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Why Mapping Utility Pole Locations Is Critical For Broadband Deployment

Updated: Mar 4

Pole Mapping: What Is It

Utility pole mapping is an integral requirement for broadband deployment projects that will require aerial attachment requests. Since most FTTx projects require a blend of both aerial and underground construction to provide internet services to customers, it’s nearly impossible for ISPs to provide access without dealing with some part of the pole attachments process.

As we’ve discussed before, the pole attachments process can be a bit convoluted, with both pole owners and existing attachers having no incentive to help you put another attachment on the pole. In some states, the process is regulated by the FCC to help new attachers, existing providers, and pole owners work together, and in other states, their PUC regulates the process. In addition to many states handling things differently, each pole owner may have their own attachment requirements that you need to figure out in order to get permission to attach.

While no two pole owners or regions have the same process, the nearly universal requirement is pole mapping. Whether the pole owner has a portal for attachment requests and an internal engineering and design process, requires applicants to provide full make ready engineering and loading analysis for each pole application, or anything in between, your team will need to provide a pole map of some form upon submission.

This is probably a good time for a quick aside—our industry is in the middle of a shift from cartographic to GIS standards for pole mapping. When we talk about cartographic pole designs, we’re talking about CAD-style prints that are an artistic interpretation of real-world conditions intended for human legibility. When it comes to telecom construction, CAD prints are still often the default.

Yates Engineering Services Sample CAD print
source: Yates Engineering Services LLC

And then there’s GIS data. When we talk about GIS pole maps, I’m talking about a database of real-world design elements tied to their true geolocations. Many pole owners and telecom providers who previously used maps with offset, cartographic layers to visualize and maintain their asset records (poles, conductors, equipment, etc.) are now making a shift to master GIS databases to house this data as it truly exists in the world.

Esri Mobile GIS mapping sample
source Esri Industries Youtube

Ok, now back to the good stuff.

Katapult Pro for Pole Mapping

There isn’t one right answer for how to map pole locations for attachment applications because the right way is always the way that gets your team permission to attach safely as fast as possible. Below, I’ll outline the way we map utility poles in Katapult Pro to accommodate a wide breadth of pole owner requirements.

  1. Route Determination. Before you can submit a pole attachment request, you need to know which poles you will be attaching to. We do our first design pass using Katapult Pro’s Google-based maps and streetview to perform initial design.

  2. Field Verification. The next step is to verify the design in the field. If another firm will be performing make ready engineering, this might be your last step. We use Katapult Pro’s mobile maps to verify existing conditions and indicate verification date and time.

  3. Data Collection. If your team is responsible for measurement, make ready, and or pole loading analysis, we would also collect photo data for back-office processing using the Katapult Pro field methodology.

Katapult Pro main map and photo measurement view

We use Katapult Pro because our team is always required to perform data collection, make ready engineering, and pole loading analysis for our pole attachment projects. Sometimes, we’re even required to put together the electrical make ready design package for construction.

Regardless of your end deliverable, Katapult Pro is a great design and data collection tool for utility pole mapping. Contact for more information, or for suggestions on how to tackle utility pole mapping for your next project!

You can also call us anytime at 717-502-4510!

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