FCC 477 Reporting update

Hello folks!

Starting with December 31 2011, all FCC 477 Reporting should be done based on the 2010 Census tracts.  Here is the link to the FCC notice which outlines the new procedures. Regarding Freeside, a few changes are needed to make sure your Freeside server is ready for the new requirements.
  • Check to make sure you are running 2.3.2 or newer, if not, you will need to upgrade.
  • Under Configuation -> Settings, set census_year to 2012, not 2010.
  • Lastly, run the upgrade program to update the census tracts. As the freeside user run: freeside-censustract-update username ( Replace username with a valid username on the system )
Following the above steps will have your ready for this year’s round of FCC 477 reporting.  ( If you need to do your first FCC 477 report, see the documentation. )

– Jeremy

Cool Calendars in 2.1

Freeside 2.1 was released this week without much fanfare.  The fanfare will be coming, but with the trade show coming up, I’ve been focused on getting ready for that.  I’m going to take a minute though and point out a new feature in 2.1… Calendars.


Freeside, through the integration with RT from Best Practical, now has support for iCal as well as a calendar report so that you can see the time line on a group of tickets.  For iCal integration, you will need calendaring software that supports the iCal feed.  There is a reasonably large list of iCal compatible software on Wikipedia.

To use calendaring, the first step is to create a search. For example you could search for all tickets that belong to you, or belong to a specific group of customers that you manage.  To get reminders too, you may want to add the following snippet (click the advanced link):

     AND (  Type = 'ticket' OR Type = 'reminder' )

Go ahead and run the search, and you should have a list of tickets and optionally reminders.  Now to do something with the dates…

First, for iCal, look at the upper right and there are a number of links for exporting the data.  You can download it via a spreadsheet, or get a feed from RSS or iCal.  Right-click on the iCal link and copy the link.  Then open your iCal software and past the link in the field for your iCal feed.  The system will export all of your due dates so that they will now show up on your calendar.  This is awesome for planning installation schedules.  Many applications will allow you to show multiple feeds ona single calendar, color coded – which is great for managers to ensure that they aren’t creating problems for the team.

The second thing that you can do with a list is get a calendar report.  if you look to the upper left, there is a calendar link.  This will show the start, end and due dates for all of the items in the current search.  This is really good for seeing how projects are progressing for a customer, or what the team has been working on.  To get a good picture for completed work, be sure to include all tickets, not just open tickets.

Being able to see what is coming up has been really helpful for me, and I hope that it will help you too.


Cool Feature – Attach Documents

At Freeside, we use Freeside… of course.  There are a number of cool features that we use, and I thought that I would share some of them.  If you’re not using them try them out, and if you’re running an older version, it may be time to upgrade.  As a disclaimer, some of them may only be available in the cvs version, but they will be in the next release.  So without further adieu…

Attach Documents.

For WISP billing and VoIP billing, it can be handy to have the design docs when you’re installing or troubleshooting a customer.  If you are billing for a service as we do, it can be handy to have specifications available.  Freeside has a couple of ways to help with document management so that all of the appropriate people can get the doc that they need, when they need it.

First, you can attach documents to tickets. It’s great for things like specifications and documents associated with that ticket.  Tickets are linked to the customer, so you can look at the ticket to get the information, and that’s really cool.  It’s like having a folder of everything that is need for that ticket, and you can pass it around and add to it.  The only bummer is that when the ticket is resolved, it no longer shows up in the list.  You have to click on resolved tickets and then select the correct ticket, which can be difficult if the customer has a lot of tickets.  Which brings me to part two…

You can attach documents directly to the customer.  I attach the executed contracts to the customer record so that I don’t have to dig for it.  Then when I go to the customer, all of the documents are there.  You can also store network diagrams, schematics,  scope of work documents, escalation directories, proposals, or pretty much any other file that would persist longer than a ticket.  It’s awesome.

I am careful to manage scope.  If it is project or issue related, it lives in a ticket.  If it relates to the ongoing support and operation of a customer, it is attached to the customer.  Like most things, sloppy scope management creates a huge list of global documents that clutter up the customer and make it difficult to quickly find the document that you are looking for.

For example, a ticket may be for building a custom CDR import.  The ticket would have the scope of work, the contract, a couple of proposals as part of the sales process, the CDR specification,  and other documents related to the project.  The contract has the larger scope, so it would make sense to upload it to the customer, while the other documents persist in the ticket.

Being able to easily attach documents makes things go much smoother for us, and I hope that it will be useful to you too.

If you have a favorite feature, feel free to send a note to sales and who knows, it may become one of my favorite features too.