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Industry Headlines: 4 Priorities You Should Be Aware Of

Our team spent June 25-28 in Dallas for the Southeastern Electric Exchange (SEE) Conference, chatting with clients about some of the major needs within the industry. 


Right now, we’re seeing huge shifts in how we do business, win bids, and handle projects. As the industry landscape changes, so do the problems we face and the ways we address them. SEE opened the door to talk about a couple of big topics that keep cropping up: 


Transparency 

Transparent data, visibility into workflows, and shared information are crucial for building trust with pole owners. In what has historically been a tense, adversarial relationship between the attachers and pole owners, offering more visibility can go a long way in restoring trust. 


Photo measurements give utilities better context for engineering decisions. Providing pole loading analysis respects pole owners’ concerns for their structures. Shared data, online applications, and read user accounts give your local utility clarity and confidence. 


One of the most powerful ways to provide transparency? Integrating your utility’s standards into your process. Pole owners have certain safety standards based on the regions they serve. By adhering to these regulations and building them into application workflows, attachers showcase their willingness to work collaboratively with the utility. It's a huge step in developing lasting partnerships. 


Joint Use Management Needs 

Joint use departments across the country are already seeing the influx of applications, and the volume is only going to grow as BEAD money gets released for 2025 buildouts.


Processing applications, maintaining standards, communicating the process, and fielding questions is a lot to handle. Understanding the stress joint use departments are under and having a clear picture of a utility’s priorities helps develop better services. 


There’s an incredible opportunity to stand out from the rest of the industry as the team that's willing to do the hard work of creating better relationships. 


Change Management 

Nobody likes change. It always comes at a cost. The ROI of making a change has to outweigh the cost to resources. 


New solutions and advanced software are great, but without a clear path forward, teams are going to flounder. Overhauling systems just isn’t realistic when your staff is already swamped. Having a step-by-step plan for onboarding teams to new workflows lowers the barrier to trying new things. 


BEAD Funding 

Unsurprisingly, BEAD continues to be a hot topic. In some markets, RDOF missteps serve as a cautionary tale for what could happen, but that still doesn’t clarify how to handle BEAD correctly. 


Providers want to use money effectively, pole owners are concerned about their investments, and communities need better services. There’s a lot of expectations. We need to find viable solutions to support rapid broadband deployment before teams hit the ground running. 


But it’s more than just BEAD funding. All the problems and pain points we're struggling with are just symptoms of the bigger issue. BEAD is bringing to light the brokenness of the pole attachments process, and it's giving us an opportunity to do things differently. We need to take concrete steps to start addressing the serious issues within the world of pole attachments:


  1. Vet your processes to make sure your team has the best tools to do excellent work while prioritizing safety.  We can't sacrifice safety for the sake of speed. 

  2. Do your research early and figure out what the pole owner is requesting and what you need. More work on the front end can help keep applications moving and avoid month-long backlogs.

  3. Become an approved OTMR contractor. One-touch make ready contractors are crucial for rapid deployment, and both attachers and utilities need vendors with OTMR expertise. 


Thanks for reading!  We’re currently working on building functions that help address the new issues our industry is facing. For more information, give us a shout at hello@katapultengineering.com

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