NCTA Wants Pole Attachment Costs Split


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NCTA — The Internet & Television Association (NCTA) believes utilities should share in the cost of pole replacements in areas that lack broadband. The trade group asked the FCC to make that clear in an expedited declaratory ruling. To expect telecom attachers to pay all of the costs is “unjust and unreasonable,” said NCTA.

“Pole owners routinely incur pole replacement and upgrade costs, whether prompted by an attachment request or not, and derive significant economic gain, including in the form of ‘betterment,’ even when a pole is replaced ahead of schedule,” says NCTA in a filing. 

NCTA asserts, “The Commission should ensure that the cost of replacing a pole in unserved areas is not shifted entirely to the attaching entity, as it often is today, but is instead allocated in a manner that recognizes the limited role the attaching entity plays in causing (as opposed to merely advancing) the costs of the replacement, as well as the significant benefits the replacement conveys to the pole owner.”

The result is mandated by section 224(b) of the Communications Act and consistent with the Commission’s orders limiting make-ready costs to those actually caused by the attaching entity, according to the trade group. It’s also consistent with section 1.1408(b) of the agency’s rules, which requires proportionate cost sharing among the entities that directly benefit from a modification to pole owner facilities, including the pole owner, asserts NCTA.    

NCTA urges the Commission to consider the costs the utility would incur “in the regular course as compared to the incremental costs caused by advancing the replacement to an earlier date,” states the trade group. Attachers should be presumed to be responsible only for the undepreciated cost of the old pole.

Under NCTA’s proposal, the pole owner would be given the opportunity to prove that certain additional costs associated with the new pole would not have been incurred “but for” the new attachment. Specific costs found to have met that economic criteria could also be allocated to the attacher. NCTA also asked the FCC to emphasize that pole access disputes in unserved areas are a priority that will receive expedited consideration.

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