Verizon continues to lock horns with Dominion over pole attachment rates in Virginia

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Dominion Power continue to lock horns over pole attachment issues in Virginia, with the telco saying the utility company should be required to offer it reasonable rates.

In an FCC filing, Verizon said that Dominion's argument that its rates are "binding and enforceable," because they are in a "historic" joint use agreement, is incorrect.

"This argument fails because no agreed-upon rates are exempt from Commission review," Verizon said in a FCC filing. "It also fails because (1) the Joint Use Agreement is a "new" agreement and (2) even if it were a "historic" agreement, rate relief would still be required."

The pole attachment agreement Dominion made with Verizon was signed following the FCC's adoption of the Pole Attachment Order in 2011. This means that the utility knew that Verizon's rate under federal law should be "the same rate" that applies to any "comparable provider (whether the telecommunications carrier or the cable operator)" and that Verizon could seek relief back to the Order's effective date if Dominion did not comply with the statutory mandate.

Under the FCC's "sign and sue" rules, Verizon has the option to challenge Dominion's rate provision. Verizon said it "execute[d] a pole attachment agreement with a utility, and then later file[d] a complaint challenging the lawfulness of a provision of that agreement" within the statute of limitations.

Regardless of whether Verizon's agreement with Dominion is "new" or "historic," the telco said it is "entitled to rates, terms and conditions that are 'just and reasonable' in accordance with section 224(b)(1)."

Another issue that Verizon cites is bargaining power with Dominion, something that other telcos face in other states where they rent poles to attach their fiber and copper facilities.

Verizon asked the FCC to reject Dominion's request to find that Verizon has enough bargaining power to negotiate a just and reasonable rate for accessing poles.

Dominion, for its part, asked the FCC to find that Verizon has sufficient bargaining power to negotiate a just and reasonable rate.

Verizon said the Commission should reject Dominion's request.

"Dominion has now taken Verizon to court to try to enforce its excessive rates, unwilling to even wait for the Commission to decide this dispute," Verizon said. "The record is, therefore, undisputed that Verizon "genuinely lacks the ability to terminate an existing agreement and obtain a new arrangement."

For more:
- see the FCC filing (PDF)

Related articles:
Verizon, Dominion spar over Va. pole attachment rates
Level 3, COMPTEL ask FCC to rework utility pole attachment rules
NCTA to FCC: Google can already attach to utility poles without Title II
AT&T says it can block Google Fiber from poles in Austin; city begs to differ
FCC's pole attachment rules upheld by D.C. court

FREE DAILY NEWSLETTER

Like this story? Subscribe to FierceTelecom!

The Telecom industry is an ever-changing world where big ideas come along daily. Our subscribers rely on FierceTelecom as their must-read source for the latest news, analysis and data on the intersection of telecom and media. Sign up today to get telecom news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

Suggested Articles

ServiceNow is boosting the artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in its applications for enterprises with a deal to buy Canadian startup Element A

Ahead of next year's expected deployments of 5G, Dish Network announced fiber agreements on Monday with Everstream, Segra, Uniti and Zayo.

Telefónica has notched a third deployment of edge nodes in its home country of Spain with a recent launch in Seville, Spain.