On November 20, 2007, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) initiated a rulemaking proceeding to propose changes to its rules governing the rates, terms and conditions that electric, gas, water and telecom utilities may impose for attachment of wires or other facilities to the utilities’ poles, ducts, conduits and rights-of-way. This is the most significant rulemaking affecting pole attachments since implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
The FCC proposes a unified attachment rate for cable operators and telecom carriers that provide broadband Internet access service, and it asks whether it should have a separate attachment rate for wireless attachments. The FCC asks whether incumbent local exchange carriers should be entitled to FCC-regulated rates for attachments to electric poles in lieu of rates specified in utility joint-use agreements.
The FCC seeks comment on the terms and conditions for access to utility infrastructure, such as prohibiting unlawful attachments, compliance with safety codes, the use of boxing and extension arms to expand pole capacity, and the use of third-party contractors for make-ready surveys. The FCC also invites comment on its pole attachment complaint procedures and the practice by some parties of signing an attachment agreement and later complaining to the FCC that the terms are unlawful.
Comments are due 30 days after Federal Register publication, with reply comments due 60 days after Federal Register publication.