This week Next Century Cities filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on its Accelerating Wireline Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment NPRM (WC Docket No. 17-84). In our comments, we applaud the FCC’s desire to streamline the deployment of internet access and broadband services. We support reforming the FCC’s existing rules in order to make it easier, faster, and less costly to access the poles, ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way necessary for building out next-generation networks. Our comments assert that the most important step the Commission could take to advance this goal is the adoption of a flexible federal One Touch Make Ready (OTMR) policy, which would apply only to those entities currently subject to the Commission’s pole attachment regulations.

 

However, we argue strongly that in considering any pole attachment process reform, the FCC must consider the unique needs of localities for a level of control over their public rights-of-way. Any new rules should emphasize the importance of local public safety and aesthetic concerns, and not just the potentially beneficial effects for network operators of the installation of new and emerging technologies. The Commission must ensure that mayors and local elected leaders have a seat at the negotiating table when discussions about deploying technologies take place in order to facilitate public-private partnerships that will benefit both sectors.

 

While the FCC may want to consider other steps to improve local permitting processes and reduce the cost of infrastructure buildout, it should proceed cautiously. In particular, it should not issue regulations automatically preempting local permitting processes, or imposing limitations on the permitting fees imposed on attachers.

 

For more information, please read our full comments here.