One Touch Make Ready

Utility poles already have many wires attached to them. Some appear to have no more space. Whenever an entity obtains authority to attach a new wire to a pole, the pole must go through a process called “make ready” in which all owners of existing cables remove and reattach their cables to make room for a new one. This has always been a contentious process. If the new cable represents competition for the pole owner or other cables owners, the latter first fight the process of authorization, sometime pole by pole, and then fiddle and fuss about moving their own cables. If more than one cable must be moved, the cable owners never come at the same time, adding costs (which the new attacher pays) and time. Pole make ready can add a year to a project and in some cases become so burdensome that projects stall or end up completely abandoned. It can also add as much as $10,000 per road mile to installation costs.

In July of 2018 the FCC issued a ruling called One Touch Make Ready. It provides that if a pole can be made ready by doing nothing more than moving cables around, then the entity attaching the new cable may do the make ready itself (this assumes the entity is qualified to make the attachment, something the law controls). If the make ready involves a new pole or splicing to existing cables to make the rearrangement, then those owning the cables must be involved. Also, and key in some cases, the ruling allows a new cable attacher to overlash its cable onto an existing cable without asking permission of the owner of the overlashed cable (just notification).

These rules only apply to the 30 states in the country that do not have reverse preemption. Connecticut did opt in for reverse preemption and therefore does not fall within the ambit of this FCC ruling. However, the state could adopt, should adopt, must adopt similar rules for pole connection in the state. Losing a year to obstruction through make ready requirements is a year lost to economic development, easing the digital divide, health care, education, and our sense of ourselves as a community and a state.

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