November 19, 2018

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Editor’s Note: No Industry Intelligence Next Week

Due to the Thanksgiving Day holiday, UTC will not publish Industry Intelligence the week of Nov. 26. The next issue of Industry Intelligence will be distributed on Monday, Dec. 5. On behalf of UTC, we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! We are thankful for all the hard work and commitment to service of our members. Thank you!

Please contact the Industry Intelligence Team with any questions.

Draft Policy Resolutions for June T&T Meeting Due Jan. 31

Core utility UTC members have until Jan. 31, 2019, to submit ideas or concepts for potential policy resolutions to be considered at the association’s annual Telecom & Technology conference in June.

This will mark the second time UTC pursues policy positions through the resolution process as approved by the UTC Board in its December 2017 meeting.

As was the case in 2018, any UTC core utility member can submit a proposed resolution or ideas for a resolution by Jan. 31. Only UTC core utility members can submit a resolution; if a vendor member has an idea, it must be sponsored and submitted by a core utility member.

Once all the proposed resolutions are collected by UTC staff, the Public Policy Division (PPD) will formally accept and discuss the proposals during its regularly scheduled February meeting. PPD members will have the opportunity to edit and debate the proposed resolutions prior to its March call, at which point the division will vote on the resolutions. This call will be open to all UTC core utility members.

Any resolutions cleared by the PPD will be submitted for review and consideration by the entire UTC membership at the annual Telecom and Technology meeting in June 2019, being held in Ft. Worth, TX. Resolutions for consideration at the annual meeting must be distributed to the entire association membership no later than two weeks prior to the event. Additionally, the proposed resolutions will also be posted on the UTC Website.

UTC’s core utility members will vote on the proposed resolutions during the association’s business meeting at the annual conference. Each UTC core utility member company will have one vote during the meeting, meaning that core members must designate one person to cast the company’s vote.

Any resolutions approved at the annual Telecom and Technology meeting will be considered official UTC policy and will inform the association as it advocates for its members in Washington and elsewhere.

For more information, please contact UTC’s Public Policy Team. An FAQ about the resolutions process is available here.

Resolutions approved at the 2018 annual meeting are available here.

State Perspectives ‘Important’ As Industries Converge, Ditto Tells Regulators

Critical infrastructure industries have dramatically improved their own internal coordination in response to severe storms and other emergencies, but more work is needed to address cross-sector interdependencies, UTC President and CEO Joy Ditto said last week.

At a general session before more than 1,000 state and federal regulatory policymakers and key industry stakeholders at the 2018 Annual National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Meeting in Orlando, FL., Ms. Ditto highlighted the growing interdependencies between the electricity and telecommunications industries.

The state utility regulators who make up NARUC’s membership need to be involved in the cross-industry and cross-government discussions on emergency response and preparedness to ensure all levels of government can play their most well-suited roles, Ms. Ditto said.

“Bringing the state perspective is important” to these cross-sector dialogues, Ms. Ditto said.

The electricity industry already includes state regulators on the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), Ms. Ditto noted. The ESCC provides an important venue for government and industry to share information and discuss potential threats in a private environment; state level interaction with the ESCC is vital to its success, she said.

Additionally, as utilities modernize their infrastructure, they are focusing more on building understanding between operational technologies and information technologies, Ms. Ditto said. UTC is focused on this issue as an association, while the industry itself is starting to focus on supply chain concerns as well.

“Utilities are acutely aware” of these issues, Ms. Ditto said. For more information, please contact UTC’s Public Policy Team.

Tech Firms Need a Better Understanding of Utility Pole Safety Issues: Ditto

Telecommunications companies should better understand what goes into maintaining electric utility pole safety and reliability as they look to attach more devices and equipment to utility poles, UTC President and CEO Joy Ditto said last week.

Speaking on a panel at a national audience of state consumer advocates, Ms. Ditto pushed back on the idea that pole-attachment policies are a barrier to broadband deployment. While noting that better coordination between the electricity and telecommunications industry is needed, the telecommunications sector does not seem to fully appreciate the relatively easy and inexpensive access they already have, she said.

“There’s a little it of have your cake and eat it too going on,” Ms. Ditto said at the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL.

Noting that for the most part, utilities own and manage the poles that the telecommunications industry uses to attach their equipment, Ms. Ditto said the telecom industry does not always understand or appreciate the kinds of safety concerns and maintenance that utilities perform to ensure electricity—and the services electricity enables—is delivered reliably.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) sets rates on poles for most of the country, and these rates, Ms. Ditto said, “don’t cover all of the costs associated with pole maintenance.” Additionally, “there are significant safety concerns around small cells… We can’t just blow past the safety issues that come up with dealing with pole attachments,” she said.

There is a willingness and incentive within the utility industry to work with the telecommunications industry on these issues, she said, “but let’s be honest about the costs and reliability.”

Other speakers on her panel agreed for broader engagement between sectors and stated, sometimes emphatically, that pole-attachment rates are not a barrier to broadband deployment.

For more information, please contact UTC’s Public Policy Team.

UTC, Rural Groups Urge FCC Not to ‘Weaken’ Broadband Funding Measures

UTC joined two rural associations in their support for performance metrics and high standards set forth under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC, the Commission) Connect America Fund rules.

In a petition filed earlier this month, UTC, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) told the FCC to retain the testing and performance standards it set forth in a July 6 order released by its Wireline Competition Bureau, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, and the Office of Engineering and Technology.

At issue are a series of complaints filed by various groups, including USTelecom, that seek to reduce the performance standards outlined in the July order. The order adopted a framework for measuring the speed and latency performance for recipients of high-cost universal service support from the Connect America Fund.

According to UTC, NTCA, and NRECA, USTelecom and others seek to “weaken” the implementation and measurement of latency performance obligations, which would prevent the kinds of broadband services available in urban and suburban areas from being in rural locations.

“Requests to reduce latency standards or mask performance through watered-down testing regimes risk undermining the Commission’s statutory mandate to ensure reasonably comparable services in rural and urban areas,” the groups told the FCC.

For more information, please contact the UTC Public Policy Team.

Upcoming Events

A snapshot of upcoming UTC webinars, events, and conference calls.

  • Nov. 20: Utilities Broadband Committee Call; for more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Nov. 20: Regional Division Call; for more information, contact Karnel Thomas
  • Nov. 21: IT/OT Committee Call; for more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Nov. 28: Webinar – Migrating a Utility Telecom Network to IP/MPLS – A Primer for Utilities Preparing to Migrate Their Networks to IP/MPLS; Registration Information
  • Dec. 4: Webinar—Security, Risk, and Compliance Committee; for more information, contact Sharla Artz
  • Dec. 5: Nokia Sponsored-Webinar—Variable Frequency Control; Registration Information