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Implementation of Section 224 of the Act, A National Broadband Plan for Our Future

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Released: May 4, 2011

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 11-50

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Implementation of Section 224 of the Act
)
WC Docket No. 07-245
)
A National Broadband Plan for Our Future
)
GN Docket No. 09-51

REPORT AND ORDER AND ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION

Adopted: April 7, 2011

Released: April 7, 2011

By the Commission: Chairman Genachowski and Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn, and Baker
issuing separate statements.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Heading
Paragraph #
I.
INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................. 1
II. BACKGROUND .................................................................................................................................... 9
III. IMPROVED ACCESS TO UTILITY POLES ..................................................................................... 19
A. Timeline for Section 224 Access ................................................................................................... 21
1. Stages of the Timeline ............................................................................................................. 21
2. Scope of the Timeline.............................................................................................................. 40
3. Remedy: Utility-Approved Contractors .................................................................................. 49
4. Limitations and Exceptions ..................................................................................................... 62
B. Wireless.......................................................................................................................................... 74
1. Specificity of Denials .............................................................................................................. 75
2. Pole Tops................................................................................................................................. 77
C. Use of Contractors for Attachment ................................................................................................ 78
D. Joint Ownership ............................................................................................................................. 82
E. Other Access Proposals.................................................................................................................. 86
1. Schedule of Charges ................................................................................................................ 86
2. Payment for Make-Ready Work.............................................................................................. 87
3. Data Collection........................................................................................................................ 89
F. Legal Authority.............................................................................................................................. 90
IV. IMPROVING THE ENFORCEMENT PROCESS .............................................................................. 97
A. Revising Pole Attachment Dispute Resolution Procedures ........................................................... 97
B. Efficient Informal Dispute Resolution Process............................................................................ 104
C. Remedies...................................................................................................................................... 107
D. Unauthorized Attachments........................................................................................................... 113
E. The "Sign and Sue" Rule ............................................................................................................. 119
V. POLE RENTAL RATES.................................................................................................................... 126
A. Background .................................................................................................................................. 127
B. The New Telecom Pole Rental Rate ............................................................................................ 135
1. Description of the New Telecom Rate .................................................................................. 138
2. The New Telecom Rate Is Consistent with the Act and Congressional Intent...................... 155
3. New Telecom Rate Promotes Broadband Competition and Availability.............................. 172
4. The Commission's Approach Permits Utilities to Recover Their Costs ............................... 182

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C. Incumbent LEC Pole Attachments............................................................................................... 199
1. Statutory Analysis ................................................................................................................. 204
2. Guidance Regarding Commission Review of Incumbent LEC Pole Attachment
Complaints............................................................................................................................. 214
VI. CLARIFICATION AND RECONSIDERATION OF THE 2010 ORDER........................................ 221
A. Prospective Policies ..................................................................................................................... 227
B. Joint Ownership ........................................................................................................................... 228
C. Similar Circumstances and the Electric Space............................................................................. 229
D. Insufficient Capacity and the Electric Space ............................................................................... 231
E. Space- and Cost-Saving ............................................................................................................... 235
VII. PROCEDURAL MATTERS............................................................................................................. 237
A. Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis ............................................................................................. 237
B. Regulatory Flexibility Analysis ................................................................................................... 238
C. Congressional Review Act........................................................................................................... 239
D. Accessible Formats ...................................................................................................................... 240
VIII.
ORDERING CLAUSES .............................................................................................................. 241
APPENDIX A Rules
APPENDIX B Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
APPENDIX C States That Have Certified That They Regulate Pole Attachments
APPENDIX D Lists of Commenters

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration (Order), we comprehensively
revise our pole attachment rules to improve the efficiency and reduce the potentially excessive costs of
deploying telecommunications, cable, and broadband networks, in order to accelerate broadband
buildout.1 The Order is designed to promote competition and increase the availability of robust,
affordable telecommunications and advanced services to consumers throughout the nation.
2.
Congress directed the Commission to "encourage the deployment . . . of advanced
telecommunications capability to all Americans" by removing barriers to infrastructure investment.2
Congress has expressed its desire to ensure that consumers in all regions of the country have access to
advanced telecommunications and information services at rates that are just, reasonable and affordable.3
In 2009, Congress directed the Commission to develop a National Broadband Plan that would ensure that
every American has access to broadband services.4
3.
In its efforts to identify barriers to affordable telecommunications and broadband services,
the Commission has recognized that lack of reliable, timely, and affordable access to physical
infrastructure--particularly utility poles--is often a significant barrier to deploying wireline and wireless
services. There are several reasons for this. First, the process and timeline for negotiating access to poles


1 Implementation of Section 224 of the Act; A National Broadband Plan for Our Future, WC Docket No. 07-245,
GN Docket No. 09-51, Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 25 FCC Rcd 11864 (2010) (2010 Order
or Further Notice).
2 47 U.S.C. 1302(b) (section 706). Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-104,
706, 110 Stat. 56, 153 (1996) (1996 Act), as amended in relevant part by the Broadband Data Improvement Act,
Pub. L. No. 110-385, 122 Stat. 4096 (2008) (BDIA), is now codified in Title 47, Chapter 12 of the United States
Code. See 47 U.S.C. 1301 et seq.
3 47 U.S.C. 254 (b)(1)(3).
4 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115, 6001(k)(2) (2009)
(ARRA).
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varies across the various utility companies that own this key infrastructure. The absence of fixed
timelines and the potential for delay creates uncertainty that deters investment. Second, if a pole owner
does not comply with applicable requirements, the party requesting access may have limited remedies;
because of time constraints, cost, or the need to maintain a working relationship with the pole owner, it
may not wish to pursue the enforcement process. Third, the wide disparity in pole rental rates distorts
service providers' decisions regarding deployment and offering of advanced services. For example,
providers that pay lower pole rates may be deterred from offering services, such as high-capacity links to
wireless towers, that could fall into a separate regulatory category and therefore risk having a higher pole
rental fee apply to the provider's entire network.
4.
In section 224 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act), Congress directed
the Commission to "regulate the rates, terms, and conditions of pole attachments to provide that such
rates, terms, and conditions are just and reasonable, and . . . adopt procedures necessary and appropriate
to hear and resolve complaints concerning such rates, terms, and conditions."5 When Congress granted
the Commission authority to regulate pole attachments, it recognized the unique economic characteristics
that shape relationships between pole owners and attachers. Congress concluded that "[o]wing to a
variety of factors, including environmental or zoning restrictions" and the very significant costs of
erecting a separate pole network or entrenching cable underground, "there is often no practical alternative
[for network deployment] except to utilize available space on existing poles."6 Congress recognized
further that there is a "local monopoly in ownership or control of poles," observing that, as found by a
Commission staff report, "`public utilities by virtue of their size and exclusive control over access to pole
lines, are unquestionably in a position to extract monopoly rents . . . in the form of unreasonably high pole
attachment rates.'"7 Given the benefits of pole attachments to minimize "unnecessary and costly
duplication of plant for all pole users," Congress granted the Commission authority to ensure that pole
attachments are provided on just and reasonable rates, terms, and conditions.8
5.
In implementing section 224, the Commission historically relied primarily on private
negotiations among pole owners and attachers and, when necessary, case-specific adjudication by the
Commission, to ensure just and reasonable rates, terms, and conditions, rather than adopting
comprehensive access rules. But the Commission's experience during the past 15 years has revealed the
need to establish a more detailed framework to govern the rates, terms and conditions for pole
attachments. The National Broadband Plan found that the cost of deploying a broadband network
depends significantly on the costs that service providers incur to access poles and other infrastructure.9
Specifically, the Plan found that the rate structure is so arcane that there has been near-constant litigation
about the regulatory classification of pole attachers, and also found that the establishment of timelines has
expedited the make-ready process considerably in states where timelines have been implemented.10
Accordingly, the Commission in the May 2010 Pole Attachment Order and Further Notice sought
comment on a proposed timeline and other concerns regarding pole access. The 2010 Order has


5 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(1).
6 S. Rep. No. 580, 95th Congress, 1st Sess. at 13 (1977) (1977 Senate Report), reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. 109.
7 Id.
8 Id.; see 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(1), (2).
9 OMNIBUS BROADBAND INITIATIVE, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION, CONNECTING AMERICA: THE
NATIONAL BROADBAND PLAN 109 (2010), available at http://download.broadband.gov/plan/national-broadband-
plan.pdf (NATIONAL BROADBAND PLAN or PLAN). The Commission also found that make-ready work can be a
significant source of cost and delay in building broadband networks. Id. at 111.
10 PLAN at 11011.
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generated a substantial record from numerous commenters, and since that time the Commission and its
staff have engaged stakeholders and state commission representatives in workshops and other forums.11
6.
The record in this proceeding demonstrates that the current framework often results in
negotiation processes that may be so prolonged, unpredictable, and costly that they impose unreasonable
costs on attachers and may create inefficiencies by deterring market entry.12 We are also persuaded by
evidence in the record that widely disparate pole rental rates distort infrastructure investment decisions
and in turn could negatively affect the availability of advanced services and broadband, contrary to the
policy goals of the Act. Obtaining access to poles and other infrastructure is critical to deployment of
telecommunications and broadband services.13 Therefore, to the extent that access to poles is more
burdensome or expensive than necessary, it creates a significant obstacle to making service available and
affordable. At the same time, we recognize that pole owners are entitled to fair compensation for their
property, and have a desire to minimize disruption to themselves and existing attachers. The record also
suggests that inefficiently low rates for pole attachments could deter pole owners from deploying new
poles or upgrading their poles. Thus, in this Order, we seek to eliminate unnecessary costs or burdens
associated with pole attachments, while taking into account legitimate concerns of pole owners and other
parties that might be affected by additional attachments.
7.
We also recognize and build on the work of our state partners. In section 224, Congress
recognized the important role of states in ensuring that utilities provide access to poles, ducts, conduits
and rights-of-way in a manner consistent with the statute. Under the "reverse preemption" provision in
section 224, states may certify that they regulate rates, terms, and conditions for pole attachments in their
respective states; the Commission retains jurisdiction over pole attachments only in states that do not so
certify.14 As a result, state experience with regulation of pole attachments provides an invaluable
opportunity for the Commission to observe what works and what does not work to achieve policy goals.
State efforts to date on establishing fair access rules--including timelines--have been particularly
instructive as the Commission attempts to balance the needs of communications companies to deploy
vital network facilities with the needs of utility pole owners, including the need to protect safety of life
and the reliability of their own critically important networks.
8.
Based on the record received in response to the Further Notice, we now adopt rules
establishing a specific timeline for access, improvements to our enforcement process, a revised formula


11 See infra para. 18.
12 See, e.g., Letter from Brian Regan, Director, Government Relations, PCIA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC,
WC Docket No. 07-245, at 1 (filed Mar. 18, 2011) (arguing that the misallocation of resources results in inefficiency
in the market; conversely, with improved regulatory certainty, "an estimated 2,500 to 5,000 additional wireless
attachments may be deployed annually").
13 See Letter from Brian Regan, Director, Government Relations, PCIA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC
Docket No. 07-245, at 1 (filed Mar. 31, 2011) (stating that the number of Distributed Antenna Systems ("DAS")
nodes in operation could double to 20,000 by the end of 2012 and estimating a total of 150,000 by 2017; cumulative
capital expenditures by DAS providers could double by the end of 2012, with an estimated total of over $15 billion
by 2017); see also Letter from Brian M. Josef, Assistant Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, CTIA, to Marlene H.
Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, at 1 (filed Mar. 17, 2011) ("[T]he Commission has recognized that
`the deployment of facilities without unreasonable delay is vital to promote public safety, including the availability
of wireless 911, throughout the nation' and that commercial and public safety communications `depend on the
presence of sufficient wireless towers.'") (citations omitted).
14 47 U.S.C. 224(b), (c). The statute also exempts poles owned by municipalities, cooperatives, and non-utilities.
47 U.S.C. 224(a)(1). Twenty states and the District of Columbia have certified that they directly regulate utility-
owned infrastructure in their regions. See App. C; States That Have Certified That They Regulate Pole Attachments,
Public Notice, WC Docket No. 10-101, 25 FCC Rcd 5541, 554142 (WCB 2010).
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for the telecommunications access rate, and a process to ensure just and reasonable rates, terms and
conditions for pole attachments by incumbent LECs. In particular, this Order takes the following actions:
o

Timeline.

The Order establishes a four-stage timeline for attachment to poles, with a maximum
timeframe of up to 148 days for completion of all four stages: survey (45 days), estimate (14
days), attacher acceptance (14 days), and make-ready (60-75 days). The Order applies this
timeline to requests for attachment in the communications space on a pole--for both wireline and
wireless attachments. As a remedy in cases where the survey or make-ready work is not
completed on time, attachers are permitted to engage utility-approved independent contractors to
do the work. This self-effectuating remedy--based on a successful model that has been working
in the State of New York for several years--is balanced by limitations on the number of poles per
month that may be subject to the timeline, and the ability of the utility to temporarily stop the
clock for legitimately exceptional circumstances. We adopt a modified timeline for wireless
attachments above the communications space, for which we provide a total of up to 178 days and
a complaint remedy. We also adopt longer timelines for requests to attach to a large number of
poles (more than 300 poles or 0.5 percent of a utility's total poles within a state, whichever is
less), for which we provide an additional 15 days for survey and 45 days for make-ready, for a
total of up to 208 days for attachments in the communications space and 238 days for wireless
attachments above the communications space.
o

Attachments.

We also conclude that if an electric utility rejects a request for attachment of any
piece of equipment, it must explain the reasons for such rejection--and how such reasons relate
to capacity, safety, reliability, or engineering concerns15--in a way that is specific with regard to
both the type of facility and the type of pole. We further conclude that section 224 allows
attachers to access the space above what has traditionally been referred to as "communications
space" on a pole, but only using workers that are qualified to work above the communications
space.16
o

Rates.

The Order reinterprets the telecommunications rate formula for pole attachments
consistent with the existing statutory framework, thereby reducing the disparity between current
telecommunications and cable rates. Specifically, different interpretations of the term "cost" in
section 224(e) yield a range of rates from the existing fully allocated cost approach at the high
end to a rate closer to incremental cost at the low end. Balancing the Commission's broadband
goals with the interest in continued pole investment, we adopt a definition of cost that yields a
new "just and reasonable" telecommunications rate. This new telecom rate generally will recover
the same portion of pole costs as the current cable rate. The Order also confirms that wireless
providers are entitled to the same rate under the statute as other telecommunications carriers.
o

Incumbent LEC Attachments.

Historically, incumbent LECs owned roughly as many poles as
electric utilities, and were able to ensure just and reasonable rates, terms, and conditions for pole
attachments by negotiating "joint use" agreements. Given evidence in the record about current
market conditions, however, we identify a need for targeted Commission oversight to ensure just
and reasonable rates, terms, and conditions that might not otherwise result from negotiations
standing alone. Revisiting our prior interpretation of the statute, we allow incumbent LECs to file
pole attachment complaints if they believe a particular rate, term or condition is unjust or
unreasonable, and provide guidance regarding the Commission's approach to evaluating those
complaints and what the appropriate rate may be (whether the new telecommunications rate or
another rate).


15 See 47 U.S.C. 224(f)(2).
16 47 U.S.C. 224.
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o

Enforcement.

The Order adopts several measures to encourage negotiated resolution of pole
attachment disputes, including a requirement that the complainant engage or attempt to engage
the other party in good faith "executive-level discussions" prior to the filing of a complaint at the
Commission. The Order declines to amend the "sign and sue" rule, which allows an attacher to
challenge the lawfulness of terms in an executed pole attachment agreement where the attacher
claims it was coerced to accept those terms in order to gain access. The Order also declines to
adopt rules for compensatory damage awards at this time. The Order also removes the cap on
penalties for unauthorized attachments and clarifies that Oregon's approach to penalties for
unauthorized attachments (which includes per-pole penalties, notice requirements, and a "joint
use forum" for resolving disputes) is a reasonable model for contract terms in pole attachment
agreements. Further, this Order encourages pre-planning and coordination among pole owners
and attachers to the greatest extent, and as early in the process, as possible. To encourage such
pre-planning and coordination, any enforcement proceedings will include consideration of such
communication between the parties.
o

Reconsideration Issues.

The Order resolves multiple petitions for reconsideration and addresses
various points regarding the nondiscriminatory use of attachment techniques. Among other
things, we clarify that a utility's use of an attachment technique in the electric space does not
obligate it to allow the same technique in the communications space; and that there is not
"insufficient capacity" simply because a utility must rearrange its electric facilities to
accommodate an attachment.
o

Proposals Not Adopted.

The Order declines to adopt proposed requirements regarding the
collection and availability of information about the location and availability of poles, as well as
proposed rules regarding a schedule of charges, phased payment for make-ready work, and the
designation of a single managing utility for jointly owned poles. However, we clarify and
emphasize that we do expect joint owners to coordinate and cooperate with each other and with
requesting attachers in order to meet their independent obligations to successfully implement the
timeline for pole attachments that we adopt today.

II.

BACKGROUND

9.
In 1978, Congress added section 224 to the Communications Act of 1934, as amended
(Communications Act or Act) thereby directing the Commission to ensure that the rates, terms, and
conditions for pole attachments by cable television systems are just and reasonable.17 Section 224
provides that the Commission will regulate pole attachments except where such matters are regulated by a
state.18 Section 224 also withholds from the Commission jurisdiction to regulate attachments where the
utility is a railroad, cooperatively organized, or owned by a government entity.19
10.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (1996 Act)20 expanded the definition of pole
attachments to include attachments by providers of telecommunications service,21 and granted both cable
systems and telecommunications carriers22 an affirmative right of nondiscriminatory access to any pole,


17 Pole Attachment Act of 1978, Pub. L. No. 95-234, 92 Stat. 33 (1978).
18 47 U.S.C. 224(c); see App. C (listing the states that have certified that they regulate pole attachments).
19 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(1).
20 Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56 (1996) (codified as amended in scattered
sections of 47 U.S.C.).
21 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(4).
22 For purposes of section 224, Congress excluded incumbent LECs from the definition of "telecommunications
carriers." 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(5).
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duct, conduit, or right-of-way owned or controlled by a utility.23 However, the 1996 Act permits utilities
to deny access where there is insufficient capacity and for reasons of safety, reliability or generally
applicable engineering purposes.24 Besides establishing a right of access, the 1996 Act set forth section
224(e) -- a rate methodology for "attachments used by telecommunications carriers to provide
telecommunications services" -- in addition to the existing methodology in section 224(d) for
attachments "used by a cable television system solely to provide cable service."25
11.
The Commission implemented the new section 224 access requirements in the Local
Competition Order.26 At that time, the Commission concluded that it would determine the reasonableness
of a particular condition of access on a case-by-case basis.27 Finding that no single set of rules could take
into account all attachment issues, the Commission specifically declined to adopt the National Electric
Safety Code (NESC) in lieu of access rules.28 The Commission also recognized that utilities typically
develop individual standards and incorporate them into pole attachment agreements, and that, in some
cases, federal, state, or local laws also impose relevant restrictions.29 The Local Competition Order
acknowledged concerns that utilities might deny access unreasonably, but, rather than adopt a set of
substantive engineering standards, the Commission decided that procedures for requiring utilities to
justify the conditions they placed on access would best safeguard attachers' rights.30 The Commission did
adopt five rules of general applicability and several broad policy guidelines in the Local Competition


23 47 U.S.C. 224(f)(1). As a general matter, all references to poles in this Order refer to attachments to utility
poles and do not include other components of the statutory definition of "pole attachments," including ducts,
conduits and rights-of-way, unless otherwise indicated. 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(4).
24 47 U.S.C. 224(f)(2); see Implementation of the Local Competition Provisions in the Telecommunications Act of
1996
, CC Docket Nos. 96-98, 95-185, Report and Order, 11 FCC Rcd 15499, 1608081, paras. 117577 (1996)
(Local Competition Order) (subsequent history omitted) (extending the provisions of section 224(f)(2) to other
utilities).
25 See 47 U.S.C. 224(d) (describing the "cable rate formula"), (e) (describing the "telecom rate formula").
26 Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 15499.
27 Id. at 1606768, para. 1143.
28 Id. at 1606869, paras. 114546 (finding that the NESC's depth of detail and allowance for variables make it
unworkable for setting access standards).
29 Id. at 1606869, paras. 114748 (finding that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, and utility internal operating standards reflect
regional and local conditions as well individual needs and experiences of the utility).
30 Id. at 16058107, paras. 1119240 (Part XI.B. "Access to Rights of Way").
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Order.31 The Commission also stated that it would monitor the effect of the case-specific approach, and
would propose specific rules at a later date if conditions warranted.32
12.
In the 1998 Implementation Order, the Commission adopted rules implementing the 1996
Act's new pole attachment rate formula for telecommunications carriers.33 The Commission also
concluded that cable television systems offering both cable and Internet access service should continue to
pay the cable rate.34 The Commission further held that wireless carriers had a statutory right of
nondiscriminatory access to poles.35 Although the latter two determinations were challenged, both were
ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court.36 In particular, the Court held that section 224 gives the
Commission broad authority to adopt just and reasonable rates.37 The Court also deferred to the
Commission's conclusion that wireless carriers are entitled by section 224 to attach facilities to poles.38
13.
On November 20, 2007, the Commission issued the Pole Attachment Notice39 in
recognition of the importance of pole attachments to the deployment of communications networks, in part
in response to petitions for rulemaking from USTelecom and Fibertech Networks.40 USTelecom argued


31 Id. at 1607174, paras. 115158. The five specific rules are: (1) a utility may rely on industry codes, such as the
NESC, to prescribe standards with respect to capacity, safety, reliability and general engineering principles; (2) a
utility will still be subject to any federal requirements, such as those imposed by FERC or OSHA, which might
affect pole attachments; (3) state and local requirements will be given deference if not in direct conflict with
Commission rules; (4) rates, terms and conditions of access must be uniformly applied to all attachers on a
nondiscriminatory basis; and (5) a utility may not favor itself over other parties with respect to the provision of
telecommunications or video services. See Implementation of Section 224 of the Act; Amendment of the
Commission's Rules and Policies Governing Pole Attachments
, WC Docket No. 07-245; RM-11293; RM-11303,
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 22 FCC Rcd 20195, 2019899, para. 9 (2007) (Pole Attachment Notice or NPRM)
(noting the Commission's establishment of access rules in the Local Competition Order and determination to revisit
them if needed).
32 See Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16068, para. 1143 ("We will not enumerate a comprehensive
regime of specific rules, but instead establish a few rules supplemented by certain guidelines and presumptions that
we believe will facilitate the negotiation and mutual performance of fair, pro-competitive access agreements. We
will monitor the effect of this approach and propose more specific rules at a later date if reasonably necessary to
facilitate access and the development of competition in telecommunications and cable services.").
33 Implementation of Section 703(e) of the Telecommunications Act, Amendment of the Commission's Rules and
Policies Governing Pole Attachments
, CS Docket No. 97-151, Report and Order, 13 FCC Rcd 6777 (1998) (1998
Implementation Order
), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, Gulf Power v. FCC, 208 F.3d 1263 (11th Cir. 2000) (Gulf Power
v. FCC
), rev'd, Nat'l Cable & Telecommunications Ass'n v. Gulf Power, 534 U.S. 327 (2002) (Gulf Power).
34 See 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 6796, para. 34.
35 See id. at 679799, paras. 3642 (applying the definitions of "telecommunications carriers," "telecommunications
services," and relevant provisions of section 224 to wireless carriers).
36 See Gulf Power v. FCC, 208 F.3d at 127375 (wireless), 127578 (cable rate); Gulf Power, 534 U.S. at 33339
(cable rate), 339342 (wireless).
37 See Gulf Power, 534 U.S. at 336, 33889. The Court rejected the view that "the straightforward language of
[section 224's] subsections (d) and (e) establish two specific just and reasonable rates [and] no other rates are
authorized." Id. at 335 (citing Gulf Power v. FCC, 208 F.3d at 1276 n.29).
38 See Gulf Power, 534 U.S. at 341.
39 Pole Attachment Notice, 22 FCC Rcd 20195.
40 See United States Telecom Association, Petition for Rulemaking, RM-11293 (filed Oct. 11, 2005) (USTelecom
Petition); Fibertech Networks, LLC, Petition for Rulemaking, RM-11303 (filed Dec. 7, 2005) (Fibertech Petition).
The records generated by both petitions were incorporated by reference. Pole Attachment Notice, 22 FCC Rcd at
20200, para. 12 n.12.
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that incumbent LECs, as providers of telecommunications service, are entitled to just and reasonable pole
attachment rates, terms, and conditions of attachment even though, under section 224, they are not
included in the term "telecommunications carriers" and therefore have no statutory right of access.41
Fibertech petitioned the Commission to initiate a rulemaking to set access standards for pole attachments,
including standards for timely performance of make-ready work,42 use of boxing and extension arms, and
use of qualified third-party contract workers, among other concerns.43 The Pole Attachment Notice
sought comment on the concerns raised by USTelecom and Fibertech, as well as the application of the
telecommunications rate to wireless pole attachments44 and other pole access concerns.45
14.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included a requirement that the
Commission develop a national broadband plan to ensure that every American has access to broadband
capability.46 On March 16, 2010, the National Broadband Plan was released, and identified access to
rights-of-way--including access to poles--as having a significant impact on the deployment of
broadband networks.47 Accordingly, the Plan included several recommendations regarding pole
attachment access, enforcement, and pricing policies to further advance broadband deployment.48
15.
On May 20, 2010, the Commission issued the Pole Attachment Order and Further
Notice.49 In the 2010 Order, the Commission took initial steps to clarify the rules governing pole
attachments and to streamline the pole attachment process. The Commission clarified the statutory right
of communications providers to use the same space- and cost-saving techniques that pole owners use,
such as placing attachments on both sides of a pole ("boxing"), and established that providers have a
statutory right to timely access to poles.50 In the Further Notice, the Commission sought comment on a
variety of measures to speed access to poles. The Commission proposed a comprehensive timeline for all
wired pole attachment requests51 and sought comment on possible adjustments to that timeline. The
Commission sought comment on whether to adopt a separate timeline for wireless attachments.52 The
Commission proposed to permit attachers to use independent contractors to perform surveys and make-
ready work if the pole owner missed its deadlines, subject to certain conditions.53 The Commission


41 Pole Attachment Notice, 22 FCC Rcd at 20205, para. 24; 47 U.S.C. 224 (a)(5) (excluding incumbent local
exchange carriers from the definition of "telecommunications carrier"); 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(4) (defining "pole
attachment" to include attachments by "any . . . provider of telecommunications service"); 47 U.S.C. 224 (b)(1)
(requiring the Commission to regulate pole attachments).
42 "Make-ready" generally refers to the modification of poles or lines or the installation of guys and anchors to
accommodate additional facilities. Implementation of the Local Competition Provisions in the Telecommunications
Act of 1996
, CC Docket Nos. 96-98, 95-185, Order on Reconsideration, 14 FCC Rcd 18049, 18056 n.50 (1999)
(Local Competition Reconsideration Order).
43 Pole Attachment Notice, 22 FCC Rcd at 20210, para. 37.
44 Id. at 20209, para. 34.
45 Id. at 20211, para. 38.
46 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115, 6001(k)(2) (2009).
47 NATIONAL BROADBAND PLAN at 109.
48 Id. at 10913.
49 2010 Order and Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd 11864.
50 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1187984, paras. 818.
51 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1187685, paras. 2545.
52 Id. at 1188589, paras. 4654.
53 Id. at 1189194, paras. 6168.
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further proposed that utilities may deny access by contractors to work among the electric lines.54 In
addition, the Commission proposed a staggered payment system for make-ready work; proposed requiring
a schedule of make-ready charges; proposed requiring joint pole owners to designate a single managing
utility; and sought comment on improving the collection and availability of data.55
16.
The Commission also sought comment on whether current rules governing pole
attachment complaints create appropriate incentives for parties to settle or resolve disputes informally,
and whether appropriate remedies are available when parties pursue formal complaints.56 The Further
Notice
sought comment on ways to reduce the existing disparities in pole rental rates and proposed to
address those disparities by reinterpreting the telecom rate formula and by considering the issues
surrounding possible regulation of pole attachments by incumbent local exchange carriers (LECs).57
17.
On September 2, 2010, various electric utilities and cable providers filed petitions seeking
clarification or reconsideration of parts of the 2010 Order concerning the nondiscriminatory use of
attachment techniques.58 The petitions ask the Commission to clarify, among other things, whether a
utility must allow attachers to use the same attachment techniques that it uses for itself in the electric
space, and whether a pole owner is free to impose new boxing and extension arm requirements going
forward.59
18.
The Commission has held workshops addressing pole attachment issues. On September
28, 2010 the Wireline Competition Bureau convened a workshop to "learn from the experiences and
insights of state regulators regarding the Commission's proposed pole attachment regulations."60 On
February 9, 2011, the Commission held a Broadband Acceleration Conference that brought together
leaders from federal, state, and local governments; broadband providers; telecommunications carriers;
tower companies; equipment suppliers; and utility companies to identify opportunities to reduce
regulatory and other barriers to broadband build-out.61 At this conference, the Commission announced its
Broadband Acceleration Initiative: an agenda for work inside the Commission, with our partners in


54 Id. at 1189495, para. 69.
55 Id. at 1189597, paras. 7077.
56 Id. at 1189809, paras. 78109.
57 Id. at 1190927, paras. 11048.
58 Coalition of Concerned Utilities, Petition for Reconsideration, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51
(filed Sep. 2, 2010) (Coalition Petition); Florida Investor-Owned Electric Utilities, Petition for Reconsideration and
Request for Clarification, GN Docket No. 09-51 (filed Sep. 2, 2009) (Florida IOUs Petition); Oncor Electric
Delivery Company LLC, Petition for Reconsideration and Request for Clarification, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN
Docket No. 09-51 (filed Sep. 2, 2010); Alabama Cable Telecommunications Ass'n, Bresnan Communications,
Broadband Cable Ass'n of Pennsylvania, Cable America Corp., Cable Television Ass'n of Georgia, Florida Cable
Telecommunications, Inc., MediaCom Communications Corp., New England Cable and Telecommunications Ass'n,
Ohio Cable Telecommunications Ass'n, Oregon Cable Telecommunications Ass'n, and South Carolina Cable
Television Ass'n, Petition for Reconsideration or Clarification, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51
(filed Sep. 2, 2010) (Cable Providers Petition); see 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1186973, paras. 816.
59 See Coalition Petition at 23; Florida IOUs Petition at 23.
60 Wireline Competition Bureau Announces September 28, 2010 Pole Attachments Workshop, 25 FCC Rcd 13108
(WCB 2010). Forty-nine representatives of 32 electric utilities and their trade associations met with Federal
Communications Commission staff to discuss issues of concern to utility pole owners. See Letter from Thomas B.
Magee and Jack Richards, Counsel for the Coalition of Concerned Utilities, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC,
WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51 (filed Nov. 17, 2010).
61 FCC to Hold Broadband Acceleration Conference, Public Notice, DA 11-241 (rel. Feb. 8, 2011).
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Tribal, state, and local government, and with the private sector to reduce barriers to broadband
deployment.62

III.

