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Pole Top Attachment Update

September 24,2018

 

For some time, NEPPA has been monitoring the discussion regarding proposed changes to Pole-Top Attachment regulations.  While public utilities are explicitly exempt from federal pole attachment regulation (section 224 of the Communications Act), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has identified state and municipal pole attachment fees and application processes as potential barriers to expedited wireless deployment. Therefore, the Commission is seeking to redefine authority in other sections of the code to circumvent this exemption.

 

On September 26th, the FCC will vote on a Declaratory Ruling that seeks to expedite the deployment of 5G wireless service.  The Declaratory Ruling finds that certain fees imposed by states and localities “can unlawfully prohibit the provision of [wireless] service” and thus are in violation of Section 253. The ruling then specifies in detail what constitutes a lawful fee, which is likely below what many public power utilities currently charge.

 

Click here to read more about the proposed changes.

 

Our ability to weigh in is limited.  Unless we can raise materially different concerns than what the FCC has previously received, there is nothing that can be done to affect the outcome.  APPA believes that all of public power’s concerns – on the exemption, cost, reliability and safety – have been expressed in previous comments, and therefore they will not be weighing in again. It seems likely that this new regulation will spur litigation and be debated in Federal District Court.  We will continue to monitor this situation and keep you apprised any changes.  

 

Bonnie Biocchi, Executive Director
Northeast Public Power Association