On April 28, 2021, the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition hosted a webinar to discuss the ways that state and federal oversight of pole attachments impact broadband deployment. NCC’s Corian Zacher, Policy Counsel for State & Local Initiatives, highlighted sentiments from local officials on a panel moderated by John Windhausen, SHLB Coalition’s Executive Director. Other panelists included Greg Guice, Director of Government Affairs at Public Knowledge; Rebecca Hussey, Managing Counsel, Utility Relations for Crown Castle; and Bob Stovall, Vice President for Strategy & Research with Merit Network.

Local governments in different jurisdictions have different levels of authority over traffic, light, and electrical poles, which makes uniform national policies that ignore these nuances ill-suited to govern municipalities. At the same time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken steps over the past several years that restrict local governments’ ability to make the best pole attachment policies for their communities that reinforce safety, cultural integrity, and ubiquitous connectivity. 

In September 2020, NCC filed comments with the FCC which highlighted the impact of flexible pole attachment policies, which enable local officials to make the best choices for their community. Corian reiterated these sentiments during the April 28th webinar and emphasized the importance of collaborating with communities when developing federal and state policies. Working with local governments, rather than positioning them as respondents to policies, facilitates information sharing among local governments while preserving municipalities’ ability to address broadband access and adoption disparities in their communities. 

A recording of the webinar will be available here for the remainder of May.