[ HAWAII AT WORK ]
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Michelle K. Cabral has been a network technician for Time Warner Telecom Hawaii for nine years. Cabral last week showed some of the fiber-optic cables at her office that run from one side of the building to the other that she normally checks.
Networking for business
Michelle K. Cabral installs high-tech equipment to help companies communicate
STORY SUMMARY »
Who: Michelle K. Cabral
Title: Network technician III
Job: Installs Internet phone and data equipment and services
Michelle K. Cabral is proof that service in the military can help set you up for a good job in the private sector. Born and raised in Kailua, the former Michelle Borengasser joined the U.S. Army on a delayed-entry program while still attending Kalaheo High School. So while her peers were out cruising and partying on weekends, she was at an old gym at Fort DeRussy in Waikiki going through military drills in preparation for going into the service full time.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
She showed how she tests optical carrier 192 (OC-192) circuits between islands.
Upon graduation, Cabral next spent 13 years full time in the Army, traveling the world and learning a trade, which led to her being hired nine years ago as a network technician by Time Warner Telecom Hawaii
, which is to the local business community what Oceanic Time Warner Cable
is to the residential market.
Cabral continues to serve in the Army; she has been in the reserve for the past 10 years and currently is a sergeant first class.
Cabral, 40, also is a widowed mother of two; her husband, Curtis, who owned an auto-restoration business at Hickam Air Force Base, was killed in 2003 when he was hit from behind on his motorcycle by a drunken driver.
The couple's two children are daughter Shelby, age 8, and son Logan-Michael, age 6, with whom she lives in Kailua.
FULL STORY »
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Michelle Cabral learned how to fix things while in junior high, then honed her skills in the Army. Above, Cabral last week opened a box of equipment at her employer's office in Mapunapuna with network technician Sandy Padilla, left, and Operations Manager Chris Luciano, right.
Network technician helps companies communicate
Michelle K. Cabral installs Internet and data services
How long have you been with Time Warner Telecom Hawaii?
Michelle Cabral: I joined the company in 1999.
Q: What was your first position with the company?
A: Network technician I.
Q: What's your position now?
A: Currently I'm a network technician III.
Q: How high do the numbers go?
A: It goes to III, and the next position would be operations manager, and operations director above him.
Q: So when you say you're a network technician, what does that mean you do?
A: I install high-speed Internet phone and data service at customer locations. Our main point of services is installing transport for our customers, like our big clients. So we do transport, switch services, data services.
Q: What's "transport"?
A: Transport is like the main connections between different buildings in town, between different islands. In our central office here at Kilihau (Street), we have several multiplexers into which we condense all our signals onto fiber, and we use the fiber to take signals from one multiplexer to the other multiplexer.
Q: You're using cable?
A: Fiber-optic cables -- the media travels on light through the cables.
Q: And where are the cables?
A: We have fiber-optic cables underground, in the streets, and they run alongside the copper cables underground.
Q: Do you ever have to install the fiber-optic cables?
A: Not me personally. But we do have people that go out and run the cables.
Q: The trench diggers and guys like that?
Q: Are you outside a lot on the job?
A: Yes. We're on the road often, meeting with our customers at their business locations, and installing equipment at their locations and testing.
Sometimes, if we have a job where we're connecting a customer from in town to Kailua, for example, then we'll have a technician in Kailua and I'll be in town, and if we're testing Internet circuits, then we'll be on our laptops trying to download files to see how fast we can download them, to test the speed of the Internet. Or if we're testing the ethernet, then we'll be testing out the phone lines, to make sure that the phones are working properly.
Q: What do you do at the office?
A: We have equipment here that I run fiber to.
Q: How many people do you work with on a typical job?
A: It kind of depends on how big the job is, how many technicians are on a particular job. If we're working on a job connecting a building on Maui with a building that's here on Oahu, we may have two to three technicians working on Oahu and two to three technicians working on Maui, to activate a SONET ("synchronous optical networking") ring.
Q: What's a SONET ring?
A: A SONET ring is how the multiplexers connect to each other via the fiber optics, because the fiber optics is replacing copper, which is more dense, so the fiber optics makes it faster. Also, when the copper underground would get wet, we'd have a lot of static. But the fiber optics is just light, so when it gets wet, you don't have that static.
Q: What kinds of tools do you use on the job?
A: We use SONET test sets ... (which) we use to test fiber-optic cables.
Q: What are you looking for?
A: Well, whatever you put into the fiber optics itself -- the transmission media -- we just make sure it comes out of the other side of the fiber the same way. So if we are putting a test pattern into the muxer on Oahu and it goes over the fiber-optic cables under the water to the test set on Maui, the technician there should see the same pattern coming out.
Q: What's a "muxer"?
A: That's what we call the multiplexer.
Q: Back at your main office, are you surrounded by electronic gadgetry?
A: Exactly. (Laughter) We have different multiplexers that go to different parts of the office. Like we have a military ring, and only military muxes would be there. Or if we have a Kaiser (Permanente) ring, only Kaiser muxers would be there. Our central office has a lot of our clients here, that we run the customer circuits through. But all of our circuits are on a ring. An example would be like the Kaiser hospital in Moanalua that talks to the Kaiser clinic in Honolulu that talks to the Kaiser clinic in Mililani, and so on, so if one path goes down, we can reroute them to a second path, an alternate path, for the communications to travel on.
Q: Is Time Warner Telecom part of or related to Time Warner Cable?
A: It's related to Time Warner Cable, but we're not the same company. Time Warner Cable assists customers at their residences, and Time Warner Telecom assists businesses with their connections.
Q: So you're like the Cable Guy for businesses?
A: Not only cable. We're a local exchange carrier for businesses. We provide network services.
Q: How did you learn to be a network technician?
A: Working in the Army. I worked on an installation team.
But even before that, my father (Leo) was a mechanic, and I used to help him in the garage fixing things. And my mother (Sarah) worked at an elementary school, and she used to bring home broken fans and pencil sharpeners, and she would ask me if I could fix them for the teachers. So that's how I started fixing things. I was still in junior high when I started fixing the teachers' pencil sharpeners. (Laughter)
Q: How long were you in the Army?
A: I've been in the Army for 23 years -- 13 years active duty and 10 years reserve. I joined the Army in the delayed-entry program, as a senior in high school. While I was still going to school, I was going to weekend drills.
Q: What's your rank?
A: Currently I'm a sergeant first class.
Q: So did you get to see the world?
A: Yes, I've been to Germany and ... Kentucky. (Laughter) I got to see the bluegrass of Kentucky. And I've been to Georgia. I've been all over.
Q: Were you also in Iraq?
A: I was in Kuwait, in the Middle East.
Q: While you there, were you in the reserve or full time?
A: That was just this past year. I just got back.
Q: So Time Warner Telecom kept you employed while you were gone?
Q: Was it hard getting back in the swing of things?
A: After being gone 15 months, and a three-month refrad (release from active duty) -- for rest and recreation -- it was almost like an 18-month deployment. So after getting back, Time Warner had advanced so quickly. They had new equipment installed, so we went from installing small optical signals to much larger ones. When I left we were carrying mostly optical carrier 3's (OC-3), and now we're carrying mostly optical carrier 192's (OC-192), which is a lot larger.
Q: How did you get into this field?
A: I started off with the military repairing cryptographic equipment, and then -- with the military, everybody's a jack of all trades -- so from cryptographic equipment, I started repairing radio equipment, installing conduits, pipes and power, just building entire communication centers with the military's install teams.
Q: So you're pretty employable in the field, I'd say.
A: I would say. (Laughter) But Time Warner is treating me very well. So I have loyalty to the company.
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