Frontier, UGI Utilities settle pole attachment dispute

utility poles

Frontier’s Commonwealth Telephone Company subsidiary in Pennsylvania and UGI Utilities have settled their utility pole attachment dispute and have asked the FCC dismiss the complaint (PDF) against the utility.

By reaching an agreement, Frontier Communications and UGI said in an FCC filing that dismissing the complaint with “prejudice is both necessary and appropriate.”

In 2014, Frontier filed a complaint against UGI after the telco and the utility could not resolve issues related to their pole attachment agreement.  

Frontier and UGI said that the “dismissal of 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.”

Frontier, a provider that focuses mainly on rural markets, faces unique challenges with attaching fiber and copper to existing utility poles. In particular, Frontier said that the amount of money it has 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.

RELATED: Frontier says pole attachment prices are dramatically high in rural areas

In 2015, Frontier joined Level 3 Communications and industry group COMPTEL, now Incompas, in asking the FCC to clarify the rules regarding pole attachment rates for cable and traditional telecom providers, as well as making the rates more uniform.  

While resolving its complaint with UGI is certainly a positive step, Frontier’s pole attachment troubles aren’t completely resolved. The service provider still faces challenges in Florida where it is embroiled in an ongoing pole attachment dispute with local utility Florida Power and Light (FPL).

FPL threatened Frontier, which purchased Verizon's wireline operations in Florida earlier this year, with a service disruption for the telco’s customers, saying it would remove Verizon's facilities from FPL's poles after a 60-day period.