Industry Has Mixed Reviews for FCC Pole Attachment Rule Changes

UPDATE Wednesday’s FCC unanimous vote to speed resolutions to pole attachment disputes and bring more transparency to the process brought mixed reviews from industry. “For INCOMPAS members, gaining quick access to utility poles at reasonable terms remains a consistent barrier to their efforts to build next-generation broadband networks, which is why [the] Poles Order is a step in the right direction to address this critical issue and speed deployment,” said association CEO Chip Pickering. 

Pickering continued: “We appreciate the Commission’s willingness to work with us on these issues and modify its pole attachment rules to ensure that new attachers face fewer obstacles in their builds. INCOMPAS also welcomes changes the Commission has made to the item, as a direct result of our advocacy, that will go even further to expedite builds by ensuring that the first 3,000 poles in a large pole order fall under the agency’s current make-ready timelines.”

USTelecom, however, was not happy, saying the changes go too far and burden the industry. USTelecom President/CEO Jonathan Spalter said its members “are working hard every day to get broadband to every corner of our country as quickly and efficiently as possible. As we review the FCC’s final order, we continue to urge all policymakers everywhere to resist calls for so-called ‘pole replacement reform.’” 

“Whether it’s through regulations, legislation, or government funding, the loudest proponents pushing such ‘reform’ are simply looking to shift their deployment costs onto others,” said Spalter. “Plain and simple, it’s called rent-seeking. And that’s not what broadband for all is all about. Neither competitors nor American taxpayers should have to bail out those who fail to account for the basic costs of doing business in the broadband marketplace.”  

Pickering said the group looks forward “to continuing this conversation to ensure our competitive members have equitable and affordable access to poles so they can continue to build their networks and connect all Americans.”

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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