Best Practices: Tackling Joint Use Utility Pole Attachment Requests
Companies have been sharing space on utility poles for a long time and while this “joint use” concept has remained the same (utility pole owners rent space to other companies, called attachers, such as a telephone company, to attach equipment and cables to existing poles), joint use in practice has gotten much more complicated. Parity no longer exists. There are many more companies today whose services require renting space on utility poles for distribution, and thus many more companies vying for space to attach their equipment to poles. Additionally, new laws have been passed regulating rates, terms and conditions of pole attachments that have generally been in favor of the attachers (not the pole owners). This has resulted in a lot more companies requesting to attach to utility poles. With proper asset inventory and management of jointly used utility poles plus an effective means of communication, utility pole owners can tackle all of those joint use utility pole attachment requests with ease. Keep reading to find out exactly how asset management and communication can help your company facilitate joint use utility pole attachment requests.
Joint Use Asset Management
Utility pole owners are generally only allowed to refuse attachment requests when the utility pole(s) in question will not be able to structurally withstand the additional weight of more equipment attached to it (known as overloading). There are rules that outline how much weight can be put on a pole of a certain height, width, material and age. With an accurate inventory database of utility poles, including individual asset records for each pole that includes age, material, measurements and weight of existing attachments, it is simple to determine if a particular pole can handle additional attachments. Naturally, joint use pole attachers typically request to attach to more than one pole (and typically they request to attach to every pole within an entire community) and laws provide a time frame in which pole owners must respond to those Permit to Attach requests. Having this information readily accessible is really the only way to set yourself up for success and respond in a timely manner.
Failure to respond to Permit to Attach requests in a timely manner can lead to penalties and fines, making it necessary to adhere to established timelines. It is also important to keep a historical record of each request regarding each asset and all associated communications between joint use, or potential joint use, partners for documentation purposes. Once an attachment request has been approved, a utility pole owner may need to conduct make-ready work, which is also subject to timelines. Modern, web-based communication systems not only include the means to notify the necessary individuals as to work that needs to get done. Great communication/notification software also allow companies to monitor this work through specific company-based workflows that ensure business processes are kept consistent with each attacher and timelines are enforced for all parties involved. Work-order updates, automated e-mail reminders and project status reports can all be used to keep things on track, and SIMPLIFY the pole attachment process. Facilitating make-ready and ultimate approval for pole attachment requests in a timely manner with effective communication can also start off joint use relationships on a positive note and help develop a good working relationship with joint use partners. Good communication equals good partners, which is good for business all around.