Tales From the Vault #1: Stories of Joint Use in the Wild
At Alden, our experts travel all over the country solving issues in infrastructure asset management, data collection, data management and joint use for companies of all shapes and sizes. We see a lot of different situations, and as a result, we bring home a lot of stories. Most of the time they contain great lessons for joint use departments everywhere, so we love to tell them.
The names have been changed to protect the innocent, but these tales of joint use dilemmas, field asset doubts, conduit conundrums, NESC enigmas and backlog bad luck are absolutely real. So sit back and settle in because these are Tales From the Vault and we are your hosts—the Vault Keepers.
Today's Tale: Haunted by Long-Buried Contracts
The Setting: Somewhere in the American Heartland
The Situation: Along with jelly shoes and mile-high hair, many of this small community's joint use contracts came into existence in the 1980s. In the years since, they had essentially remained buried—out of sight, out of mind. Fast-forward three decades and the town has begun to realize that they do not know what they have in the field or how good any of their now grey-haired agreements are. This is undeniably a problem—rate increases, renegotiations and updated tallies of equipment have fallen so far behind that their current asset data is pretty much a black hole. The city is also losing revenue because of outdated rent prices.
The Solution: We were brought in to conduct a joint use contract review—essentially pull all agreements, look closely at current contracts, take note of inefficiencies and calculate where rental rates are low or invalid. We then contacted attachers and renegotiated the terms of their agreements. However, we did not stop there.
Our technicians also went into the field to look at the physical environment. In this case, one big question came up. In the words of our technician, speaking to the community's joint use department: "So, a large provider has fiber running down one of your streets. What's your contract with them? Oh. You don't have one." Once identified, this issue was fairly easily solved. We worked with the city to get a contract in place and negotiate appropriate rent, ensuring the municipality would not be haunted by the lost revenue and the attacher would not be haunted by compounding back rent.
The Future: After all was said and done, we continued to help maintain this client's databases. We also filed new permits and oversaw new build outs and pole corrections based on things we found in the field. In a sense, we became an extension of their staff, boosting their joint use department with able bodies and smart planning designed to help them stay out of ghost-contract land in the future.
The Lesson: Do not find yourself haunted by expired contracts—ignoring them simply does not make them go away. Be proactive and face the issue head on with the help of an infrastructure asset management partner.