Changes to Pole Attachment Make-Ready Rules and Rates as well as Local Law Preemption Under Consideration
On March 30, 2017, the FCC released a draft of a combined Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Notice of Inquiry and Request for Comment designed to facilitate and accelerate the deployment of next generation broadband networks. The draft Notice was released as part of Chairman Pai’s new practice of sharing drafts of the items currently circulating among the Commissioners that are scheduled for a vote at the next FCC open meeting. The draft Notice addresses Chairman Pai’s announced priority to advance broadband investment and deployment, in this case by proposing new and amended rules for pole attachments and exploring potential FCC preemption of state and local laws that delay broadband deployment. The draft NPRM proposes:
- Speeding up access to poles for new entrants by accelerating the permit application and make-ready processes;
- Reexamining pole make-ready pricing to reduce costs;
- Lowering pole rent costs for all attachers, including ILECs; and
- Streamlining the FCC’s complaint procedures.
The draft NOI seeks comment on whether the Commission should exercise its authority under Section 253 to enact rules preempting state and local government moratoria, excessive fees, unreasonable Right-Of-Way access terms, delays and other laws that increase costs and delay broadband deployment. The draft RFC (not covered in this Advisory) seeks comment on amending FCC rules concerning the process for considering carriers’ proposed discontinuance of services. A separate draft item (not covered in this Advisory) proposes reforms to facilitate tower and antenna siting approvals.
The draft NPRM also proposes to expedite the transition from ILEC copper to new fiber networks, but this Advisory focuses on the Commission’s potential reform of pole attachment processes and rates and its continued consideration of preempting restrictive local laws.
The draft NPRM is currently scheduled for the Commission’s April 20 meeting with comments and replies due within 30 and 60 days after Federal Register publication.