Frontier, Duke Energy ask FCC to dismiss pole attachment suit

Frontier has overcome another hurdle in its pole attachment battle in North Carolina as the telco and Duke Energy have asked the FCC to dismiss a pole attachment complaint that the telco filed in January 2014.

"Frontier and Duke have settled the dispute giving rise to the Complaint," Frontier said in an FCC filing. "Accordingly, Frontier and Duke have agreed to seek dismissal of the Complaint as to all claims and defenses asserted therein, in order to dispose of all issues and controversies in the Complaint."

Frontier added that dismissing the complaint "will serve the public interest by eliminating the need for further litigation and the expenditure of the associated time and resources of the parties and the Commission and will promote the private resolution of disputes."

The dispute between Frontier and Duke Energy dates back to October 2013 when the utility company filed an arbitration demand over unpaid pole rent. At that time, Frontier had sought a declaratory ruling from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, positing that the FCC had jurisdiction over the dispute. 

Later in January 2014, Frontier filed a pole attachment complaint with the FCC. In that complaint, Frontier argued that the pole rental rates set out in the parties' agreements should be reduced in light of the FCC's 2011 Pole Attachment Order. 

The FCC's 2011 Pole Attachment Order allowed ILECs, a number of which own their own poles, to get pole attachment rental rate relief under the Pole Attachment Act and the FCC's pole attachment rules. However, the federal district court dismissed Frontier's declaratory judgment action in August 2014 and it and Duke to parties to enter arbitration.

North Carolina is just one state where Frontier has been fighting with local utilities over pole attachment access.

Joining Level 3 and industry group INCOMPAS, Frontier asked the FCC in June to clarify the rules regarding pole attachment rates for cable and traditional telecom providers, as well as making the rates more uniform. In a previous FCC filing, Frontier said that the amount of money they have to pay to power companies to get necessary rights-of-way to access utility poles is one of the largest costs that it and other broadband providers incur in expanding their networks to more homes and businesses.

For more:
- see this FCC filing (PDF)
- see this Broadband Deployment Law Advisor article

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