Verizon says it does not receive 'unique benefits' to attach to FPL's utility poles

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has become embroiled in yet another pole attachment battle with Florida Power and Light (FPL) over the utility company's claims that the service provider has to pay higher rates for access to its facilities.

In an FCC filing, Verizon cited how it disagrees with FPL that the telco gets "unique benefits" in attaching to its poles.

"Many "benefits" claimed by FPL are not unique benefits at all -- they are enjoyed by both Verizon and its competitors that attach to FPL's poles," Verizon said. "And for those unique benefits that have any conceivable value, FPL's records show that Verizon's $0.96 pre-termination and $0.30 post termination valuations were accurate and -- if anything -- high."

Verizon added that since it has "attached to FPL's poles under terms and conditions that are, at best, comparable to its competitors" it should be subject to a similar rate.

It has suggested that the FCC set Verizon's rate at the properly calculated new telecom level that it put into effect with its 2011 Pole attachment order.

By making this move, Verizon said the commission "will send a valuable signal to the industry that the Commission will not tolerate efforts to undermine broadband deployment by evading the rate reforms set forth in the Pole Attachment Order."

FPL is just one of several utility companies the telco has fought in recent years over pole access rates.

In August, Verizon filed a similar statement with the FCC against Virginia-based power company Dominion, arguing that the power company requires it to pay more for pole access than its CLEC competitors.

Since the pole attachment order was passed in 2011, it has not been without its controversy. Level 3 and Comptel (now INCOMPAS) said in a previous filing that while FCC's 2011 order recognized that there was a disparity in the rate formulas used for cable and telcos could have "negative implications for competition and broadband deployment," the pair said the FCC needs to make further clarifications.

Service providers gained a win last week when the FCC realigned its pole attachment order that eliminated the disparities between the pole attachment rates applicable to cable and telecommunications providers. The regulator lowered the telecom rate to that under the cable formula. 

For more:
- see the FCC filing (PDF)

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