Utilities: Economics, Not Pole-Attachment Policies, Are the Real Barrier to Broadband Deployment

 

Washington—July 29, 2020—The Utilities Technology Council issued the following statement in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s declaratory order on wireless pole-attachment regulations:

“Electric utilities empower broadband deployment. All over the country, electric utilities of different sizes and ownership are working to bring broadband service to areas unserved and underserved by traditional telecommunications companies. While there may be a few reasons why certain parts of the country remain unserved, nearly all parties agree that the biggest factor is cost. This is why utilities have such high hopes for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC, the Commission) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction that we believe will help utilities and other parties bring broadband to more parts of the U.S.

“This is also why we are disappointed with the Commission’s declaratory ruling on pole-attachment policies. While the FCC has done tremendous work funding broadband projects across the country, it continues to focus on the myth that pole attachments are some kind of barrier to broadband deployment. Numerous studies have proven that pole-attachment costs and regulations have little to no impact on broadband or wireless deployment. In addition, prohibiting utilities from applying safety and reliability standards for pole-attachment access will only interfere with processing new attachment applications efficiently and effectively. Moreover, utilities already negotiate just and reasonable terms and conditions for pole attachments – and we disagree with the agency that utilities exercise any bargaining advantage over unregulated communications service providers, many of whom dwarf the size of utilities. While we are pleased that the FCC stopped short of prohibiting terms that conflict with its pole attachment rules, we are concerned that the Commission unfairly places the burden on utilities to justify the basis for any terms that are favorable to utility services.”
–Sheryl Riggs, Utilities Technology Council President and CEO

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About UTC
The Utilities Technology Council (UTC) is a global trade association dedicated to serving critical infrastructure providers. Through advocacy, education and collaboration, UTC creates a favorable business, regulatory and technology environment for our members who own or operate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems in support of their core business. For more information: UTC.org