Utilities Telecom Council calls new pole attachment rules unsafe

Washington, D.C., April 8, 2011 — The Utilities Telecom Council believes that the FCC’s new pole attachment rules adopted today will not benefit broadband consumers, but will promote the profits of big broadband companies at the expense of electric utility consumers, while threatening the safety of critical infrastructure.

The new rules reduce the already subsidized rates that carriers pay for pole attachments, and they impose additional access requirements that cut corners on safety.

While the FCC claims that these rules will promote broadband deployment, as a practical matter they won’t promote access for pole attachments into unserved areas and they won’t necessarily reduce the rates that consumers pay for broadband services.

William R. Moroney, UTC President and CEO, said utilities support broadband deployment but not at the expense of electric consumers and the safety of critical infrastructure.

“Unfortunately, the FCC rules adopted today perpetuate rate subsidies for the cable industry and extend them to carriers that provide broadband services. Ultimately, these subsidies are borne by electric utility customers; and it is far from clear whether broadband consumers will see any discount on their bill,” Moroney said.

Moreover, the new rules impose additional access requirements that threaten to run roughshod over utility safety and engineering practices. These new access requirements, such as make ready deadlines, won’t do anything to promote broadband deployment in underserved areas as a practical matter, he said.

“In unserved areas, make ready is not a barrier to deployment; make ready is primarily needed on poles that are fully loaded – and hence in areas that are already served. The FCC’s claims about promoting broadband deployment through pole attachment reforms don’t stand up to even the slightest scrutiny,” he said. “This is a bailout for the communications industry that won’t benefit broadband consumers and will harm electric consumers.”

The UTC is a global, full-service trade association dedicated to creating a favorable business, regulatory, and technological environment for members. Founded in 1948, UTC has evolved into a dynamic organization that represents the broad communications interests of electric, gas, and water utilities; natural gas pipelines; other critical infrastructure entities and other industry stakeholders.

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