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Three Reasons Why Make Ready Matters

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1. Make ready costs make a major impact on aerial route selection

Whether it’s the engineering or construction (or both), third-party attachers often find themselves scratching their heads as they see make ready costs.

And the confusion makes sense. New builds are required to bring the pole up to the most current specifications, which can be extremely expensive. If a communications company wants to run a single fiber line to a small town, their best option could result in a dozen or more pole replacements costing $100,000 or more.

If this is the case, applicants have three options: pay a premium to bring these poles up to spec, find a different way to get the fiber to the town, or cancel the project completely.

Efficient route determination becomes exceedingly valuable because applicants need to know which poles to avoid to lower overall engineering and construction costs.

KatapultPro job design avoiding likely pole replacements
KatapultPro job design avoiding likely pole replacements

If this all sounds like an uphill battle, it’s because policy is oriented around safety and maintaining power uptime–not making things broadband deployment more cost-effective.

Recent changes to FCC pole attachment timelines and new one touch make ready rules are a good sign for the future of broadband deployment, but they still won’t lower costs in a way that would allow attachers to install fiber on any pole they desire. As a third-party attacher, well-executed route determination could be one of the best ways to ensure your project’s success.

2. Make ready keeps the lights on and people safe.

This is an obvious one, but it shouldn’t go unsaid.

Make ready is all about keeping power distribution systems safe, robust, and reliable. If there weren’t rules and specifications, overloaded poles would be a much more frequent occurrence, leading to increased power outages, accidents, injuries, and more. (Below is an image of downed utility poles in Paxton Township, PA from PennLive.com)

Downed utility poles in Paxton Township, PA from PennLive.com

Downed utility poles in Paxton Township, PA from PennLive.com

In addition to helping poles’ loads, make ready specifications ensure that wires are high enough off the ground to avoid accidents and that there is enough space between energized pole elements to keep construction crews and linemen safe.

It’s important to remember that attachments are a liability to power distribution, so you will have to pay a sizeable fee and build safely to get the pole owner’s approval.

3. Make ready helps you choose your projects wisely.

Make ready is a lot like an iceberg, with most costs and delays coming from items that weren’t visible at first glance. Because make ready costs involve surveys, rideouts, independent review, engineering, construction, and more, these unseen costs are often immense.

Hyperbuild strategies (Google Fiber, Verizon Fios, etc.) fail in certain areas due to a basic misunderstanding of how all these costs will add up in that market. The company is unable to bring customers on board at a price point that lets them recoup their expenses, and they end up canceling the project outright. Builds of this magnitude generally will require some partnership with the pole owner to selectively enforce make ready specifications.

Having a solid understanding of make ready helps teams invest in projects that are more likely to be profitable instead of racing to the bottom on bids that could put the whole project in jeopardy.

How can KatapultPro help?

The Katapult method lets you keep your make ready and pole loading experts in the office, while newer team members collect data in the field. KatapultPro is easy to learn and simplifies critical industry concepts. This allows less experienced staff to take time to learn different aspects of data processing while still contributing value to the project.

KatapultPro also provides a visualization of the make ready costs your project will incur. As you process the data, the poles on your map will reflect the complexity of the construction required. When working on large jobs, a heat map like this can save your team many hours and thousands of dollars.

Thanks for reading! Over the next few months, we’ll discuss new one-touch make ready rules, make ready estimates, and strategies to win bids without lowering your price.

Interested in a software demo or pilot project? Contact me at aschmehl@katapultengineering.com to get started!

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