A sinister series of events is creeping up on your utility.
As you may know, the Federal government is actively funding programs to promote broadband expansion to underserved areas of the United States. Several monstrously large funds have been created, such as the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), and the Universal Service Fund (USF). But another massive fund looms on the horizon, threatening to overwhelm your utility: the Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment fund (BEAD).
Good for the Community, but a Nightmare for Pole Owners
Biden Administration is pushing to achieve its goal of providing universal broadband access by 2030. To accomplish this, it needs the help of communications companies. The United States government developed the programs mentioned below to give funding to communications companies.
RDOF was created by the FCC and will disperse a whopping $20.4 billion over ten years to qualifying communications companies. The FCC has also allocated $7.2 billion for the ECF program and $635 million for the USF.
But BEAD makes those funds look tiny.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will disburse BEAD’s $42.45 billion over just five years.
Once communication companies receive funding from BEAD or other programs, they can begin rolling out broadband-delivering devices nationwide. The fastest way to deploy most of those devices is by attaching them to your utility’s poles.
The Impending, Overwhelming Workload
Because undergrounding fiber is much slower to implement and more expensive than attaching to existing utility poles, communications companies are scrambling to coordinate with utility companies. Without a streamlined permitting, billing, and asset management process, your utility could be overrun with attachment requests.
Because of BEAD funding, the FCC predicts pole attachment requests will sharply increase in 2023. They’ve even proposed a rule to cap attachment requests to 3,000 per month for small pole owners to give you an idea of how sharply they might increase. Are you ready to handle 3,000 per month?
With so many requests for your company to process, project resources will be overloaded, tracking assets will become immensely complex, and deadlines could be missed altogether.
Turn Joint Use Tricks into Treats with Joint Use 365
Joint Use 365 is the best weapon to combat the incoming pole attachment onslaught. It centralizes your pole management, permitting, billing and back-office processes. Joint Use 365 integrates with Esri and NJUNS to significantly reduce workload, human error, and risk to your utility. Its automated workflows usher your third-party attachers towards job completion and increase productivity for attachers and your joint use department.
Don’t let BEAD scare you. Contact us today to schedule a demo!
To learn more about BEAD, click here.