Frontier said that if the FCC rationalizes pole attachment rates for ILECs, the regulator can encourage enhanced broadband deployment.
The telco cited the FCC’s own notice of proposed rulemaking on poles, which said “[r]eforms which reduce pole attachment costs and speed access to utility poles would remove significant barriers to broadband infrastructure deployment.”
By having telcos pay the same rate as cable operators and CLECs, Frontier said that it will not only be fair, but also reduce costs.
“In particular, the Commission’s proposal that the just and reasonable ILEC rate 'should presumptively be the same rate paid by other telecommunications attachers, i.e., a rate calculated using the most recent telecommunications rate formula' (the 'New Telecom Rate') will foster broadband deployment and level the competitive playing field as ILEC attachers currently pay disproportionately higher rates compared to other broadband attachers,” Frontier said in a FCC filing (PDF).
Frontier pointed to a key concern in the FCC’s 2011 Pole Attachment Order: It did not develop a pole attachment rate for incumbent LECs. The regulator decided at that time to look at ILEC complaints on a “case-by-case basis to determine whether the rates, terms and conditions imposed on incumbent LEC pole attachments are consistent with Section 224(b) of the Act.”
In FCC-regulated states, Frontier owns only about 15% of the joint utility poles versus power companies. The telco said that this environment hampers its “bargaining power to negotiate more reasonable rates that reflect today’s market realties.”
After passing the 2011 order, the FCC has realized that “this formulation has led to repeated disputes between incumbent LECs and utilities over appropriate pole attachment rates,” the company added.
Frontier said that since the 2011 Pole Attachment Order was passed, the telco has had to file legal suits or formal proceedings in over two dozen instances, including seven that it had to present to the FCC.
“ILECs now compete head-to-head with cable, telecommunications and broadband companies for the same customers, but lack the ability to negotiate competitive pole attachment rates,” Frontier said. “Based on these inequities and the continuing disputes, the Commission’s proposal that the just and reasonable ILEC rate is presumptively the New Telecom Rate is a common-sense solution to help avoid unnecessary litigation and level the playing field.”