Verizon says OTMR pole attachment reforms should not be tied to union agreements

utility poles
Verizon says developing OTMR rules that are in line with labor agreements could cause issues for providers seeking access to poles.

Verizon is taking a different view on the one-touch make-ready (OTMR) proposals being considered by the FCC, saying that any new rules should not be driven by the labor agreements carriers have with unions like the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

In an FCC filing (PDF), the service provider said that developing OTMR rules that are in line with labor agreements could cause issues for providers seeking access to poles.

“The commission should not tailor its OTMR rules to specific companies’ particular collective bargaining agreements,” Verizon said in the filing. “That approach would result in a patchwork of rules that might be subject to change every few years and would be administratively unmanageable for new attachers.”


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RELATED: CWA: FCC should reject one-touch make-ready pole attachment proposals that obstruct safe processes

This is different than the position that has long been held by fellow telcos AT&T and Frontier.

During the process of reviewing the OTMR ordinance in Nashville, Tennessee, AT&T said Google Fiber’s proposal could interfere with its CWA workforce that has traditionally conducted make-ready work for the telco.

Under the Louisville ordinance, Google Fiber would be able to move existing Comcast and AT&T cables itself on utility poles owned by NES. This would circumvent the old “make ready” rules that require Google Fiber to notify NES of the need to make space for its cables, only to have NES contact AT&T and Comcast to execute the actual work.

Joelle Phillips, president of AT&T Tennessee, told FierceTelecom in a previous interview that one of the provisions of the labor agreement it has in the Southeast region “is we have promised to not allow contractors to move our facilities.”

AT&T is not the only telco that’s cited concerns about how OTMR could compromise union labor agreements. Frontier, which recently filed a federal court challenge (PDF) to a new OTMR law that was enacted in West Virginia in April, agrees with the concern around union agreements. The service provider said in an FCC filing (PDF) that it remains significantly concerned about any OTMR policy that “undermines union contracts.”

Verizon said that while it agrees with many of AT&T’s sentiments on pole reforms, the union issue could compromise the potential upside of OTMR.

“AT&T recognizes the benefits of OTMR but raises concerns relating to its own collective bargaining agreements and what it terms 'unbalanced' OTMR approaches,” Verizon said. “These suggestions go too far in undermining the benefits of OTMR.”

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