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How To Leverage OTMR and Self-Help In A Complex Make Ready World

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

In our last article, we mentioned that most pole attachment applications have some degree of electrical make ready required, which typically means that OTMR is not seen as a viable option. While most projects will indeed require EMR, there are creative ways to handle applications in a way that lowers your overall costs and, potentially, your timelines, too. Here is our recipe for safe and efficient broadband deployment in an increasingly complicated make ready climate:


1. Start a discussion with the pole owner.


Before you go in with guns blazing, we believe it is prudent to start a discussion with the pole owner about the OTMR and Self-Help processes. Many utilities have posted a clear explanation of their requirements, as well as a list of approved make ready engineering and construction contractors (we'll talk more about these lists and why getting onto them is a big deal in a later blog post). If the pole owner doesn't have such a list, you might be in a position to help them develop an OTMR workflow based upon the FCC Order and the pole owner's distribution standards. Whether you're the first or the fiftieth applicant to attempt a one-touch make ready workflow, starting the process with a friendly discussion of mutual interests prevents an adversarial relationship in the long run.


2. Pick a good route.


This should go without saying, but picking the right route for your fiber can go a long way when it comes to your overall project timeline. While you'll never find the perfect, no-make ready route, you can often avoid some of the ugliest pole replacements and reframing. A few days of extra work to perform data collection of multiple potential routes can yield tens of thousands of dollar savings and weeks off your total project timeline. Be careful to look for more than just empty poles, as even the best of routes can fall victim to ROW and permits (RR, transmission undercrossings, etc.) that can add months to the project timeline. Katapult Pro is a very safe, cost-effective, and fast way to find an optimal or near-optimal route.


3. Submit your application details to an approved OTMR contractor.


Because you are looking to leverage one-touch make ready, don't submit an application to the pole owner until you've discussed the details with an approved contractor. Depending on how the pole owner has chosen to handle OTMR, the approved contractor may be better equipped to submit the application on your behalf. In our local market, we perform the data collection and then submit a full application, bifurcating the poles between those requiring simple and those requiring complex make ready. The simple make ready poles qualify for the OTMR process, and can be handled solely by approved OTMR contractors, lowering the total cost for the applicant. Since the complex poles still need to go through the standard process, the one-touch make ready process typically won't shorten your overall timeline. It will, however, lower your total cost.


4. Start Self-Help as soon as possible.


Here is where things get interesting. Though you can't begin construction on any poles until all make ready has been completed at each pole, Self-Help rules provide a valid way to decrease the total amount of time before your fiber is up. Once make ready timelines have been missed, you can use an approved Self-Help contractor to perform the make ready work on your behalf. Though each pole owner may have different interpretations of the Self-Help remedy, typically this work can be performed after notifying all parties 15 days or more before you plan to complete the Self-Help make ready construction work. This is a very helpful option to lower your overall project timeline.


Thanks for reading! In our next article, we'll outline how the OTMR and Self-Help processes are handled using the Katapult Pro platform. Questions or comments? Shoot us a line at contact@katapultengineering.com.

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