FCC Clarifies Pole Attachment Rules

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The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) has issued a Declaratory Ruling in response to a Petition filed by CTIA seeking clarification of the utility pole attachment rules. CTIA contends that some utilities are misinterpreting the FCC’s rules in a manner that hampers broadband deployment. To remove uncertainty and confusion, the Bureau clarifies that the imposition of a “blanket ban” by a utility on attachments to any portion of a utility pole is inconsistent with the federal requirement that a denial of access be specific to a particular request. The Bureau explains that the FCC’s rules require that a utility provide a written explanation when denying pole access that is specific to the particular attachment and pole at issue. The Bureau also clarifies that while utilities and attachers have the flexibility to negotiate terms in their pole attachment agreements that differ from the requirements in the FCC’s rules, a utility cannot use its significant negotiating leverage as owner to require an attacher to give up rights to which the attacher is entitled under the rules without the attacher obtaining a corresponding benefit.

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