The past few years have brought significant changes to the electric utility and communications sectors. The small cell revolution is underway, and poles are sprouting attachments at an accelerating pace. New FCC rules are putting joint use departments to the test; asset owners are scrambling to keep data current; extreme weather is taking a heavy toll on utility infrastructure in vulnerable areas.
While these challenges will not disappear in 2020, Alden can help you find the right solution. Read on for six ways to transform and grow in the year ahead.
1. Collect the right data efficiently
In this rapidly changing landscape, it is more important than ever to have up-to-date data. To be a modern data-driven business, it’s an essential requirement. You cannot make business decisions based on data – without useful data. Today, you can now quickly capture more data than you may need. So what data do you need? It’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. Alden can assist with best practices as far as the information your company must know to achieve the results you want.
The number of joint use requests associated with 5G deployment is escalating, so it’s essential to have an accurate picture of your plant when deciding whether to permit additional attachments on any given pole. Fresh data is also required to assess the condition of assets in the face of increasing threats from extreme weather events.
Fortunately, high-tech options for utility data collection are much faster than working by hand, and the costs are dropping. Alden can help you understand which method (or methods) of data collection are best to meet your current business needs. Typically, there is a mix of data capture resources necessary to complete any job.
Companies that need a lot of data in a hurry are using LIDAR and drones to speed up the data capture process. LIDAR (light detection and ranging) measures distances using a million pulses of light per second. The collected data can be used to create a detailed three-dimensional picture of an asset along with attachments and surrounding vegetation.
2. Be storm ready
The threat posed to utility and communications infrastructure by storms and natural disasters isn’t new, but the frequency of the most extreme weather events and the resulting expenses have increased in recent years.
Some companies with assets in areas subject to hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, and heavy winters are working to improve severe weather preparedness. They are developing more comprehensive and better-coordinated severe weather plans and mutual aid agreements, as well as looking at storm hardening their plant.
Storm hardening methods include:
- Replacing wooden poles with concrete or steel poles that can withstand stronger winds
- Reinforcing existing poles and cables
- Coating cables and equipment with water-resistant materials
- Selective undergrounding of lines
- Elevating equipment or creating barriers in flood-prone areas
- Employing technology to make the grid more resilient
3. Stay compliant with the FCC’s regulations on OTMR and small cell
Recently, the FCC enacted new rules to speed and streamline the deployment of small cell across the country and prepare for the rollout of 5G. Failure to comply puts a company in danger of possible legal action, creates conflict among joint use partners, and slows deployment of new technology to consumers.
The FCC’s One Touch Make Ready order imposed new timelines for application, permitting, and attachment. It empowered new attachers to perform the work themselves, including moving existing equipment in the communications space of utility poles when placing equipment. The order set notification requirements for each step in the process.
The FCC also issued an order that affects state and local governments’ handling of small cell applications. Officials must review and rule on applications in a shorter timeframe, have clear and reasonable standards for approval, and not discriminate among providers. The order also limits restrictions a city may place on deployment.
4. Automate your processes and streamline efficiency
Older methods of tracking utility projects, such as files and spreadsheets, don’t work in today’s world. Communicating with the multiple departments, companies, and contractors involved in a joint use project can be complicated. A more efficient way to manage the process is essential for happy companies and satisfied customers.
A top-notch management platform such as Alden One® automates joint use processes, simplifies communications, and keeps the most recent data on all assets organized and ready to access. Deadlines become easier to meet, the entire process becomes easy to track, and everybody involved stays on the same page.
5. Be a part of the nation’s fastest-growing industry event
The third annual Alden Conference, taking place April 5-8 in Birmingham, offers an opportunity for electric utilities, telecoms, broadband providers, contractors, and engineers to network, learn, and discuss important industry issues. The conference includes:
- Presentations on trending industry topics
- Group discussion sessions on issues affecting the joint use community
- Training on the Alden One® platform for all user levels, from beginning to advanced
The Alden Conference creates a collaborative environment, a chance for asset owners and attachers to train together, and an opportunity to influence the ongoing development of Alden One®. The 2020 conference will also present advanced solutions for data collection.
6. Work together with industry partners
Joint use is a vital part of advancing cutting-edge technology in the United States. Potential improvements in communications, information, health, safety, efficiency, transportation, entertainment, and overall quality of life depend on members of the joint use community working together effectively. We have a chance to close the digital divide throughout the country and create better opportunities for millions of Americans in the next few years.
Alden's mission is to remove obstacles to productive collaboration and coordination among joint use partners. We work better when we work together.
Alden can help you meet your biggest challenges. Click below to speak with a product specialist.