IMPROVED ACCESS TO UTILITY POLES

19.
We take several steps to improve access to utility poles. Our rules are generally consistent
with proposals in the Further Notice, but also reflect a close examination of the record developed in this
proceeding.63 We adopt a four-stage timeline that provides a maximum of 148 days for attachers to
access the communications space on utility poles. For wireless attachments above the communications
space, we adopt a modified form of the timeline.64 The timeline begins to run after the requester submits
a complete application. We also establish that a utility may stop the clock for emergencies pursuant to a
"good and sufficient cause" standard. We adopt rules that allow attachers to use independent contractors
pre-authorized by the utilities to complete survey and make-ready work in the communications space,
subject to a number of protections and conditions, if the pole owner does not meet the prescribed
timelines. In particular, electric utilities have ultimate decision-making authority regarding the
contractor's work with respect to section 224(f)(2) denial-of-access issues. We allow a utility to limit on
a per-state basis the size of a pole attachment request that is subject to the timeline, and allow extra time
for large orders. Specifically, we apply the basic timeline to requests of up to 300 pole attachments per
state or attachments to 0.5 percent of the utility's in-state poles, whichever is less. For larger requests of
up to 3,000 pole attachments per state or 5 percent of the utility's in-state poles, whichever is less,
additional time is provided for survey and make-ready. Utilities may treat multiple in-state requests from
a single attacher during a 30-day period as one request. Our rules further provide that any denial of a
request to attach must cite with specificity the particular safety, reliability, engineering, or other valid
concern that is the basis for denial. We clarify that blanket prohibitions on pole top access are not
permitted. And, as noted elsewhere in this Order, we encourage a high degree of pre-planning and
coordination between attachers and pole owners, to begin as early in the process as possible.
20.
We decline to adopt several proposals set forth in the Further Notice or that commenters
recommend, and explain those decisions. For example, we determine that the timeline will provide
adequate incentives for joint owners of poles to coordinate, and thus do not require joint owners to name a
single management entity. We also conclude that several subsections of section 224 provide the
Commission with sufficient authority to adopt a timeline and other access rules.

A.

Timeline for Section 224 Access

1.

Stages of the Timeline

21.
We find that adopting a specific timeline for processing pole attachment requests will give
necessary guidance to both pole owners and attachers. Evidence in the record reflects that, in the absence
of a timeline, pole attachments may be subject to excessive delays.65 Moreover, having a specific


62 The FCC's Broadband Initiative: Reducing Barriers to Spur Broadband Buildout, Public Notice (rel. Feb. 9,
2011), available at http://www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2011/db0209/DOC-304571A2.pdf; see
Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC, Remarks at Broadband Acceleration Conference (Feb. 9, 2011), available at
http://www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2011/db0209/DOC-304571A1.pdf.
63 See infra para. 21 (discussing the record evidence regarding adoption of a timeline).
64 The modified timeline for access to poles above the communications space adopted in this Order applies solely to
wireless attachments because the record in this proceeding does not demonstrate any need for a timeline for non-
wireless attachments above the communications space. Thus, issues regarding wireline attachments above the
communications space are beyond the scope of this Order.
65 See, e.g., Fibertech/KDL Comments at 8 (citing an increase of 159 customers per year after NY adopted a
timeline at an average of 100 days from application submission to licensing, contrasted with MD where applications
average over 250 days); Letter from Michael P. Miller, CEO, Fiberlight LLC, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, at 1 (filed Feb. 23, 2011) (Fiberlight Feb. 23 Ex Parte Letter) (citing examples of
(continued....)
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timeline offers certainty to attachers and allows them to make concrete business plans.66 Beyond
generalized problems caused by utility lack of timeliness from initial request through completion,67 the
record shows pervasive and widespread problems of delays in survey work,68 delays in make-ready
performance,69 delays caused by a lack of coordination of existing attachers,70 and other issues.71
Adopting a specific timeline will also generate jobs and help to move large broadband projects forward
more expeditiously, including those providing broadband to schools under the E-rate program.72
(Continued from previous page)


network deployment significantly delayed by failure to timely attach to poles); Letter from Clifford K. Williams,
Director--Regulatory & Compliance, Sidera Networks, LLC, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket
No. 07-245, RM-11303, RM-1293, at 12 (filed Mar. 11, 2011) (Sidera Mar. 11, 2011 Ex Parte Letter) (citing
delays of up to 2 years); Letter from Brian Regan, Director, Government Relations, PCIA, to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51, at 34 (filed Mar. 2, 2011) (PCIA Mar. 15 Ex Parte
Letter) (describing specific obstacles, including delays, faced by wireless providers); Letter from Jennie P. Chandra,
Senior Counsel, Windstream to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245 at 1 (filed Mar. 31,
2011) (Windstream Mar. 31, 2011 Ex Parte Letter) ("One of the greatest challenges Windstream has faced in
deploying fiber is the lengthy, unpredictable, and costly make-ready process. It is not uncommon for a fiber
deployment project to be delayed by one or two years simply because of make-ready issues."). Unless otherwise
noted, all comments are in response to the Further Notice. A list of commenters is provided in Appendix C.
66 See, e.g., Alpheus and 360networks NPRM Comments at 2 (arguing that unknown make-ready intervals make it
extremely difficult to introduce services or promise timely delivery on potential sales); Cavalier NPRM Comments
at 6 (arguing for predictability with regard to make-ready because potential customers will not engage a service
without knowing whether it will begin receiving the service in months or in years).
67 See, e.g., TWTC NPRM Comments at 15 ("Pole owners often wait months or even years after receiving an initial
application to complete make-ready work, and these delays are exacerbated by the pole owners' refusal to permit a
mutually agreed upon third party to perform the make ready work."); Cavalier NPRM Comments at 6 (stating that
some utilities provide Cavalier access within three months after receiving an application, but others take more than
five times as long); Alpheus NPRM Comments at 2 (complaining that the length of time for completion of make-
ready varies significantly); Letter from Jean L. Kiddoo, counsel to MetroPCS Communications, Inc., to Marlene H.
Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, at 3 (filed Mar. 30, 2011) (stating that a significant hurdle with the
issue of delay is that "most pole owners reject the notion of having any timeline in any circumstance").
68 See, e.g., Comments of Indiana Fiber Works, RM-11303 (filed Jan. 30, 2006) (noting that it has experienced
serious delays involving its applications to one of the principal pole owners in its service area, often exceeding 45
days); Sigecom Comments, RM-11303, at 4 (filed Jan. 27, 2006) (citing mediation on delayed pre-construction
survey to confirm Fibertech's allegation that pole owners frequently do not meet the 45-day time frame set forth in
the Commission's rules).
69 See, e.g., PCIA Mar. 2, 2011 Ex Parte Letter at 4 (reporting that after months of negotiation, one utility provided a
distributed antenna system (DAS) provider with make-ready estimation of 260 days for the installation of 20 DAS
nodes); id. at 4 (reporting that Windstream has refused to agree to make-ready timelines for wireline and wireless
attachments, as has Frontier in Minnesota); Crown Castle NPRM Comments at 7 (asserting that make-ready work
can take up to a year to complete when completed by the pole owner's internal personnel, often because of difficulty
in scheduling of crews in the field); Montgomery and Anne Arundel Counties Reply at 4 (asserting that recent
experience with broadband deployments requiring pole attachments has been that the make-ready work performed
by utility pole owners typically takes up to a year to complete, can take up to eighteen months in many cases, and is
especially slow for larger deployments).
70 See, e.g., Sidera Mar. 11, 2011 Ex Parte Letter at 4.
71 Current Group NPRM Comments at 3 (complaining that utilities often seek to delay potential competitors' market
entry by forcing them to engage in disputes over well-settled issues).
72 FiberLight Feb. 23, 2011 Ex Parte Letter at 2 ("With a pole attachment timeline in place consistent with that
proposed by the Commission, FiberLight would be able to provide between 45 times as many construction projects
thus creating more jobs and serving more areas."); Windstream Mar. 31, 2011 Ex Parte Letter at 3 ("Time and
(continued....)
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22.
As shown in Tables 1 (for attachments in the communications space) and 2 (for wireless
attachments above the communications space), the timeline features four stages:

Stage 1: Survey. During the 45-day survey phase, the pole owner conducts an
engineering study to determine whether and where attachment is feasible, and what
make-ready is required. (This period has an additional 15 days for large orders as
defined below.)73

Stage 2: Estimate. The pole owner provides an estimate of the make-ready charges
within 14 days of receiving the results of the engineering survey.

Stage 3: Attacher Acceptance. The attacher has up to 14 days to approve the
estimate and provide payment.

Stage 4: Make-Ready. The pole owner must notify any attachers with facilities
already on the pole that make-ready for a new attacher needs to be performed within
60 days (or 105 days in the case of larger orders, as defined below).74 In most cases,
any required make-ready work will be completed within this period, but we provide
for additional time in certain circumstances. For wireless attachments above the
communications space, we adopt a longer make-ready period of 90 days (or 135 days
in the case of larger orders), based on safety considerations and the fact that, at
present, there is less experience with application of timelines to wireless attachments
at the pole top.75 Finally, an owner may take 15 additional days after the make-ready
period runs to complete make-ready itself.
23.
For most attachments, the total time from submission of the request through completion of
make-ready should take between 105 and 148 days, depending on how long the parties take to prepare
and accept an estimate.76 Attachers may hire contractors authorized by the utility to complete make-ready
either on the 133rd or 148th day, depending on whether an owner timely notifies the attacher that it
intends to move existing facilities and conduct make-ready if existing attachers have failed to move their
attachments. Although we establish this timeline as a maximum, we recognize that the necessary work
can often proceed more rapidly, especially at the estimate and acceptance stages, or for relatively routine
requests. It would not be reasonable behavior for a utility to take longer to fulfill any requests simply
because a timeline with maximum timeframes is being adopted. Likewise, for large orders, we allow 15
more days for the survey and 45 more days to complete make-ready.
(Continued from previous page)


again, KDL's fiber deployment efforts for schools, like cell towers, have been stalled for many months by delays in
the make-ready phase of its projects.").
73 See infra para. 63.
74 See infra para. 63.
75 See Letter from Brian Regan, Director, Government Relations, PCIA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC
Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51, at 2 (filed Mar. 15, 2011) (PCIA Mar. 15 Ex Parte Letter) (indicating
that Utah's total timeline applicable to wireless attachments for fewer than 300 poles ranges from 165 to 180 days,
and Vermont's total timeline for up to 0.5% of a utility's poles is 180 days); Letter from Brian M. Josef, Assistant
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, CTIA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN
Docket No. 09-51, at 4 (filed Mar. 15, 2011) (CTIA Mar. 15 Ex Parte Letter) (noting timelines in Utah and Vermont
and stating that "[m]ore states are progressing in the same direction, taking steps to ensure wireless attachers have
access to poles, and specifically access to the pole top").
76 See supra para. 22 (describing the various stages of the timeline and their respective lengths). For wireless
attachments above the communications space, the relevant end point of the timeline is 178 days rather than 148
days.
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Access Timeline for Pole Attachment in the
Communications Space
Stage

Survey

Estimate

Acceptance

Make-Ready

Day:

0
45
59
73
133-148

Stage in days:

45
14
14
60-75
Conduct engineering
Give existing attachers 60 days

Owner Duty

Provide
survey.
notice.
cost estimate
Prepare poles if necessary.
for make-
Work with existing attachers'
ready.
contractors.

Attacher

Hire contractor to
File
conduct survey (for
Hire contractor to perform

Remedy

complaint
attachments in the
make-ready.
with
communications space).
Commission
Parties may
Pole owner may stop clock for

Clock

stop clock if
good and sufficient cause.
no master
agreement.

Table 1

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Access Timeline for Wireless Pole
Attachment Above the Communications
Space
Stage

Survey

Estimate

Acceptance

Make-Ready

Day:

0
45
59
73
163-178

Stage in days:

45
14
14
90-105
Conduct engineering
Give existing attachers 90 days

Owner Duty

Provide
survey.
notice.
cost estimate
Prepare poles if necessary.
for make-
Work with existing attachers'
ready.
contractors.

Attacher

File
File complaint with Commission.
File complaint with

Remedy

complaint
Commission.
with
Commission.
Parties may
Pole owner may stop clock for

Clock

stop clock if
good and sufficient cause.
no master
agreement.

Table 2

24.
Stage 1 - Survey: 45 days. We require a utility to respond within 45 days of receipt of a
complete application to attach facilities on the utility's poles--for both wireline and wireless attachments
either in or above the communications space. This required response is specified in our current 45-day
response rule, which provides that, where a utility denies an attachment request, it must provide a written
explanation of its denial that is specific; include all supporting evidence and information; and explain how
the evidence and information relate to reasons of lack of capacity, safety, reliability, or engineering
standards.77 The 45-day period also accords with the "survey" period in some state models and a proposal
in the record.78 Indeed, the Further Notice stated that "[the 45-day response] rule is functionally identical
to a requirement for a survey and engineering analysis when applied to wired facilities, and is generally


77 47 C.F.R. 1.1403(b).
78 Case 03-M-0432--Proceeding on Motion of the Commission Concerning Certain Pole Attachment Issues, Order
Adopting Policy Statement on Pole Attachments
, at 34 (New York Comm'n, rel. Aug. 6, 2004) (New York Order);
Re The State's Public Service Company Utility Pole Make-Ready Procedures - Phase I, Docket No. 07-02-13, at 17
(Dept. of Pub. Util. Control, Apr. 30, 2008); Coalition Proposal at 1.
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understood by utilities as such."79 No commenter disagrees, and most utilities regularly meet this
deadline. According to a Utilities Telecom Council survey of its members, utilities meet the 45-day
requirement 81 percent of the time.80 More than half of the missed deadlines are caused by either the size
of the project or errors in the application.81 Our new rules address both of these problems: under the
rules we adopt today the timeline does not start until a completed application is submitted, and there is
flexibility for larger orders.82 Thus, we expect that utilities acting diligently and in good faith will be able
to conduct surveys within the prescribed 45-day period. Owners are given an additional 15 days for large
orders.
25.
To constitute a "request for access" necessary to trigger the timeline, a requester must
submit a complete application that provides the utility with the information necessary under its procedures
to begin to survey the poles. We find that pole owners must timely notify attachers of errors in an
application, and may not stop the clock to correct errors in an application once it is accepted as
complete,83 as surveys that are not interrupted are more conducive to dependable timeframes.
Furthermore, the timing of any such notification of deficiencies in an application must be reasonable. If
the request involves attachment of facilities that are unfamiliar to the utility, engineering specifications
must be established prior to submission of the application. If an application is submitted for which such
engineering specifications have not been established, the pole owner must respond in a manner that is
reasonable and timely under the circumstances, but in any event within 45 days.84 We leave the specific
processes for establishing such engineering specifications to individual utilities, so long as they are
reasonable and timely.
26.
Stages 2 and 3--Estimate and Acceptance: Where a request for access is not denied, a
utility must present to a requesting entity an estimate of charges to perform all necessary make-ready
work within 14 days of providing its Stage-1 response--or within 14 days after the requesting entity
delivers its own survey to the pole owner, as it may do if the pole owner fails to meet the timeline's Stage
1 deadline. The requesting entity may consider the estimate for 14 days after receiving it before the
utility may withdraw the offer. Both offer and acceptance may be made sooner than the maximum 14
days. Estimates will not expire automatically after 14 days, but rather must be actively withdrawn by the
utility. If an estimate is withdrawn by the utility, the prospective attacher must resubmit its application
for attachment.
27.
By adopting a 14-day estimate stage, we ensure that a utility will have a reasonable
opportunity to develop a cost estimate from the survey. Such an opportunity is essential when a utility


79 See Utilities Telecom Council Comments (filed Mar. 7, 2008), App., The Problem with Pole Attachments: A
White Paper at 12 (2007) (stating that, under the rule "an application must be approved or denied in writing within
45 days from the date that it is filed with the utility. The typical process involves reviewing the proposal for
completeness, conducting a field survey, conducting an engineering analysis (load and clearance), estimating make-
ready and construction costs, submitting the estimate to the applicant and approving the attachment.") (Utilities
Telecom Council White Paper).
80 Id. at 4, 1213.
81 Id. at 4, 13 (stating that, of surveys that took more than 45 days, 30% were due to the size of the project; 23% to
errors in the application; 28% to backlog; and 19% to other factors).
82 See infra Part III.A.2, III.A.3. Under this approach, we anticipate that missed survey deadlines will be reduced
substantially, yielding higher success rates overall. Moreover, addressing these variables allows the survey stage to
run without a provision for stopping the clock. See Sunesys Comments at 78 (arguing that utilities should be
permitted to defer starting the clock and notify attachers of errors).
83 See, e.g., Qwest Comments at 8 (arguing that errors should stop the clock); Sunesys Comments at 78 (arguing
that utilities should be permitted to defer starting the clock and notify attachers of errors).
84 See 47 C.F.R. 1.1403(b).
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works from a requesting entity's survey rather than its own. A separate estimate stage also allows for a
survey response that is independent of negotiation of terms in a master pole attachment agreement.85 If an
entity submits a complete application for a survey, the survey should proceed independently of any
ongoing negotiations regarding rates, terms, and conditions of attachment. Likewise, the right of an
attacher to hire a contractor if the survey deadline is missed operates independently of a licensing
agreement.86 Finally, setting fixed limits to these transactional stages enhances the predictability of the
timeline.
28.
We find that allowing up to 14 more days after the survey period for the preparation of an
estimate is appropriate.87 Although neither stage need last a full 14 days, we conclude that providing this
additional time is useful in allowing parties to prepare or review the estimate outside of the survey and
make-ready stages. Also, if an attacher is not prepared to move forward, the utility may turn its attention
and resources to another project, rather than delay the project indefinitely. Indeed, the proposal to limit
an attacher's review of the estimate to 14 days received no negative comment.
29.
Stage 4--Make-Ready: Upon receipt of payment from the attacher, we require a utility to
notify immediately and in writing all known entities with existing attachments that may be affected by the
planned make-ready. The notice shall: (1) specify where and what make-ready will be performed; (2) set
a date for completion of make-ready no later than 60 days after notification (or 105 days after notification
in the case of larger orders) for attachments in the communications space, or no later than 90 days after
notification (or 135 days after notification in the case of larger orders) for wireless attachments above the
communications space;88 (3) state that any entity with an existing attachment may add to or modify the
attachment before the date set for completion of make-ready; (4) state that the utility may assert its right
to 15 additional days to complete make-ready and that, for attachment in the communications space, the
requesting entity may complete the specified make-ready itself if make-ready is not completed by the date
set by the utility (or, if the utility has asserted its 15-day right of control, by the date 15 days after that
completion date); and (5) state the name, telephone number, and e-mail address of a person to contact for
more information about the make-ready procedure. Under normal circumstances, performance of make-
ready will complete the elements of the timeline that precede actual attachment.
30.
As shown in Figure 1, we anticipate that adoption of a 60-day timeframe for make-ready
performance in the communications space (105 days for large projects) will expedite those make-ready
projects--comprising at least 20 percent of the total--that today exceed the large-order 105-day target:


85 See infra Part IV.E; see also Florida IOUs Reply at 13 (arguing that a master agreement is needed to protect the
pole owner and acquaint the attacher with the pole owner's standards, processes and application procedures); Letter
from Sean B. Cunningham, Counsel, Alliance for Fair Pole Attachment Rules, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245 at 2 (filed Jan. 27, 2011) (arguing that timeline should not commence unless the
applicant has a master agreement that addresses matters including, inter alia, insurance, indemnification, and safety
procedures).
86This approach is consistent with the New York model. New York Order at 3 (14 day limit). See Coalition
Proposal (15 day limit).
87 See, e.g., Fibertech Comments at 56 (arguing that Connecticut's omission of additional time for estimates proves
it to be unnecessary); Verizon Comments at 2526 (arguing that 14 days would be more useful later in the timeline).
88 As noted, the make-ready period for wireless attachments above the communications space is 90 days. See infra
para. 33.
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Figure 1

31.
We adopt 60 days for the make-ready stage in the communications space in order to (1)
synchronize make-ready with the Commission's existing rules that give entities with existing attachments
60 days to move them before a pole owner modifies a pole,89 and (2) promote a higher success rate that
attachers and their investors can depend on. Section 224(h) requires pole owners to give any entity with
an existing attachment a reasonable opportunity to add to or modify its facilities before the owner
modifies the pole.90 The Commission has long interpreted "a reasonable opportunity" to mean that a
"utility shall provide a cable television system operator or telecommunications carrier no less than 60
days written notice prior to removal of facilities."91 This 60-day standard adopted in 1996 continued a
Commission policy that dates back to the Commission's First Report and Order implementing the Pole


89 See infra App. A (47 C.F.R. 1.1422).
90 47 U.S.C. 224(h) provides:
Whenever the owner of a pole, duct, conduit, or right-of-way intends to modify or alter such
pole, duct, conduit, or right-of-way, the owner shall provide written notification of such action
to any entity that has obtained an attachment to such conduit or right-of-way so that such entity
may have a reasonable opportunity to add to or modify its existing attachment. Any entity that
adds to or modifies its existing attachment after receiving such notification shall bear a
proportionate share of the costs incurred by the owner in making such pole, duct, conduit, or
right-of-way accessible.
91 See 47 C.F.R. 1.1403(c) (requiring a utility to provide a cable television system operator or telecommunications
carrier no less than 60 days written notice prior to, inter alia, modifying a pole); Local Competition Order, 11 FCC
Rcd at 1609496, paras. 120709.
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Attachment Act of 1978.92 The Commission's longstanding rule appears to have influenced pole
attachment expectations. No commenter challenges this well-established standard for reasonable notice.
32.
Based on the record, 60 days also appears to be a workable timeframe that many utilities
can meet.93 This furthers our interest in dependability. The successful experiences of several utilities and
attachers support the pragmatism of selecting this model. For example, Verizon reports that, when
multiple parties must be sequenced to perform make-ready, 60 days are needed to design the work order
and coordinate make-ready work.94 Other utilities also estimate that they need 60 days to perform make-
ready.95 On the attachment side, TWC claims that requests for more than 200 attachments may require 60
days or more.96 We disagree with commenters that contend we should adopt a 45-day deadline for make-
ready performance because New York and Connecticut adopted that interval.97 The record contains no
data showing how often utilities in those states actually meet the 45-day deadline. Some utilities do
report that they find 45 days adequate for make-ready, but only absent complicating factors.98 On this
record, it appears that 45 days may be a "best practice" for medium-sized pole attachment requests, and
30 days or less appears to be a reasonable "best practice" for small requests.99 We decline to adopt these
shorter "best practices" timeframes as rules, but we encourage utilities to maintain or improve upon these
shorter timeframes when feasible. As discussed in greater detail infra, if existing attachers have not
moved their facilities within 60 days of notification, the utility or the attacher may move the facilities for
them.100
33.
For wireless attachments above the communications space on a pole, we include an extra
30 days for make-ready for two reasons. First, these attachments generally are located in, near or above
the electric space, which can raise significant safety concerns.101 Second, the record reflects that, at


