Utility Pole Data: Truth Matters
Updated: Apr 4
The recent FCC ruling brings up a lot of questions about the future of broadband deployment and which entities will have the most control over the pole attachments process going forward. While utilities have traditionally had a lot of control over timelines, what constitutes a "complete" application, and which types of attachments can be added to various types/conditions of poles, the FCC has been legislating changes that affect this control for pole owners across the country.
The new rules weigh heavily in favor of telecommunications as they are geared towards facilitating accelerated deployment. Timelines to process and engineer attachment applications have gotten much shorter, and pole owners are no longer allowed to prolong the process by sending partial feedback to applicants or continually classifying applications as incomplete.
Our primary software offering, Katapult Pro, is a platform designed to make the pole attachments process faster, safer, and more accessible for attachers across the country. In order to do this, we need to be at the cutting edge of industry policy, not just technology. In a recent meeting, the question came up about whether or not we would need to shift our focus from being on utilities (i.e. "how do we make sure this data is sufficient for the pole owner?") to communication companies ("how can this data be leveraged to get fiber up on the pole faster?").
We landed on something we've always known was true, but I thought it might be a good idea to put it in writing for our clients—both pole owners and attachers. Katapult Pro is designed to help teams communicate and make decisions based on the true state of a pole. We've found that this often aligns us with utilities, especially those looking to partner with communications companies to get faster internet to customers in their service territory. These pole owners typically have two requirements that must be met in order to build new fiber: it must be done safely and it must not compromise the reliability of the electrical grid. As the industry changes and teams get better at performing structural analysis (pole loading) and proposing remedies for clearance violations (make ready engineering), I'm sure that the FCC will continue to legislate faster timelines and new workflows, such as one-touch make ready. There will likely be pole owners (especially ILECs) who look to slow down ISPs who are looking to deploy broadband across the country, which means our tool will also be aligned with the goals of the new attacher.
In short, Katapult Pro is a solution that benefits anyone whose primary concern is safety, data accuracy and the true conditions of a pole. Whether it's a utility (or their engineering contractor) who is concerned about an attacher degrading their distribution system or an attacher who is being asked to pay unreasonable make ready costs due to pre-existing violations, the truth will come out during the process.
As it turns out, the answer is almost always subtle. Some bad attachers have made the process trickier for everyone, just as some utilities have handled the attachments process poorly, causing the FCC to force the issue. No matter what new rules are made, our team will always push for Katapult Pro to be the first choice for any pole owner or attacher that is interested in the truth.
Thanks for reading! If you have questions about developing workflows for pole audits of any size, shoot us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org!