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One-Touch: Good for (Almost) Everybody

The FCC has been working hard to revitalize OTMR into something valuable for broadband deployment across the country. Regulation isn't normally the source of innovation—in fact, it's often the opposite—so many remain skeptical as early workflows continue to emerge.

On the surface, one-touch make ready is a protocol for construction on utility poles. Instead of having every company attached to the pole visit the pole in proper sequence, one approved contractor does all Simple construction at once. In theory, a single truck roll saves new attachers time and money.

We know that OTMR is a bit more complicated in practice. Most broadband deployment projects still require Complex make ready (work in the power space, or comm work that requires splicing) which means that permission to attach doesn't come much sooner than normal.

The big difference between OTMR and traditional pole attachment processes? Your competitors can't slow you down indefinitely by stalling on their make ready construction. In this sense, one-touch isn't great for the incumbent providers on a pole who don't want competition.

Getting It Right

One of the issues with OTMR is in how Simple and Complex make ready work is separated. An obvious interpretation of the FCC order and guidelines would be to split attachment applications up into two categories:

1) Poles with no or Simple make ready only
2) Poles with Complex make ready

There are lots of problems with this interpretation!

- The new attacher still gets stalled by competitors because all Complex poles go through the standard process.
- The utility ends up managing two or three different applications that have different statuses, processes, and timelines.
- The work doesn't follow a continuous path—it's "swiss-cheesed" across a broadband project where responsibility for communications work is split across many parties in an unclear way.
- Confusion leads to cut corners and safety risks.

Instead, we recommend creating an entire application as OTMR. When an approved engineering contractor identifies Complex make ready work, that work (not all work—just Complex) can go through the standard process while OTMR is on hold. Once the Complex make ready has been completed, one-touch construction can occur safely and quickly!

Why Should We Get It Right?

We know that OTMR has the potential to turn a vicious cycle into a virtuous one for attachers. Providing the opportunity to hire an approved contractor directly and removing competitors' power to stall the process helps keep broadband deployment moving smoothly.

But what about the utilities? One-touch is yet another regulation many pole owners have to adapt to, but we think it can also be an advantage because of how it mitigates risks while addressing priorities and concerns:

- OTMR reduces truck rolls, which reduces service interruptions and field exposure for communication workers.
- OTMR leverages trusted crews whose reputation is on the line and has existing familiarity with safety considerations and construction standards.
- OTMR prevents unauthorized attachments by lubricating the attachments process and verifying compliance with post-construction inspections.

To set up OTMR models in your Katapult Pro account, or to set up Joint Use Management tools in your footprint, give us a shout at hello@katapultengineering.com! 

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