On December 15, 2023, after more than three years of consideration, and amid the largest ever federal investment in broadband, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) unanimously adopted a new pole-attachment order that dramatically reforms the Commission’s rules and policies governing communications attachments to utility poles.Continue Reading FCC Adopts New Pole Attachment Rules to Promote Broadband Expansion

In recent separate actions, the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (“PUCO”) and the Louisiana Public Service Commission (“LPSC”) adopted comprehensive pole attachment regulatory regimes intended to facilitate the deployment of broadband communications infrastructure, and level the competitive playing field for broadband providers.  Each stressed the need for reasonable and non-discriminatory access, clear access processes and timelines, a single unified pole attachment rate and efficient dispute resolution procedures.  And each made clear that its rules apply to “wireless” attachments as well as traditional wire-based attachments.
Continue Reading Of Buckeyes and Batons Rouges: Ohio and Louisiana Adopt Comprehensive Pole Access and Attachment Rules

This is a story of persistence and perseverance, if not patience.

The cable industry finally obtained some control over skyrocketing pole attachment rates charged by cooperative utilities in North Carolina when the State’s Business Court ruled in favor of Time Warner Cable in Rutherford EMC v. Time Warner Entertainment/Advance-Newhouse Partnership on May 22, 2014. This was the first decision on the merits of a rate dispute under a 2009 North Carolina statute that gave the Business Court the responsibility to act on disputes related to cooperative and municipal utility pole rates.  In deciding squarely for the cable operator, the Business Court ruled that the rate formula used by the FCC to determine reasonable pole rates “offered the most credible basis for measuring the reasonableness of [Rutherford’s] pole rates.”  The FCC rates were determined to be in the range of $2.54 to $3.63 per pole annually during 2010-2013, in contrast to Rutherford’s rates in the range of $15.50 to $19.65.  The court also found that the average rate in North Carolina charged by regulated investor owned utilities ranged from $5.91 to $6.06 in that same period.  The court ordered that within 90 days the parties “negotiate and adopt new rates for the years 2010 through 2013 that are consistent with the reasoning of this Order.”Continue Reading North Carolina Court Issues First Decision Controlling Coop Pole Attachment Rates

The Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") released its long-awaited National Broadband Plan (the "Plan") on March 16, 2010. The Plan emphasizes that encouraging and facilitating access to infrastructure, such as utility poles, is critical to the continued deployment and enhancement of broadband facilities in America. The Plan states that, "[c]ollectively, the expense of obtaining permits and leasing pole attachments and rights-of-way can amount to 20% of the cost of fiber optic deployment." Plan at 109. The Plan notes that "[t]hese costs can be reduced directly by cutting fees" and "can also be lowered indirectly by expediting processes and decreasing the risks and complexities that companies face as they deploy broadband network infrastructure." Plan at 110.Continue Reading National Broadband Plan Recommends Lower, Uniform Pole Attachment Rates