Welcome to Part 2 in the RoW permitting process series!
Choosing a contractor with extensive experience across a wide variety of FTTH broadband projects is a crucial step in the ROW permitting process. Here are steps on how best to go about picking the right contractor. It is imperative that you choose a firm with experience in the technology, labor, time, and budget, who can be relied on to perform all necessary tasks flawlessly, without delay.
Though not all contractors may be familiar with FTTH installation practices and procedures, there are organizations who have focused their efforts in mastering this engineering niche. It is recommended that you reach out to several contractors and compare the “results”. In your contractor prospecting, you should assign previously completed work to your candidates and compare the results to determine how much more a candidate’s involvement might have had in smoothening the permitting process.
For prerequisites, FTTH contractors should be expected to help you across the following 6 dimensions:
- Designing FTTH Network (with vendors): The contractor must be able to assist with identifying and selecting manufacturers that can supply all equipment required for the job. Here it is recommended that you request for samples of previously implemented FTTH broadband networks in your specific area. Also provide the contractor with any specific requirements/specifications you may have regarding your network, so he can conduct a thorough search for suitable products/services from various vendors.
- Permitting: The contractor should help you with the permitting process, with someone on staff who has experience with ROW access and permitting for FTTH fiber network construction. If you live in UK (United Kingdom), contractors will often have an expert on staff who is able to prepare all necessary applications and documentation for completing the process. Most of the time, this person would have a background as an attorney or local government official.
- Construction of the Network: This may seem straightforward, but it is critical to get things done in a timely fashion. Many contractors use sub-contractors for this phase of work, so it is important to check their credentials very carefully.
- Testing: This step is paramount as it ensures that all deployed gear works as intended. The contractor should have enough technical expertise to test for speed, reach and consistency.
- Project Closeout: This step is where the contractor consults with you to make sure everything measuring up to your expectations before declaring the project complete. As-Builts are curated in this dimension by the contractor for all the relevant parties to check and evaluate. Here, the contractors will also remove all excess materials and restore the affected areas back to their original condition. (Stonemark Construction Management has an outstanding article detailing the importance of Project Closeout procedures linked here)
Support: Since FTTH broadband networks take an extended amount of time to design and construct, they require a lot of maintenance. it is important that you are provided with support by your contractor throughout this process. At times the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful rollout can be how accessible a contractor for a specific job.
Now that we have 6 dimensional axes by which you should evaluate a potential contractor for your FTTH project’s ROW permitting process, let’s move to the 8 questions to think about while evaluating your candidate contractors:
- How much experience do they have? It is important to know if they have worked on similar projects before and if all their work has been satisfactory. It is encouraged that you try reaching out to the organizations that they conducted the work for to determine their accuracy in describing their projects.
- How many people will be working on the permits? An experienced contractor usually has several workers at his disposal, but they are not all to be hired by you, so it is important that you receive estimates of the contractor’s “man-power” for the permitting job.
- What equipment/software tools do they use? Certain contractors offer a full range of equipment, tools, and software to you at no extra charge, while others charge extra for every item.
- Who owns the ROW access rights and permits issued by local authorities? The contractor or yourself (as in this case you will own any rights/permits on your property)? The company you are hiring, may not be the owner of the ROW access rights and permits issued by local authorities. In case, you must deal with a competing contractor for this job. You must find out which company has been awarded the access rights and which is the owner of these permits.
- What is your budget? Always make sure to examine what the contractor proposes for participating in this project and hire only those who will be able to accommodate your spending limit.
- What’s next after the FTTH network at your premises is installed? What support is offered after completion of this installation? Some contractors only offer customer support for a limited time, while others provide you with extended support services.
- Will they have the required materials? It can be a major problem if your contractor does not have all materials required for the job at hand. If this is the case, your broadband network may end up being delayed.
- Can they complete the job within a set timeframe? Your contractor should be able to offer you a timetable for how long any task will take.
Thinking over these 8 questions can help you strategize and evaluate the kind of contractor you might want for your FTTH project.
Here at IMMCO, with over three decades of experience, we empathize with these concerns that project owners have. The permitting services that we offer has been refined incrementally over the years with all the above queries considered and accounted for.
The content of this article is predominantly anecdotal based on IMMCO’s experience across a variety of FTTH projects around the globe, but also readings of certain sections from the ‘Project Management for Construction’ textbook by Chris Hendrickson, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University. Specifically, the sections titled ‘The Owners Perspective’ and ‘Construction Pricing and Contracting’.
About the Author
Pictured: Eric Herbert, Project Director, IMMCO Inc
Eric Herbert is the Project Director at IMMCO Inc.
He has been part of the IMMCO leadership team for 7 years, and brings with him over 2 decades of experience in applications engineering and project management in the telecom industry.
With extensive network design and mapping skills, Eric has helped many of our clients accelerate their design and drafting process.
To get in touch with Eric, email him at