92 Communications Act Amendments of 1978, Pub. L. No. 95-234, 92 Stat. 33 (1978) (Pole Attachment Act);
Adoption of Rules for the Regulation of Cable Television Pole Attachments, CC Docket 78-144, First Report and
Order, 68 FCC 2d 1585, para. 8 (1979) (First Report and Order).
93 The ability to meet the 60-day make-ready period is premised on size limits to orders that would be subject to the
timeline. See infra Part III.A.4. See also, e.g., Coalition Comments at 33; AT&T Comments at 28; TWC
Comments at 18. These comments respond to the 45-day make-ready period we proposed, not the 60-day make-
ready period we adopt.
94 Verizon Comments at 31 (arguing 60 days needed for pole owners to complete the engineering design, create a
work order, and coordinate make-ready work with other attachers where work for multiple parties must be
sequenced).
95 See, e.g., USTelecom Comments at 20; CPS Energy Comments at 9 (both arguing that 60 days are needed to
perform make-ready).
96 TWC Comments at 18 (arguing that requests to attach 200 poles or less can be filled in 45 days, but requests for
more than 200 attachments may require 60 to 90 days).
97 Fibertech Comments at 56 (arguing that experience in New York and Connecticut shows that a 45-day
performance timeframe is sufficient).
98 See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11893, para. 40. See, e.g., Idaho Power Comments at 2 (straightforward
requests processed within 45 days); Florida IOUs Comments at 1824 (45 days reasonable if limited to
communications space); Oncor Comments at 23 (45 days reasonable when deadline applies to attaching entities).
99 See, e.g., TWC Comments at 18 (proposing that make-ready work for fewer than 20 poles should be complete in
30 days); Coalition Comments at 32 (proposing planning meetings for orders in excess of 25 poles); Utah Admin.
Code R746-345-3 (shorter timeframes for orders of 20 or fewer poles); NRECA Comments at 810 (finding that
most utilities meet its orders within 30 days).
100 See infra Part III.A.3.
101 See, e.g., HTI Reply at 9 (stating that siting such equipment among "active" components creates additional
safety risks for workers); NY Comm'n Wireless Proceeding at 6 ("Special attention must be given to safety because
(continued....)
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present, there is less experience with application of state timelines to attachments at the pole top, and in
those circumstances, it is appropriate to err on the side of caution.102 Also, for reasons we discuss
separately below, we follow state models that allow additional days for make-ready for large orders
within a single state.103
34.
We find that the benefit of requiring the utility to notify existing attachers of needed
make-ready outweighs the relatively small burden of providing such notice. The requesting entity's
interest in broad notification is typically strong, whereas a utility's additional burden in copying
additional known attachers is minimal. The statute requires pole owners to notify in writing "any entity
that has obtained an attachment so that such entity may have a reasonable opportunity to add to or modify
its existing attachment."104 When the notice requirement is triggered by a prospective attacher's
acceptance of a utility's estimate, we interpret the word "any" to encompass as broad a range of attachers
as is practicable, including not only cable system operators and telecommunications carriers, but also any
attaching joint users or joint owners, and, if their address is known to the utility, entities with attachments
that the utility believes to be unlawful.
35.
Several utilities contend that they should not be required to actively manage and
coordinate make-ready.105 We agree. Utilities may fulfill their section 224(f)(1) access obligation by
performing make-ready themselves, by contracting out the direction and management of make-ready, or
by cooperating with existing attachers' contractors to ensure make-ready is timely. The "just and
reasonable" standard in section 224(b) gives utilities the flexibility to develop and implement procedures
for meeting make-ready obligations. However, the notification-in-writing requirement that we adopt is
appropriate both because section 224(h) expressly requires written notification by the pole owner,106 and
because of the potential legal and practical consequences if entities with existing attachments are not
properly notified.
36.
Completion by Owner: If make-ready is not completed by the date specified in the
utility's notice to entities with existing attachments, a utility, prior to the expiration of the 60-day notice
period (or 105-day notice period in the case of larger orders), may notify the requesting attacher in writing
that it intends to assert its right to complete all remaining work within 15 days. In such cases, the utility
will have an additional 15 days to complete make-ready. If make-ready remains unfinished at the end of
the 15-day extension, the attacher may assume control of make-ready at that point (Day 148 of the
timeline, or Day 193 in the case of larger orders).107 Thus, we permit a pole owner to assert its right to 15
(Continued from previous page)


such facilities could fall over onto power lines in high wind conditions or in heavy wet snow conditions resulting in
power outages.").
102 Some states with timelines apply their pole attachment rules to wireless equipment, while others do not.
Compare, e.g., Utah Admin. Code R746-345 ("[T]hese rules apply to any wireless provider."), with NY Comm'n
Wireless Proceeding at 67 ("[W]e will not apply the Pole Attachment Order and Policy Statement to wireless
attachments.").
103 See infra paras. 6367.
104 47 U.S.C. 224(h)(providing that "whenever the owner of a pole . . . intends to modify or alter such pole . . . the
owner shall provide written notification of such action to any entity that has obtained an attachment . . . so that such
entity may have a reasonable opportunity to add to or modify its existing attachment").
105 See, e.g., Ameren et al. Comments at 11 (arguing that Commission authorization cannot mitigate other
substantial liabilities to which pole owners may be exposed in resorting to such "self-help" remedies, including loss
of service); Oncor Comments at 23 (stating that Oncor is not in the communication make-ready business and does
not want to be); Florida IOUs Comments at 2122 (urging the Commission to avoid putting pole owners in the
untenable position of coordinating the sequence and timing of rearrangement for existing attachers).
106 47 U.S.C. 224(h).
107 See infra Part III.A.3.
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days to complete make-ready in lieu of adopting an automatic fifth stage for "multi-party coordination" as
proposed in the Further Notice.108 For attachments in the communications space, if the utility does not
timely assert its right to 15 extra days to perform make-ready, control of the project transfers to the new
attacher immediately at the end of the 60-day period (or 105-day period in the case of larger orders), and
the attacher may use a contractor to complete make-ready.109
37.
Although the Further Notice proposed to adopt a fifth stage for multi-party coordination,
no party supported that suggestion, and some argue that it would create needless delay.110 Utilities also
argue that they lack expertise or training to move communications wires, and would not risk the liability
or legal consequences of doing so on behalf of requesting entities.111 Nevertheless, we preserve an
interval whereby any utility that chooses to use it can have exclusive control over the pole. In cases
where a utility has failed to complete make-ready within the 60-day period (or 105-day period in the case
of larger orders), a new attacher may hire an authorized contractor to complete make-ready, or in the case
of a wireless attachment above the communications space, may invoke its complaint remedy.112 This will
ensure timely access to poles, if not by a pole owner or agent, then by the new attacher.
38.
Many electric utilities object vigorously to any requirement that they must complete
make-ready performance. They argue that they lack the authority or ability to control certain aspects of
the make-ready process. For example, utilities claim that they cannot coordinate make-ready in the
communications space, adding that, even if they had the right, they cannot be compelled to exercise it.113
Utilities also argue that it would be unreasonable to compel utilities to move communications facilities
"on demand" on behalf of requesting entities. Several utilities assert that, if they do move attachers'
facilities, they must be held harmless.114
39.
As noted above, we do not require pole owners to conduct make-ready work.
Nevertheless, we find that any utility that wishes to complete make-ready should have an additional 15
days in which to do so.115 Given the nondiscriminatory access obligation imposed on utilities in section


108 See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11885, paras. 4344 (proposing multi-party coordination for stage 5 of the
timeline).
109 For wireless attachments above the communications space, if the utility does not assert its right to 15 extra days
prior to the running of the 90-day notification period, the attacher may file a complaint as discussed in para. 42,
infra.
110 See, e.g., Fibertech Comments at 67; Sunesys Comments at 10 (both questioning the need for, and value of, a
post-make-ready coordination stage).
111 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 7071 (arguing that electric utilities are not entitled to move municipal
attachments, and can no more move communications equipment safely than communications companies can move
electric equipment safely); Coalition Comments at 6566 (arguing that if electric utility pole owners could make
existing attachers move their facilities, owners would not have to resort to "double wood," i.e., installation of a new
pole next to shortened old pole); Verizon Comments at 39 (stating that, under joint use arrangements, Verizon has
no greater control over the utility pole owner than any other attacher, and incumbent carriers cannot dictate how the
utility pole owner processes applications or completes make-ready work).
112 47 C.F.R. 1.1420(h), 1.1422.
113 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 6566; Oncor Comments at 25; Ameren et al. Comments at 10.
114 See, e.g., Ameren et al. Comments at 11; AT&T Comments at 32; Coalition Comments at 7071 (all requesting
indemnification and protection from liability). But see CPS Energy Comments at 9 (stating that it moves attachers
after 30 days notice if the attacher fails to comply). We note that New York has permitted attachers to use
contractors for make-ready since 2006. New York Order at 3. No commenter reports liability claims related to New
York's pole attachment rules.
115 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11885, para. 44.
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224(f)(1), we presume that utilities could structure attachment agreements to include provisions for
transfer of facilities, or otherwise address liability or other concerns they might have in cases where they
elect to perform make-ready themselves. A utility may also assert its 15-day right of control in order to
add flexibility to the timeline, which several utilities cite as a concern.116 While it would not be
reasonable for a utility to exercise its 15-day right merely to delay make-ready, a utility may, for example,
depending on the circumstances, use the additional 15 days to make up for weather-related delays without
surrendering the project to the new attacher. If a utility is working diligently to complete make-ready
when its 15 days expire, a new attacher may prefer not to interrupt it for the sake of efficiency.
Otherwise, if the attachment is in the communications space, the utility must cede control of the project to
the new attacher, which may use approved contractors, accompanied by a representative of the utility, to
perform any remaining make-ready work.117 Thus, the timeline and this optional 15-day stage conclude
either with the utility granting access to attach (i.e., in cases where make-ready has been completed) or
the passing of control over make-ready to the new attacher (i.e., in cases where make-ready has not been
completed).
2.

Scope of the Timeline

40.
The timeline we adopt today--which is modeled after the timeline that has been in use in
Utah-- applies to all requests by telecommunications carriers (including wireless) and cable operators for
attachment in the communications space on a pole. The timeline begins when an application is complete,
such that the utility has been provided with the information necessary under its procedures to begin to
survey the requested pole(s), including developed engineering specifications for the particular equipment
to be attached. A modified form of the timeline applies to wireless attachments by telecommunications
carriers and cable operators that are made above the communications space. The timeline does not apply
to section 224 ducts, conduits, or rights-of-way. We affirm that completion of an initial pole agreement
or "master agreement" is not a prerequisite to starting the clock on a completed application, which may
have multiple attachment requests within it. Applications that are outside the scope of the timeline
remain subject to the general requirement that the pole owner provide a specific written response within
45 days.
41.
Technology Neutrality. In the Further Notice, the Commission sought comment on
developing timelines for section 224 access other than for wired pole attachments, and on whether the
wired pole attachment timeline would be appropriate for wireless pole attachments (i.e., antennas and
other wireless telecommunications equipment).118 Specifically, the Commission stated that its goal was to
bring regularity and predictability to attachment of wireless facilities, while acknowledging that the
attachment of wireless telecommunications equipment in or near the electric space may raise different
safety, reliability, and engineering concerns.119 Such predictability is important because it affords
broadband providers an enhanced ability to attract investment and plan for buildout of needed


116 See, e.g., Idaho Power Comments at 12 (arguing that utilities need flexibility to retain control of relocation
schedules); Qwest Comments at 67 (arguing timeline must be flexible enough to address realities of pole
attachment process); EEI/UTC Comments at 1718 (arguing against fixed timeline as not sufficiently flexible).
117 Some utilities allege that facilities on some poles, such as attachments by municipalities, are not subject to
section 224, and may not be moved by them or anyone else. See, e.g., Florida IOUs Comments at 2021 (arguing
that governmental attachments may not be moved); Coalition Comments at 7071 (arguing that pole owners may
not move municipal attachments). The record does not indicate the extent to which governmental attachments are
implicated in make-ready delays in the communications space. In any event, the ability to hire contractors need not
remove every impediment to attachment to every pole to be a meaningful remedy for attachers.
118 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1188788, paras. 5253.
119 Id. at 11888, para. 53.
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infrastructure such as fiber placed closer to end-user locations, and wireless antennas used to fill in
coverage areas and expand capacity.120
42.
Upon review of the record, we conclude that it is appropriate to apply the timeline to both
wired and wireless attachments.121 We find no reasonable basis for applying a timeline disparately to
wired or wireless attachments as such. Concerns in the record relate to the facts that wireless attachments
are commonly located in, near, or above the electric space, and the attachment request may be for a type
of equipment for which engineering specifications have not already been developed. We address those
concerns by adopting two modifications to our basic timeline for wireless attachments by
telecommunications carriers and cable operators that are located above the communications space. The
first modification is that an extra 30 days is added for make-ready performance for wireless attachments
above the communications space, to account for: (1) safety concerns related to equipment being placed in,
near or above the electric space; and (2) the fact that, at present, there is less experience with application
of state timelines to attachments above the communications space. The second modification to the
general timeline is that the remedy for failure to meet the timeline for wireless attachments above the
communications space is a complaint remedy rather than the self-effectuating contractor remedy for
failure to perform timely survey and make-ready that applies to requests to attach in the communications
space.122 Based on the record, we find the self-help remedy for survey and make-ready performance
would not be appropriate for attachments that generally are located in, near, or above the electric
space.123 To accommodate the unique issues facing these requests for attachment, we establish an
additional 30 days after the maximum time allowed for attachment requests in the communications
space--178 days total.124
43.
We further conclude that the appropriate avenue for seeking a remedy for failure to meet
the timeline for wireless attachments above the communications space is a complaint filed through the
FCC's complaint procedures for unreasonable delay on the part of the utility. We also adopt a rebuttable
presumption in such proceedings that access has not been provided on just and reasonable terms and
conditions. In such a case, a demonstration in a complaint that the timeline has been exceeded shifts the
burden to the utility to demonstrate that additional time is warranted. We find a rebuttable presumption is
appropriate in this context because wireless attachers above the communications space will not be able to
avail themselves of the self-help remedy we provide for attachers in the communications space.
Accordingly, we expect that shifting the burden of proof to the utility will deter unreasonable delays for
wireless attachments above the communications space. The remedies available in such a complaint
proceeding would include mandated access within a specified time frame and in accordance with


120 See, e.g., CTIA Comments at 2, 6 (arguing that wireless providers operate in a fast-moving, intensely competitive
industry, so speedy access to poles is just as important to wireless attachers as it is to wireline attachers, if not more
so); DAS Forum Comments at 20 (arguing that DAS attachments also include wired attachments that should be
deployed on the same timeframe to ensure predictability and efficiency of deployment); MetroPCS Comments at 11
(stating that a timeline is appropriate to ensure a level playing field between wired and wireless providers).
121 See, e.g., T-Mobile Comments at 9 (stating that "it often takes T-Mobile as much as four months to negotiate a
master agreement with a cooperative pole owner and sometimes much longer -- even as much as 18 months or more
-- to negotiate with an uncooperative one"); CTIA Mar. 15 Ex Parte at 2 ("CTIA proposes to extend the wireline
timeline for pole owners to grant physical access to wireless attachers by 30 days to 178 days total."); PCIA Mar. 15
Ex Parte at 1 ("Make ready for wireless pole top attachments must not exceed the Commission's proposed make
ready timeline, plus an additional 30 days.").
122 See supra Part III.A.3.
123 See, e.g., Oncor Comments at 4445 (describing the problems with a contractor remedy for access above the
communications space); Florida IOUs Comments at 2931 (same); see also infra para. 33 (discussing attachments
above the communications space).
124 CTIA Mar. 15 Ex Parte at 67.
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specified rates, terms, and conditions; substitution of just and reasonable rates, terms, or conditions for
unjust and unreasonable ones; and refund of an overpayment.125 In addition the Commission could
initiate enforcement actions that could result in forfeitures.126
44.
Engineering Specifications for New Equipment. The record demonstrates that wireless
equipment varies greatly and at least some of it is changing rapidly.127 In contrast, the maturity of cable
and wireline telecommunications equipment has allowed utilities to develop engineering specifications
and manuals to address the engineering and safety issues raised by their attachment.128 Thus, although we
do not adopt particular access provisions for wireless attachments in the communications space, we
recognize that, as a practical matter, the novelty of wireless equipment both within and above the
communications space may pose additional challenges. To the extent that the record evidences concerns
about the reasonableness of establishing a timeline for wireless attachments, those concerns have more to
do with the lack of developed engineering specifications for untested equipment than with the difficulty
of performing a survey or make-ready work.129 We agree with commenters that assert that the key
difference in the process between wireline and wireless attachments lies in the initial engineering
evaluation, particularly when a utility is dealing with a type of attachment for the first time.130 Our
timeline thus is fashioned to take into account special treatment of novel engineering problems that do not
hinge necessarily on whether the service is wireless or wireline. Indeed, wireline equipment lacking a
developed construction specification would be subject to the same approach. To the extent there are
concerns that attachment of wireless facilities involves unique safety, security, or engineering issues,131
we find that development of protocols and specifications to address those issues is substantially more
appropriate than excluding all such equipment from the timeline. We note that we expect any evaluation
of new types of equipment to be done on commercially reasonable terms, and in a reasonable time in
keeping with the general statutory obligation that rates, terms and conditions for pole attachment be just
and reasonable and we will monitor industry practices in this area, including through our complaint
process.
45.
Ducts, Conduits, and Rights-of-Way. We decline to adopt a timeline for access to section
224 ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way at this time.132 Access to ducts and conduits raises different issues
than access to poles,133 and the record does not demonstrate that attachers are, on a large scale, currently


125 See App. A at section 1.1410(a)(b).
126 See 47 C.F.R. 1.80.
127 See, e.g., Oncor Comments at 33 (stating that the wireless attachments on its poles "vary greatly in the type of
equipment used" and that this equipment "differs in power outlet, dimension, height, weight, antenna size, power
supply, photocell, etc."); Florida IOUs Comments at 28 ("Unlike wireline attachments which are fairly consistent
from an engineering perspective wireless antennae vary considerably in dimension, placement on the pole, vertical
and horizontal space occupied, and loading profile."); Alliance Reply at 5153 (stating that "[t]he complexity and
variability of make-ready is even greater in the case of wireless attachments, due [in part] to the size, number, and
variety of wireless equipment attachments").
128 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 36, 10102; Oncor Reply at 31.
129 See, e.g., EEI/UTC Comments at 26 (arguing that wireless attachments pose special operational and safety
problems).
130 See, e.g., Florida IOUs Comments at 28.
131 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 36 (asserting that wireless devices emit radio frequency (RF) energy that
triggers exposure regulations); APPA Comments at 25; NRECA Comments at 1314; HTI Comments at 9.
132 See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1188889, para. 54 (seeking comment on whether to apply a timeline to
ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way).
133 See APPA Comments at 25; Coalition Comments at 4345.
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unable to timely or reasonably access ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way controlled by utilities.134 We
emphasize that the determination we make regarding section 224(a)(1) rights-of-way owned or controlled
by a utility has no bearing on any public rights-of-way issues subject to section 253 of the Act.135
46.
Master Agreement not a Prerequisite to Completion of a Survey. In the Local
Competition Order, the Commission adopted a 45-day response rule, requiring a utility that denies access
to a prospective attacher to respond in writing with specificity, delineating the reasons for the denial.136
That rule remains in effect and applies to wireless just as it does to wireline attachments. The current 45-
day response rule continues to apply to all requests for access under section 224, whether or not the
request is an application subject to the timeline we adopt today, and completion of an initial pole
attachment agreement or "master agreement" is not a prerequisite to starting the clock.137 We reject the
argument that surveys should not commence before an initial pole agreement or "master agreement" has
been executed.138 The Commission has never required completion of a master agreement to be a
precondition of a request for access,139 and we reaffirm that utilities may not defer the 45-day response
requirement until a master agreement has been completed.140 While an attacher may wish to investigate
possible routes on the ground rather than rely only on maps, and may need access to a pole owner's
specifications and application requirements in order to file a complete application, we are not persuaded
that a master agreement is needed for these purposes. Also, insofar as liability concerns arise regarding
damage to property or injury to persons--and it is not clear that they do during the survey stage--the
parties can resolve them for purposes of a 45-day engineering analysis without negotiating every aspect of
the parties' business relationship, as in a comprehensive master agreement.
47.
We agree that make-ready performance does normally require an agreement to be in place
between the parties. We find, however, that the engineering analysis (or any other aspect of a survey) and
negotiation of rates, terms, and conditions can take place on separate tracks. Therefore, a utility may stop
the clock during the estimate stage of the timeline if the parties need additional time to conclude a master
agreement, but may not stop the clock during the survey stage. An attacher's right to proceed with a
survey of pole availability before completion of a master pole attachment agreement can be exercised


134 By contrast, the record developed on the issue of timely access to poles evidences problems justifying the
adoption of a pole attachment timeline. See generally infra Part III.A.3.
135 Acceleration of Broadband Deployment: Expanding the Reach and Reducing the Cost of Broadband Deployment
by Improving Policies Regarding Public Rights of Way and Wireless Facilities Siting
, WC Docket No. 11-59, Notice
of Inquiry, FCC 11-59 (rel. April 7, 2011).
136 See Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 1610102, paras. 122425; 47 C.F.R. 1.1403(b) (45-day
response rule).
137 Master agreements are "private pole attachment agreements entered into between the parties in accordance with a
patchwork of federal, state, and local regulations and industry standards." Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at
16061, para. 1126. This agreement is usually generic and is separate from the agreement to attach to specific poles.
See Letter from Brian Regan, Government Relations Director, PCIA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC
Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51 at 5 (filed Mar. 3, 2011).
138 See Florida IOUs Reply at 13 (arguing against commencing a field survey before parties have reached a pole
license agreement); Letter from Sean B. Cunningham, Counsel, Alliance for Fair Pole Attachment Rules, to Marlene
H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, at 2 (filed Jan. 27, 2011) (Alliance Jan. 27, 2011 Ex Parte
Letter) (arguing that a timeline should not commence unless the applicant has a master agreement that addresses
matters including, inter alia, insurance, indemnification, and safety procedures).
139 See Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16074, para. 1160 (stating that a utility's obligation to permit
access does not depend upon the execution of a formal written attachment agreement).
140 Id. The Local Competition Order recognized that such agreements are the norm and encouraged their continued
use, subject to the requirements of section 224, and we continue to believe that is the case. Id.
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contingent on the attacher's agreement to make payment in advance for the survey.141 We emphasize that
any negotiations regarding a pole attachment agreement must be conducted in good faith, and that
dragging out negotiations on the master agreement while the clock is stopped on a particular application
would not be considered reasonable.
48.
We also conclude that section 1.1403(b) of our rules, which generally requires that a
utility approve or deny pole access within 45 days of a request,142 continues to apply to all requests for
access under section 224, independent of any application of the timeline.143 For example, if the requested
access concerns attachment in the electric space on a pole, attachment to a duct or conduit, or attachment
of equipment that requires the development of new engineering specifications, the 45-day response rule
and all its terms continue to apply. Also, in contrast to the timeline survey rule, section 1.1403(b) of our
rules does not distinguish pole access requests by size. Where a utility denies any request for access, the
utility must explain its reasons for doing so within 45 days, in writing, with specificity, and with all
supporting evidence and information, and also must explain how the information and evidence relate to
insufficient capacity, safety, reliability or engineering purposes.
3.

Remedy: Utility-Approved Contractors

49.
Requesters need a way to obtain access to poles if a utility does not meet the deadlines we
impose. We adopt the proposal in the Further Notice and hold that, if a utility does not meet the deadline
to complete a survey or make-ready established in the timeline, an attacher may hire contractors to
complete the work in the communications space.144 We require each utility to make available a
reasonably sufficient list of contractors that it authorizes to perform surveys or make-ready on its poles,
and require that the attacher must use contractors from this list. We also seek to ensure that safety and
network integrity are preserved at all costs. Thus, we require attachers that hire contractors to perform
survey and make-ready work to provide a utility with an opportunity for a utility representative to
accompany and consult with the attacher and its contractor prior to commencement of any make-ready
work by the contractor. Consulting electric utilities are entitled to make final determinations in case of
disputes over capacity, safety, reliability, and generally applicable engineering purposes.
50.
General Right To Hire Contractors. We concur with the Public Service Commission of
New York that "it is reasonable to require the utilities either to have an adequate number of their own
workers available to do the requested work, to hire outside contractors themselves to do the work, or to
allow [a]ttachers to hire approved outside contractors."145 The transfer of control to the new attacher,
including the ability to hire contractors, is key to the effectiveness of the timeline. First, the prospect of
surrendering control of the pole to an attacher may spur a utility to complete a survey or make-ready that
it might otherwise not timely perform. Second, if the pole owner lacks the resources or the will to
perform make-ready, the prospective attacher may pursue the project through any lawful means, including


141 See Level 3 Comments at 7 (arguing that attaching parties should have the right to proceed with the survey of
pole availability before completion of a master pole attachment agreement, provided that the attaching party agrees
to make payment in advance of the pole owner's standard costs for the survey); Alliance Jan. 27, 2011 Ex Parte
Letter at 2 (asking the Commission to clarify that the utility is allowed to charge the applicant up front for the entire
costs of the survey and collect such amount before commencing the survey).
142 47 C.F.R. 1.1403(b).
143 Id.
144 As discussed in para. 42, supra, the contractor remedy does not apply to requests by wireless providers to attach
outside the communications space on a pole. Rather, the remedy for a failure to meet the timeline for wireless
attachments above the communications space is a complaint filed under the Commission's existing complaint
procedures.
145 New York Order at 3.
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use of additional resources. Finally, because the remedy takes effect automatically, the benefit is
immediate, and does not depend on the time- and resource-consuming complaint process.146
51.
As many attachers argue, time is of the essence for the success of their businesses.147
Utilities allege, however, that they face many impediments to accomplishing make-ready work.148 We
find that permitting this self-help remedy should address both sets of concerns. Moreover, we find this to
be a practical solution. The record shows that contractors already work for utilities to perform surveys
and make-ready work in the communications space on a regular and professional basis, and presumably
can perform the same activities for attachers.149
52.
We are not persuaded by contentions that use of contractors is impractical or unduly
burdensome.150 We agree that the statutory obligation to provide access to poles places some burden on
pole owners. It is, however, a burden that Congress found appropriate to place on utilities in order to
facilitate the critical delivery of video, telecommunications, and other communications services, including
broadband, and one that the courts have upheld. We find no persuasive evidence in the record that the
burdens on utilities of attachers' use of contractors are significant or that utilities are unable to work
around the other impediments they claim. For example, pole owners argue that agreements limit the
utilities' ability to hire outside contractors, but those agreements do not and cannot restrict who the
attachers hire.151 We also reject the argument that attachers' use of outside contractors exposes utilities to
liability for substandard work.152 The point of utility oversight of utility-authorized contractors is to
ensure that the work meets utility engineering requirements. We also find unpersuasive the contention by
electric utilities that qualified contract workers are unavailable.153 A shortage of qualified electric
workers is irrelevant to the availability of qualified engineers to perform surveys or workers qualified to
perform make-ready work in the communications space. Moreover, our requirement that attachers use
contractors that the utility has approved should substantially limit concerns about contractor
qualifications.


