Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved new rules that could let internet service providers (ISPs) gain access faster to utility poles, reports ArsTechnica.
The new rules, called One Touch Make Ready (OTMR) rules, will enable companies to connect their wires to utility poles without having to wait for other users to move their own wires. Some companies, including Google Fiber, are jumping on the OTMR band wagon because some current pole users, like Comcast and AT&T, take too long to prepare their wire for new users.
“Previously, existing pole users had to perform make-ready work within 60 days (or within 90 days for work on the upper parts of a pole),” ArtTechnica says. “Those timelines are being shortened to 30 days and 60 days. If existing pole users don’t meet their deadlines, new attachers will be allowed to perform all the work themselves.”
OMTR also might be starting to play a major role in speeding the deployment of cellular broadband. This is because carriers want to put small cells on utility poles as they upgrade from 4G to 5G.
Too Good to be True?
Before decision makers start preparing to anchor their company’s wires into utility poles, ArsTechnica covers a couple of downsides to the new rules. To start, OTMR rules will only affect privately-owned poles, as opposed to poles owned by municipalities and cooperatives.
OTMR rules will also not apply to states that have opted out of “the federal regime” and use their own ways to regulate pole attachments: “Twenty states and Washington, DC, have previously opted out of the federal pole-attachment rules, while pole attachments in the other 30 states are governed by FCC rules,” according to ArsTechnica.
Plus, the FCC is adopting these new rules for “simple attachments;” the “old process” will still be followed for more “complex” attachments, “are likely to cause outages or damages.”
As a result, decision makers who are looking to join the OTMR party should consider the rules carefully, and troubleshoot how adding new wires might help – or hurt – their business. Decision makers might also consider how their company’s wires will be affected if other businesses or startups follow the new rules, especially if they are already attached to utility poles. Will those companies cause outages for your business? What competition will you be up against? Doing research, and keeping tabs on OTMR developments can help businesses stay on top of potential problems, and even get ahead, especially as we move closer to the age of 5G.