Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Take Flight With One Touch Make-Ready

Are you ready for new make-ready? The effective date for the 2019 make ready laws from the FCC including One Touch Make-Ready (OTMR) is May 20th.

On the same day in 1927, the “flying fool” Charles Lindbergh started his solo flight across the Atlantic from New York to Paris in 33 hours and 30 minutes. Today you can follow the path of the Spirit of St. Louis, but your flight time would be 7 hours and 20 minutes.

As OTMR is designed to shorten the daunting make-ready process, how much faster can broadband deployment become? How will it compare to the four-fold decrease in time it takes to travel now from New York to Paris?

Internet Service Providers face many obstacles in deploying broadband services including large capital costs, time to deployment, and numerous other sales and marketing challenges. One of the largest areas of concern is equal access to attach to poles and a reliable process in which to do so.

Twenty states in the US have certified with the FCC that they regulate rates, terms and conditions for pole attachments under the reverse preemption provision. For simplicity, we will call them Opt-Out states. The Opt-Out states formed their own make-ready laws over the years, many of them implementing some of the same rules as OTMR. Below is the list of states, and for those in the FCC regulated column, they will face new make ready laws on May 20th.

FCC Regulated
Opt-Out (Created their own Make-Ready Laws)
New Mexico
North Carolina
New Hampshire
North Dakota
New York
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota



West Virginia



A joint-use utility pole with power and communications.
In the FCC pole attachment regulated states, the major reform calls for simplified rules in attaching to the middle section of lines on a pole, known as the communications space. Before a company can attach its fiber optic cable to a pole, each owner of currently attached wires must be asked to assess and move their wires if necessary–a process called “make ready.” Poles are typically owned and operated by the local incumbent phone company – which coincidentally is typically one’s largest competitor in that market, which is why this type of regulation is necessary for equal and timely access to poles.

In general, the FCC’s order allows the construction of make ready and pole attachment quicker and more safe; allows wider deployment of broadband services to urban, suburban and rural residents, lowers barriers to entry; and ensures tighter deadlines for network contractors to receive feedback on poles and any necessary make ready work needed.

This new regulation has not come without concern. Many incumbents have their own internal process for make ready, claim to not resources available, or even only want their own trusted contractors working in this space. However, the FCC has pushed ahead with this set of rules. If the contractor that the new attacher would like to use is not on the pole owners’ approved contractor list, they are not allowed to use them. In order to prepare for the OTMR ruling, ILECs and CLECs should be in contact with their pole owner partners as soon as possible to have their contractors evaluated and approved.

As utilities are the primary pole owners, it is important for those companies to prepare for OTMR by adding the necessary resources to be able to process the new permit requests under the timeframes dictated by the 2019 OTMR order.

Another challenge on both sides will be the effectiveness to determine without argument the differences between "simple" and "complex" make-ready. Poles that do not require a lot of work to maintain compliance with the new attacher, and ones that do not require a new pole fall under simple make-ready rules. That is where the true benefits of OTMR come into effect for the new attacher. Otherwise, poles that require a lot of work and replacement fall under the complex make-ready. Some instances of complex make ready, such as the image above, are obvious. Some poles may not be identified as complex when they really are. The term "shot clock" is used to describe the amount of time each stage of the make-ready process takes to complete under the ruling, and simple make-ready has much shorter shot clocks.

In the end, it’s imperative that all companies work together so that the U.S. doesn’t fall behind in the arms race for broadband service. Any significant delays will not only factor into ubiquitous deployment of technology such as 5G wireless, but also hamper the implementation of fiber to the home and the Internet of Things still yet to come. Could OTMR be the catalyst for the next age of mobility like Charles Lindbergh’s flight was the catalyst for international travel? Only time will tell.