Broadband Communities

OCT 2017

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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50 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | OCTOBER 2017 COMMUNITY BROADBAND Planning for Poles Too many fiber network projects fail because deployers make unrealistic assumptions about pole attachments. Don't let that happen to your project! By Ken Demlow / NewCom Technologies E very potential fiber project has many critical steps, and each step has many important details. Before construction starts, there can be months of activity – surveys, current provider analysis, meetings, needs analysis, peering option exploration, data gathering, cost estimation, vendor input, financial modeling, operational decisions, open access decisions, legal opinions, political will determination, funding options and more. Doing the work necessary in each step is important to the success of the project. However, one subject has been overlooked in so many projects NewCom has seen that it needs to be highlighted: poles. Yes, poles. In the good old days (not that long ago), if someone needed to attach communications cables to someone else's poles, the process was usually quick and informal, and the communications company could start attaching its cables fairly quickly. ere weren't many attachers, and the pole owners knew what was on their poles already, so a handshake (and maybe a piece of paper) was exchanged, and communications cables went up. at still happens in some places – but not nearly as often as it used to. In some projects we have seen, would-be attachers just assumed that attaching their cables would be easy and inexpensive. ey relied on aerial costs in the construction estimates for their business modeling and funding commitments. When it came time to do the project, they ran into problems. Here are some examples: • One municipality built its aerial costs on poles owned by a cooperative. For several reasons, the cooperative wasn't allowing anyone to attach new cables to its poles. So the municipality planned on about 90 percent aerial construction and found that at most 10 percent would be possible. e project was never started. • Another provider wanted to run fiber in an area that had a very high rock table. erefore, it saw aerial construction as necessary. e local electric utility, which owned the majority of the poles, developed a very stringent process and attachment guidelines. e process included having to model every pole in pole modeling software. e costs to attach became very high – including having to replace a significant percentage of the poles. • A municipality, in its financing and business models, counted on using poles that belonged to several other owners. In the detailed design stage, it found out there just wasn't room on many of the poles. e municipality's options were to replace poles or go underground. It had not factored any Pole owners may not allow new attachers at all, or they may impose onerous, expensive requirements.

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