146 See Peter McGowan, New York Public Service Commission, Panel Discussion at the FCC Pole Attachments
Workshop (Sept. 28, 2010), video available at http://reboot.fcc.gov/video-archives (at approximately 33 minutes)
(stating that since adopting rules, the NY Comm'n has seen relatively few complaints).
147 See, e.g., Centurylink Comments at 35; Charter Comments at 22; CTIA Comments at 13.
148 See, e.g., Oncor Comments at 25 (arguing that utilities should not be made into on-demand contractors); Verizon
Comments at 39 (stating that, when it is a joint user, it cannot dictate how the utility pole owner processes
applications or completes make-ready work); Ameren et al. Comments at 11; AT&T Comments at 32; Coalition
Comments at 7071(all requesting indemnification and protection from liability).
149 See, e.g., Oncor Comments at 22; Florida IOUs Comments at 31.
150 See, e.g., Verizon Comments at 3940; Coalition Comments at 2324, 49, 52 (arguing that collective bargaining
agreements prohibit work by outside personnel); Oncor Comments at 4546 (arguing that there is a shortage of
qualified contractors); Idaho Power Comments at 6 (arguing that training contractors would be burdensome);
NRECA Comments at 1112 (arguing that electric utilities are unable to assess competence of communications
contractors).
151 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 49 ("Many utilities like NSTAR are parties to collective bargaining agreements
that prohibit the hiring of outside contractors in certain circumstances."); USTelecom Comments at 2122 (arguing
that the use of outside contractors may be subject to existing labor obligations) Verizon Comments at 3940
(arguing that many incumbent carriers have unionized workforces and Verizon's labor agreements typically restrict
Verizon's ability to use outside contractors for make-ready work).
152 APPA Comments at 27 (arguing that use of outside contractors expose utilities to liability for the violation of
state regulations due to overloading and substandard work performed by contractors outside of the utilities' control).
153 Coalition Comments at 2324; Oncor Comments at 4546 (arguing that there is a shortage of qualified
contractors).
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53.
Some utilities contend that contractors do not share their long-term commitment to safety
and reliability, but rather will owe their allegiance to the new attacher, whose overriding objective is to
attach to the poles as quickly as possible.154 Others object more generally that contractors do not work to
utility standards, so their work may undermine safety and reliability.155 We recognize that surveys and
make-ready pertain directly to the capacity, safety, reliability, and sound engineering of the poles, and
therefore trigger legitimate concern to all pole owners.156 Indeed, competent performance of surveys and
make-ready concerns not only utilities but also existing attachers and the general public, all of which rely
on utility poles for delivery of vital services. We therefore adopt rules to address concerns relating to
safety, reliability, and general competence.
54.
List of Authorized Contractors. Attachers that utilize the self-help remedy above must use
contractors that the utility has approved. We require utilities to identify and publish a list of authorized
contractors for requesting entities to choose from when hiring a contractor after a timeline deadline has
been missed.157 Utilities have discretion about which contractors to include, and the listed contractors
must be made available to attachers without discrimination. If a utility fails to list approved contractors,
attachers may use the "same qualifications" standard that we have previously adopted.158 Pursuant to this
default rule, the contractor must have the "same qualifications, in terms of training, as the utility's own
workers," and this means the qualifications that are appropriate for a utility worker or contractor
performing the particular work, such as survey or make-ready in the communications space.159
55.
Requiring utilities to prepare and publish a list of authorized contractors ensures that only
qualified contractors work on utility poles. We do not adopt more particular proposed regulations
governing contractor qualifications.160 For example, in the Further Notice, the Commission proposed that
contractors that have worked for the utility should automatically be included on that utility's list.161
Utilities argue persuasively, however, that the list should not automatically include such contractors
because the contractor may have performed poorly, or been hired only out of necessity to restore
power.162 We therefore conclude that utilities may use their own best judgment in listing contractors they
currently view as qualified. We also decline to adopt the proposal requiring each utility to post the
qualifications it uses to evaluate contractors for approval and certification. Commenters have convinced
us that doing so is unnecessary in light of the substantial duties on utilities to act reasonably and
nondiscriminatorily.


154 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 4950; Idaho Power Comments at 7; Oncor Comments at 39.
155 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 1415, 48; Idaho Power Comments at 56; Oncor Comments at 43 citing
Utilities Telecom Council White Paper at 1516 (66% of reporting utilities did not permit licensees to hire third
parties for field surveys and 78% of utilities did not allow licensees to hire third parties for make-ready).
156 See 47 U.S.C. 224(f)(2); Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16081, para. 1176 (acknowledging that, in
some circumstances, incumbent LECs have legitimate safety and engineering concerns).
157 47 C.F.R. 1.1422(a). For allegations of non-compliance with the estimate stage of the timeline, our traditional
complaint regulations would apply. See 47 C.F.R. 1.1403, 1.404.
158 See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11892, para. 64; see Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16083, para.
1182 (setting requirements for contractors that attach facilities to poles).
159 Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16083, para. 1182.
160 See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1189192, paras. 6165.
161 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1189192, para. 62; see MetroPCS Comments at 1415.
162 Coalition Comments at 58.
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56.
Utilities inquire whether they may require listed contractors to meet the requirements they
impose on contractors that they employ as virtual extensions of full-time utility personnel.163 Any
requirements that a pole owner wishes to place on listed contractors must be just, reasonable, and
nondiscriminatory.164 We decline to reach a priori conclusions about specific requirements. If a
requirement advances and is tailored narrowly to ensure safety, reliability, and generally applicable
engineering practices, it is likely reasonable. If a requirement is customary and prudent whenever a
contractor is hired, such as requiring a service bond and license to practice, it is likely reasonable. If a
requirement governs aspects of the business relationship, such as requiring a contractor to give priority to
the utility over the attacher, such requirement probably does not pass a "reasonable and
nondiscriminatory" test. Beyond these rules of reason, the record does not support specific conclusions,
or indicate that utilities need further guidance in order to identify authorized contractors.
57.
Attachers may only select a contractor that is not on the utility's list of authorized
contractors if the utility fails to develop and keep up-to-date a list of contractors.165 In this way, and in
keeping with our goal of accelerating the pole attachment process to facilitate broadband deployment, we
do not permit inaction by a utility to bring progress to a halt. Off-list contractors may not be hired,
however, merely because the listed contractors are already engaged.166 We find this solution less
cumbersome than those we proposed in the Further Notice, and adequate for our purpose of encouraging
utilities to develop and maintain lists of approved contractors to perform survey and make-ready work.167
While we do not expressly adopt a minimum number of contractors as the threshold for the list, we
emphasize that maintaining a reasonably sufficient and up-to-date list of contractors is a key element of
this obligation. What constitutes a reasonable number may vary, depending upon the number of potential
contractors that serve the area. We will monitor industry practices in this area, including through our
complaint process.
58.
Utility Oversight. To guard against substandard work or undue haste, we also require
attachers to provide the utility with an opportunity for a utility representative to accompany and consult
with the attacher and the attacher's authorized contractor whenever the contractor visits a pole.168
Consistent with the nondiscrimination requirement in section 224(f)(1), the utility representative may
monitor a contractor's work, and may insist that the work meet utility specifications for safety and


163 See, e.g., Oncor Comments at 4647 (maintaining that many approved contractors have contractual agreements
with utilities setting out specific requirements); Coalition Comments at 5354 (proposing specific contractor
safeguards).
164 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(1) (rates, terms, and conditions required to be just and reasonable), (f)(1) (right of
nondiscriminatory access).
165 See ITTA Comments at 4; Level 3 Comments at 1213 (both arguing that any pole owner should have the right
to certify and approve contract workers, provided that it establishes and maintains a certification and approval
process).
166 See, e.g., Oncor Comments at 4546 (arguing that approved contractors may have contracts with utilities
especially during storm restoration); Coalition Comments at 2324 (contending that there is a shortage of qualified
contractors).
167 See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1189192, para. 62 (proposing that utilities be required to list any contractors
that the utility itself uses, and to post or otherwise share with attachers the standards the utility uses to evaluate
contractors for approval); ITTA Comments at 4; Level 3 Comments at 1213 (arguing that any pole owner should
have the right to certify and approve contract workers, provided that it establishes and maintains a certification and
approval process); ACA Comments at 8 (supporting proposal to allow attachers to use outside contractors to
perform surveys and make-ready work if a utility has failed to perform its obligations within the timeline).
168 See infra App. A (including rule 1.1422(b), which we adopt today).
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reliability, including requirements that may exceed NESC standards.169 The utility oversight should
protect against any attacher pressure to cut corners, and mitigates concerns about the contractor's
potential conflict of interest.170
59.
Consistent with the statutory distinction of section 224(f)(2), we authorize electric
utilities, but not incumbent LECs, to render a final attachment decision. Specifically, if the pole owner is
an electric utility, it retains the statutory right to deny access where there is insufficient capacity or for
reasons of safety, reliability, or generally applicable engineering purposes.171 We recognize that no
matter how rigorous a survey is carried out, disputes over interpretation or changed circumstances can
arise in the field. Where the attacher and an electric utility's representative disagree, they are obligated to
try to reach an accommodation within a reasonable amount of time, and disputes should be escalated
within the companies when no agreement is reached on the ground.172 If the electric utility and the
attacher are unable to reach agreement, or to find a suitable alternative, the electric utility may make the
final decision on such a matter, subject to Commission review through our complaint process.
60.
Although the Commission has long recognized that incumbent LECs are interested in pole
capacity, safety, reliability, and sound engineering,173 we find that there are legal and policy reasons to
distinguish between utilities and incumbent LECs. We therefore do not permit incumbent LECs to render
final attachment decisions. First, the statute authorizes only utilities, not incumbent LECs, to deny access
for reasons such as lack of capacity or safety concerns.174 Moreover, the Commission has recognized
that, unlike electric utilities, incumbent LECs may view other attachers as rivals. Since the initial
adoption of access requirements, the Commission has determined that objections from incumbent LECs
based on alleged engineering concerns "will be scrutinized very carefully, particularly when the parties
concerned are in a competitive relationship."175 We therefore decline to give incumbent LECs veto power
over the engineering judgments of a contractor selected in accordance with our rules.
61.
Some utilities support our decision to allow attachers to use contractors under the
circumstances and with the conditions set forth above.176 However, other utilities argue that, even with


169 See Oncor Comments at 4748 (seeking assurance that contractors will follow its standards when these are more
stringent than the NESC, including Texas-specific stringent specifications); Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd
at 1607072, paras. 114850.
170 See, e.g., Idaho Power Comments at 7 (arguing that contractors will be forced into conflicts between attachers'
interest in timely make-ready work and utilities' interest in safe and reliable service); Oncor Comments at 39
(arguing that Oncor must maintain control over the performance of survey and make-ready on its poles to maintain
quality control, and that attachers' desires for speed to market provide an incentive for "blow and go" construction);
Coalition Comments at 1415, 48 (arguing that only electric utilities do the surveys and make-ready work safely and
properly, and that attachers' contractors increase safety violations, unauthorized attachments, and shoddy attacher
workmanship).
171 47 U.S.C. 224(f)(2) (providing that electric utilities may deny access where there is insufficient capacity or for
reasons of safety, reliability, or generally applicable engineering purposes).
172 See infra Part IV, para. 100.
173 Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16081, paras. 117677.
174 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(1), (a)(5), (f)(2).
175 Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16081, para. 1177.
176 See, e.g., Ameren et al. Comments at 13 (stating that outside contractors should perform make-ready work if and
only if the pole owner has failed to perform such work within the timeline); Florida IOUs Comments at 3031
(stating that make-ready in communications space is handled without significant involvement from electric utilities).
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the above protections, the use of contractors presents safety and quality concerns.177 We find these
objections unpersuasive. The record, as well as the experience of some states, provides ample basis for
concluding that the combination of utility authorization and oversight that our rules provide for, along
with allowing utilities to make final decisions about capacity, safety, reliability, and sound engineering,
will adequately address these concerns and ensure the public interest in a safe and reliable network. We
find that the rules we adopt to facilitate access, combined with the conditions and protections we impose,
strike the proper balance between encouraging deployment of facilities and safeguarding the network.
4.

Limitations and Exceptions

62.
As proposed in the Further Notice and in response to the practical concerns of utilities in
processing pole attachment requests in conjunction with their other critical work, we adopt rules that limit
or create exceptions to the timelines in appropriate circumstances. Utilities may process pole attachment
requests, whether in the communications space or above, according to size limits based either on a percent
of a utility's poles in a state or an absolute number of poles in a state, whichever is lower, and utilities
may treat all in-state requests from a single attacher within a 30-day interval as a single request. Also, as
proposed in the Further Notice, we adopt rules and standards for "stopping the clock" (i.e., for tolling the
timeline).178
63.
Limit on Order Size. Based on the record before us and successful state models, we adopt
limits on the size of attachment requests that are subject to the timelines we adopt today.179 The limits on
size of attachment requests apply both to attachments in the communications space and the longer
timeline for wireless attachments above the communications space. Specifically, we apply the timeline to
orders up to the lesser of 0.5 percent of the utility's total poles within a state or 300 poles within a state
during any 30-day period. For larger orders--up to the lesser of 5 percent of a utility's total poles in a
state or 3,000 poles within a state--we add 15 days to the timeline's survey period and 45 days to the
timeline's make-ready period, for a total of 60 days. For in-state orders greater than 3,000 poles, we
require parties to negotiate in good faith regarding the timeframe for completing the job. An attacher
always has the ability to submit requests of up to 3,000 poles in any 30-day period, so an attacher could
start a 9,000 pole order within a single state through the timeline over three successive months.
64.
We rely in part on the successful experience of Utah, which has implemented comparable
limits on the number of orders that are subject to a timeline.180 Like the plan we adopt today, Utah
applies a different timeline at the 0.5 percent/300 pole level than at the 5 percent/3,000 pole level.181
Vermont, by contrast, relies exclusively on percentages as a gating mechanism for large orders, and


177 See, e.g., Oncor Comments at 40 (stating that Oncor is willing to permit approved contractors in the
communications space but unwilling for attachers' contractors to perform critical surveys and make-ready).
178 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11887, para. 51 (stopping and restarting the clock).
179 See, e.g., Utah Admin. Code R746-345-3(C)(1) (shorter timeframes for orders of 20 or fewer poles); AT&T
Comments at 28; TWC Comments at 18; Coalition Comments at 33; Associations Comments at 1011. But see
Level 3 Comments at 67.
180 See Utah Admin. Code R746-345-3(C) (implementing single-attacher batch mechanism and adjusting timeline
length to accommodate large orders).
181 For applications that represent greater than 20 poles, but equal to or less than 0.5% of the pole owner's poles in
Utah, or 300 poles, whichever is lower, the time for construction is 120 days; for applications equal to or less than
5% of the pole owner's poles in Utah, or 3,000 poles, whichever is lower, the time for construction is 180 days; for
applications that represent greater than 5% of the pole owner's poles in Utah, or 3,000 poles, whichever is lower, the
times for the above activities will be negotiated in good faith. Utah Admin. Code R746-345-3(C)(1)(4).
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allows for no comparable ceiling at an absolute number of pole attachments per request.182 We agree with
commenters that a percentage-based system alone could be onerous for larger utilities with very large
numbers of poles within a single state, and therefore follow Utah in offering an absolute number
alternative.183 Although the Vermont and Utah timelines differ somewhat from the timeline we adopt,
(e.g., they are somewhat longer overall), we find this approach to be a reasonable method that
appropriately scales the work required with the existing resources of the utility.
65.
We further find that both the percentage-based caps and the absolute number caps in use
in Utah are within the zone of reasonableness suggested in the record. At one end of the proposals,
several pole owners propose caps such as 100, 200, or 250 pole attachments per order.184 At the other
end, several attachers suggest limits of 3,000 or even 5,000 poles per month, even for the shortest
timeline.185 The Utah model accommodates both categories and receives favorable comment from both
utilities and attachers.186 We adopt similar caps to Utah's, although our record indicates that the overall
timelines should be somewhat shorter than Utah's.187
66.
We find that setting both a numerical cap and a cap based upon the percentage of poles
owned in a state is a fair approach, as well as one that is easy to understand and administer.188 By
contrast, we reject less administrable and more subjective proposals, such as capping timeline orders
based on the size of a utility's workforce or the complexity of a request.189 We are not persuaded by those
commenters who dispute the assumption that the size of an order correlates to how long it will take to
complete the order.190 We recognize that some pole make-ready projects are more difficult to complete


182 Vermont has a 120-day deadline to complete make-ready for an attachment request of up to 0.5% of a company's
poles, and a 180-day deadline to complete make-ready for an attachment request of 0.5 % to 3 percent of a
company's poles. Vermont PSB Rules 3.708(E)(1).
183 See, e.g., Oncor Comments at 11 (stating that Oncor has 2 million poles in Texas); Florida IOUs Reply at 10
(stating that two member companies each have 1.1 million poles).
184 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 33 (arguing 45 days is adequate if single orders capped at 250 poles per order
among other limitations); AT&T Comments at 28 (arguing that orders for 200 poles or more should be deemed
"special orders" not subject to the timeline); Associations Comments at 1011 (suggesting cap at 100 pole
attachments per order).
185 See, e.g., Level 3 Comments at 67 (suggesting cap at 3,000 pole attachments per order); Letter from Alan
Fishel, Counsel for Sunesys, LLC to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245 at 910 (filed Mar.
11, 2011) (proposing cap at the lesser of 5000 or 5% of a utility's poles).
186 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 2829; CTIA Comments at 10; Qwest Comments at 9 (deeming the Utah
system "ideal"). But see EEI/UTC Comments at 25 (arguing that requests for access to a limited number of
attachments or to a small percentage of a utility's poles does not mean that a utility can automatically process the
request and complete make-ready work in proportionately less time).
187 See, e.g., infra note 200; TWTC/COMPTEL Comments at 1011; NTELOS Comments at 57.
188 See Qwest Comments at 89 (arguing timeframe should permit automatic extensions for large pole attachment
requests); Ameren et al. Comments at 78 (favoring establishment of a maximum number of pole attachment
requests that may be submitted per individual permit application); Coalition Comments at 31 (arguing that the total
number and size of requests for make-ready within a certain period should be limited to an amount that is reasonable
in light of the utility's other responsibilities). But see Sunesys Reply at 1112 (suggesting that limits are prejudicial
to large orders).
189 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 3035 (suggesting that an electric utility should not be required to devote more
than 10 percent of its workforce to third-party work, and setting out criteria to distinguish complex make-ready from
non-complex make-ready work).
190 See, e.g., EEI/UTC Comments at 25 (arguing that size-of-order and workforce percentage limits do not mean
orders can automatically be processed in proportionately less time); Verizon Comments at 32.
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than others, and electric utilities report the size of the order as the primary reason they miss the 45-day
survey deadline.191 However, the experience in the states and the scalability of such work supports a
correlation between an order's relative size and its expected processing time. We further reject proposals
that utilities and attachers should negotiate the size and scope of all access requests;192 the record
demonstrates the problems with an open-ended approach that lacks the certainty and predictability of a
timeline with specific caps.193
67.
As previously described, for purposes of calculating the limit, utilities may aggregate into
one order all requests from a single entity within a 30-day period.194 Capping the size of an order from
any single attacher within a 30-day period helps utilities to manage workflow and ensures that utilities can
meet incremental goals within each project. When orders from a single attacher are processed on a 30-
day rolling basis, the attacher may hire contractors if a deadline for a particular monthly batch is missed.
Utilities should undertake to perform smaller orders in a shorter amount of time; as stated when
discussing the make-ready stage, a cap that is reasonable for this timeline does not preclude an alternative,
shorter, "best practice" timeline for smaller orders.195 Utilities may not consider the timeline a safe
harbor for very small orders, but rather remain subject to section 224(b)(1)'s overall requirement of
reasonableness, which includes timeliness in the context of the obligation to provide access to poles.196
However a utility structures its size and time limits relating to small orders, its policy must be made
public and applied without discrimination.
68.
Stopping the Clock. Emergencies and certain events during the make-ready phase that are
beyond a utility's control may legitimately interrupt pole attachment projects, and the Further Notice
sought comment on how best to reconcile the timeline with this reality.197 We adopt a "good and
sufficient cause" standard under which a utility may toll the timeline for no longer than necessary where
conditions render it infeasible to complete the make-ready work within the prescribed timeframe. For
example, utilities may toll the timeline to cope with an emergency that requires federal disaster relief, but
may not stop the clock for routine or foreseeable events such as repairing damage caused by routine
seasonal storms; repositioning existing attachments; bringing poles up to code; alleged lack of resources;


191 Utilities Telecom Council White Paper at 1213 (finding most frequent cause of survey delays to be the size of
the project).
192 Ameren et al. Comments at 78 (arguing that utilities should manage the size and scope of access requests);
Oncor Comments at 2122 (arguing that Commission should continue to allow parties to negotiate and enforce
contractual terms and course of dealings in this area).
193 See, e.g., Alpheus and 360networks NPRM Comments at 2 (arguing that unknown make-ready intervals make it
extremely difficult to introduce services or promise timely delivery on potential sales); Cavalier NPRM Comments
at 6 (arguing that potential customers will not engage a service without knowing when they will begin receiving the
service, and stating that some utilities provide Cavalier access within three months while others take more than five
times as long).
194 See Utah Admin. Code R746-345-3(C).
195 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 33; Sunesys Comments at 11; Verizon Comments at 3233 (arguing that
smaller requests do not justify shorter timeframes). But see, e.g., Fibertech Comments at 78; Level 3 Comments at
67 (arguing that small orders should require shorter timeframes). See also Qwest Comments at 8 (arguing that
larger orders need longer timeframes).
196 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1187374, paras. 1718 (concluding that access to poles must be timely in order to
be reasonable). See, e.g., Level 3 Comments at 67 (arguing that the proposed timeline should not be construed as a
"safe harbor" when an application involves only a small number of poles); Fibertech Comments at 78 (stating that
the proposed timeframe is unsuited for smaller applications where a customer is within a short distance from the
network backbone and where pole attachment application is limited in size); TWC Comments at 18 (proposing that
make-ready work for fewer than 20 poles should be complete in 30 days).
197 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11887, para. 51.
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or awaiting resolution of regulatory proceedings, such as a state public utilities commission rulemaking,
that affect pole attachments.198 Aside from these examples of very serious occurrences that impede make-
ready on the one hand, and routine events that do not justify tolling the timeline on the other hand, a
utility must exercise its judgment in invoking a clock stoppage in the context of its general duty to
provide timely and nondiscriminatory access.199 An attacher may challenge a utility's failure to either
meet its deadline or surrender control of make-ready if a clock stoppage is not justified by good and
sufficient cause.
69.
Time is of the essence for requesting entities, their investors, and their potential
consumers.200 We limit the size of orders subject to the timeline in part to create a manageable workflow
that will allow the timeline to absorb occasional interruptions.201 Whenever possible, a utility should
accommodate a moderate interruption without interruption in the timeline, and if a utility resorts to
stopping the clock, its reason for doing so should usually be apparent. For example, Oncor states that the
two longest power outages due to weather that its customers have suffered in recent memory lasted six
and 10 days.202 Therefore, even assuming that Oncor needed some extra days to return to normal
operations after a 10-day storm-related outage, Oncor might have been able to complete attachment
requests within the 60-day make-ready period.203 We recognize, however, that no timeline can absorb all
interruptions.204
70.
New York allows its timeline to be interrupted for "events beyond the utility's control"
and several commenters support this standard.205 We find this standard unsuitably broad for our purposes,
however, because every downed pole could presumably be characterized as due to an event beyond the
utility's control. Thus, as some commenters correctly note, a "beyond the utility's control" exception
could be applied to swallow the rule.206
71.
When a utility stops the clock, it must notify the requesting entity and other affected
attachers as soon as practicable.207 The clock does not stop until a utility provides notice to all relevant


198See EEI/UTC Comments at 2225 (suggesting clock should stop for, inter alia, severe weather conditions, state
and local regulatory proceedings, failure of an existing attacher to cooperate, or the need to correct for safety
violations).
199 47 U.S.C. 244(f)(1); 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1187374, paras. 1718 (holding that utilities must perform
make-ready promptly and efficiently whether or not a specific rule applies to an aspect of the make-ready process).
200 Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16101, para. 1224 (finding that "time is of the essence); see, e.g.,
Centurylink Comments at 35; Charter Comments at 22; CTIA Comments at 13.
201 We anticipate that capping timeline orders will leave utilities with enough spare resources to handle the
occasional interruption and still stay on schedule.
202 Oncor Comments at 27 (stating that a June 2004 storm caused outages that lasted for ten days and a February
2010 storm caused outages that lasted for 6 days).
203 It is not suggested that weather events may never be cause for stopping the clock, but rather that, even in the face
of severe disruptions, utilities should consider whether or not lost time can be made up over the course of the entire
timeline.
204 See, e.g., Ameren et al. Comments at 910; EEI/UTC Comments at 2225; Coalition Comments at 3035;
Florida IOUs Comments at 1617; Sunesys Comments at 1415. But see TWC Reply at 1314 (arguing that
proposed timeline needlessly extends make-ready process).
205 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11887, para. 51; see, e.g., Verizon Comments at 9; Coalition Comments at 20
23; Ameren et al. Comments at 4.
206 Sunesys Comments at 14; Florida IOUs Comments at 11; TWC Reply at 1415. See Oncor Comments at 29.
207 Sunesys Comments at 9. The utility must notify the same parties that received notice of the initial make-ready
deadline.
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parties that the deadline must be deferred. Notification may be brief, but must be in writing and include
the reason for and date of the stoppage.208 As soon as the reason for the clock stoppage no longer exists,
the utility must notify affected entities of the new deadline and the date that the clock will restart. This
minimal notice burden on utilities is within the bounds of a utility's duty to provide just, reasonable, and
nondiscriminatory access, and any burden on the utility is outweighed by the need for affected entities to
receive notice and remain informed.
72.
The clock stoppage may be no longer than necessary based on the nature of the event.
The clock must restart no later than the date when the utility returns to routine operations.209 Moreover,
under the statute, utilities may not discriminate against pole attachment projects.210 Utilities state
candidly, however, that their highest priority is providing service to their customers.211 In the aftermath
of an emergency, a utility will naturally and reasonably devote its utmost resources to public safety and
restoring service. When the utility resumes normal operations, however, nondiscrimination requires a
utility to resume pole attachment projects in place with internal work orders in the utility's queue.212
73.
In light of the scaled approach to limiting the order size, and the timeline tolling
provisions we adopt, we disagree with utilities that argue that the timeline imposes a rigid, "one-size-fits-
all" solution that lacks the flexibility utilities need to accommodate pole attachment requests.213 Although
we appreciate the complexity of some attachment requests, we find that several measures adequately
address this concern. First, the timeline applies to orders that are within the scope of the timeline and
subject to the volume cap set forth in this section.214 Second, the timeline does not begin to run until
engineering protocols and technical standards have been established for the prospective attachments at
issue.215 We leave utilities free to implement the timeline consistent with our rules. We leave the details
of specific application criteria and processes to individual utilities, but the criteria must be reasonable.216
For example, some utilities have "detailed permit manuals which explain the application and attachment
process," and at least one utility has a "web-based application platform, which provides an on-line, step-
by-step, item-by-item description of the application and attachment process."217 We do not dictate utility


208 The writing may be sent by email to the recipients.
209 Sunesys Comments at 9.
210 47 U.S.C. 224(f)(1).
211 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 14, 1718; EEI/UTC Comments at 1314; Verizon Comment at 29 (arguing
that pole owners must prioritize core service).
212 See Coalition Comments at 34 (arguing that electric utilities should be able to show compliance by demonstrating
that they have scheduled communications company make-ready work as if the attacher were a rate paying
customer).
213 See, e.g., NRECA Comments at 910 (stating that a one size fits all approach fails to consider the varied
circumstances of the pole attachment process); Qwest Comments at 67 (arguing against mandating a one-size-fits-
all process given the complexity of the pole attachment process, and stating that a timeline must be flexible enough
to address realities of the pole attachment process); Idaho Power Comments at 23 (arguing that no single set of
rules can take into account all of the issues that arise in the context of an attachment).
214 See supra Part III.A.2; para. 19.
215 See supra Part III.A.2 (discussing scope of the timeline).
216 EEI/UTC Comments at 21; see 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(2); 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 11874, para. 18.
217 Florida IOUs Comments at 14 (describing various members' application procedures).
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implementation procedures.218 When we consider these factors together, we reject the contention that the
timeline is inflexible.

