Todd A. Richard
Board Nominee Questionnaire
Todd A. Richard
Mears Group Inc.
Senior Vice President
Please explain why you consider yourself an excellent candidate for the Board of Directors of the Fiber Broadband Association:
I feel that my broad scope of executive leadership experience in the fiber optic industry, together with my technical knowledge of developing FTTX platforms and services makes me an excellent candidate for the Board of Directors representing the Fiber Broadband Association. From my early introduction to supporting telecommunication systems prior to Y2K and my introduction to the many talented colleagues who helped develop and launch some of the first FTTX fiber optics platforms, I have embraced the market proudly. I have been very lucky to be able to leverage my knowledge of technical development experience and create hardware platforms that supported Carrier grade fiber optic networks. I strive to learn how advances in technology can expand our future and will continue to further refine my ability to adapt in the industry and help bring Broadband capacity to everyone. I have taken some time to reflect on my career, and I find it interesting to note that I have been fortunate to participate in all three of the major roles within the fiber optic market. My direct involvement in various levels of product development, product deployment and executive management in support of the following areas of focus:
1) OLT & ONT Product Development of FTTX platforms [Wave7 Optics & Hitachi]
2) “Owner/Operator” – BB Service Provider [Ledcor Technical Services]
3) Broadband Technical Services – NOC and Implementation [ALTA/AFL & Mears Group]
My involvement with some of the major building blocks of fiber optic development provided me with an opportunity to then deliver the technical solutions and ultimately creating an environment where I am able to consult and offer instruction to help design and launch entirely new fiber optic networks. I would be very honored to help contribute and hopefully influence the Broadband industry as a representative of the Fiber Broadband Association.
How many years has your company been a Fiber Broadband Association Member?
How many years have you participated in Fiber Broadband Association activities?
Association Committees (position and years served)
Association Contributions (activities supported, assets developed, documents drafted, etc…)
I have developed technical slide presentations over the years in support of Product support teams at Wave7 and Hitachi. I’ve recently been active with NRTCA and the TechAdvantage event in March of 2019, as I Co-authored a presentation and panel discussion related to ADSS fiber deployment with Great Lakes Energy. I also recently participated in an Executive roundtable session with ISE Magazine. We co-developed some thoughts surrounding the changing technology landscape and addressed follow up discussions associated with future trends in technology. The magazine published an article that provided a summary of each participant’s thoughts and the small group photo was placed on the cover of the ISE Magazine in January 2020.
How many years have you been in the telecommunications industry?
How many years have you been employed by an all-fiber service provider or vendor?
How many years have you been in your current position?
Describe your current job and functional responsibilities
Senior Vice President, Mears Group, Inc.
Network development professional, delivering Infrastructure Construction services, focused on planning, development, and deployment of advanced Fiber Optic networks. Executive level support for clients as a Technical Advisor, including design and planning for FTTX network projects. Subject Matter Expert for development and OSP deployments for Telecom, Electrical Coop’s, and Enterprise clients. Network Design, Development, Program Management, Business IT services and Cloud transformation solutions. Supporting global implementation, with a focus on Technology solutions for advanced Energy and Telecommunication companies.
Technical development and project engagement focus, providing our clients with the experience and resources to develop Long haul Fiber projects and deployment of Fiber Optic construction support services. Helping business leaders create new services by expanding technical services offerings and focused on emerging markets. Successful in providing fiber optic network solutions that help expand client's revenue potential and working to deliver advanced fiber technology solutions that allow the customers to accelerate program schedules.
• Working to deliver advanced fiber technology solutions that allow the customers to accelerate program schedules.
• Successful in providing fiber optic network solutions that help expand client's revenue potential.
• Expert knowledge of technical sales support, planning and building cross functional Network Development teams has resulted in advanced solutions within client’s backhaul networks and across distributed networks to support both Telecom and corporate enterprise clients.
What was your previous position?
CEO & Founder RTECH Group, Inc. Founding partner at R TECH Group
How many years did you hold your previous position for?
Do you have experience as a member of a Board of Directors?
