One-touch make ready (or OTMR) has been a buzzword since 2018, when the FCC’s new rules first went into effect. Nearly six years later, teams across the country are still struggling to make one-touch work.
But nailing a one-touch workflow can help teams alleviate the pain of tight deadlines, backlogged applications, and stressful relationships. It can cut calendar days and costs while still keeping the grid reliable. Getting it right could change the game for how teams approach their work and their relationships with utilities and other attachers.
One-touch benefits applicants because it bypasses what tends to be an adversarial relationship between incumbents and new attachers. Existing communication providers who are already up on the pole can stall competitors from attaching by dragging out the construction work–waiting to move their attachments and slowing down the entire process.
One-touch alleviates those headaches with a simplified process for poles that don’t require complex power make ready. Instead of every attacher sending out their own crews one-by-one (and on their own schedules), one approved contractor performs the simple make ready engineering and construction. The end result? New attachers can cut calendar days and stay on top of project timelines.
If this sounds like a great idea, that’s because it is! The combination of OTMR and timely post-construction inspections can protect both attachers and utilities by hitting deadlines quickly and ensuring reliability and safety.
Implementing one-touch in practice is a whole lot trickier, however. Applications for OTMR work tend to either bite-sized– consisting of small strings of consecutive simple make ready poles– or cherry-picked, with simple make ready poles plucked out of bigger, complex pole applications.
These strategies don’t really harness the full potential of OTMR. Bite-sized applications limit the volume, since you can’t go far without finding a pole demanding power make ready. On the other hand, cherry-picked applications create huge headaches, as OTMR applications get approved but the rest of the job is stuck waiting for the complex design to get approval. Inevitably, new attachers end up building on complex poles before getting approval anyway.
But OTMR can work, and has the power to make attachments faster and easier without sacrificing safety. In working with attachers and pole owners in our local footprint, we’ve found two main methods that make OTMR possible.
Solution 1: Complete Complex Make Ready, Which Approves One-Touch
Instead of separating simple and complex poles, keep poles together in applications, with the utility company’s OTMR engineering contractors determining what’s simple and what’s complex. They’ll review the required work for the poles and invoice for the complex engineering. Once an applicant pays the engineering invoice, they secure their spot in line to attach.
When the engineering for the complex poles is approved, the simple make ready construction that qualifies for a one-touch process is automatically approved, too.
Solution 2: Address OTMR, Then Submit for Complex
The other option still keeps simple and complex poles together, but instead the applicant addresses the OTMR poles first. The attacher submits an application with the proposed engineering for their simple make ready poles and waits for the utility company’s OTMR team to review, approve, and perform engineering on the complex poles.
Again, paying the engineering invoice for complex make ready secures an attacher’s place in the queue. Once the complex work is complete, the entire application is approved and applicant can go attach.
Both these solutions keep applications flowing and ensure attachers don’t get overlooked while waiting for approval. If a second attacher applies for the same poles as the first attacher, the second attacher’s engineering plan is built around the first.
At the end of the day, it’s up to attachers, contractors, and utilities to make it work– they’re the ones who constantly work to provide better services and build a safer grid. OTMR has the potential to make that even easier without sacrificing volume, speed, or safety.
If one-touch engineering really is the future of pole attachments (and we really think so!), then we’ve got to find solutions that help teams do it well with less headaches and faster turn-around times. Our Application Management portal helps keep the process moving by automatically tracking timelines and sending out email notifications to application admins the moment they have approval to attach.
Whether it’s streamlining the applications process, harnessing the best tools as an approved OTMR vendor, or collecting the best data out there, we’re constantly creating new ways to do better work. Contact us today to learn more!