B.

Wireless

74.
In the timeline portion of this order, section III.A.1, supra, we make clear that our new
timeline applies equally to wireline and wireless equipment in the communications space, and a modified
version applies to wireless attachments above the communications space. Here, we address two issues
that have arisen with regard to wireless attachments regardless of the applicability of a timeline: (1) the
section 1.1403(b) requirement that any denials of requests for section 224 access be specific in nature;
and (2) the section 224 requirement that attachers be allowed to access the space above what has
traditionally been referred to as "communications space" on a pole.
1.

Specificity of Denials

75.
We clarify that, regardless of whether a utility has a master agreement with a wireless
carrier, the specificity requirement of section 1.1403(b) applies to all denials of requests for access. The
Commission's rules require that, when a utility denies a request for access, it must state with specificity
its reasons for doing so. Section 1.1403(b) requires that denials of access be confirmed in writing within
45 days of the request.219 The utility also "shall be specific, shall include all relevant evidence and
information supporting its denial, and shall explain how such evidence and information relate to a denial
of access for reasons of lack of capacity, safety, reliability or engineering standards."220 In the Further
Notice
, the Commission proposed that, where a utility has no master agreement with a carrier for wireless
attachments requested, the utility may satisfy the requirement to respond with a written explanation of its
concerns with regard to capacity, safety, reliability, or engineering standards.221
76.
We agree with those commenters who assert that the proposed standard would be
susceptible to abuse.222 It is not sufficient for a utility to dismiss a request with a written description of its
blanket concerns about a type of attachment or technology, or a generalized citation to section 224.
Instead, we find that a utility must explain in writing its precise concerns--and how they relate to lack of
capacity, safety, reliability, or engineering purposes--in a way that is specific with regard to both the
particular attachment(s) and the particular pole(s) at issue. Furthermore, such concerns must be
reasonable in nature in order to be considered nondiscriminatory. Concerns that appear to be mere
pretexts rather than legitimate reasons for denying statutory rights to access will be given serious scrutiny
by the Commission, including in any complaint proceeding arising out of a denial of access. We believe
that this clarification regarding the specificity of denials will encourage communication and cooperation
between utilities and wireless attachers,223 and thereby promote the deployment of and competition for
telecommunications and broadband services.


218 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11881, para. 33; 47 U.S.C. 224(b), (f); see, e.g., Coalition Comments at 1517,
3031, 88; Oncor Comments at 42; Verizon Reply at 26. The statute requires nondiscriminatory access, which
forecloses procedures and requirements that are not available to all requesting entities. See 47 U.S.C. 224(f)(1).
219 47 C.F.R. 1.403(b).
220 Id. (emphasis added).
221 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1188788, para. 52.
222 See, e.g., MetroPCS Comments at 12; NextG Comments at 1114; DAS Forum Comments at 912.
223 See, e.g., NextG Comments at 1114 (explaining how open communication and good-faith negotiation can help
overcome initial concerns about wireless antennas).
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2.

Pole Tops

77.
We clarify that section 224 allows wireless attachers to access the space above what has
traditionally been referred to as "communications space" on a pole.224 On previous occasions, the
Commission has declined to establish a presumption that this space may be reserved for utility use only,
and has stated that the only recognized limits to access for antenna placement are those contained in the
statute.225 Yet wireless attachers assert that pole top access is persistently challenged by pole owners,
who often impose blanket prohibitions on attaching to some or all pole tops.226 Blanket prohibitions are
not permitted under the Commission's rules.227 We reject the assertions of some utilities that our rule
regarding pole tops will create a "de facto presumption in favor of pole top attachments" or otherwise
"restrict an electric utility's right to deny access for reasons of safety and reliability."228 Instead, we
clarify that a wireless carrier's right to attach to pole tops is the same as it is to attach to any other part of
a pole. Utilities may deny access "where there is insufficient capacity, and for reasons of safety,
reliability, and generally applicable engineering purposes."229 The record in this proceeding is replete
with examples of various types of pole top attachments that have been successfully accommodated, both
for wireless attachers and for the utilities themselves.230

C.

Use of Contractors for Attachment

78.
As proposed in the Further Notice, we resolve an ambiguity in the Commission's rules
regarding the use of contractors to attach facilities "in the proximity of electric lines" after make-ready
has been completed and attachment permits issued. Specifically, we clarify that "proximity of electric
lines" in this context includes work that extends into the safety space that separates the communications
space from the electric space, but does not include work among the power lines. While an attacher may
use a contractor to attach a wireless antenna above the communications space and associated safety space,
we find that an attacher may only use a contractor that has the proper qualifications and that the utility has
approved to perform such work.231 Utilities are not required to keep a separate list of contractors for this
purpose, but must be reasonable in approving or disapproving contractors. Accordingly, as we explain


224 See 47 U.S.C. 224(f).
225 Implementation of the Local Competition Provisions in the Telecommunications Act of 1996; Interconnection
Between Local Exchange Carriers and Commercial Mobile Radio Service Providers
, CC Docket No. 96-98, Order
on Reconsideration, 14 FCC Rcd 18048, 19074, para. 72 (1999); Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Reminds
Utility Pole Owners of Their Obligations to Provide Wireless Telecommunications Providers with Access to Utility
Poles at Reasonable Rates
, Public Notice, 19 FCC Rcd 24930 (WTB 2004).
226 See, e.g., DAS Forum Comments at 1213; NextG Comments at 21. Wireless attachments often require
placement at or near the top of the pole in order to efficiently provide distributed antenna systems (DAS) or other
wireless services. See, e.g., DAS Forum Comments at 12 ("Pole top installations are typically at the optimal
elevation for DAS antennas. If antennas are lower the (wireless) coverage footprint will be too small."); Letter from
William J. Sill, Counsel, ATC Outdoor DAS, LLC, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245
(filed Mar. 15, 2011).
227 47 C.F.R. 1.1403(b).
228 Florida IOUs Reply at 3840; see Alliance Reply at 6263.
229 47 U.S.C. 224(f)(2).
230 See, e.g., Letter from Robert Millar, Senior Regulatory Counsel, NextG, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC,
WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51, at 2 (filed Mar. 14, 2011) (stating that NextG has built over 800
pole top wireless installations in Pennsylvania); Oncor Comments at 33 (stating that Oncor's poles have
approximately 755 wireless attachments from three different attachers).
231 The record indicates that the utilities routinely perform this work themselves because of the location and the type
of work involved. See, e.g., Oncor Comments at 40; Florida IOUs Comments at 29.
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below, the standard for attachment by a contractor in the communications space remains that of the "same
qualifications" as the utility, but any attachment in the electric space must be at the higher utility-
approved standard.
79.
The Commission has long guaranteed attachers the right to choose the workers they hire to
attach their facilities to poles. With regard to contractors, the Commission in 1996 "agree[d] that utilities
should be able to require that only properly trained persons work in the proximity of the utilities' lines,"
but held that "we will not require parties seeking to make attachments to use the individual employees or
contractors hired or pre-designated by the utility."232 Rather, "[a] utility may require that individuals who
will work in the proximity of electric lines have the same qualifications, in terms of training, as the
utility's own workers, but the party seeking access will be able to use any individual workers who meet
these criteria."233 The Commission reasoned that "[a]llowing a utility to dictate that only specific
employees or contractors be used would impede the access that Congress sought to bestow on
telecommunications providers and cable operators and would inevitably lead to disputes over rates to be
paid to the workers."234 In the Further Notice, we recognized that the word "proximity" is ambiguous,
and could mean either "up to the electric lines" or "among the electric lines."235 We proposed that the
former reading was the more reasonable choice, and sought comment from interested parties.
80.
We find that the phrase "proximity of electric lines" where attachers may engage
contractors for attachment means up to and including the safety space, but not among the electric lines,
for historical, statutory, and safety reasons. The NESC requires 40 inches of clearance between electric
power lines and communications cable on the same pole.236 Because the Local Competition Order does
not discuss attachment of facilities above the communications space or endorse in any way attachers'
contractors entering the electric space, we read "proximity of electric lines" to refer to the 40-inch "safety
space," and not to the region above it. Also, as we discuss above, the statute provides electric utilities the
right to deny access where there is insufficient capacity or for reasons of safety, reliability, and generally
applicable engineering purposes. The Local Competition Order considered this provision of the statute to
reflect congressional acknowledgment that capacity, safety, reliability and engineering issues raise
heightened concerns when electricity is involved, because electricity is inherently more dangerous than
communications services.237 We affirm this interpretation today, and likewise maintain that safety
concerns must take priority when communications equipment is installed among or above potentially
lethal electric lines. Therefore, we clarify that the longstanding right of attachers to use attachment
contractors solely of their own choosing is confined to the communications space and associated safety
space.


232 Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16083, para. 1182.
233 Id.
234 Id. On reconsideration, the Commission reaffirmed this approach. Local Competition Reconsideration Order,
14 FCC Rcd at 18079, para. 86.
235 Further Notice, 11 FCC Rcd at 1189495, para. 69. In the Further Notice, the Commission explained that
generally, attachments on a pole, from the bottom up, include traditional communications attachments (including
space for attachments by incumbent LECs, cable service providers, and other telecommunications service
providers), followed by several feet of safety space separating the communications space from the upper space on a
pole, traditionally used for the attachment of energized electrical lines. Id. at 11894 n.187.
236 See, e.g., Adoption of Rules for the Regulation of Cable Television Pole Attachments, CC Docket No. 78144,
Memorandum Opinion and Second Report and Order, 72 FCC 2d 59, 6971 (1979) (Second Report and Order)
(discussing cost allocation of safety space).
237 Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16081, para. 1177.
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81.
We disagree with Fibertech and others who argue that utility control of the electric space
improperly delays attachers "from timely completing their work" in a meaningful way.238 With regard to
attachment of facilities in the electric space, if a utility's legitimate concern over safety conflicts with an
attacher's concern over timeliness, the statute already resolves the conflict in favor of the utility.239
Additionally, we agree with MetroPCS that, if a wireless carrier consents to the utility's specified
contractor to work above or among the lines, additional contractors should not be required to work with
antenna equipment.240 We agree that a single contractor with the proper qualifications may be all that is
needed.

D.

Joint Ownership

82.
In the Further Notice, we proposed to require owners to consolidate authority in one
managing utility when more than one utility owns a pole and to make the identity of this managing utility
publicly available.241 We decline to adopt the proposed rules relating to joint ownership,242 but we clarify
and emphasize that we expect joint owners to coordinate and cooperate with each other and with
requesting attachers consistent with pole owners' duty to provide just and reasonable access.243
83.
After careful consideration of the record, we find that the potential benefits of these
proposals do not justify the likely costs. We are convinced by evidence in the record that, on balance,
consolidating authority in a single managing utility would create substantial administrative burdens for
the managing utility.244 The proposed rule would have required joint owners of millions of poles to
confer and designate a managing utility, even though the vast majority of those poles would not be subject
to pole attachment requests in the near future, if at all. In addition, because the joint owners typically
consist of an electric utility and an incumbent LEC, which have different rights under section 224(f)(2)
and often have different competitive incentives vis a vis a new attacher, there exists a real possibility that
it may be difficult to ensure that only the electric utility is actually asserting section 224(f)(2) rights.
84.
We emphasize, however, that joint ownership or control of poles should not create or
justify a confusing or onerous process for attachers. Thus, for example, we would consider utility
procedures requiring attachers to undergo a duplicative permitting or payment process to be unjust and
unreasonable.245 Avoiding such duplication might involve, for example, joint owners establishing a
single administrative contact point for all pole attachment applications--or joint owners agreeing, and
informing the attacher, that one of the owners will be the attacher's point of contact for a specific pole


238 See, e.g., Fibertech Comments at 45; T-Mobile Comments at 13.
239 47 U.S.C. 224(f)(2).
240 MetroPCS Comments at 15. This responds to a proposal in our Further Notice that utilities be required to admit
among the power lines contract personnel with specialized communications-equipment training or skills that the
utility cannot duplicate, such as work with wireless antenna equipment. Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1189495,
para. 69.
241 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1189596, paras. 7273.
242 Id.
243 See 47 U.S.C. 224; see also Cable Telecommunications Association of Maryland, Delaware and the District of
Columbia, et al. v. Baltimore Gas and Electric Company and Bell Atlantic Maryland, Inc.
, File No. PA 00-001,
Order, 16 FCC Rcd 5447, 5450, para. 7 (Cable Serv. Bur. 2001) (CTA v. BGE) ("It is unreasonable to expect
attachers to separately negotiate agreements with more than one pole owner for attachment to a single pole that is
jointly owned."). "Joint ownership" also includes situations in which the pole is controlled, if not actually owned,
by two entities.
244 See Coalition Comments at 74; ITTA Comments at 6.
245 See CTA v. BGE, 16 FCC Rcd at 5450, para. 7.
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attachment application or series of applications, for certain types of attachments, or for attachments on
certain parts of the pole or in certain geographic areas. If access is denied, the joint pole owners must
clearly identify to the attacher which owner is denying access, and on what basis.
85.
We also believe that some of the other remedies adopted today will cure or mitigate many
of the delays associated with joint ownership and control. In particular, the timeline and the rules on the
use of contractors should help to ensure timely access to all poles, including those that are jointly owned
or used.246 We will closely monitor the effect of the rules we adopt today and will adjust the framework
as appropriate.

E.

Other Access Proposals

1.

Schedule of Charges

86.
We decline to require utilities to make available to attaching entities a schedule of
common make-ready charges, and find that the burdens of such a requirement would exceed its benefits.
In the Further Notice, the Commission suggested that such a schedule could provide transparency to
providers seeking to deploy their networks.247 T-Mobile and TWC agree,248 but other commenters point
out that make-ready is priced based on specific tasks at specific locations.249 Actual charges vary
depending on numerous unique factors, including material and labor costs which fluctuate.250 As such,
the price of make-ready does not lend itself well to a fixed schedule of charges.251 Plus, many utilities
already make information about common charges available upon request.252 Thus, we conclude, on
balance, that the limited benefit of this proposal would not outweigh the burdens it would impose on
utilities, and we decline to adopt it at this time.
2.

Payment for Make-Ready Work

87.
In the Further Notice, the Commission asked whether it should attempt to align incentives
to perform make-ready work on schedule.253 In particular, it proposed to adopt the Utah rule, under
which applicants pay for make-ready work in stages and may withhold a portion of that payment until


246 See supra Parts III.A.1; III.A.3.
247 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11895, para. 71.
248 T-Mobile Comments at 13; TWC Reply at 1213.
249 See, e.g., Ameren et al. Comments at 20 (arguing that a schedule of charges falsely implies that a particular task
will always cost a particular amount to complete, regardless of construction circumstances or nuances); Idaho Power
Comments at 8 (stating that a uniform schedule of charges fails to consider the unique nature of each pole
attachment request); ITTA Comments at 56 (stating that there are few "common" fees as costs fluctuate depending
on the varied circumstances surrounding different attachments).
250 Other factors that vary the price of make-ready for a specific task at a specific location include the types of
equipment required to perform the work, the location of the pole (front lot or rear lot), site conditions, city or county
permitting requirements, environmental issues, congested attachments, necessary switching, and necessary tree trim.
Florida IOUs Comments at 3334; see NRECA Comments at 1617; Ameren et al. Comments at 20. The Florida
IOUS argue that in order to create a firm price sheet, it would have to price common make-ready charges based on
the costliest permutation of potential factors. Florida IOUs Comments at 34.
251 See ITTA Comments at 6 (stating that "there are few `common' fees").
252 See, e.g., Verizon Comments at 3637; Oncor Comments at 32. Cf. Dairyland Reply at 2 (smaller, non-investor
owned utility indicating that creating and keeping current a list of charges could be unduly burdensome); Idaho
Comments at 89 (same).
253 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11895, para. 70.
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work is complete.254 It also sought comment on alternatives, including schedules of payments used in
comparable situations in other commercial contexts.255
88.
Based on the record before us, we decline to adopt the Utah rule or any other schedule of
payment for make-ready work at this time. Although a staggered payment system might motivate pole
owners to perform make-ready work more quickly, as some commenters point out,256 it would also
unfairly expose them to a greater risk of non-payment for make-ready work necessary to accommodate
attachers.257 The record contains little evidence that up-front payment is a barrier to telecommunications,
cable, or broadband deployment,258 but, as the Coalition indicates, attaching entities frequently lose
contracts for new business, change routes or ownership, go out of business, or experience other
difficulties that cause make-ready costs to remain unpaid after work has been completed.259 In any of
these situations, a utility might be unable to recover its costs if required to accept payment for make-ready
work in stages. A staggered payment system would also administratively burden utilities260 and, in some
cases, could actually delay the make-ready process.261 Moreover, up-front payment is both consistent
with the way that utilities charge other customers for construction work,262 and either encouraged or
required by a number of state tariffs.263 For these reasons, we are persuaded that any benefit that might
result from the proposed rule likely would be outweighed by its costs.
3.

Data Collection

89.
We decline to adopt requirements regarding the collection and availability of information
about the location and availability of poles, ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way. In the Further Notice, we
sought comment on the type of data that would be beneficial to maintain, how such data should be
collected, the scope of the task, and potential benefits.264 The record before us indicates that the burdens
of such a data collection are outweighed by the potential benefits. EEI and UTC, for instance, report that
a database of their members' assets would take years and hundreds of millions dollars to create, then


254 Id.
255 Id.
256 See, e.g., ACA Comments at 9; TWTC/COMPTEL Comments at 1516. But see, e.g., Verizon Reply at 35
(asserting that staggered make-ready payments would not provide any incentive for completing make-ready work
faster because the timing of make-ready work is often determined by numerous factors that are outside of pole
owners' control); HTI Reply at 17 (arguing that installment payments would increase costs for attachers and often
delay the completion of make-ready work).
257 See, e.g., Verizon Comments at 28; EEI/UTC Comments at 38; ITTA Comments at 67.
258 See, e.g., Sunesys Comments at 19 ("oppos[ing] the Utah rule proposal because it is unfair to utilities"); Verizon
Reply at 35 (arguing that staggered payments would not improve access to poles).
259 Coalition Comments at 77.
260 See, e.g., HTI Comments at 17 ("Utilities, unlike contractors, are not in the business of providing construction
services and do not have expertise or resources devoted to managing installment payments."); Oncor Comments at
30.
261 See, e.g., EEI/UTC Comments at 38 (asserting that up-front payment streamlines the make-ready process).
262 See, e.g., HTI Reply at 17 (pointing out that utilities would need to halt make-ready work if payments are not
received in a timely fashion); Florida IOUs Comments at 32; Coalition Comments at 77.
263 See Ameren et al. Comments at 1920 ("utility tariffs routinely require payment in advance for the total
estimated cost of requested construction"); Alliance Reply at 5355 ("Electric utilities are also subject to State
regulations that can further complicate --or preclude altogether -- any such scheme for payment of make ready").
264 See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11897, paras. 7576.
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would require annual maintenance.265 Such a data collection would necessarily take significant time for
the millions of poles that a single utility can own, and it is not likely that such data for all utilities would
be kept sufficiently up-to-date for a prospective attacher to rely on for access and network planning.266
Major events like storms can compromise the integrity of data, as can the activities of unauthorized
attachers.267 Moreover, legitimate concerns exist about making critical infrastructure information and
proprietary information available to the public,268 and about whether a database would be susceptible to
abuse by unauthorized attachers.269 Meanwhile, the record reflects significant doubt--from both utilities
and telecommunications providers--that improving the collection and availability of data would have
much value to attachers.270 For these reasons, we are not persuaded by those commenters who support the
idea of a central database in order to improve tracking of attachments and to cut down on unauthorized
attachments.271 After considering the record, we find that the burdens associated with an information
collection requirement likely outweigh the benefits, and therefore, we decline to adopt such a proposal at
this time.

F.

Legal Authority

90.
We conclude that section 224 authorizes the Commission to promulgate the access rules,
we adopt today, including the timeline and its self-effectuating remedy for failure to meet the timeline in
the communications space. Through section 224(b)(1), Congress explicitly delegated authority to the
Commission to "regulate the rates, terms, and conditions for pole attachments,"272 as well as to develop
procedures necessary for resolving complaints arising under the Commission's substantive regulations,
and to fashion appropriate remedies.273 In addition, section 224(b)(2) directs the Commission to make


265 EEI/UTC Comments at 3032. For instance, Ameren estimates that it would take approximately 45 years and
cost $42 million to inventory two million poles in Missouri and Illinois, and Idaho Power estimates that it would
take at least six years and cost nearly $20 million to field and record data for its 550,000 distribution poles. Id. at
31.
266 See, e.g., Florida IOUs Comments at 37; EEI/UTC Comments at 30.
267 See, e.g., Florida IOUs Comments at 37; ITTA Comments at 89; Oncor Comments at 55.
268 See, e.g., EEI/UTC Comments at 2829; Qwest Comments at 1415.
269 See Alliance Reply at 6465.
270 See, e.g., Verizon Comments at 4041 (indicating that a national database or reporting requirements would not
eliminate the need to file applications, conduct make-ready surveys, or perform make-ready work); USTelecom
Comments at 2425 (describing the Commission's proposal as "a monumental undertaking without any apparent
benefit" and stating that "there is no evidence that a problem currently exists that would be addressed by such a
database").
271 See T-Mobile Comments at 1314; TWC Comments at 20.
272 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(1); see Southern Co. v. FCC, 293 F.3d 1338 (11th Cir. 2002) (finding that the Act does not
specify which sorts of concerns constitute the section 224(b)(1) "conditions" of pole attachment but that there was
no statutory language that would suggest that physical attachment is outside the scope of "conditions.") (Southern
Co. I
).
273 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(1). The section also creates exceptions to our authority for railroads, cooperatives, federal
entities, and state entities, 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(1), as well as substantive reverse preemption for states who choose to
regulate attachments themselves. 47 U.S.C. 224(c).
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rules to carry out the provisions of this section.274 Congress also gave more specific substantive guidance
for access to poles in section 224(f): "just and reasonable" access must also be "nondiscriminatory."275
91.
The language and structure of the statute, as well as Commission precedent, support our
conclusion. As we recognized in the Further Notice, the "Commission's expectation that `swift and
specific enforcement procedures' would satisfy the need for timely access to pole attachments"276 has not
been met. While we affirm that "no single set of rules can take into account all of the issues that can arise
in the context of a single installation or attachment,"277 a set of broadly applicable rules in discrete areas
will help to "ensure that the terms and conditions of access to pole attachments are just, reasonable, and
nondiscriminatory."278 In particular, in relation to the remainder of section 224, the broad language of
section 224(b)(1) and (b)(2) indicate a delegation of comprehensive rulemaking authority over all
attachment issues, including access. Where a statute specifically provides for promulgation of rules to
carry out the provisions of the statute, rules that further define and flesh out the content of the statute are
valid exercises of agency authority.279 We interpret section 224(b)(1)'s parallel construction in its first
sentence to contain two separate Congressional directives: to make rules and to adopt procedures for
adjudication.280 Further, section 224(b)(2) specifically mandates that the Commission must "prescribe by
rule
regulations to carry out the provisions of this section,"281 evincing Congressional intent to give the
Commission rulemaking authority over the entirety of section 224.282 The relatively narrower scope of
other subsections of section 224 supports our construction. For example, section 224(e)(1) only applies
"when the parties fail to resolve a dispute over such charges," but section 224(b)(1) contains no such
limitation.283 Because section 224(b)(2) applies the Commission's rulemaking authority to the entire
section, the choice necessarily lies with the Commission whether to implement the Congressional
directive in section 224(f) via rulemaking, adjudication, or both. The access rules we adopt today fit
squarely within our statutory authority over terms and conditions for pole attachments pursuant to section
224(f).
92.
This reading of section 224 is consistent with Commission and judicial precedent.
Although the Commission adopted a predominantly adjudicatory model for regulating access to poles in


274 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(2).
275 See 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(1) (just and reasonable rates, terms, and conditions), (f) (nondiscriminatory access to
poles); Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16067, para. 1143 (discussing the "reasonableness of particular
conditions of access").
276 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11875, para. 22 (quoting Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 1610102,
para. 1224).
277 Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16068, para. 1145; see Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11875, para. 22.
278 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11875, para. 22.
279 See, e.g., Gulf Power, 534 U.S. at 339 ("agencies have authority to fill gaps where the statutes are silent.")
(citation omitted); Shaker Med. Ctr. Hosp. v. Sec'y of Health and Human Serv., 686 F.2d 1203, 1209 (6th Cir. 1982)
("It is within the power of an agency to promulgate prophylactic regulations which are broad in scope in order to
effectuate the purposes of enabling legislation."); Camp v. Herzog, 104 F. Supp. 134, 13738 (D.D.C. 1952).
280 See 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(1) ([T]he Commission shall regulate the rates, terms, and conditions for pole attachments,
. . . and shall adopt procedures necessary and appropriate to hear and resolve complaints . . . .").
281 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(2) (emphasis added). The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act struck
"[W]ithin 180 days from the date of enactment of this section the Commission" and inserted "The Commission",
expanding the reach of this particular subsection. Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, Pub. L.
No. 103-414, 304, 108 Stat. 4279, 4297 (1994).
282 See TWC Reply at 2021 (arguing that FCC has broad authority pursuant to 224(b)(1)(2), (f)).
283 Compare 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(1), with 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(1).
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the Local Competition Order, the Commission also adopted access rules of general applicability, many of
which were upheld by the court in Southern Company.284 Adopting a case-by-case approach while the
Commission gained greater subject matter expertise in pole attachments hardly precludes adoption of
further substantive rules years later.285 In fact, the Commission expressly anticipated the possible need to
revisit its adjudicatory model and impose such regulations: "We will monitor the effect of this
[case-specific] approach and propose more specific rules at a later date if reasonably necessary to
facilitate access and the development of competition in telecommunications and cable services."286 For
these reasons, we are not persuaded by commenters who argue that we lack rulemaking authority or
substantive statutory authority under the section 224 to adopt access rules here.287
93.
We also reject the argument raised by some commenters that the Commission improperly
applied both the "just and reasonable" and "nondiscriminatory" standards to access in the Further
Notice
,288 and that only the latter standard actually applies.289 Section 224(b)(1) applies the "just and
reasonable" standard to all rates, terms, and conditions of pole attachments, including the conditional
access regime set up under section 224(f).290 Section 224(f) is a broad mandate of "nondiscriminatory"
access with a specific carve-out for certain conditions where electric utilities may deny access (i.e.,
insufficient capacity, safety, reliability, and generally applicable engineering purposes).291 While the
Commission continues to accord substantial leeway to electric utilities with regard to the practical
application of this important exception,292 the Commission has not and could not delegate away the
authority to ensure "just and reasonable" and "nondiscriminatory" terms and conditions under which
utilities may grant or deny access.293 Interpreting section 224(f) as a Congressional delegation of