Please list the entity, the provide the number of years you served and officer position held
Genesis Networks Enterprises, LLC – CEO and Director on corporate board for 2 years
Is there any legal impediment that would prevent you serving on the Board?
Is there any legal issue of which the Association should be aware?
Being a Fiber Broadband Association Board Member requires a considerable time commitment. Please confirm that you have the support of your company if you are elected.
I have the support of my company if I am elected
Please provide a short overview of your experience with telecommunications, fiber optics, and FTTH technologies:
I’m a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and proudly served as an avionics technician early in my career in radio communications. I returned to school and attended Milwaukee School of Engineering where I studied Electrical Engineering Technology, during my time with Plexus Technology Group. I worked in the product development lab, where we created advanced printed circuit boards and designed two-way data signal transmission devices with clients like Hewlett Packard, General Electric and IBM. I wanted to expand my experience with a specific interest in Telecommunications, so I later accepted a role as the Engineering Manager of a DSLAM Telecom OEM firm in Tulsa, OK, named Infinitec Networks. While working at Infinitec Networks, I was first introduced to OC-3 fiber optic transceivers deployed for Telecom carriers. My interest in Fiber Optics helped to craft my journey to explore opportunities in the Fiber industry.
The economy was in transition in 2001, so I interviewed with a PON development company, owned by Mitsubishi. I also interviewed with a few Fiber optic CPE developers in the Alpharetta area. I later secured a role with startup company named Wave7 Optics, and moved to the are near Duluth, GA.
While at Wave7, I was introduced to several really great early pioneers in the Passive Optical Network (PON) development market, like Jim Farmer and John Kinney. I was responsible for overseeing Applications Engineering and focused on Regulatory Compliance Engineering tasked with meeting stringent FCC emissions and UL product safety requirements for the ONT and OLT platforms. I learned a tremendous amount about PON supporting high speed data, Voice (SIP) and IGMP Video service delivery. I helped deploy one of the first single fiber proprietary PON systems on the West Coast of Japan in 2005. Our most significant accomplishment was delivering a PON system to Jackson Energy in the Chattanooga area. We soon after developed a proprietary Broadband System On-a-Chip (SOC) that was fabricated by Toshiba and later offered to key development partners. The Wave7 SOC was introduced into the Hitachi B-PON ONT product platform with plans to advance to major global markets. We quickly worked to completely integrate the Wave7 SOC chip into the existing Hitachi B-PON product. The integration was very complex, so I was assigned as the program manager, tasked as the primary Point of Contact for the technical development between Wave7 and Hitachi.
Hitachi sold one of their first PON platforms to Ledcor, a company with an interest in developing the West Coast of Oregon. Given my first-hand knowledge of how the technical integration was progressing, Hitachi Telecom USA, convinced me to join their development team as an applications consultant in Norcross, GA in 2006. I initially managed the Applications Engineering group and we worked to develop one of the first G-PON product platforms for the global marketplace. We worked with multinational design teams to collaborate on robust hardware and firmware solutions which had significant market acceptance. One of my contributions to the team was associated with “field” experience, which was acquired during my time at Wave7. I had been assigned oversight of the client implementation since the Hitachi team did not have any experience with clients in the US deploying Fiber Optic systems.
I was later invited to join Ledcor Technical Services and helped develop a large scale FTTH division. While working at Ledcor in the Network Development group, I first witnessed execution of true triple play GPON, with a custom ONT/OLT platform that Hitachi developed using their own version of SOC technology. We created a Broadband Network group in 2006, launching a multi-city FTTH deployment on the West coast of Oregon. I realized later that before that time, triple play (especially with early IGMP video) was not really working well outside the Hitachi lab environment. During my time at Ledcor, I was working to advance the GPON deployments, so we introduced other OEM solutions, such as the Alcatel 7342 platform in 2009. We managed both the Hitachi and Alcatel systems on a single Network platform, using new firmware co-developed by Alcatel specifically to address multiple OEM appliances within the same Layer 2 deployment. I was later assigned to be the Technical review lead for Fujitsu and Black & Veatch prior to launching the Kentucky Wired program. My review process was adopted by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and ultimately allowed the program to move forward.
