Local Control over Pole Attachment Costs Is Essential for Expediting Broadband Deployment

By Ryan Johnston


Utility poles, an essential component of broadband deployment, are controlled by a wide variety of entities. Municipalities that own their utility poles are in the best position to determine the costs and allocated time needed to deploy broadband services on those poles. Requiring municipalities to modify how they collect pole replacement or attachment costs forces them to make significant changes to their procedures and policies that may inevitably slow broadband deployment. 

On June 27, 2022, Next Century Cities filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”)  urging the agency to allow municipalities to maintain their autonomy over pole attachment and replacement policies. The comments highlighted the following points: 

  • Providing local governments with flexibility over pole replacement and attachment costs and timings ensures that revenue derived from those costs is reinvested into the community. 
  • Municipalities, cooperatives, and non-profit electrical utilities rate-set in the public interest based on community needs. 
  • The Commission should collaborate with local officials on pole attachment regulations, which could help to unite public and private efforts to expand broadband access. 

The Commission should not interfere with municipalities’ ability to use every tool available to address long-standing digital divides. Requiring significant changes to pole attachment and replacement policies will hamstring local governments. Instead, the Commission should support their efforts to effectuate universal broadband deployment plans to all their residents. 

Read the FCC filing here

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