284 See Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 1607174, paras. 115158, aff'd in part, rev'd in part, Southern
Co. I
, 293 F.3d 1338; see also TWTC/COMPTEL Reply at 2022.
285 See supra note 279.
286 Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16067, para. 1143. As we explain above, the market has changed
significantly since the Local Competition Order and the limitations of the case-specific approach have become
apparent, requiring more substantive guidance from the Commission. See Part II, paras. 1920. But see Verizon
Comments at 29 (arguing that nothing has changed to warrant a departure from the "guideline" approach").
287 See, e.g., Oncor Comments at 1619; Coalition Comments at 69, 8182; EEI/UTC Comments at 2, 5, 13, 3435;
Florida IOUs Comments at 57 (arguing that the Commission's jurisdiction limited to adjudication); Coalition
Comments at 7 ("It is no coincidence that Congress left to electric utilities the sole right to determine whether access
to their poles, ducts, conduits or rights-or-way should be denied `for reasons of safety, reliability and generally
applicable engineering purposes.' This is the function of utilities, not the FCC."); EEI/UTC Comments at 25, 13,
34 (arguing that the Commission may not regulate before access is requested or a complaint is filed).
288 Florida IOUs Comments at 12 (citing Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1187576, 1187980, paras. 22, 25, 30).
289 See, e.g., Florida IOUs Comments at 12 (arguing that section 224(f) is the only portion of the statute that
regulates access); EEI/UTC Comments at 3435 (stating that the FCC's authority to review engineering practices is
limited to evaluating whether they are nondiscriminatory).
290 NCTA Reply at 2; Sunesys Reply at 67. But see Oncor Comments at 33; Alliance Reply at 51 (arguing that the
FCC has no jurisdiction over make-ready timelines).
291 47 U.S.C. 224(f)(2).
292 Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 16070, para. 1148 (recognizing that a utility normally will have its own
operating standards that dictate conditions of access).
293 See Southern Co. I, 293 F.3d at 1348 ("Petitioners' construction of the Act, which claims that the utilities enjoy
the unfettered discretion to determine when capacity is insufficient, is not supported by the Act's text.")
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authority to utilities to define the terms and conditions of attachment294 would trump the grant of
rulemaking authority to the Commission in section 224(b)(1) and (2), and would render such
determinations effectively unreviewable by the Commission.295 Such a reading of the statute would also
render section 224(b)(2) meaningless.296
94.
Similarly, we disagree with certain commenters that the statute precludes the Commission
from regulating because there are joint use or joint ownership agreements between various entities
mentioned in the statute297 or that the presence of non-regulated attachment (such as a municipality's
traffic light) on poles somehow places these poles outside of Commission authority.298 As previously
stated, the Commission has the authority to regulate, by rule, the terms and conditions of pole
attachments;299 a utility cannot escape the Commission's jurisdiction simply by attaching attachments that
are outside the reach of the statute or by entering into a joint use contract.300 A joint use contract gives
the parties to the contract some degree of control over the pole, and "control" is the statutory floor for
Commission jurisdiction, regardless of whether a non-regulated attachment is also located on the pole.301
95.
We also disagree that the location of the term "usable space" in the rates portion of the
statute precludes the Commission from adopting rules regarding wireless attachments,302 or that make-
ready rules are merely capacity expansion under another name.303 Because section 224(a)(4) defines
"pole attachment" as "any attachment" and does not contain a substantive spatial limitation, the
Commission retains the authority to interpret the types of, and spatial requirements for, pole attachments
under its broad authority in section 224(b).304 Nor is a rule regarding make-ready an attempt at mandating
capacity expansion. As the court noted in Southern Company, mandating the construction of new
capacity is beyond the Commission's authority.305 Here, however, we merely regulate the process by
which a new attacher may gain access to existing capacity on a pole. The "terms and conditions" of pole
attachment encompass the process by which new attachers gain access to a pole, and setting deadlines and
remedies for that process in no way constitutes a mandate to expand capacity.306


294 See Oncor Comments at 1819 ("The Commission should leave everyday access issues in the hands of the
electric utility pole owners . . . ."); Florida IOUs Reply at 40 (adopting a wireless rule would "unduly constrain an
electric utility's right to implement and enforce non-discriminatory access standards").
295 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(1)(2).
296 United States v. Menasche, 348 U.S. 528, 53839 (1955) ("The cardinal principle of statutory construction is to
save and not to destroy. It is our duty to give effect, if possible to every clause and word of a statute rather than to
emasculate an entire section . . . .").
297 Cf. Coalition Comments at 7273 (arguing that FCC cannot designate managing utility on jointly owned poles).
298 Oncor Comments at 26.
299 See AT&T Comments at 2 (arguing that the FCC has authority to regulate pole attachments by incumbent LECs).
300 See 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(1).
301 See 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(1) (requiring either ownership or "control" of a pole to fall within the ambit of the
statute).
302 See Florida IOUs Reply at 3840.
303 See Florida IOUs Comments at 13; Oncor Comments at 1619. See also Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11871
73, paras. 1416.
304 See 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(4), (b).
305 See Southern Co. I, 293 F.3d at 1346.
306 See 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(1).
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96.
Finally, we reject contentions that the Commission has not developed a sufficient
administrative record to support the instant rulemaking.307 We have engaged in significant record-
building and information-gathering through a variety of means to ensure broad participation by the public
and interested parties and to serve as a sound foundation for the conclusions we reach here. For example,
the Commission has sought comment on these issues multiple times, reviewed tens of thousands of pages
of comments, convened public workshops, and participated in many ex parte meetings.308 A wide variety
of commenters have submitted evidence to the record frequently on all sides of the issues we address
through these rules,309 and we believe we have gathered sufficient evidence to carry our burden of
articulating a "rational connection between the facts found and the choice made."310

IV.

IMPROVING THE ENFORCEMENT PROCESS

A.

Revising Pole Attachment Dispute Resolution Procedures

97.
In the Further Notice, we sought comment on whether the Commission should modify its
existing procedural rules governing pole attachment complaints.311 Several commenters expressed the
view that new procedures and processes are not needed or that existing procedures can be improved to
address any problems.312 A number of commenters, however, maintained that the Commission should do
more to encourage parties to resolve their disputes themselves prior to filing a complaint with the
Commission.313
98.
We agree that parties ought to make every effort to settle their disputes informally before
instituting formal processes at the Commission. Section 1.1404(k) of the Commission's rules requires a
complainant to "include a brief summary of all steps taken to resolve the problem before filing," and, if
no such steps were taken, to "state the reason(s) why it believed such steps were fruitless."314 In our
view, however, that rule does not adequately ensure that the parties will engage in serious efforts to
resolve disputes prior to the initiation of litigation. That may be because individuals with sufficient
decision-making authority are not involved in the discussions; other times it is because parties
prematurely forego such discussions with the thought that they would be futile.
99.
One commenter suggested that the Commission consider adopting an "executive level
negotiation" requirement similar to that imposed by the California Public Utility Commission


307 See, e.g., APPA Reply at 24 (arguing that there is an insufficient record to establish comprehensive access
timelines); Verizon Reply at 32 (similar); Coalition Comments 2628 (stating that the Commission lacks the
extensive record generated by various state commissions).
308 See supra Parts III.
309 See, e.g., TWTC/COMPTEL Comments at 1112 (noting that "pole owners take many months to complete
make-ready work and often refuse to agree to any deadlines in pole attachment contracts"); DAS Forum Comments
at 89 (stating that utilities have used section 224(f) to effect blanket denials for access to poles); Sunesys
Comments at 2526 (characterizing current section 224(f) practices by utilities as burdensome); Level 3 Comments
at 811 (arguing that it is being overcharged).
310 City of Brookings Mun. Tel. Co. v. FCC, 822 F.2d 1153, 1165 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (quoting Burlington Truck Lines,
Inc. v. U.S., 371 U.S. 156, 168 (1962)).
311 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11898, para. 79.
312 Coalition Comments at 8892; Sunesys Comments at 2122; AT&T Comments at 1920; Florida IOUs
Comments at 41; CTIA Comments at 1113; Idaho Power Comments at 13; Alliant Comments at 6; Verizon
Comments at 4344; GEMC Reply at 12; EEI/UTC Reply at 3839; APPA Reply at 35; Verizon Reply at 3638.
313 CPS Energy Comments at 14; NextG Comments at 2627; Idaho Power Comments at 13; Alliant Comments at
6; TWTC/COMPTEL Reply at 4243; Coalition Reply at 15.
314 47 C.F.R. 1.1404(k).
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("CPUC").315 As a prerequisite to the CPUC's acceptance of a request for resolution of a pole attachment
access dispute, the parties must escalate their dispute to the executive level within each company to
attempt good faith efforts at negotiation.316
100.
We believe a similar requirement should be incorporated into the Commission's rules.
Consequently, we are revising Commission rule 1.1404(k) to require that there be "executive-level
discussions" (i.e., discussions among individuals who have sufficient authority to make binding decisions
on behalf of the company they represent) prior to the filing of a complaint at the Commission. In
addition, we encourage parties to meet face-to-face for these executive-level discussions, because our
experience shows that in-person meetings create an environment more conducive to reaching agreement
than when communications occur only by telephone or written correspondence. The revised rule
1.1404(k) now states:
The complaint shall include a certification that the complainant has, in good faith,
engaged or attempted to engage in executive-level discussions with the respondent to
resolve the pole attachment dispute. Executive-level discussions are discussions among
representatives of the parties who have sufficient authority to make binding decisions on
behalf of the company they represent regarding the subject matter of the discussions.
Such certification shall include a statement that, prior to the filing of the complaint, the
complainant mailed a certified letter to the respondent outlining the allegations that form
the basis of the complaint it anticipated filing with the Commission, inviting a response
within a reasonable period of time, and offering to hold executive-level discussions
regarding the dispute. A refusal by a respondent to engage in the discussions
contemplated by this rule shall constitute an unreasonable practice under section 224 of
the Act.
101.
Further, in our desire to encourage pre-planning and coordination among pole owners and
attachers to the greatest extent, and as early in the process, as possible, we will consider in any
enforcement proceedings whether such coordination has taken place. Especially in the case of extremely
large orders, or in a case of special circumstances (such as poles on tribal lands, environmental
sensitivities, new or experimental or unconventional attachments, pendency of special permits), the
question of whether attachers and pole owners have coordinated at an early stage will be material in our
consideration of whether terms and conditions are just and reasonable.
102.
In addition, a number of commenters expressed concern about the length of time it takes
for the Commission to resolve pole attachment complaints,317 and some advocated the creation of new
processes for handling pole attachment complaints.318 Although we do not believe that the current record
warrants creation of new pole attachment complaint rules, we acknowledge the commenters' concern.
We believe that the new processes adopted elsewhere in this Order will have the effect of expediting the
pole access process. And, to the extent that access disputes remain a problem, we will make every effort


315 NextG Comments at 2627. See Coalition Reply at 15 ("the ability to take the dispute to the next level in the
[other party's] organization would be useful").
316 CPUC Order Instituting Rulemaking on the Commission's Own Motion into Competition for Local Exchange
Service, Dec. No. 98-10-058 (Oct. 22, 1998).
317 See, e.g., Level 3 Comments at 17; Comcast Comments at 3032; Charter Comments at 23; Florida IOUs
Comments at 41; NCTA Comments at 5052; Ohio Comments at 23; TWTC/COMPTEL Comments at 3537;
TWTC/COMPTEL Reply at 4243; TWC Reply at 2123.
318 CTIA Comments at 1113; TWTC/COMPTEL Comments at 3537; T-Mobile Comments at 14; Level 3
Comments at 1718; MetroPCS Comments at 2022; TWTC/COMPTEL Reply at 4243; Verizon Reply at 6. But
see
EEI/UTC Reply at 3940 (no "rocket docket" for pole attachment complaints).
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to resolve them expeditiously. Toward that end, whenever possible, the Enforcement Bureau will resolve
pole attachment complaints itself, to the extent permitted by its delegated authority.319
103.
Finally, the Further Notice invited comment on numerous issues surrounding the possible
formation of specialized forums to handle pole attachment disputes.320 We received limited commentary
about these issues, all indicating that such forums are unnecessary.321 As a result, we do not believe that
changes of this sort are justified at this time. If future events warrant, however, we will reexamine the
issues at a later date.

B.

Efficient Informal Dispute Resolution Process

104.
The Further Notice sought comment on whether the Commission should attempt to
encourage "local dispute resolution" (i.e., dispute resolution processes outside the Commission's
auspices) by enacting a set of "best practices" and, if so, what the contours and impact of those best
practices should be.322 Several commenters endorsed the notion that local dispute resolution is beneficial
in the first instance,323 and others supported Commission efforts to formulate best practices.324
105.
We agree with the commenters who support encouragement of local dispute resolution.
Thus, we believe it is desirable for parties to include dispute resolution procedures in their pole
attachment agreements. Any refusal to enter into an agreement because it contains a dispute resolution
provision would be considered unreasonable. We suggest that one issue to be addressed specifically in a
dispute resolution provision is the requirement (codified in new rule 1.1404(k)) of executive-level
settlement negotiations preceding the filing of a complaint with the Commission. Further, we believe it
would be reasonable for parties to agree to a forum other than the Commission (e.g., an arbitrator or
expert panel) to resolve disputes. That said, it would be unreasonable for a party to insist, over the other
party's objection, that a forum other than the Commission is the only appropriate forum for resolving
disputes that otherwise fall within the Commission's jurisdiction under section 224. We also note that the
Commission's pre-complaint mediation process has had marked success in helping parties resolve pole
attachment disputes, and we encourage parties to utilize that process.325
106.
The Further Notice tentatively concluded that the portion of rule 1.1404(m) that provides
that potential attachers who are denied access to a pole, duct, or conduit must file a complaint "within 30
days of such denial" should be eliminated.326 Specifically, the Further Notice observed that the existence
of that language has deterred attachers from pursuing pre-complaint mediation and has prompted the
premature filing of complaints.327 A number of commenters agreed that the 30-day rule should be
eliminated.328 Other commenters felt that the rule should be retained, but all but one of those commenters
also supported an exception to the rule for parties that are engaged in good-faith negotiations to resolve


319 See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. 0.311.
320 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11898, para. 80.
321 AT&T Comments at 2123; Florida IOUs Comments at 41; Comcast Comments at 32 n.96.
322 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11899, para. 81.
323 Idaho Power Comments at 13; Alliant Comments at 6; ITTA Comments at 9.
324 AT&T Comments at 20; NCTA Comments at 5052. But see CenturyLink Comments at 49 (the cases and issues
before the FCC are so idiosyncratic that it is unlikely a helpful set of general best practices could be developed).
325 See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11875, para. 23 & n.73.
326 Id. at 11899900, para. 82 (citing 47 C.F.R. 1.1404(m)).
327 Id.
328 NCTA Comments at 53; Comcast Comments at 33; Charter Comments at 24; Sunesys Comments at 22.
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their dispute.329 We believe the 30-day rule no longer serves a useful purpose, and is actually
counterproductive at times, for the reasons explained in the Further Notice. Any concern about stale
complaints is addressed by our modifications of rule 1.1410, which state that remedies must be
"consistent with the applicable statute of limitations." We therefore eliminate the portion of rule
1.1404(m) requiring that denial of access complaints be filed within 30 days.

C.

Remedies

107.
The Further Notice proposed to amend section 1.1410 of the Commission's pole
attachment complaint rules to enumerate the remedies available to an attacher that proves a utility has
unlawfully delayed or denied access to its poles.330 No comments were received on this proposal, which,
as noted, would simply codify the existing authority and practice, and we accordingly adopt the rule
change as proposed.331 The Further Notice also proposed to amend rule 1.1410 to specify that
compensatory damages may be awarded where an unlawful denial or delay of access is established, or a
rate, term, or condition is found to be unjust and unreasonable.332 We stated that doing so might be
appropriate to deter unlawful conduct by utilities and to fully compensate attachers harmed by utilities'
unlawful conduct.333
108.
The comments contain sharp disagreements about our proposal regarding compensatory
damages. Many utilities argue that (i) the Commission lacks authority under section 224 of the Act to
award compensatory damages;334 (ii) allowing compensatory damages would make the complaint process
unduly cumbersome;335 and (iii) utilities have no competitive reason to obstruct, delay, or burden pole
access.336 By contrast, many attachers argue that (i) the Commission does have authority under section
224 of the Act to award compensatory damages,337 and (ii) allowing compensatory damages will
encourage utilities to comply promptly and fully with their pole access obligations under section 224 of
the Act and the Commission's implementing rules.338
109.
Based on our review of the record and on the other actions we take in this Order, we
decline at this time to amend rule 1.1410 to allow compensatory damages. Given all of the rules designed
to improve and expedite pole access that we adopt herein, we anticipate that attachers will experience far
fewer difficulties than they have to date. Consequently, this does not appear to be a propitious time to
add the potential for compensatory damages. Of course, we will continue to monitor the pole attachment


329 Florida IOUs Comments at 42; EEI/UTC Comments at 52; Verizon Comments at 4244; T-Mobile Comments at
1415; Verizon Reply at 3941. But see Alliance Comments at 69 (proposing retention without modification).
330 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11901, para. 85, and 1193233, App. B, para. 6.
331 Section 1.1410, as amended, would thus include the following provision: (2) If the Commission determines that
access to a pole, duct, conduit, or right-of-way has been unlawfully denied or unreasonably delayed, it may order
that access be permitted within a specified time frame and in accordance with specified rates, terms and conditions.
332 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11901, paras. 8687.
333 Id.
334 See, e.g., EEI/UTC Comments at 4249; NRECA Comments at 20; Alliance Comments at 6971.
335 See, e.g., EEI/UTC Comments at 4849; Florida IOUs Comments at 5051; APPA Reply at 35.
336 EEI/UTC Comments at 4950.
337 See, e.g., TWTC/COMPTEL Reply at 3538; TWC Reply at 2529; Sunesys Reply at 20.
338 See, e.g., ACA Comments at 910; Coalition Comments at 92; Charter Comments at 24; Comcast Comments at
32; EEI/UTC Comments at 4251; MetroPCS Comments at 22; TWC Comments at 2628; CTIA Comments at 13
15; Sunesys Comments at 22-23; TWC Reply at 24.
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processes experienced by attachers, and if our expectations regarding improvements are unmet, we may
revisit the propriety of amending rule 1.1410 to allow compensatory damages.
110.
In the Further Notice, the Commission proposed to modify rule 1.1410(c), which permits
a monetary award in the form of a "refund or payment," measured "from the date that the complaint, as
acceptable, was filed, plus interest."339 The proposed modification to the rule would allow monetary
recovery in a pole attachment action to extend back as far as the applicable statute of limitations allows.340
We reasoned that the current rule fails to make injured attachers whole, and is inconsistent with the way
that claims for monetary recovery are generally treated under the law.341 The Commission expressed a
concern that, by allowing monetary recovery only from the date the complaint is filed, the current rule
discourages pre-complaint negotiations between the parties to resolve disputes about rates, terms and
conditions of attachment.342
111.
A number of commenters favored the proposed modification, and generally supported the
rationale for the rule change described in the order.343 Several commenters, however, oppose the rule
modification. We find the arguments offered by these opponents to be unpersuasive. Specifically, we
reject the contention that the proposed rule change creates an incentive for attaching entities to attempt to
maximize their monetary recovery by waiting until shortly before the statute of limitations has expired to
bring a dispute over rates to the Commission.344 We see no basis to conclude that an attacher injured by
pole attachment rate over-charges would be any more likely than any other injured plaintiff to wait the
full length of the limitations period before bringing a claim. An injured pole attacher has no more
incentive than any other plaintiff to delay filing a complaint in order to make additional over-payments
that will later need to be refunded.345


339 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1190102, para. 88 (quoting 47 C.F.R. 1.1410(C).
340 Id. at 1190102, para. 88, 1193233, App. B, para. 6 (proposed amendment to rule 1.1410). Elsewhere in this
Order, we address a proposal to expand the relief available under rule 1.1410 to include the recovery of
compensatory damages in pole attachment complaint proceedings. See supra paras. 107109.
341 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1190102, para. 88.
342 Id.
343 See, e.g., TWC Comments at 2628 (allowing recovery consistent with the applicable statute of limitations,
rather than from the date a complaint is filed, will facilitate informal dispute resolution and reduce litigation before
the Commission, because attachers will not be compelled immediately to file a complaint in order to preserve their
claims); Charter Comments at 25 (the existing refund rule provides no incentive for pole owners to charge just and
reasonable rates because even when an attacher prevails in a complaint proceeding, the current remedy--a refund
back to the day of the complaint--rarely makes the complainant whole); NCTA Comments at 53 (attachers typically
are reimbursed only to the date on which an error is discovered and reported to the utility--or, if a complaint is filed,
to the date of the complaint; requiring pole owners to compensate attachers from the date of wrongful conduct
would encourage pole owners to comply with the Commission's rules).
344 See EEI/UTC comments at 5052. See also Alliance Comments at 6769 (the proposed rule change would
discourage timely filing of complaints); Coalition Comments at 93 (permitting attachers to recover refunds dating
back years before a complaint is filed would eliminate any incentive for them to resolve rate issues in a timely
manner. Rate disputes would drag on indefinitely, and the amount potentially to be refunded will grow
proportionately). EEI/UTC also complained that our order "does not specify exactly what statute of limitations it
believes may be relevant." EEI/UTC Comments at 51.
345 One commenter noted that, in the 1978 First Report and Order, the Commission specifically rejected a
suggestion that refunds be calculated from the date the disputed rate was first paid, and expressed the view that
allowing refunds from the date of complaint is "entirely appropriate in a complainant form of regulation" in order to
"avoid abuse and encourage early filing when rates are considered objectionable." Alliance Comments at 68 (citing
the First Report and Order)). In the more than 30 years since that order issued, we have had the opportunity to
weigh this concern about potential abuse against our experience that the rule, as currently written, creates a
(continued....)
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112.
At the same time, we encourage attachers to provide early notice to utilities of any alleged
overcharges so that the parties can attempt to resolve such issues through negotiation rather than litigation
before the Commission. However, we decline the invitation of one commenter to modify our rules to
preclude monetary recovery for any period prior to the time a utility receives actual notice of a disputed
charge.346 Such a rule modification runs counter to the very idea of a statute of limitations, which permits
complaints to be filed up until the last day of the limitations period. We therefore modify rule 1.1410(c)
to allow monetary recovery in a pole attachment action to extend as far back in time as the applicable
statute of limitations allows.

D.

Unauthorized Attachments

113.
Another issue addressed by the Further Notice was attachments installed on poles without
a lawful agreement with or permit from the pole owner--so-called "unauthorized attachments."347 The
Further Notice explained that, under current precedent (i.e., the Mile Hi decisions),348 penalties for
unauthorized attachments may not "exceed an amount approximately equal to the annual pole attachment
fee for the number of years since the most recent inventory or five years, whichever is less, plus
interest."349 This standard, the Further Notice observed, amounted to "little more than back rent" and
may be insufficient to encourage compliance with proper authorization processes.350 Consequently, the
Further Notice asked a series of questions about alternatives to the Commission's penalty regime,
including the system adopted by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission ("Oregon PUC").351
114.
Commenters continue to disagree about the scope of the problem posed by unauthorized
attachments, with attachers arguing that utilities vastly overstate the numbers,352 and utilities arguing that
the problem is widespread and serious.353 Although the record is insufficient for us to make specific
findings regarding the scope and severity of non-compliance, there appears to be a well-founded concern
that an unauthorized attachment payment amounting to no more than back rent provides little incentive
for attachers to follow authorization processes, and that competitive pressure to bring services to market
(Continued from previous page)


disincentive to engage in pre-complaint negotiation. We find that the benefits of encouraging negotiated resolution
of disputes outweighs any concern that attachers will "abuse" the process by unduly delaying the filing of
overcharge complaints.
346 See Verizon Comments at 45.
347 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1190205, paras. 8998.
348 Mile Hi Cable Partners v. Public Service Company of Colorado, Order, 15 FCC Rcd 11450 (Cable Serv. Bur.
2000) ("Mile Hi Order"), review denied, 17 FCC Rcd 6268 (2002) ("Mile Hi Recon Order"), review denied sub
nom. Public Serv. Co. of Colorado v. FCC
, 328 F.3d 675 (D.C. Cir. 2003). In the Mile Hi Order, the Cable Services
Bureau concluded that a penalty payment for each unauthorized attachment limited to not more than five times the
annual attachment rent was a sufficient incentive for the attacher to comply with a reasonable application process.
Mile Hi Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 11458, para. 14. On appeal, the Commission declined to adopt the Mile Hi Order as
a standard of general applicability, but found that the record supported the Bureau's determination. Mile Hi Recon
Order
, 17 FCC Rcd at 6273, para. 11.
349 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11903, para. 92.
350 Id. at 11904, para. 94.
351 Id. at 1190405, paras. 9598.
352 Bright House Comments at 28; NCTA Comments at 4250; Sunesys Comments at 2728; Comcast Comments at
3334; Charter Comments at 2632; TWC at 3036; Verizon Reply at 4344.
353 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 97.
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overwhelms any deterrent effect.354 That said, we take seriously the arguments by attachers that utilities
may deem attachments to be unauthorized because of poor record keeping or changes in pole ownership,
rather than because of the attacher's failure to follow proper protocol.355 Consequently, the policy we
enunciate today applies on a prospective basis only -- i.e., to new agreements, or amendments to existing
agreements, executed after the effective date of this Order.
115.
To address the concerns implicated by unauthorized attachments, we explicitly abandon
the Mile Hi limitation on penalties and instead create a safe harbor for more substantial penalties.
Specifically, going forward, we will consider contract-based penalties for unauthorized attachments to be
presumptively reasonable if they do not exceed those implemented by the Oregon PUC.356 Oregon has
established a multifaceted system that contains, among others, the following provisions:

An unauthorized attachment fee of $500 per pole for pole occupants without a contract
(i.e., when there is no pole attachment agreement between the parties);357

An unauthorized attachment fee of five times the current annual rental fee per pole if the
pole occupant does not have a permit and the violation is self-reported or discovered
through a joint inspection, with an additional sanction of $100 per pole if the violation is
found by the pole owner in an inspection in which the pole occupant has declined to
participate.358

A requirement that the pole owner provide specific notice of a violation (including pole
number and location) before seeking relief against a pole occupant.359

An opportunity for attachers to avoid sanctions by submitting plans of correction within
60 calendar days of receipt of notification of a violation or by correcting the violation and
providing notice of the correction to the owner within 180 calendar days of receipt of
notification of the violation.360

A mutual obligation of pole owners and pole occupants to correct immediately violations
that pose imminent danger to life or property. If a party corrects another party's
violation, the party responsible for the violation must reimburse the correcting party for
the actual cost of corrections.361


354 Alliant Comments at 7; ITTA Comments at 10; Idaho Power Comments at 15; Florida IOUs Comments at 49
52; Verizon Comments at 4546; Alliance Comments at 7275; APPA Comments at 3031; Oncor Comments at
5152; Verizon Reply at 4344.
355 Florida IOUs Reply at 15; APPA Reply at 36.
356 See Oregon Administrative Rules, Division 28, Pole and Conduit Attachments, 860-028-0130 0220;
http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/rules/OARS_800/OAR_860/860_028.html.
357 Oregon Administrative Rules, Division 28, Pole and Conduit Attachments, 860-028-0130. "To facilitate the joint
use of poles," the Oregon regulations provide that "entities must execute contracts establishing the rates, terms, and
conditions of pole use." Id. 860-028-0060(2).
358 Oregon Administrative Rules, Division 28, Pole and Conduit Attachments, 860-028-0140.
359 Oregon Administrative Rules, Division 28, Pole and Conduit Attachments, 860-028-0190.
360 Oregon Administrative Rules, Division 28, Pole and Conduit Attachments, 860-028-0150.
361 Oregon Administrative Rules, Division 28, Pole and Conduit Attachments, 860-028-0115, 860-028-0120.
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The opportunity for resolution of factual disputes via settlement conferences before an
alternative dispute resolution forum.362
116.
In a case where an attacher makes unauthorized attachments to a pole at a time when the
attacher has no pole attachment agreement with the utility, but later enters into such an agreement, we
find that it would be reasonable for the utility to apply the unauthorized attachment provisions in that
agreement to attachments that were made before the agreement was executed, as well as to any
unauthorized attachments made following execution. If an attacher who has made unauthorized
attachments without any contract with the utility refuses to enter into a pole attachment agreement, the
utility may seek other remedies including, for example, an action in state court for trespass.
117.
The comments evidenced significant support for the Oregon PUC's sanctions.363 The
record shows that the system of fines instituted by the Oregon PUC has been effective in reducing
substantially the incidence of unauthorized attachments in that state.364 The Oregon penalties have been
tested and refined with assistance from the Oregon Joint Use Association.365
118.
We do not adopt the Oregon system as federal law, but rather continue to favor
agreements negotiated between utilities and attaching entities.366 We simply conclude that we have
examined Oregon's rules and find them to be reasonable, and that we would expect to find reasonable any
unauthorized attachment provisions contained in agreements that do not exceed the Oregon penalties. As
noted above, however, the Oregon sanctions are part of a larger system that also affords protections to
attachers that operate in good faith. Consequently, we anticipate that, like the Oregon system, a
reasonable pole attachment agreement also will contain provisions that provide notice to attachers, a fair
opportunity to remedy violations, and a reasonable process for resolving factual disputes that may arise.

