On July 12, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took significant steps toward facilitating broadband deployment by releasing a draft report and order that would enact, among other things, a “one-touch make-ready” (OTMR) process for most third-party communications attachments to utility poles. The Power & Communication Contractors Association (PCCA) supports the updated OTMR process, which would give new attachers seeking to access utility poles the choice to either use an approved contractor to perform all work necessary to prepare the pole for its facilities, known as “make-ready” work, or follow the current practice where each attacher performs the necessary make-ready work on its own facilities in a sequential process.
The OTMR option would apply only to “simple” make-ready work and would not be available for “complex” work involving electric-supply facilities that poses greater safety threats or is more likely to cause an outage or damage.
“PCCA supports FCC’s draft order on one-touch make-ready,” said PCCA President Larry Pribyl of MP Nexlevel LLC. “The order would significantly improve the current practice of sequential make-ready work by six or eight crews while also ensuring that work on electrical facilities is conducted by the right people.”
The draft order comes after consideration of several recommendations from the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC). PCCA took issue with some of the remarks by certain carriers during BDAC discussions that questioned the ability of contractors to perform make-ready work. After discussions in the offices of all FCC commissioners, the draft order concluded that FCC was “not convinced by the arguments made by some commenters that OTMR will allow make-ready work to be performed by new attachers that lack adequate incentives to perform quality work” and that “the new attacher and its chosen contractor have an incentive to perform quality work in order to limit risk, keep workers safe, and avoid tort liability for damages caused by substandard work.”
“Any contention that contractors lack the incentive or ability to perform this work is absurd,” Pribyl said. “The vast majority of broadband work is contracted out and is performed safely and effectively by PCCA members. We work for all types of broadband carriers, including the ones who are badmouthing contractor performance.”
PCCA also supports language in the draft order that would reaffirm the FCC’s longstanding policy of allowing attachers to “overlash” new wires onto their existing wires without first seeking approval from the pole owner.