Crown Castle Seeks FCC Intervention in Pole Attachment Beef

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Crown Castle Fiber recently filed a pole attachment complaint with the FCC against Illinois’ ComEd, saying the utility denied it access to poles. ComEd is an investor-owned electric utility and owns or controls poles in the State of Illinois that are used for, among other things, the attachment of wireline and wireless communication facilities.

At issue, are “red tagged” poles that ComEd asserts Crown Castle replace or reinforce. 

Crown argues the conditions of the poles are unrelated to its proposed attachment. “ComEd’s denial of access to the red tagged poles and demands for payment as a condition of access have impacted applications for 1,202 poles and has already cost Crown Castle,” over $14 million, the company said in its complaint. ComEd’s “red tagged” designation means the pole has lost more than 33 percent of its strength and must be reinforced or replaced.

“Of the 987 red tagged poles to which Crown Castle has proposed to attach fiber, ComEd has designated 862 poles for replacement, ComEd has designated 66 poles for reinforcement, and 59 poles have not been designated for replacement or reinforcement as of April 30, 2019,” Crown Castle states in its complaint. “ComEd’s practice of labeling poles with a red tag, but potentially taking no action to repair or replace those poles for over a year and possibly as long as ten years raises significant issues and questions.”

Without FCC intervention, the financial burden associated with ComEd’s red tag requirements will grow, says Crown Castle. As of April 30, the average pole replacement cost was about $13,600 and the average pole reinforcement cost was about $1,300. Replacement costs now range from $21,000 to $29,000, per pole. Some of those poles are co-owned by AT&T, according to Crown.

Crown Castle also argues ComEd has failed to act in a timely manner under FCC rules for at least 10,000 poles. Crown Castle seeks answers to its questions regarding ComEd’s pole inspection program and the criteria used to determine pole strength and structural integrity from ComEd within 20 days.  Comments? Email Us.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

June 26, 2019        

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