‘Pay to play’ Avetta has industry’s contractors concerned about it becoming a monopoly

Originally Published by Wireless Estimator

Concerns about the time, expense and frustration of contractors that are forced to use client onboarding companies such as BROWZ and Avetta surfaced on January 30, 2019, when Wireless Estimator released the survey results of financial and administrative roadblocks set up by carriers and towercos that could derail America’s race to 5G.

Two weeks later on February 14, 2019, Avetta announced the acquisition of BROWZ with the combined company using the Avetta name.

Contractors expected that they would see economies of scale when companies using BROWZ like tower owner Crown Castle were folded into the Avetta platform. 

Almost nine months later that hasn’t occurred and contractors are still being invoiced for the services of both software-driven companies.  

Although they registered their concerns with Avetta, they believed the company wasn’t taking their objections seriously. 

However, Christopher Mallon, President of TowerMRL, Inc., a Wisconsin-based contractor, wasn’t satisfied with an Avetta support email he received last month stating that the BROWZ and Avetta “companies are not the same and the merger is not complete,” and the merger would take some time “as the data migration is manual since the two systems are on different interfaces.” 

Mallon, a professional engineer and a member of the National Association of Tower Erectors Board of Directors, then proceeded to reach out to other contractors and posted his concerns on LinkedIn.  

Responding posts and Mallon’s efforts quickly caught the attention of Avetta executives and they agreed on Thursday to set up a call to address questions of interested stakeholders.  

Wireless Estimator reached out to Mallon and 22 other contractors last month, and amongst many concerns, their primary fear was that the merged companies have become a monopoly that could escalate annual fees to an onerous amount since they’re convinced that once a company is fully vested in their platform, it would take a year or two to move to a competitor. 

They also objected to what they termed a ‘pay to play’ burden that should be borne by those companies requesting contractor information. 

American Tower is not using Avetta, but according to sources, there is a full-court press to bring them on board, with the pitch being similar to that which was successfully used to land SBA Communications, that they could save $100,000 or more annually by reducing risk management staffing. 

According to Matthew Peterson, Vice President, Communications and Employee Development at American Tower, the company presently manages contractor onboarding functions in-house.  

“However, we regularly evaluate opportunities that will enhance the experience of customers operating at our sites,” he said. 

Although many contractors said that onboarding and annual reviews can take up to 40 or 80 hours, Avetta disagreed, stating that “in most cases” it doesn’t take that long. If contractors find the compliance requirements difficult to provide, Avetta states on their web site that they’ll gladly assist, at an additional cost. 

A cottage industry has sprung up to assist Avetta applicants, with one company stating that they “will provide all the safety programs needed to pass your Avetta manual audit.” 

That is a key concern of many contracting executives that were interviewed since they reason it will allow companies that do not properly train their employees to be compliant while putting their workers at risk.

Avetta said that if it made sense, they would certainly be willing to create a specific Telecom Advisory Board to address future issues and develop a template and specifications that would have an accepted commonality that follows industry standards and best practices. 

Avetta said that the BROWZ integration will not be completed until September 30, 2020.

NATE will have an educational session entitled “Understanding Compliance Companies” on February 18, 2020, during its NATE UNITE 2020 conference in Raleigh, N.C.

Read original article at wirelessestimator.com.