E.

The "Sign and Sue" Rule

119.
The Further Notice reviewed the Commission's long-standing "sign and sue" rule, which
allows an attacher to challenge the lawfulness of terms in an executed pole attachment agreement that the
attacher claims it was coerced to accept in order to gain access to utility poles.367 Finding that utilities
continue to have the potential to abuse their monopoly power in negotiating pole attachment agreements,
the Commission proposed to retain the "sign and sue" rule, but sought comment on whether to add a
notice requirement to the rule.368 Specifically, the Commission proposed that rule 1.1404(d) be amended


362 The Oregon rules provide for dispute resolution before a Joint-Use Association, which is comprised of pole
owners, pole occupants, and government entities. Oregon Administrative Rules, Division 28, Pole and Conduit
Attachments, 860-028-0200, 860-028-0220. We encourage stakeholders to develop dispute resolution fora that
would function in a manner similar to the Joint-Use Association in Oregon.
363 Alliant Comments at 7; NRECA Comments at 20; Coalition Comments at 10001; CPS Energy Comments at 15;
Verizon Comments at 4546; Alliance Comments at 7275; APPA Reply at 36. Of course, the comments were not
unanimous. Some believe the Oregon system is not sufficiently stringent. Idaho Power Comments at 15; APPA
Comments at 3031; Oncor Comments at 5152. Others believe the Oregon system is unworkable or that it results
in penalties that are too harsh. Charter Comments at 2632; TWC Comments at 3036.
364 See Coalition Comments at 101 and Exh. C.
365 Portland General Electric NPRM Comments at 6 (describing the Oregon Joint Use Association as an industry
group in which the interests of both attaching entities and utilities are represented).
366 See 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 678384, para. 10 (preference for negotiated agreements).
367 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1190509, paras. 99108.
368 Some commenters continue to urge the Commission to eliminate the "sign and sue" rule entirely. See, e.g.,
EEI/UTC Comments at 5963; Idaho Power Comments at 1516. We decline to do so, for the reasons stated in the
Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1190708, paragraphs 10405. See, e.g., AT&T Comments at 25 (attachers might
feel economic pressure to accept a less than satisfactory agreement in order to get into business or to serve a specific
(continued....)
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to require an attacher to provide a utility with written notice of its objections to provisions of a proposed
pole attachment agreement, during contract negotiations, as a prerequisite for later bringing a complaint
challenging those provisions.369 We also sought comment on whether such a notice requirement should
include an exception for circumstances where a challenged provision was not unjust and unreasonable on
its face, but only as later applied, and the attacher could not reasonably have anticipated the unreasonable
application.370
120.
A few commenters expressed support for the proposed notice requirement.371 A number
of other commenters, however, advocated retaining the "sign and sue" rule without modification, and
raised various objections to the proposed notice requirement.372 After reviewing these comments, we
conclude that the Commission should not amend rule 1.1404(d) to add a notice requirement to the "sign
and sue" rule. As discussed below, we find that such a requirement poses a significant risk of unduly
delaying the negotiation process and adding unnecessary complexity to the adjudication of pole
attachment disputes before the Commission. Moreover, we find that a number of the intended benefits of
the proposed notice provision will be realized through the amendment to rule 1.1404(k) that we adopt
elsewhere in this order.
121.
Commenters both for and against the notice requirement raised valid concerns that the
requirement would prompt attachers to be over-inclusive in identifying potentially problematic contract
terms in correspondence with the utility during the negotiation process.373 One commenter opined that
the notice requirement would cause attachers to make "blanket" objections to contract terms that would
provide utilities with no notice of which provisions the attachers actually consider to be objectionable (as
(Continued from previous page)


customer by a certain time frame); Level 3 Comments at 1416 (attaching parties often do not sign the agreements
because they have reached accord on significant provisions, but because they can no longer delay their construction
while negotiations drag on); TWC Comments at 2326 (utilities, relying on superior bargaining power, often present
attachers with onesided boilerplate agreements, and have little or no incentive to make concessions other than
removing facially illegal terms); NCTA Comments at 3742 (the "sign and sue" rule is virtually the only leverage
attachers have when negotiating contracts with utilities).
369 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11905, 1190809, paras. 99, 10708.
370 Id. at 11909, para. 108.
371 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 10405; Florida IOUs Comments at 5355; AT&T Comments at 25; APPA
Comments at 30. Some commenters expressed only weak support for the proposed notice requirement. See, e.g.,
Oncor Comments at 5254 (Oncor does not oppose the notice requirement); EEI/UTC Reply at 5154 (although the
proposed revision to the sign and sue rule is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough in providing
assurance a pole attachment agreement was negotiated in good faith by an attaching entity). One commenter who
advocates eliminating the sign and sue rule in its entirety, opposed the proposed notice requirement. Idaho Power
Comments at 1516 (the proposed notice requirement is "not likely to remedy or improve the negotiation process
and could increase the potential for adverse impacts for all parties.").
372 See, e.g., NCTA Comments at 3742; TWC Comments at 2326; MetroPCS Comments at 2226; Level 3
Comments at 1416; Comcast Comments at 2530; Charter Comments at 1621; CenturyLink Comments at 3537;
CTIA Comments at 1515; ACA Comments at 1011. The proposed exception to the notice requirement for
circumstances where rates, terms, and conditions are not unjust and unreasonable on their face was criticized by both
supporters and opponents of the notice requirement. See, e.g., AT&T Comments at 2627; NCTA Comments at 40
41; Oncor Comments at 53. But see CTIA Comments at 1516 (supporting the exception); Sunesys Comments at 28
(same).
373 See, e.g., Florida IOUs Comments at 5355 (proposed notice requirement will encourage attachers to word all
correspondence in negotiations to include language that could later be deemed "notice" under the rule). See also
NCTA Comments at 40; Charter Comments at 1621; Oncor Comments at 53. To address this potential problem,
the Florida IOUs, who support the notice requirement, suggested that the Commission require an attacher to
designate, immediately before the agreement is executed, the specific provisions of the final agreement it contends
are unjust and unreasonable. Florida IOUs Comments at 5355.
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distinguished from those the attacher included merely to ensure it did not waive any rights to later
object).374 This effort to memorialize all conceivably objectionable terms, some feared, would set off
time-consuming exchanges of correspondence between the attacher and the utility, and thus increase the
time and expense involved in negotiating a pole attachment agreement.375
122.
Some commenters also predicted that the proposed notice requirement would prematurely
ignite a host of unnecessary disputes during the negotiation process over contract provisions that may
never be implemented or enforced by the utility.376 Further, some commenters raised credible concerns
that the notice requirement would complicate and prolong complaint proceedings before the Commission
by requiring the Commission, as a threshold matter, to review the parties' negotiating history to determine
whether the attacher provided the utility with notice of its objections to disputed contract terms during
negotiations, and, if not, whether the attacher could have reasonably anticipated that the challenged term
would be applied in an allegedly unreasonable manner.377
123.
Comments from both utilities and attachers emphasized the need for parties to engage in
good faith negotiations to resolve disputes over contract terms before claims are raised at the
Commission.378 Indeed, we affirm, pursuant to our authority under section 224(b) of the Act, that both
attachers and utilities have a duty to negotiate the rates, terms, and conditions of attachment in good faith,
and to make a good faith effort to resolve disputes prior to seeking relief from the Commission. We thus
reject the position of commenters who contend that the sign and sue rule effectively relieves attachers of
any obligation to negotiate pole agreements in good faith.379 At the same time, however, we note that the
sign and sue rule was adopted in recognition that in some situations, despite good faith efforts to reach
agreement, an attacher may be forced to execute a pole attachment agreement containing what it believes
to be unjust and unreasonable terms in order to gain timely access to the utility's poles.380 Although the
sign and sue rule exists to address these situations, based on the relatively few complaints the


374 Oncor Comments at 5354.
375 See, e.g., Comcast Comments at 2530; NCTA Comments at 40; Charter Comments at 1621; TWC Comments
at 2326; TWC Reply at 41.
376 See Comcast Comments at 2530 (although utilities routinely salt their pole agreements with boilerplate terms
that violate numerous provisions of pole attachment law and policy, many of these provisions are never
implemented or enforced by the utility, in part because the provisions are known to be unenforceable); TWC
Comments at 2326 (the proposed notice requirement may lead attachers to litigate over terms that may never be
enforced by a utility); Charter Comments at 1621 (memorializing every conceivable basis for complaint, as
attachers will feel compelled to do, will most likely be unnecessary).
377 See Charter Comments at 1620; Florida IOUs Comments at 5355.
378 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 105; EEI/UTC Comments at 5963; EEI/UTC Reply at 5154; Comcast
Comments at 2530; TWC Comments at 2326.
379 See, e.g., EEI/UTC Reply at 5154.
380 See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1190507, paras. 100, 104. Such a coercive situation may arise, for example,
where "the attacher acquiesces in a utility's `take it or leave it' demand that it pay more than the statutory maximum
or relinquish some other valuable right -- without any quid pro quo other than the ability to attach its wires on
unreasonable or discriminatory terms." See Southern Co. Servs., Inc. v. FCC, 313 F.3d 574, 583 (D.C. Cir. 2002)
(Southern Co. II) (quoting the Commission's brief with approval). As we discussed in the Further Notice, a utility
may successfully defend a complaint challenging the reasonableness of a term in a pole attachment agreement by
showing that the term was adopted as part of a quid pro quo for which the utility provided a valuable concession.
See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11908, para. 106. See also NCTA Comments at 41 (if a pole owner wishes to
demonstrate that an attacher bargained away the precise term or condition that it subsequently challenges in a
complaint, it can do so under the existing regulatory regime); Comcast Comments at 2530 (utilities are protected
by the Commission's policy of not disturbing bargained-for package of provisions where a quid pro quo has been
established). Accord, Level 3 Comments at 1416; Charter Comments at 1621.
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Commission has received challenging the terms of executed pole attachment agreements, it appears that
in most instances, parties are able to achieve an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.381
124.
Our proposal to include a notice requirement in rule 1.1404(d) was designed to promote
efforts by attachers and utilities to negotiate innovative and mutually beneficial solutions to contested
contract issues.382 After reviewing comments on that proposal, however, we have concluded that it
carries a significant risk of unduly complicating and delaying the negotiation of pole attachments
agreements and the adjudication of disputes over such agreements. Moreover, we find that the
modifications to rule 1.1404(k) adopted elsewhere in this order,383 including the requirement for good
faith, executive-level negotiations, will provide a number of the benefits we originally envisioned for the
amendment to rule 1.1404(d). Amended rule 1.1404(k) should encourage the negotiated resolution of
disputes over the terms of pole attachment agreements by providing utilities with notice of those
provisions in a pole attachment agreement that an attacher finds so unreasonable that it is prepared to seek
relief at the Commission. Moreover, because application of amended rule 1.1404(k) -- unlike the
proposed amendment to rule 1.1404(d) -- carries no risk that an attacher's right to challenge
unreasonable contract provisions will be waived through incomplete notice, attachers will have little
incentive to be over-inclusive in designating issues for pre-complaint resolution. Similarly, relying on a
pre-complaint notice requirement, instead of a requirement for notice during contract negotiations, will
decrease the likelihood that parties will spend valuable time and resources wrangling over terms that a
utility may never seek to enforce.
125.
Rule 1.1404(k), as modified, will thus provide a number of the dispute resolution benefits
that the notice requirement was intended to offer. Further, it does not pose the complications and
potential delays to the negotiation and adjudication process that many commenters feared would result
from the proposal addition of a notice requirement to rule 1.1404(d). Accordingly, we decline to amend
rule 1.1404(d) to add a provision requiring an attacher to provide a utility with written notice of its
objections to provisions of a proposed pole attachment agreement, during contract negotiations, as a
prerequisite for later bringing a complaint challenging those provisions.

V.

POLE RENTAL RATES

126.
As discussed below, the record developed in response to the Further Notice persuades us
to adopt a form of the proposed new telecommunications rate formula, which we believe strikes the right
balance between promoting broadband and providing continued incentives for investment by pole owners
consistent with section 224 of the Act.384 In addition, the new formula will minimize the difference in
rental rates paid for attachments that are used to provide voice, data, and video services, and thus will
help remove market distortions that affect attachers' deployment decisions. Removing these barriers to
telecommunications and cable deployment will enable consumers to benefit through increased
competition, affordability, and availability of advanced communications services, including broadband.
Increasing competitive neutrality also improves the ability of different providers to compete with each
other on an equal footing, better enabling efficient competition.

A.

Background

127.
1978 Pole Attachment Act. Congress first directed the Commission to ensure that the
rates, terms and conditions for pole attachments by cable television systems were just and reasonable in


381 See TWC Reply at 40 (noting the "relative dearth of pole attachment complaints filed with the Commission);
NCTA Comments at 3740 (if attachers were simply signing virtually any pole attachment agreement and filing
complaints later, significantly more complaints would have been filed to date).
382 See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11908, para. 107.
383 See supra para. 100.
384 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1191724, paras. 12841.
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1978 when it added section 224 to the Communications Act.385 Although section 224 relied on "cost" as
the foundation for determining just and reasonable attachment rates, it recognized the range of ways that
"cost" could be interpreted. In particular, section 224(d)(1) defines a just and reasonable rate as ranging
from a statutory minimum based on the additional costs of providing pole attachments to a statutory
maximum based on fully allocated costs.386
128.
The additional, or incremental, costs that form the basis for the statutory minimum are the
costs that would not be incurred by the utility "but for" the pole attachments.387 These costs include pre-
construction survey, engineering, make-ready, and change-out costs incurred in preparing the pole for
attachments.388 Congress expected a pole attachment rate based on incremental costs to be minimal since
most of those costs would have been fully recovered in the make-ready charges already paid by the
attacher.389 The maximum rate for attachments under section 224(d)(1), identified as a percentage of fully
allocated costs, reflects a portion of operating expenses and capital costs that a utility incurs in owning
and maintaining poles; the percentage is equal to the portion of space on a pole occupied by an attacher.390
129.
In a series of orders, the Commission implemented a formula that cable television system
attachers and utilities could use to determine a maximum allowable just and reasonable pole attachment
rate referred to as the cable rate formula and procedures for resolving rate complaints.391 In 1987, the
U.S. Supreme Court found that the cable rate formula adopted by the Commission provides pole owners
with adequate compensation, and thus did not result in an unconstitutional "taking."392
130.
Telecommunications Act of 1996. Congress expanded the reach of section 224 in the 1996
Act to promote infrastructure investment and competition. Among other things, Congress added
"provider[s] of telecommunications service[s]" as a category of attacher entitled to pole attachments at
just and reasonable rates, terms and conditions under section 224,393 and added section 224(e), which
provides a methodology "to govern the charges for pole attachments used by telecommunications carriers


385 Pole Attachment Act of 1978, Pub. L. No. 95-234, 92 Stat. 33, codified at Communications Act of 1934, as
amended; 47 U.S.C. 224. Congress reacted to an apparent need in the cable television industry to resolve conflicts
between such providers, then known as "CATV systems," and utility pole, duct, and conduit owners over the
charges for use of such facilities. See generally 1977 Senate Report, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. 109.
386 47 U.S.C. 224(d)(1); see also 1977 Senate Report at 1921, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 12728.
387 1977 Senate Report at 19, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 127.
388 "Make-ready" generally refers to the modification of poles or lines or the installation of guys and anchors to
accommodate additional facilities. See 1977 Senate Report at 19, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 127. A pole
change-out is the replacement of a pole to accommodate additional users. Amendment of Rules and Policies
Governing the Attachment of Cable Television Hardware to Utility Poles
, CC Docket No. 86-212, Report and Order,
2 FCC Rcd 4387, 4388, para. 6 n.3 (1987) (1987 Rate Order), recon. denied, 4 FCC Rcd 468 (1989).
389 See 1977 Senate Report at 19, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 127; 1987 Rate Order, 2 FCC Rcd at 4388,
para. 4.
3901977 Senate Report at 1920, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 12728.
391 See, e.g., First Report and Order, 68 FCC 2d 1585 (adopting complaint procedures); Adoption of Rules for the
Regulation of Cable Television Pole Attachments
, CC Docket No. 78-144, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 77
FCC 2d 187 (1980) (defining, e.g., safety space, average usable space, attachment as occupying 12 inches of space,
and make-ready as non-recurring cost); 1987 Rate Order, 2 FCC Rcd 4387. The cable rate formula was codified in
the 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd 6777 at 47 C.F.R. 1.1409(e)(1).
392 FCC v. Florida Power Corp., 480 U.S. 245 (1987); see Alabama Cable Telecomm. Ass'n v. Alabama Power Co.,
Application for Review, File No. PA 00-003, Order, 16 FCC Rcd 12209 (2001) (Alabama Cable Order), review
denied sub. nom
. Alabama Power Co. v. FCC, 311 F.3d 1357 (11th Cir. 2002), cert. denied, Alabama Power Co. v.
FCC
, 540 U.S. 937 (2003).
393 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(4), (b)(1).
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to provide telecommunications services."394 Section 224(e) provides for the determination of pole
attachment rates based on "the cost of providing space on a pole."395 The statute explains how the costs
should be divided, or allocated, between the pole owner and attacher.396
131.
By virtue of the 1996 Act revisions, section 224 of the Act now sets forth two separate
methodologies to determine the maximum rates for pole attachments one applies to pole attachments
used by telecommunications carriers (the telecom rate formula), and the other to pole attachments used
"solely to provide cable service" (the cable rate formula).397 Under section 224, pole attachments for
telecommunications carriers initially were established under the cable rate formula, and were transitioned
to the telecom rate formula over a five-year period.398 As the Commission implemented these statutory
formulas, the telecom rate formula generally resulted in higher pole rental rates than the cable rate
formula.399
132.
Subsequent Proceedings. At the same time that the Commission adopted a rule
implementing the telecom rate formula, it addressed the issues of cable attachments used to offer
commingled cable and Internet access services. In particular, the Commission held that cable television
systems that offer commingled cable and Internet access service should continue to pay the cable rate.400
In 2002, the Supreme Court upheld this decision, finding that section 224(b) gives the Commission
authority to adopt just and reasonable rates for attachments within the general scope of section 224 of the
Act, but outside the "self-described scope" of the telecom rate formula or cable rate formula as specified
under sections 224(d) and (e).401
133.
On November 20, 2007, the Commission released the Pole Attachment Notice, which
sought comment on, among other things, the difference in pole attachment rates paid by cable systems,
incumbent LECs, and competing telecommunications carriers that provide the same or similar services.402
The Commission likewise recognized "the importance of promoting broadband deployment and the


394 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(1)(4). For purposes of section 224, however, Congress excluded incumbent LECs from the
definition of "telecommunications carrier." 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(5). We discuss below issues relating to the
treatment of pole attachments by incumbent LECs for purposes of section 224. See infra Part V.C.
395 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(2).
396 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(2)(3).
397 47 U.S.C. 224(d), (e). The difference between the cable and existing telecom rate formulas is the way they
allocate the costs associated with the unusable portion of the pole -- the space on a pole that cannot be used for
attachments. Compare 47 C.F.R. 1.1409(e)(1) with 47 C.F.R. 1.1409(e)(2). The cable and telecom rate
formulas both allocate the costs of usable space on a pole based on the fraction of the usable space that an
attachment occupies. Under the cable rate formula, the costs of unusable space are allocated in the same way.
Under the telecom rate formula, however, two-thirds of the costs of the unusable space is allocated equally among
the number of attachers, including the owner, and the remaining one third of these costs is allocated solely to the
pole owner.
398 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(4).
399 Under the cable formula, each attacher, other than the pole owner, pays about 7.4% of the annual cost of a pole.
See 47 U.S.C. 224(d). Under the telecom rate formula, each attacher, other than the pole owner, pays between
about 11.2% of the annual cost of a pole in urban areas to about 16.9% in non-urban areas. See Further Notice, 25
FCC Rcd at 1191314, para. 11. These rates are based on the Commission's rebuttable presumptions of 37.5 feet
for the height of a pole, 24 feet for the unusable space on a pole, 13.5 feet for the usable space, 1 foot for the space
occupied by an attachment, 3 attachers in non-urban areas, and 5 attachers in urban areas. See 47 C.F.R. 1.1417
18.
400 See 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 6796, para. 34.
401 Gulf Power, 534 U.S. at 33536, 33839.
402 Pole Attachment Notice, 22 FCC Rcd at 20200, 20206, paras. 13, 26.
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importance of technological neutrality," and thus "tentatively conclude[d] that all categories of providers
should pay the same pole attachment rate for all attachments used for broadband Internet access
service."403 The Pole Attachment Notice went on to tentatively conclude, however, that "the [uniform]
rate should be higher than the current cable rate, yet no greater than the telecommunications rate."404
134.
In the 2010 Further Notice, however, the Commission declined to pursue that approach
for several reasons. The Commission explained that pursuing uniformity by increasing cable operators'
pole rental rates potentially up to the level yielded by the current telecom formula "would come at the
cost of increased broadband prices and reduced incentives for deployment."405 Instead, the Commission
sought to limit the distortions present in the current pole rental rates "to increase the availability of, and
competition for, advanced services to anchor institutions and as middle-mile inputs to wireless services
and other broadband services," some of which potentially could be classified as telecommunications
services.406 Accordingly, in the Further Notice, the Commission sought comment on alternative
approaches for reinterpreting the telecom rate formula within the existing statutory framework, including
a specific Commission proposal based on elements proposed by TWTC. As the Commission noted, this
approach was consistent with the National Broadband Plan's recommendation to establish rates "as low
and close to uniform as possible" based on evidence that the uncertainty regarding the applicable rate
"may be deterring broadband providers that pay lower pole rates from extending their networks or adding
capabilities (such as high-capacity links to wireless towers)."407 This uncertainty results from the risk
that, by offering services that potentially could be classified as "telecommunications services," a higher
telecom rental rate might then be applied to the broadband provider's entire network.408 The Further
Notice
explained that the record likewise bears out these concerns.409

B.

The New Telecom Pole Rental Rate

135.
After review of the extensive filings in this proceeding, we adopt a modified form of the
Further Notice's proposal as the new telecom rate. Under this new approach, explained in detail below,
we revise the section 224(e) rental rate for pole attachments used by telecommunications carriers to
provide telecommunications services. As we explain in detail below in Part V.B.2, Congress gave the
Commission authority to interpret section 224(e), including the ambiguous phrases "cost of providing
space . . . other than the usable space" in section 224(e)(2) and "cost of providing usable space" in section
224(e)(3). Exercising that authority, we identify a range of possible rates, from the current application of
the telecom rate formula at the upper end, to an alternative application of the telecom rate formula based
on cost causation principles at the lower end. Within that range, we seek to balance the goals of
promoting broadband and other communications services with the historical role that pole rental rates
have played in supporting the investment in pole infrastructure, and thus define the "cost of providing
space" on that basis.
136.
As explained below, we believe the telecom rate should be lowered to more effectively
achieve Congress' goals under the 1996 Act to promote competition and "advanced telecommunications


403 Id. 20209, para. 36.
404 Id.
405 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11913, para. 118.
406 Id.
407 NATIONAL BROADBAND PLAN at 11011 & n.11 (citing a filing with the Commission by Bright House explaining
the deterrent effect of higher pole attachment rates on offering new, advanced services to anchor institutions like
school districts).
408 Id.
409 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11912, para. 116 (noting examples cited by cable operators of the negative effects
that a higher pole attachment rate would have on deploying new, advanced services).
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capability" by both wired and wireless providers by "remov[ing] barriers to infrastructure investment,"
and the broader pro-competitive goals and policies that Congress directed the Commission to carry out
under the 1996 Act.410 Indeed, the Sixth Broadband Deployment Report identified reform of the
Commission's pole attachment rules as a means to advance the deployment of broadband.411
Additionally, this rate is readily administrable and consistent with the "simple and expeditious" regulatory
framework Congress intended. Most importantly from a consumer standpoint, the new rate methodology
that we implement will better serve the public interest by making broadband and other advanced services
more widely available.
137.
We also find this approach consistent with the specific statutory framework governing
pole attachments. For one, as a matter of law, the new telecom rate reflects a reasonable interpretation of
the ambiguous statutory language of section 224(e) and remains true to the statutory requirements for
allocating cost between attachers and pole owners. The rate is just, reasonable, and fully compensatory,
and our new methodology is grounded in sound economic policies.
1.

