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Published November 18, 2003
Volume 11, Number 11



Former Ericsson Subsidiary Emerges as Serrato Consulting
 
Serrato
(Left to right) Jan Meredith, Rod Serrato, and Ralph Narciso of Serrato Consulting
are experts on fiber-to-the-curb technology.



By George Walsh
Network Editor



At times, technology and the people who create it move around so fast that it can be difficult to keep up with all of the advancements. Serrato Consulting is one developer of technology has shown it can adapt and thrive, even when their development doesn’t immediately gain mainstream acceptance.

At the end of 1997, industry giant Ericsson acquired a Menlo Park company called Raynet, where Serrato Consulting’s Managing Director Rod Serrato, and manager Ralph Narciso were employed. “We all technically became Ericsson employees at that point,” Narciso says. “The product we were making, which was fiber-to-the-curb telephony equipment, then became something Ericsson decided not to pursue as a product line anymore.” Fiber-to-the-curb refers to the installation of fiber optic cable to replace antiquated telephone lines outside of homes and businesses. From the “curb,” coaxial cable like that used for cable TV, would then most likely be used to bring data and voice transmissions into the building or home. Because fiber optic cable can handle more data (including voice) and would be faster than DSL or cable data delivery, it could provide for new technologies like video on demand and true real-time video conferencing with far better sound and video quality than products seen today.

As Ericsson prepared to abandon the division that was formerly Raynet, an interesting twist occurred. Ericsson had sold the product to Verizon and needed someone to support it. The company wanted the former Raynet team to move to Richardson, Texas to act as a support staff for Verizon. Texas just wasn’t someplace they were willing to go.

“The fiber-to-the-curb equipment sold to Verizon included both software and hardware support,” Narciso says. “Because it was a relatively new product, and because they had just acquired it, they had no expertise in keeping the product up and running. So, Rod Serrato put together a small company and offered to perform the support service under contract.” The idea was acceptable by all parties, and Serrato Consulting was born.

“We provide support 24/7 all year round” Narciso says. “We primarily take calls from Verizon technicians in New York City because 99% of the equipment is there. That’s what we started doing in 1998. We moved to Pleasanton in 2000 and when we moved over here, Ericsson acquired the office space and signed the lease—so their name went on the front door. At the beginning of 2003, Ericsson didn’t want to be involved anymore. So, we’re now under direct contract to Verizon.”

Serrato Consulting currently has a total of eight employees including a field engineer in New York on an on-call basis. To provide 24/7 support, Serrato’s system allows them access to both their office and Verizon’s control center from their home offices. “We can dial directly into a main computer on the East Coast and that main computer allows us to get into any network element in Verizon,” Narciso says. “Depending on our security clearances and passwords we can gain access to specific equipment to solve problems.”

Support for Verizon may not be the end of the road for Serrato Consulting. “In the short term, we’re definitely going to keep doing our Verizon support, Narciso says. “Beyond that, we are searching for new clients that want to use our services. There’s still a lot of old technology lying out in the ground that needs to be upgraded. We’re hoping that over the next few years, our services will be much more in demand.”

 

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