One Touch Make Ready (OTMR) Realities

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Across the US, the joint use community is busy transitioning to the new rules and timetables established by the FCC by the One Touch Make Ready (OTMR) order. The rule changes are designed to speed and simplify small cell deployment and broadband attachments across the ICT industry and utility space.

“The minutiae of OTMR is what seems so overwhelming to businesses that are required to follow OTMR protocol. How do professionals continue with their business-as-usual tasks, while simultaneously taking expansive time to transition?”

The primary promise of OTMR is to speed broadband deployment in preparation for 5G wireless and the advancement of IoT. The OTMR-Based Regime, however cumbersome it appears, promotes all joint use parties working together for the benefit of these goals.

Here are a few promises made by the order that support fast, safe, and reliable deployment:
• Although the new regulations will require a hefty transition for both asset owners
and attachers, there’s no denying the sensical approach OTMR brings to the joint
use world. Requiring all companies to coordinate on the same processes will produce long-term benefits.

• Asset owners have been previously responsible for the majority of make-ready work, especially in the realm of permitting. One purpose of OTMR is to allow owners to share their responsibility with the attaching companies. Since the attaching company is typically the party more interested in deploying service, it makes sense to give them a heavier hand in make-ready.

• Faster broadband deployment has been a request of many organizations, companies, consumers, and the FCC, for some time. With the new OTMR policy, swift deployment is no longer a pipe dream. OTMR requires timelines and deadlines (by all parties) for almost every part of the joint use process. Further, the order provides an opportunity to reduce pole attachment rental rates, which helps attaching companies to get to the poles faster and invite new players to the race.

The FCC order puts the responsibility on all parties to make sure the process is efficient and effective. That includes:
• Asset Owners
• Attachers
• Contractors

A Well-Defined Process
Like most things in life, OTMR is what we make of it. With the new timelines, reduced costs, and rules provided by the FCC, the policy offers a defined process for the joint-use community to adhere to. If all companies are working on the same deadlines and timetables, while complying with OTMR-Based Regime, the process will begin to run itself.

The accelerated schedule requires many adjustments, but the changes can be made in an efficient, logical way. With the proper approach, successful deployment can be handled safely and without damaging existing equipment.

One way to get there is to appoint qualified, approved contractors to perform the make-ready work. Below are 5 recommendations, taken from the FCC order, that define a qualified contractor.

1. Follow the asset owner’s published safety and operational guidelines, if they are available. Otherwise, the contractor must follow National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) guidelines.

2. Follow licensed-engineered pole designs for make-ready work, if the utility requires it.

3. Follow all local, state, and federal, laws and regulations, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rules regarding Qualified and Competent Persons.

4. Meet all safety and reliability thresholds set and made available by the asset owner, such as those pertaining to past safety violations or worksite accidents.

5. Be adequately insured or establish an adequate performance bond for all make-ready work the person will perform. 

If the asset owner has specific contractor concerns not covered by this list, it may add its own, but they must be clearly spelled out. The FCC encourages asset owners to develop their own list of approved contractors. If the owner does not supply a list, the attacher may select contractors using the FCC requirements and any additional wishes established by the owner.

The order also established the requirements that new attachers must meet to ensure the other parties have an opportunity to inspect completed make-ready work.

Are Joint Use Employees Ready?
The FCC order lays out guidelines for distinguishing simple attachments, which are permitted under the fast-paced OTMR rules, from complex attachments, which still require a more lengthy and detailed deployment process.

OTMR also prohibits state and local governments from delaying deployment by declaring moratoria.

With an early February deadline for implementing OTMR, you may be feeling like time has passed you by. But the good news is, despite the changes, much of the important work to be done under OTMR is precisely what joint use staff are already trained to do: review permit applications, evaluate and choose contractors, reconcile billing and invoices, and work with engineering departments for pole safety and access.

The minutiae of OTMR is what seems so overwhelming to businesses that are required to follow OTMR protocol. How do professionals continue with their business-as-usual tasks, while simultaneously taking expansive time to transition?

Many companies have current staff members already bogged down by repetitive manual data entry. Further, they are dividing their attention among multiple systems to complete one joint use process. With these redundant and time-consuming practices in place, diving into a change as big as OTMR may make joint use departments feel stressed and overworked. Carrying on with the hope of working it out along the way is a recipe for chaos, failed FCC compliance, and missed deadlines.

Fortunately, there are alternative solutions and processes. One way companies can make a streamlined transition to OTMR is leveraging an automated work flow solution. The ideal solution would work with joint use professionals and their teams to streamline engineering, accounting, and permitting. It would also facilitate coordination and communication internally, as well as with outside companies.

Alden Systems and McLean Engineering are working together to help companies get started with OTMR. McLean has created an automated workflow for our joint use platform, Alden One™.

While this is only one solution, it’s one that can help joint use professionals (from engineering to accounting and joint-use-specific roles) to smoothly transition to the OTMR-Based regime.

For more information about Alden Systems and OTMR, please visit


About Mary Ashley Canevaro

Mary Ashley Canevaro is a Marketing Specialist and Copywriter at Alden Systems. She specializes in topics related to joint use, including: utility pole and conduit management, small cell and DAS, joint use software platforms, and FCC policies. Her professional research supports the growth and development of the joint use community. For more information, please visit Alden Systems on Twitter: @AldenSystems.