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What Utility Pole Data Do I Need To Collect To Build Fiber?

When we talk about utility poles in the context of reliable internet, we're almost always talking about distribution poles. Distribution poles are critical structures that bring power to our businesses and homes and are also responsible for the majority of communications deployment across the country.

They look like this:

Or this:

Or sometimes this:

As is the case in any industry, having accurate, up-to-date information about distribution poles is critical when it comes to bringing reliable utilities for people—and that's why we care so much about utility pole data. This includes relevant information such as:

  • location

  • photos

  • type

  • framing

  • conductor specifications

  • install/inspection/survey dates

  • equipment

  • attachment heights and companies

and much more. This information is typically stored in a master GIS that can be accessed by administrators, designers, and vendors performing engineering or construction on the structures themselves.

Utility Pole Data For Broadband Deployment

Of everything that counts as "utility pole data," what is actually needed for broadband deployment? While the specifics vary between pole owners and regions, generally, there are three categories of data to ensure that new fiber is built safely:

  1. Geospatial Data - as outlined here, having accurate geolocations for the poles in question helps attachers, pole owners, and their contractors get on the same page for which utility assets are being considered for aerial deployment. This is typically just a GPS location, but it also may include a unique pole identifier (we call this a pole tag) that is derived from a state grid or other coordinate system. Geospatial data also includes information needed for safe engineering design, such as guying and the interconnectivity of conductors and comm wires on the poles.

  2. Pole Measurements - the vertical measurements on a pole are incredibly important for understanding a pole's load, as well as making sure there is enough space for communication workers to safely install a new cable. Most of the country uses NESC clearances (*cough* California *cough*), and many pole owners have "above-and-beyond" requirements as outlined by their group responsible for safety/construction standards. This data is also needed for accurate modeling and pole loading analysis.

  3. Specifications - this leaves the missing piece, which is identifying the pole type and the specifications/ownership of equipment on each pole. This information is critical for understanding who is on the pole, and how weather and other pole stresses impact the safety of the pole lines. Capturing this data often requires physically standing at the pole to capture "birthmark" data which specifies the height, class, and type of pole you are working with.

Katapult Pro was built to safely and quickly capture this data so that only one trip to the field is necessary to design and engineer new attachments. Check out our demo to see how we combine this data to build trust and transparency between attachers and utility pole owners!

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