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FCC Changing the Rules?

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On April 20th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on a notice of proposed rule change designed to accelerate broadband deployment, primarily by trying to remove or reduce existing barriers to construction.

While the FCC’s proposal touches on many aspects of telecommunication infrastructure, two sections particularly jumped out at us here at Katapult, both having to deal with reducing the time make ready takes before a new attacher can install their cables on a pole.  

First is the aggressive FCC pole attachment timeline to complete the make-ready process.  According to the rules adopted in 2011, the process was reduced to a deadline of 133 days, with 45 of those days allotted for review of the application and the completion of the engineering survey.

The proposed timeline further reduces these deadlines to a total of only 59 days, with a mere 15 days for application review and the engineering survey.  The overall 56% reduction and the 66% reduction in field survey time represents a massive change in tempo required compared to the previous deadlines.

New proposed FCC timeline for broadband deployment

While at first glance it seems daunting, this faster data collection tempo is certainly achievable. Katapult Engineering has been completing the application acceptance and field survey for attachment requests in the 29-county PPL service network by the close of the following week for the last 5 years.  Having already managed an 11 day deadline, the FCC’s proposed 15 day deadline seems quite reasonable.

Of course, we did not achieve that quick turnaround by relying on traditional application and field survey techniques. Our custom-built frontend for PPL’s attachment services makes keeping track of applications straightforward. Also, Katapult Pro was developed specifically to meet these kind of deadlines without out-of-control survey and rideout costs.

The other major shift is the FCC’s request for comment into alternate pole attachment processes, specifically one-touch make ready.  One-touch make ready (OTMR) would involve utility company-approved contractors making a single visit to a pole and completing make ready instead of having each separate attacher send their own crew over a period of weeks to complete the make-ready process.

With these regulations, communications between utilities and attachers becomes even more crucial. In many implementations of OTMR, the attacher is to be informed to give them a chance to perform the make-ready themselves. The attachers also need to be informed promptly after make-ready has been completed to give them a chance to review the utility approved contractors work.

All of this can be managed through a frontend user application, automating the application process and keeping all parties up to date.  Additionally, Katapult Pro permits easy photo documentation of contractor work, and would allow attachers to either sign off on work done to their own attachments, or cheaply survey the site themselves.

While the final version of the rule changes the FCC are considering is still unknown, since they will likely take feedback into account, it is clear that they want faster, more efficient expansion of broadband infrastructure, which will require some form of faster timeline, and thus a faster tempo for companies performing engineering surveys like ours.