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5 Ways To Expedite Your Joint Use Permitting

Pole owners are heavily impacted by rapidly increasing 5G wireless and fiber buildouts. Communications companies are receiving massive Federal funding through RDOF and other programs to deploy broadband infrastructure. Pole owners who can’t keep up with the pace risk:

  • Project timeline liabilities
  • Negative attention from regulators
  • Failure to serve their communities
  • Noncompliant construction by attachers

Here are 5 ways you can prepare for increased joint use permit requests, process approvals faster, and start billing rental.

1. Utilize your existing Pole data

Utilize your existing pole data

Third-party attachers are under tremendous pressure to meet build-out deadlines to comply with grant requirements, so anything that kick-starts a pole attachment request saves them time and money. Exposing maps with the locations of your “available for attachment” poles eliminates the time you waste trying to match the attacher requests with your own pole records. Downstream, it also helps you in several ways:

  • Confirming the details of an application is quicker, with fewer data errors.
  • Storing the original request and all attachments in a Joint Use Management system affords you a level of rental billing accuracy not possible without the data to support it.
  • Attachers will thank you for identifying early roadblocks such as existing permit requests on the same facility or pending pole replacement.
  • You gain the ability to map the poles that are part of a permit through field tools such as Esri Collector or Fulcrum, making inspections smoother.

2. Work toward your key milestones

Work toward your key milestones

Whether you operate in a state that adheres to FCC timelines or is self-certified, utilities need a structured way to define and track the steps that need to be taken to process a permit application. It’s too common to lose sight of your work status, particularly as the volume increases.

Are you juggling dates, status and assignments on spreadsheets as responsibility shifts between you, the licensee, the inspector, the make ready construction crew and contractors? You need a tool that allows you to track the process for every attachment request that comes your way. You should include expected durations, measured in days, for each step as well as the ability to assign responsibilities.

Ideally, this tool will be available to all stakeholders, eliminating the barrage of questions that can occur as internal and external stakeholders want to know what’s taking so long.

Your coordination effort will pay off as soon as you process that one troublesome permit request requiring complex make ready on several poles.

3. Measure your progress

Measure your progress

Once you are tracking milestones accurately, you can use your data for business intelligence and decision support.

Modern tools like Microsoft Power BI and Tableau allow companies to visualize data on a scale never before possible. Noticing problematic trends in your business process allows you to understand why and when take corrective action.

For example, if you see a particular county or region with a concentration of complex make ready, you can anticipate delays for large incoming requests and communicate that to your attachers.

Or you may find that your post-construction inspectors are frequently delayed, allowing you to factor that into your negotiations with them next time contracts are renewed.

The ability to quickly visualize and search your data is important for your day-to-day needs, but the pole owners who can improve as an organization will separate themselves from the pack.

4. Say no to paper and telephone

Say no to paper and telephone

Stuff happens. No matter how you try and build the perfect process, enter required data, track your milestones and assignments, every project is unique.

Sure, you’ll get your share of 5 pole attachment requests with only simple make ready needed. You’ll give your approval and let the attacher handle the rest. But complex scenarios require a detailed tracking system.

Verbal communication and paper notes are limited. There’s a time and place for both, but you also need digital, time-stamped records, both for legal liability and to inform anyone who wasn’t present. You want to avoid that phone call while on the beach in Hawaii because your stand-in needs to know when the contractor will be out to set the new pole, right?

Documenting these updates in a clear manner also allows you to look back months from now and not have to pull details from deep in the memory banks, which brings us to…

5. Keep third party attachers up-to-date

Keep third party attachers up to date

“What’s going on with my attachment request? Why is it taking so long?”

There’s a reason the FCC instituted shot-clocks and One Touch Make Ready (OTMR) in recent years. Communication companies live and die by their ability to get their infrastructure up and running quickly.

Complex make ready, such as performing an entire pole replacement, adds the many moving parts, some of which are completely out of your control as a pole owner. You can eliminate a lot of headaches by communicating proactively rather than waiting for attachers to push you with questions.

Keep your system of record updated and provide access for your attachers. This can occur either through automated emails, regular reporting, or through a public-facing communications portal such as NJUNS.

Spending less time answering questions allows you to focus on what everybody wants: a safe and efficient deployment.

Need help? We have the answer

Not every utility has a Joint Use Management System, let alone one that is up to the challenge communication companies are placing on pole owners as they ramp up fiber and 5G construction in underserved communities.

Joint Use 365 is the only modern, full-featured joint use software application designed for pole owners and built on the latest Microsoft cloud technologies.

Utilities track incoming pole attachment requests, execute configurable workflows with Microsoft Power Automate, manage documents with SharePoint Online, and visualize their data and processes through Power Platform Dashboards and Microsoft Power BI.

With data secured behind your own Azure Cloud infrastructure and Active Directory login, never again will your joint use data be unavailable, whether in the office or in the field.

Are you ready to reduce the overhead of tracking your attachment requests? If so, please watch our introductory video, view our pricing page for license and implementation information, or contact us directly.

Joint Use 365

Joint Use 365 is the premier software solution for managing utility poles and third-party joint use attachments. Joint Use 365's automated permitting, workflows, notifications, billing and integration help you automate, providing better service for your attachers and reducing workload on your staff and contractors.

Joint Use 365 Demo

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