Thursday, August 2, 2018

FCC targets faster access to utility poles for new uses

The FCC adopted new rules aimed at promoting broadband and fiber backhaul buildouts by speeding the process and reducing the costs of attaching new network facilities to utility poles.

The new “one-touch, make-ready” allows the party seeking to attach new equipment to a pole to prepare the pole quickly, rather than spreading the work across multiple parties. The FCC estimates that "one-touch, make-ready" could result in approximately 8.3 million incremental premises passed with fiber and about $12.6 billion in incremental fiber capital expenditures.  The process will not apply to more complicated attachments, or above the “communications space” of a pole, where safety and reliability risks are greater, but the Order improves current processes for attachments in these spaces.

The FCC also clarified that it will preempt, on a case-by-case basis, state and local laws that inhibit the rebuilding or restoration of broadband infrastructure after a disaster.  The FCC declaratory ruling further states that state and local moratoria on telecommunications services and facilities deployment are barred by the Communications Act because they “prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide any interstate or intrastate telecommunications service.”