FCC Seeks Input on Resolving Disputes Over Costs for Pole Replacements
March 22, 2022
The FCC has voted to seek comment on establishing clear standards for how utilities and attachers must share in the costs of pole replacements, the agency said. It said that gaining access to poles in a quick, easy, safe, predictable and affordable way can help speed the deployment of broadband infrastructure. A second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted on March 16 represents the latest in a series of steps the FCC has taken during the past decade to update its pole attachment rules.
The notice seeks comment on whether further reforms are necessary to provide regulatory certainty, with a particular focus on the allocation of costs for pole replacements, the FCC said. It seeks comment on how to determine whether and to what extent utilities directly benefit from various types of pole replacements in situations where a pole replacement is not necessitated solely by a new attachment request.
Also, the notice seeks comment on what standards the FCC should establish for requiring utilities to pay a proportional share of pole replacement costs. When weighing the costs and benefits of early pole retirements, the notice asks, what is the best approach to align economic incentives between communications attachers and utilities?
In addition, the notice seeks comment as to whether requiring utilities to pay a portion of the costs of a pole replacement would positively or negatively affect negotiations of pole attachment agreements and broadband deployment. It asks what measures the FCC could adopt to avoid disputes, or expedite the resolution of pole replacement disputes; and what scope of refunds the FCC should order when it determines that a pole attachment rate, term or condition is unjust and unreasonable.