosophy was created by AT&T during the mid-1980s, primarily to support the installation of telephone systems. At Trellis Communications Corp. (Manchester, NH), "it means that you create a master plan that considers all your clients` communications requirements," explains company President Allen Kasiewicz. "And then you implement each phase of the plan to ensure the components you install tomorrow will fit together." To provide a wire-once campuswide communications system, inst

Barbara E. Thompson

The "wire-once" philosophy was created by AT&T during the mid-1980s, primarily to support the installation of telephone systems. At Trellis Communications Corp. (Manchester, NH), "it means that you create a master plan that considers all your clients` communications requirements," explains company President Allen Kasiewicz. "And then you implement each phase of the plan to ensure the components you install tomorrow will fit together." To provide a wire-once campuswide communications system, installer companies need to find a successful market niche and the trained personnel to perform the work.

In the past, many installations were completed by several different groups. For example, the facilities people would be responsible for the electrical wiring, while the data, voice and video teams would install their respective cabling systems. When it was complete, the installation ended up with several different cables in several different conduits going down the same hallway.

Open architecture

Unlike many other installer companies that started with copper and moved to fiber, Trellis, in 1985, started out with the idea of taking fiber-optic technology for long-distance telephone applications and applying it to the customer premises market. During the next couple of years, fiber-optic technology for communications systems evolved, and different types of applications that could be supported on a fiber cable system were developed. At the same time, the local area network market started to expand and everyone wanted an "open architecture" system where they could use Wang, Digital, IBM or other manufacturers` hardware and software.

"What put Trellis on the map," Kasiewicz says, "was the opportunity to bid on the University of New Hampshire`s fiber-optic campus backbone. We presented a bid based on the original specifications. But we also bid an alternative design, and the university chose our alternative approach." The follow-on design and installation of the Interoperability Laboratory at UNH (Durham, NH) and a second laboratory for Advanced Micro Devices Corp. (Sunnyvale, CA) solidified Trellis` market position. "We concentrate on the academic and health services because these people are interested in technology," Kasiewicz adds.

When copper cable became a significant component of the local area network marketplace, Trellis responded to market demand by installing copper, also. The company had to find and train copper installers and, as Kasiewicz explains, "We decided to acquire electricians because:

- They know the building infrastructure.

- They have gone through disciplined training and they understand the concept of productivity and meeting deadlines.

- Some state regulations call for licensed people to be responsible for permits for telecommunications projects ."

At Trellis "we have no technicians who are just-copper, just-fiber or just-testers," says Kasiewicz. "Everyone must be able to do all these things." Once a job is scheduled, the assigned project manager selects people from within the company who have the talents and skills for the job. On the next job, however, that project manager might be a subordinate to someone who was a subordinate on the prior job.

Installers should keep up-to-date with the latest technology, standards and products. "Our field technicians are equipped with the tools and equipment not only to do the work," Kasiewicz says, "but to effectively measure and qualify their work."

Trellis continues to grow its consulting expertise. "We work with clients to develop long-term communications plans," says Kasiewicz.

"As a systems integrator, we provide all levels of service to our clients," he adds. But Kasiewicz advises that "to ensure your client gets the system it wants and needs, you have to step back and analyze total requirements, and then create a cabling infrastructure to meet those needs."

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