NCTA — The Internet & Television Association

Pole Attachments

Telephone poles in rural area
High Pole Costs Harm Broadband Deployment

Pole Attachments

Overview

Deploying broadband networks to rural and remote areas is a massive undertaking, and often relies on the availability and costs of access to utility poles. Internet service providers usually must work with utility pole owners that provide electric or telephone service in order to extend their broadband networks. The rates these pole owners charge to access the poles is often excessive and can stop a broadband provider from being able to provide service to an area that lacks it. To bring broadband to unserved areas we need transparent and reasonable processes that ensure a fair distribution of costs between pole owners and entities seeking to use the poles.

Our Commitment

Getting Networks to People’s Homes
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Broadband deployment

To deploy wireline broadband networks, cable operators and others must rent space on utility poles that have been deployed for the purpose of providing electric or telephone service.

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no matter how far

Sparsely populated rural areas often contain more poles due to the higher number of miles that separate homes.

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Regulations matter

Some pole owners require an attacher to pay the full cost of replacing a pole, even though the pole owner benefits by receiving a brand new pole.  Because this hinders deployment in unserved areas, the FCC should clarify its pole access rules to make clear that in unserved areas the pole owner should share the costs of new poles with attachers.

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Reasonable rates

Excessive pole access rates harm broadband deployment, network upgrades, and competition in rural areas. Under existing law, not all utility pole owners are subject to the pole rate rules established by the FCC and charge excessive rates. Congress should fix the law to make sure that all utility pole owners are covered by the FCC’s pole access rules and rates.

Runaway Pole Costs

Regulated:
$6.84 per pole
X 18 poles per mile
$123.12 poles per mile
Co-Op Owned:
$15.39 per pole
X 18 poles per mile
$277.02 poles per mile
Muni Owned:
$14.86 per pole
X 18 poles per mile
$267.48 poles per mile

What's Next?

Our Recommendations to Spur More Rural Broadband Deployment

Eliminate the exemption from Section 224 pole attachment regulation for municipal and cooperative electric companies that enables high pole costs.

Require all utilities to make poles available using the federal rate formula. This will ensure pole owners are reasonably compensated and make it more likely that broadband providers can provide service.

States should require utilities accepting broadband funding to make poles available using the federal rate formula.

Urge the FCC to clarify its rules so that utility pole owners cannot require broadband providers to pay the full cost for a pole replacement in areas that are unserved by broadband.

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