electric pole

The latest development in ongoing skirmishes over One-Touch-Make-Ready (OTMR) policies is that competitive provider GoNetspeed testified in favor of legislation that would make the approach available in Massachusetts.

OTMR rules require the owners of utility poles to allow one contractor to make changes, including moving an incumbent provider’s equipment. Traditionally, each provider handles its own equipment. Proponents of OTMR say that such rules speed service deployment. Streamlining the process tends to enlarge footprints and lower prices due to the increased competition.

GoNetspeed Chief Legal Counsel Jaime Hoare spoke in favor of Massachusetts Senate Bill S.2133 and House Bill H.3208.

“We believe that OTMR is a critical step in bridging the digital divide in Central and Western Massachusetts,” he said in a press release.

“By streamlining the permitting process, OTMR will make it faster and easier for GoNetspeed and other broadband providers to deploy high-speed internet service to underserved areas. This will help to ensure that everyone in Massachusetts has access to the digital tools and resources they need to succeed in the 21st century.”

GoNetspeed serves residential and business customers in Maine, Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and West Virginia. It partnered with Oak Hill Capital in January 2021 to accelerate its expansion.

OTMR has been a simmering issue for several years.

In August 2018 the FCC adopted rules on OTMR.

Highlights include granting “new attachers” the right to move existing attachments and do all other work required to ready poles for “simple installations.” The FCC said that it would preempt on a case-by-case basis state and local laws that inhibit remediative actions after a disaster.

The rules prohibit blanketing state and local moratoria on telecommunications services and facilities deployment and eliminate disparities in rates the incumbent network operators must pay compared to similar cable and telecom attachers.

A year earlier — in August, 2017 — a federal court in Louisville, KY upheld an OTMR law that had been challenged by AT&T. The carrier had argued that the city did not have the authority to implement some provisions of the law. Google Fiber backed the legislation being challenged.

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