I later accepted a role as CTO with ATLA Telecom, in 2009, to launch and manage a Fiber Network Development group in Norcross, GA. We focused on providing Network service monitoring (NOC) and helped to design and launch the first low latency fiber optic trading network from New York to Chicago called Spread Networks. I ran the Managed Services team and we maintained a 30-minute SLA for MTTR for 3+ years. My support included developing an ISO 9001 and TL-9000 compliant quality management process that was adopted by clients within our network. One of the last projects that I launched at ATLA was a design and implementation plan for the Nevada Hospital Association, where my network design package was awarded a BTOP grant for NHA in the amount of $20M. This included connected dozens of hospitals around the state, and developing a network hub in Clark County, NV, at the Switch Data Center in Las Vegas.
My role at ATLA was about to change since AFL was moving to acquire ALTA, so I moved to Texas and assumed a new role as CEO for Genesis Networks in 2012, supporting a $B Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) company focused on Telecommunication customers such as AT&T. We had several large national accounts, including product testing and technician services for all AT&T U-verse fiber optic field support teams across the United States. Our four divisions provided technician support for Enterprise, Carrier and even state government clients, like support for Security Operations Center (SOC) for the state of Texas, HHSC. Our technical staff was responsible for the cyber security for HHSC as well as support for the Network connectivity via our NOC for the Public Safety offices throughout the state of Texas.
I moved back to the North Atlanta area in 2015 and launched a successful Technology Consulting firm, named R TECH Group. My early consulting projects were in support of Telecom firms, such as Black & Veatch to address the FTTH market segments. I worked with other service providers and a few Telecom Equipment services firms. It was at R TECH, that I was able to finally design and launch a new fiber optic network for Great Lakes Energy, supporting their FTTX initiative. We designed the entire network with ADSS fiber optic cable, created a paperless design practice and delivered fiber cable installed in the neutral power space for areas of North West Michigan. As a small consulting team, I was able to deliver an extraordinary time to market metric, moving the initiative from design concept to the first client broadband connection in 306 days.
I really enjoyed working directly in support of FTTX fiber design and deployment of new fiber networks. This experience is exactly what Mears asked me to contribute and bring my lessons and experience to the both the Service Provider and Electric Cooperative markets. Mears is interested in expanding our best practices and to address the digital gap in rural America and help Coop clients with best of breed PMO and construction methods to the FTTX market space. I am so excited to have an opportunity to introduce Mears to the Association members and sharing my experience and knowledge to help promote the Fiber Broadband Association.
Please describe the goals you would like to accomplish during your term as Fiber Broadband Association Board Member.
I would like to provide a positive influence as a trusted member of the BOD and help provide the framework and structure for teams to develop solutions to some of the challenges that face our industry. One of the most important challenges we face is offering basic tools for children to learn. I have seen firsthand the digital gap between children who have the proper technology and capacity to utilize Broadband services in their homes. If the current state of the education shifts more to remote or virtual learning, how can we help provide the basic BB services that should be available to everyone, like any other necessary utility service. This is not just a problem in rural America, where the cost to provide BB services miles away from the town center is sometimes difficult for service providers to justify, it happens to be a problem in suburbs and urban areas. I believe our technology leaders can offer innovation and help bridge this gap and allow the fiber Broadband industry to help deliver services as we continue to see the home learning landscape evolve.
Have you reviewed the Board of Directors’ Responsibilities document, and do you understand what is required?
Please describe the level of commitment (in terms of time and effort) that you intend to make to the Association during the three-year term:
I will absolutely commit to meet all the key attendance requirements as defined in the responsibilities document, and commit to attending all the BOD conference calls, attend all the face to face BOD meetings, and attend all the committee conference calls. I believe it is very important to represent the members of the Fiber Broadband Association with integrity, honesty and dedication to the role. I strive to promote and endorse the Fiber Broadband membership and will provide enthusiasm and support for the current and future strategic plans of the Association. I will carry out the responsibilities to the best of my ability and ensure my commitment is demonstrated with my actions.
Please inform us of any other information, issue, or concern of which the Association should be aware.