Fibertech Petition Seeks New FCC Rules Addressing Pole Attachment Practices
On the heals of the petition filed by ILECs to obtain just and reasonable pole attachment rates, terms and conditions under Section 224, Fibertech Networks, LLC (“Fibertech”), a wireline CLEC, petitioned the FCC to initiate a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) to amend its pole attachment rules to adopt new standard practices for utilities providing pole and conduit access. On December 14, 2005, the Commission released a Public Notice, seeking comments on whether or not the Commission should undertake the NPRM requested by Fibertech. Comments are due January 13, 2006.
Fibertech’s Petition proposes that pole and conduit owners be required to follow seven specific standard practices:
- Allow use of boxing and extension arms where:
- such techniques would render unnecessary a pole replacement or rearrangement of electric facilities;
- facilities on the pole are accessible by ladder or bucket truck; and
- the pole owner has previously allowed such techniques.
- Establish shorter survey and make-ready time periods.
- Allow competitors to hire utility-approved contractors to perform field surveys and make-ready work.
- Permit installation of drop lines to satisfy customer service orders without prior licensing.
- Allow competitors to search utility records and survey manholes to determine availability of conduit, and limit charges if the utility performs these functions.
- Allow utility-approved contractors to work in manholes without utility supervision.
- Require incumbent local exchange carriers (LECs) to share building-entry conduit with competitive LECs.
USTA’s petition, filed earlier this year (see update dated November 3, 2005), requested the FCC to rule that ILECs are covered by certain provisions in Section 224 that require utilities that permit pole attachments do so at just and reasonable rates, terms and conditions under. As intermodal competition heats up, rapid deployment of infrastructure has become increasingly important to attaching entities. Pole owners, however, continue to view attaching entities as “little more than a nuisance,” and are resisting creative solutions proposed by attaching entities to expedite the licensing and make-ready processes. Moreover, with the proliferation of new unclassified services, there is increased tension between owners, seeking to charge unregulated rates, and attaching entities, seeking to reach customers in a highly competitive market. As with the USTA petition, the Fibertech petition presents an opportunity for attaching entities to seek resolution or clarification of additional issues surrounding anticompetitive utility pole attachment practices.
The Fibertech petition has been assigned to the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau. If you have any questions, would like a copy of the Petition, or wish to discuss the implications of the petition or participate in comments, please let us know.