On December 3, 2013, AT&T Mobility (“AT&T”) filed a petition with the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) seeking an amendment to the existing right-of-way (“ROW”) rules adopted by the CPUC in Decision 98-10-058 (“ROW Decision”).[1]  82 CPUC2d 510 (1998).  Specifically, AT&T requests that the CPUC extend the benefits and protections provided to competitive local exchange carriers and cable companies in the ROW Decision to wireless provides.

In the ROW Decision, the CPUC certified its jurisdiction over pole attachments (precluding the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) from accepting pole attachment complaints from California) and adopted rules governing non-discriminatory access to the poles, ducts, conduits and ROWs owned by the state’s major investor-owned electric utilities and incumbent telephone companies.  The rules established a pole rental formula (replicating the FCC cable formula), timeframes for access, a complaint procedure, inter alia, but the CPUC decided not to apply the rules to wireless providers.  The CPUC claimed that before it could apply the rules to wireless providers it needed to develop a further record “regarding the safety, reliability and special access needs” of wireless attachments.

As AT&T explains in its petition, although the CPUC has since addressed the “safety, reliability and special access needs” of wireless attachments, including construction standards for pole-top antennas, without the benefit of the ROW rules, AT&T claims it continues to experience access barriers and pole rental rates that “far exceed the maximum allowable pole attachment rate as defined by California and federal law.”

AT&T urges the CPUC to act expeditiously to amend the ROW rules to include wireless attachments and proposed an accelerated proceeding schedule.  Once the procedural schedule is established, we will provide an update.

[1] While AT&T’s petition was filed on December 3, 2013, it has not yet been accepted by the CPUC and has not been published on the CPUC’s website.  We will provide an update once a link is available.