We are thrilled to welcome Tom Brooks as Network Delivery Manager at Render Networks. Tom is focused on delivering outstanding project outcomes across our US fiber portfolio, working directly with customers and partners to initiate, implement and deliver Render’s unique Digital Network Construction approach. We sat down with Tom to hear his insights on what's evolving the industry and how the desire to challenge the status quo led him to Render.
Great to have you on board #TeamRender. Could you tell us a little about your journey in the industry?
I actually began my career as a teacher working with students with learning disabilities. Years later a friend mentioned the term GIS to me, which prompted me to ask, “What’s that.” He said it had to do with computers and maps. I said, “Does it involve kids?” After that I was sold. So I started in the industry as a project manager for Mapcom Systems, a fiber management and operations company. From project management I moved to product management and finally to solutions engineering where I spent the last 6 years of my 12 year stint in the industry.
With more than a decade of experience, how have you seen fiber broadband projects evolve over this time?
Everyone’s going big! With the advent of automated design and feasibility analyses, providers are able to rethink the limits to the size and reach of their deployments. Increasingly, this demands a level of coordination among engineers, construction contractors, and the OSS/BSS applications that rely on accurate, timely as-built data to effectively manage these growing networks.
What changes are you most excited about?
I think it’s just the dynamic nature of technology. In addition to exponential growth of fiber footprints, advances in technologies like AI and SDN promise to continue to shake things up.
Many have observed an expertise or skill gap across the industry. How do you see this being addressed and what role do you believe technology will play?
I’ve always thought that it was interesting, primarily in the rural broadband sector, how companies developed, sometimes for 50 to 100 years, in relative isolation without exposing themselves to different approaches. So you get the phenomenon where all these organizations are trying to solve very similar problems with very different approaches and methodologies, all to varying degrees of success. I think this is changing now with the ubiquity of fiber rollouts and the sharing of best practices, and that is opening up the door for technology, like Render, to play a more universal role.
Where are you seeing fiber projects fail to meet stakeholder expectations?
'Where I see fiber projects fail, or more accurately begin to eat into their ROI, is an insistence on sticking with analog practices when there are proven digital technology solutions and workflows ready to be adopted.'
What needs to change in deployment methods to enable a 5G reality, faster?
5G antennae don’t feed themselves. It’s going to take fiber, and a LOT of it, to meet the traffic demands. So apart from deciding on what access vendors can and can’t be used, it really comes down to more and more efficient fiber construction methodologies.
Moving a little closer to home. Render's mission is to continuously innovate and evolve technology to Build Networks Better, what does that mean to you?
It means a deliberate move away from the status quo. And it means that if we ever stop looking for the better way to do something, then we become the status quo. Just because we delivered substantial time and cost savings yesterday doesn’t mean that we can’t improve on that tomorrow.
What's got you most jazzed about joining #TeamRender?
Well, it's definitely not Vegemite.. (Render note: you're not doing it right, mate! 😊)
I think it’s being able to see firsthand how technology can enhance the construction experience. In my previous position, I was constantly seeing this as a huge problem to solve: the constant passing back and forth of staking sheets, either paper or PDFs. I knew there was a better way and a growing need; there’s lots of meat on that bone!
Also, one of Render's values resonated with me: Love what you build. Consumers of technology by default are passionate about the potential solutions applications can provide. I believe software providers have to share that passion in order to understand needs.
Looking towards 2025, where should the broadband sector embrace change and take more intelligent risks?
Generally the broadband sector as a whole has always been about updated technologies and embracing change, that is except for construction. There is still a large part of the industry that is tethered to manual paper-based processes when it comes to network expansions and over-builds. This simply will not cut it with the speed that the market is evolving.
Great to have you on board, Tom!