Or more specifically:
So you want to be a copper access network technician.
What does it involve?
As a technician, you will visit end users to install and repair any number of products offered over a twisted pair, copper line. These include:
- ISDN - medium bandwidth data
- ADSL - bog standard broadband
- SDSL - 'symmetrical' broadband
- VDSL - hight bit rate DSL (typically asymmetric)
- PSTN - bog standard telephone service
- IPTV - TV over a data connection
- And many more...
The network can be summarised as follows:
Exchange equipment -> |Main Distribution Frame| --------E Side-------- |Primary Cross Connection Point| -------D Side------- |Distribution Point| ----------- |NTE|
The MDF is where exchange equipment can be connected together and to the exchange side (or E side) of the network
The PCP is a point of flexibility where 'E' and 'D' (for 'distribution') sides of the network meet.
The DP is the last point of flexibility in the network before the cabling to the customer. This can be located in a building (such as an office block or an apartment building), at the top of a pole, on the side of shop or even under the pavement.
From the DP to the customer's premises, will either be underground cabling, overhead wires, cabling clipped to a wall or hidden behind plasterboard.
Typically, to install the service you will need to identify where you need to provide and connect wires and cables. This may involve installing an overhead 'dropwire,' providing and connecting wires in street-side cabinets (PCPs) and on the MDF.
To repair service you will use a hand held tester to identify the fault condition and physically locate where the fault is. Faults can be 'contact' (short circuit, contact with earth, contact with unwanted voltage) or 'disconnection' (dis or high resistance).
Once you have provided or repaired service, you will need to re-test the line. To do this, you will use the test equipment built into the exchange to carry out both a basic remote test and then to carry out a 'pair quality' test. The pair quality test requires the use of a hand held tester (typically made by JDSU, EXFO or Spirent) and the exchange-based tester will apply a variety of electrical conditions to allow you to accurately run this test.
Once you've done that, it's time to complete the job paperwork (electronically, of course) and then move on to the next job!
The article deals with access network technicians employed by BT's Openreach division working in the UK. Other companies may do things differently and terminology differs from country to country.