System maintenance can’t wait for a sunny day

Scott Potter directs the deployment of one of Tri-State’s snow cats at the base of the Mines Peak site.

When it comes to keeping the lights on for its members and the data flowing within Tri-State’s vast, four-state telecommunications network, the association’s field maintenance personnel are well-equipped to handle Mother Nature on even her cruelest days of winter. 

When telecommunications technicians face serious winter weather, they rely on their winter survival training and Tri-State’s fleet of five snow cats to traverse some of the association’s remote, high altitude telecommunications sites.  In this instance (shown in photo), it was a Jan. 3 trek to the Mines Peak site, perched at a lofty 12,468-foot elevation, overlooking the summit of Berthoud Pass, near Winter Park, Colo. 

Marty Burrier, telecom field training specialist from Westminster, was joined by Scott Potter, telecom tech based at the Granby field office, for a training exercise and to perform some minor maintenance at the site.

Company-wide, the telecommunications group includes about 33 field techs stationed throughout the Tri-State network and hub-based employees who work at the telecommunications network operations control centers in Westminster, Rio Rancho, N.M., and Montrose, Colo.

While many companies employ telecommunications technicians who only maintain and install telephone equipment, Tri-State’s telecommunications technicians must be well versed in a wider range of technical disciplines, including microwave radios, fiber optic equipment, IP/WAN channels, SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) networks, as well as satellite and telephone communications.

Just like Tri-State’s other transmission maintenance crews, the telecom field technicians are on call around the clock to keep the communications systems on-line.  “Our number one priority at Tri-State is to keep the SCADA system up and running so that our dispatchers can get the data they need from our substations to operate the system,” explained Burrier.  “After that, it’s preventative maintenance and keeping the other systems on-line,” he added.

Maintaining more than 100 telecommunications sites (not including the substations) located over a four-state, 200,000-square-mile service territory keeps Tri-State’s telecom techs on the road about 80 percent of the time.

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