CenturyLink says Seattle right-of-way rule holds up broadband deployments

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) said its broadband expansion efforts in Seattle are being held up by a city ordinance that requires nearby property owners' permission to put in remote terminal (RT) boxes to carry its broadband services to homes and businesses.

Under the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) "Director's Rule," all telecom telecom or electric utility building facilities in the public right of way to get adjacent property owner's permission and 60 percent of the owners within a block.

"We want to make sure we have a high threshold of support so if the public wants one they can have it," said Brian De Place, right-of-way manager for the Seattle Department of Transportation, in a KIRO-TV article, adding that the rule was enacted following a number of complaints about the placement of the boxes near their property.

While CenturyLink could bury the boxes under the street, Sue Anderson, vice president and general manager for the Puget Sound area, told the TV station that option could cost between $200,000 and $300,000 in a residential area, versus the $50,000 it costs to house them above ground.

Because of the SDOT rule, the telco said that it had to cancel almost 60 projects in Seattle between 2009 and 2011. Those projects were designed to provide broadband service to over 21,000 area customers.

Seattle is not the only city where a telco's placement of RT boxes has drawn fire from local residents. A similar problem took place between AT&T (NYSE: T) and residents of San Francisco.

In November 2011, a San Francisco Superior Court Judge ordered the telco to stop deploying 726 U-verse video-ready access device (VRAD) boxes in public rights of way in San Francisco because there was a "fair argument" they could have an adverse environmental impact.

For more:
- KIRO-TV has this article

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