Description of the New Telecom Rate

138.
Overall Approach. The new telecom rate we adopt today originates from an initial
proposal by TWTC.412 Fundamentally, TWTC asserts that the Commission's prior telecom rate included
costs that "bear no relation" to the cost of providing space for an attachment and are not necessitated by
the language of section 224(e). In particular, TWTC contends that "none of these `costs' has anything to
do with actually providing `space' on a pole for pole attachments because a utility would incur these costs
`regardless of the presence of pole attachments.'"413 Thus, TWTC proposes that those costs should be
eliminated from the telecom rate.414 TWTC suggests instead that utilities should determine "how much
extra a utility must incur to provide non-usable and usable space on poles for pole attachments (in both
construction and maintenance costs) and then fully allocate those costs based on the cost-apportionment
formulas under Section 224(e)(2) and (3)."415 Drawing upon this conceptual framework, the Further
Notice
sought comment on a modified proposal designed to ensure consistency with the statutory
framework of section 224. Based upon the record received in response to the Further Notice, we adopt a
revised form of that proposal, as described below.
139.
As a threshold matter, we note that the Commission recognizes that "[r]ather than insisting
upon a single regulatory method for determining whether rates are just and reasonable, courts and other
federal agencies with rate authority similar to our own evaluate whether an established regulatory scheme
produces rates that fall within a `zone of reasonableness.' For rates to fall within the zone of


410 47 U.S.C. 1302(a); Telecommunications Act of 1996, Public Law No. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56.
411 See Inquiry Concerning the Deployment of Advanced Telecommunications Capability to All Americans in a
Reasonable and Timely Fashion, and Possible Steps to Accelerate Such Deployment Pursuant to Section 706 of the
Telecommunications Act of 1996, as Amended by the Broadband Data Improvement Act; A National Broadband
Plan for Our Future
, GN Docket Nos. 09-51, 09-137, Sixth Broadband Deployment Report, 25 FCC Rcd 9556,
956061, 9575, para. 7 & n.26, para. 29 & n.125 (2010) (Sixth Broadband Deployment Report) (citing the 2010
Further Notice). Such actions also were recommended by the National Broadband Plan. NATIONAL BROADBAND
PLAN at 10911.
412 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1191517, paras. 123128 (discussing Letter from Thomas Jones, Counsel for
Time Warner Telecom Inc., to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, RM-11293, RM-11303, Attach. (filed Jan. 16,
2007) (TWTC White Paper)).
413 See TWTC White Paper, RM-11293, at 20 (comparing 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(2)(3) with Amendment of the
Commission's Rules and Policies Governing Pole Attachments
, WC Docket No. 07-245, Report and Order, 15 FCC
Rcd 6453, 647791, paras. 4476 (2000) (2000 Fee Order)).
414 See TWTC White Paper, RM-11293, at 1920.
415 Id. at 20.
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reasonableness, the agency rate order must undertake a `reasonable balancing' of the `investor interest in
maintaining financial integrity and access to capital markets and the consumer interest in being charged
non-exploitative rates.'"416
140.
We employ this approach and establish an upper-bound and lower-bound telecom rate
under section 224(e). Specifically, depending upon the relative magnitude of costs included, the telecom
rate formula will yield relatively higher or lower rates. Identifying reasonable, albeit different
interpretations of the ambiguous term "cost" that are consistent with the statute thus provides an upper
and lower limit on the possible telecom rates that would be consistent with section 224(e). Although any
of the definitions of cost within that range potentially could be adopted by the Commission, and would
therefore yield the "just and reasonable" rate for purposes of section 224(e), as discussed below we adopt
an approach that seeks to balance the goals of increased broadband competition and availability with the
historical role that pole rental rates have played in supporting the cost of pole infrastructure consistent
with the framework of section 224(e).
141.
Upper-Bound Rate. To begin identifying the range of reasonable rates that could result
from the telecom rate formula, we first identify the present telecom rate as a reasonable upper bound. The
Commission's current telecom rate formula is based on a fully allocated cost methodology,417 which
recovers costs that the pole owner incurs regardless of the presence of attachments.418 It includes a full
range of costs, some of which, as TWTC points out, do not directly relate to or vary with the presence of
pole attachments.419 For this reason, this interpretation of the statutory telecom rate formula serves as the
upper end of the range of reasonable rates.
142.
Lower-Bound Rate. As the Commission observed in the Further Notice, "a rate that
covers the pole owners' incremental cost associated with attachment would, in principle, provide a
reasonable lower limit."420 The Eleventh Circuit, in addressing a takings challenge, has held that a pole
attachment rate above marginal cost can provide just compensation,421 and marginal or incremental cost


416 Long-Term Number Portability Tariff Filings, CC Docket No. 99-35, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 14 FCC
Rcd 11983, 1202627, para. 98 (1999) (citing FERC v. Pennzoil Producing Co., 439 U.S. 508, 517 (1979); AT&T v.
FCC
, 836 F.2d 1386, 1390 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (quoting Jersey Cent. Power & Light v. FERC, 810 F.2d 1168, 1177
(D.C. Cir. 1987); Wisconsin v. FPC, 373 U.S. 294, 309 (1963); FPC v. Natural Gas Pipeline Co., 315 U.S. 575,
58586 (1942)).
417 See, e.g., Amendment of Commission's Rules and Policies Governing Pole Attachments; Implementation of
Section 703(e) of the Communications Act, Amendment of the Commission's Rules and Policies Governing Pole
Attachments
, CS Docket Nos. 97-97, 97-151, Consolidated Partial Order on Reconsideration, 16 FCC Rcd 12103,
1213132, para. 55 (2001) (2001 Order on Reconsideration). The term "fully allocated cost methodology" is also
sometimes referred to as "fully distributed costs."
418 See, e.g., Amendment of Rules and Policies Governing Pole Attachments, CS Docket No.97-98, Notice of
Proposed Rule Making, 12 FCC Rcd 7449, 7455, para. 11 (1997) ("Carrying charges are the costs incurred by the
utility in owning and maintaining poles regardless of the presence of pole attachments.").
419 TWTC White Paper at 19. In particular, the Commission's current telecom rate formula, as with the current
cable rate formula, includes a component for the net cost of a bare pole and a carrying charge rate. 47 C.F.R.
1.1409(e)(1), (2). The net cost of a bare pole is the initial capital outlay, i.e., the investment, for a pole, minus
accumulated depreciation. The carrying charge rate is a composite rate that reflects separate carrying charge rates
for the costs of owning and maintaining poles. See, e.g., 1987 Rate Order, 2 FCC Rcd at 4391, para. 25; 2001
Order on Reconsideration
, 16 FCC Rcd at 12121, para. 28. The carrying charges include a pole owner's
administrative, maintenance, and depreciation expenses, a return on investment, and taxes. 2001 Order on
Reconsideration
, 16 FCC Rcd at 12121, para. 28. The net cost of a bare pole is multiplied by the carrying charge
rate to determine the annual cost of a pole.
420 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11919, para. 133.
421 Legal precedent has established that a pole attachment rate above marginal cost provides just compensation, and
marginal or incremental cost pricing can be an appropriate approach to setting regulated rates. Alabama Power Co.
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pricing can be an appropriate approach to setting regulated rates more generally.422 Indeed, section
224(d) establishes such an approach as the low end of permissible rates under the cable rate formula.423
However, the section 224(e) formulas allocate the relevant costs in such a way that simply defining "cost"
as equal to incremental cost, as TWTC initially proposed, would result in pole rental rates below
incremental cost.424
143.
Thus, to identify a lower-bound rate that is consistent with this statutory framework and
enables costs to be allocated based on the prescribed cost-apportionment formulas we rely on the basic
principles of cost causation that would underlie a marginal cost rate without defining "cost" as equivalent
to marginal or incremental cost per se. Under cost causation principles, if a customer is causally
responsible for the incurrence of a cost, then that customer the cost causer pays a rate that covers this
cost.425 This is consistent with the Commission's existing approach in the make-ready context, where a
pole owner recovers the entire associated capital costs through make-ready fees.426 For example, if
rearrangement or bracketing is performed to accommodate a new attachment, the new attacher is
responsible for those costs.427 Likewise, a pole owner recovers the entire capital cost of a new pole
through make-ready charges from the new attacher when a new pole is installed to enable the attachment.
144.
Under this approach, we apply cost causation principles to each category of a pole
owner's costs broadly consisting of capital and operating costs for purposes of the pole rental rate, as
well.428 We recognize that, under traditional ratemaking principles that we have applied in the past, the
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v. FCC, 311 F.3d at 1370. ("In some cases, then, marginal cost will be sufficient to compensate the pole owner.");
id. at 137071 ("In short, before a power company can seek compensation above marginal cost, it must show with
regard to each pole that (1) the pole is at full capacity and (2) either (a) another buyer of the space is waiting in the
wings or (b) the power company is able to put the space to a higher-valued use with its own operations. Without
such proof, any implementation of the Cable Rate (which provides for much more than marginal cost) necessarily
provides just compensation."). In this regard, we note that the statute identifies a rate that allows the utility to
recover its marginal costs as the lowest permissible just and reasonable rate under section 224(d). 47 U.S.C.
224(d).
422 See, e.g., ALFRED E. KAHN, THE ECONOMICS OF REGULATION: PRINCIPLES AND INSTITUTIONS 65122 (vol. 1,
1970); CHARLES F. PHILLIPS, JR., THE REGULATION OF PUBLIC UTILITIES 44349 (1993).
423 See 47 U.S.C. 224(d)(1). Explaining the cable rate formula, the Supreme Court stated, "The minimum measure
is thus equivalent to the marginal cost of attachments, while the statutory maximum measure is determined by the
fully allocated cost of the construction and operation of the pole to which cable is attached." FCC v. Florida Power
Corp.
, 480 U.S. at 253; see also 1977 Senate Report at 2, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 110 ("The formula
describes a range between marginal and a proportionate share of fully allocated costs within which pole rates are to
fall.").
424 See 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(2)(3).
425 That is to say, prices based on cost-causation principles enable an allocation or a mix of goods to be produced
that buyers desire and are willing to pay for and so are socially efficient, and enable an efficient firm to recover its
costs. See, e.g., Greg Houston and Hayden Green, NERA Economic Consulting, Treatment of Operating Costs: A
Report for Meridian 6575 (Aug. 6, 2010). The allocation of goods is optimal in a perfectly competitive market.
That is, no buyer can be made better off by reallocating resources to produce a different mix of goods without
making other buyers worse-off. See, e.g., WALTER NICHOLSON, MICROECONOMIC THEORY, BASIC PRINCIPLES AND
EXTENSIONS 51213 (2d ed. 1978).
426 See, e.g., Second Report and Order, 72 FCC 2d at 6263, 7273, paras. 89, 2830 (defining make-ready cost).
These capital costs would not have been incurred "but for" the pole attachment demand and the attacher--the cost
causer--pays for these costs.
427 The circumstances where bracketing is required are discussed in greater detail below. See infra Parts VI.A, D, F.
428 Specifically, as discussed below, given the section 224(e) framework and Congress' expectations regarding the
administrability of pole rental rate calculations, we cannot, and do not, seek to define precisely the marginal costs
associated with pole attachments. Rather, in establishing the lower bound telecom rate, we adopt an approach that
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telecom rate for pole attachments recovered both operating expenses and capital costs, including a rate of
return, taxes, and depreciation.429 For purposes of identifying a lower bound for the telecom pole rental
rate, however, we exclude capital costs from the definition of "cost of providing space."430 As an initial
matter, we note that if capital costs arise from the make-ready process, our existing rules are designed to
require attachers to bear the entire amount of those costs.431 With respect to other capital costs, as we
explain more fully below, the record demonstrates that the attacher is not the "cost causer" of these
costs.432 In the case here of applying cost-causation principles to identify the lower-bound telecom rate,
the record includes findings by economists and analysts that capital costs are justifiably excluded from the
lower-bound rate because the attachers cause none or no more than a de minimis amount of these costs,
other than those that are recovered up front through the make-ready fees.433 Past investment in an
existing pole would have been incurred regardless of the demand for attachments other than the owner's
attachments. As a result, under a cost causation theory, where there is space available on a pole, an
attacher would be required to pay for none of the capital costs of that pole. Thus, we exclude capital costs
from the lower-bound telecom rate.
145.
By contrast, we continue to include certain operating expenses namely maintenance and
administrative expenses in the definition of "cost" for purposes of the lower bound telecom rate
formula.434 This is generally consistent with cost causation principles because it is likely that an attacher
is causally responsible for some of the ongoing maintenance and administrative expenses relating to use
of the pole. Although the attacher might not be the cost causer with respect to all the operating costs that
(Continued from previous page)


seeks to define "cost" in a manner that fully compensates the utility for the marginal costs of attachment once the
statutory apportionments are applied.
429 See, e.g., CHARLES F. PHILLIPS, JR., THE REGULATION OF PUBLIC UTILITIES 17680 (1993).
430 As discussed below, the rate telecom attachers actually would pay under this approach would either be equal to,
or in certain cases higher than, the rate yielded by the current cable rate formula, which does include an allocation of
capital costs.
431 See, e.g., Second Report and Order, 72 FCC 2d at 72, para. 29 (noting that make-ready, or non-recurring costs,
could include capital costs). Capital costs in the make-ready context differ from the way in which capital costs
historically have been included in the telecom rate formula, where they have included depreciation expense and a
return on investment.
432 See infra Part V.B.4.
433 Comcast Comments Attach. 1, Decl. of Timothy S. Pecaro at 9, para. 15 (Comcast Pecaro Decl.); Comcast
Comments at 13 (citing Comcast NPRM Comments Exh. 1, Report of Patricia D. Kravtin at para. 79 (Comcast
Kravtin Report)). See infra Part V.B.4. (addressing contrary comments filed by economists representing EEI/UTC).
We agree with Pecaro, as explained below, that it would typically not be economically rational for utilities to build
taller poles solely for the possibility of accommodating attachers and therefore incur unreimbursed capital costs:
"[I]nstalling a pole that is taller than necessary is strictly speculative and contrary to efficient capital
management. . . . Therefore, it would be wholly irrational for the utility, as well as inconsistent with a utility's
capital preservation obligations, to risk non-recovery of these costs absent a direct economic benefit." Comcast
Pecaro Decl. at para. 17. Further, as discussed below, in the comparatively few instances where a pole is replaced to
accommodate a new attachment, the attacher's make-ready fees are designed to recover those costs even though the
utility will own the pole. Id. Moreover, the utilities did not submit data demonstrating unreimbursed capital costs.
434 The Commission's cost methodology under its current application of the telecom rate formula requires an
attacher to pay for a portion of the operating expenses, specifically a portion of the maintenance and administrative
expenses. See, e.g., 2000 Fee Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 647983, paras. 4654. As noted above, for purposes of the
lower-bound telecom rate, we likewise include operating expenses in the pole rental rate, which recovers the
recurring costs of the pole, as opposed to the non-recurring costs recovered through make-ready charges. See
generally Second Report and Order
, 72 FCC 2d at 59 (distinguishing between non-recurring costs that are designed
to be fully recovered through make-ready charges and ongoing, routine expenses incurred by the utility to maintain
existing attachment facilities, which could be recovered through the pole rental rate).
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would be included in the lower bound telecom rate, Congress' intention was that the Commission not
"embark upon a large-scale ratemaking proceeding in each case brought before it, or by general order" to
establish pole rental rates.435 Thus, under our methodology to determine the lower-bound telecom rate,
we include maintenance and administrative expenses.436
146.
Determining the New Just and Reasonable Telecom Rate. From within the range of
possible interpretations of the term "cost" for purposes of section 224(e), we adopt a particular definition
of cost, and therefore a particular rate as the appropriate just and reasonable telecom rate. The definition
of cost we select is based on a balancing of policy goals. As discussed in greater detail below, we seek to
ensure that the Commission's policies promote the availability of broadband services and efficient
competition for those services.437 We also recognize, however, that pole rental rates historically have
helped support the investment utilities make in their pole infrastructure, and acknowledge utilities' policy
concerns about shifting that burden to utility ratepayers.438
147.
We agree with commenters who explain that today, the telecom rate is sufficiently high
that it hinders important statutory objectives. For example, commenters explain that reducing the telecom
rate would improve the business case for providing advanced services, because it will reduce the expected
incremental cash outflows of providing such services, thereby increasing the likelihood that the present
value of the expected incremental cash inflows will exceed the present value of the expected incremental
cash outflows.439 In addition to reducing barriers to the provision of new services, reducing the telecom
rate can expand opportunities for communications network investment, as discussed in greater detail
below.440 We thus conclude that lowering the telecom rates will better enable providers to compete on a
level playing field, will eliminate distortions in end-user choices between technologies, and lead to
provider behavior being driven more by underlying economic costs than arbitrary price differentials.441
We also find persuasive the views of consumer advocates in this respect. Notably, "NASUCA members
are interested in keeping the costs of pole attachments down, so as to keep the costs of the[se] services . . .


435 See 1977 Senate Report at 22, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 130. The pole attachment methodology does
not purport to be a precise ratemaking tool. Congress recognized there would be "difficulties . . . in determining
some cost components associated with erecting and maintaining pole line plant, and allocating those costs," and
understood that the considerable flexibility it gave to the Commission in making its "best estimate" of some costs
for determining just and reasonable pole attachment rates also carries with it an element of imprecision. Adoption of
Rules for the Regulation of Cable Television Pole Attachments
, CC Docket No. 78-144, Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 68 FCC2d 3, 9, 11, paras. 15, 20 (1978) (1978 Pole Attachment NPRM). In keeping with Congress's
directive, our policy has been that not every detail of pole attachment cost must be accounted for, nor every detail of
non-pole attachment cost eliminated from every account used. See, e.g., 2000 Fee Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 646364,
para. 12.
436 See 1977 Senate Report at 22, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 130.
437 See infra Part V.B.3.
438 See, e.g., Coalition Reply at 22; Letter from Aryeh B. Fishman, Director, Regulatory Legal Affairs, and John
Caldwell, Director of Economics, EEI, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket
No. 09-51, Supp. Decl. of Jonathan Orszag and Allan Shampine, at paras. 1011 (filed Dec. 14, 2010) (EEI Orszag,
Shampine Supp. Decl.).
439 See infra paras. 174177 (discussing commenters' evidence in this regard). Based on well-established economic
principles, investment in offering a product or service is likely to be undertaken if the present value of the expected
incremental cash inflows exceeds the present value of the expected incremental cash outflows, with present values
calculated using a discount rate equal to a cost of capital that reflects the risk of the venture. See, e.g., JAMES C.
VANHORNE, FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT AND POLICY 12326, 13139 (2d ed. 1971); THOMAS E. COPELAND AND J.
FRED WESTON, FINANCIAL THEORY AND CORPORATE POLICY 2541 (3d ed. 1988).
440 See infra Part V.B.3.
441 See generally infra Part V.B.3.
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down. But NASUCA members also . . . are interested in ensuring that pole attachment rates appropriately
compensate the owners of the poles, so that other services are not required to subsidize the
attachments."442 Balancing these concerns, NASUCA recommends that the cable rate "should be used for
all pole attachments."443
148.
We also observe that pole owners have the opportunity to recover through make-ready
fees all of the capital costs actually caused by third-party attachers.444 As a result, the pole owner need
not bear any significant risk of unrecovered pole investment undertaken to accommodate a third-party
attacher. Thus, permitting recovery of 100 percent of apportioned, fully-allocated costs through the pole
rental rate seems unwarranted under the statute and could undermine furtherance of important statutory
objectives.
149.
Although we do not permit utilities to recover 100 percent of apportioned, fully-allocated
costs through the new telecom rate, we find it appropriate to allow the pole owner to charge a monthly
pole rental rate that reflects some contribution to capital costs, aside from those recovered through make-
ready fees. As noted above, for example, regulated pole attachment rates historically have included such
a contribution, and we are concerned that adopting a telecom rate that no longer permits utilities to
recover such capital costs would unduly burden their ratepayers. We are also mindful of the possible
adverse impact of other pole attachment reforms. For one, our regulation of rates for attachments by
incumbent LECs could reduce the amount of costs that utilities are able to recover from other sources.445
Moreover, in conjunction with the pole access reforms adopted above,446 we are mindful of Congress'
expectation that the priority afforded an attacher's access to poles would relate to its sharing in the costs
of that infrastructure.447 We balance these considerations by adopting, in most cases, the following
definition of "cost" for purposes of section 224(e): (a) in urban areas, 66 percent of the fully allocated
costs448 used for purposes of the pre-existing telecom rate; and (b) in non-urban areas, 44 percent of the
fully allocated costs used for purposes of the pre-existing telecom rate.449 Defining cost in terms of a
percentage of the fully allocated costs previously used for purposes of the telecom rate is a readily
administrable approach, and consistent with Congress' direction that the Commission's pole attachment
rate regulations be "simple and expeditious" to implement.450 Further, the specific percentages we select


442 NASUCA NPRM Reply at 2. NASUCA is a voluntary, national association of consumer advocates in more than
40 states and the District of Columbia. Id. at 1.
443 Id. at 5. Based on these same policy considerations, we are unpersuaded by claims that consideration of the
interests of utility ratepayers--who also stand to benefit from reductions in excessive costs of providing broadband
and other communications services--requires a different outcome. See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 9.
444 As noted below, parties can seek Commission review of make-ready charges to the extent that they believe they
are unjust or unreasonable. See infra note 572.
445 See infra Part V.C.
446 See supra Part III.
447 1977 Senate Report at 19, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 12728.
448 As specified in the pre-existing telecom rate formula, this is the net cost of a bare pole times the carrying charge
rate. 47 C.F.R. 1.1409(e)(2).
449 An urbanized service area has 50,000 or higher population, while a non-urbanized service area has under 50,000
population. 47 C.F.R. 1.1417(c). "If any part of the utility's service area within the state has a designation of
urbanized (50,000 or higher population) by the Bureau of Census, United States Department of Commerce, then all
of that service area shall be designated as urbanized for purposes of determining the presumptive average number of
attaching entities." Id. The Further Notice referred to these areas colloquially as "urban" and "non-urban" areas,
and we do so again here. See, e.g., Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1191314, para. 119.
450 1977 Senate Report at 21, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 129; see also 1978 Pole Attachment NPRM, 68
FCC 2d at 4, para. 4 ("The supplemental regulation envisioned by the [Senate Committee] Report is to be simple and
expeditious, necessitating a minimum of staff, paperwork and procedures consistent with fair and efficient
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provide a reduction in the telecom rate, and will, in general, approximate the cable rate, advancing the
Commission policies identified above.451
150.
We adopt a different definition of cost in non-urban areas--namely, 44 percent of fully
allocated costs--to address the fact that there typically are fewer attachers on poles in non-urban areas, as
reflected by the Commission's presumptions. Given the operation of section 224(e), using the same
definition of cost in both types of areas would increase the burden pole attachment rates pose for
providers of broadband and other communications services in non-urban areas, as compared to urban
areas. Such an outcome would be problematic given the increased challenges already faced in non-urban
areas, where cost characteristics can be different and where the availability of, and competition for,
broadband services tends to be less today than in urban areas.452 By defining cost in non-urban areas as
44 percent of the fully allocated costs we largely mitigate that concern, particularly under the
Commission's presumptions.453
151.
We observe that these definitions of cost, when applied pursuant to the cost apportionment
formula in section 224(e), generally will recover a portion of the pole costs that is equal to the portion of
costs recovered in the cable rate. In this regard, we note that for many years the majority of third-party
pole attachments subject to Commission regulation have been priced at the cable rate, and there is nothing
in the record to suggest that there is, or ever has been, a shortage of pole capacity arising from the
utilities' cost recovery at that level. In addition, because there are far more attachments by cable
operators than by telecommunications carriers paying the telecom rate,454 the number of attachments for
which there is an actual change in utilities' current pole attachment cost recovery by virtue of the new
telecom rate is likely to be relatively modest. Accordingly, we conclude that the pole owner will have
appropriate incentives to invest in poles and provide attachments to third-party attachers, carrying forward
under our new approach to the telecom rate. Moreover, this approach will significantly reduce the
marketplace distortions and barriers to the availability of new broadband facilities and services that arose
from disparate rates.455
152.
The Commission's calculations show that the costs for urban and non-urban areas
typically will be within the higher- and lower-bound range permissible under section 224(e), and in those
circumstances, we adopt that definition of cost for establishing the just and reasonable telecom rate.456
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regulations. That regulation could be uniquely applicable to pole attachment matters . . . . Tariff filings and other
aspects of the full panoply of Title II common carrier regulation need not apply, and the Commission is afforded
discretion to select regulatory tools.").
451 See supra para. 147; see also infra paras. 174177.
452 See infra Part V.B.3; see also, e.g., SBA Comments, GN Docket No. 10-188 (filed Oct. 15, 2010) (discussing
preliminary findings in an SBA report of a "rural-urban divide in broadband services" and recommending, among
other things, that "the Commission [] examine the impact that increasing pole attachment rates for small cable
broadband providers of comingled video and broadband services would have on these providers' ability to compete
and deploy broadband, especially in underserved areas").
453 Under the telecom rate formula, each attacher, other than the pole owner, pays approximately 11.2% of the
relevant "cost" of a pole in urbanized service areas and about 16.9% in non-urban areas. See Further Notice, 25
FCC Rcd at 1191314, para. 119. Under the definition of "cost" as 66% of fully allocated costs in urban areas, the
new telecom rate recovers approximately 7.4% of the fully allocated costs of the pole. By defining "cost" as 44% of
fully allocated costs in non-urban areas, the new telecom rate likewise recovers approximately 7.4% of the fully
allocated costs of the pole in those areas.
454 See, e.g., Coalition NPRM Comments at 17 (citing data on the aggregate number of poles with cable and
competitive LEC attachments for certain utilities).
455 See generally infra Part V.B.3
456 See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11923, paras. 14041; id. at App. A. Nothing in the record here demonstrates
that this expectation is incorrect. (We note that, although there was an error in the computation of the rates for
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However, if scenarios arise where the costs identified above would be lower than the 100 percent of
administrative and operating expenses that serves as a lower bound for the zone of reasonableness, we
adopt the higher definition of cost in those circumstances. In sum, the applicable cost for purposes of
section 224(e) will be the costs identified above or 100 percent of administrative and operating expenses,
whichever is higher.
153.
Wireless. We also reaffirm that wireless carriers are entitled to the benefits and
protection of section 224, including the right to the telecom rate under section 224(e). We do so in
response to reports by the wireless industry of cases where wireless providers were not afforded the
regulated rate.457 Specifically, in the 1998 Implementation Order, the Commission explained that it has
authority under section 224(e)(1) to prescribe rules governing wireless attachments used by
telecommunications carriers to provide telecommunications services.458 The Commission also stated that
Congress did not intend to distinguish between wired and wireless attachments and that there was no
basis to limit the definition of telecommunications carriers under the statute only to wireline providers.459
The Commission noted that, despite the "potential difficulties in applying the Commission's rules to
wireless pole attachments, as opponents of attachment rights have argued," it did not see any need for
separate rules.460 Instead, it explained that "[w]hen an attachment requires more than the presumptive
one-foot of usable space on the pole," the presumption can be rebutted.461 Accordingly, wireless
attachments are entitled to the telecom rate formula, and where parties are unable to reach agreement
through good faith negotiations, they may bring a complaint before the Commission.462
154.
Commingled Services. We also address the role of the new telecom rate in the context of
commingled services. Some cable operators463 express concern that pole owners will seek to impose rates
higher than both the cable rate and the new telecom rate where cable operators or telecommunications
(Continued from previous page)


Georgia Power Co. in the Further Notice, the cable rate still exceeded the lower-bound telecom rate. Id. From top
of the column to bottom in the chart, the correct rates for Georgia Power should be as follows: $5.77, $8.72, $13.15,
$2.68, and $4.04.).
457 DAS Forum Comments at 20 ("DAS Forum members report that they are . . . forced to pay monopoly rates for
their attachments with complete disregard for the Commission's formula."); id. at iii, 22 (contending that, "[w]hile a
wireless attachment may occupy more space than a wired attachment[,] . . . the wireless attachment rate should be
equal to the telecom rate times that amount of usable space occupied above one foot," and noting that "one DAS
Forum member is paying . . . $2,875 per pole per year to a utility" and others are being charged "from two to twenty
times greater than the utility's regulated telecommunications rate"); CTIA Comments at 16 ("To the extent that the
Commission [adjusts] the Telecommunications rate, it should make clear that the adjustments apply to both wireline
and wireless attachments.").
458 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 679899, para. 40 (citing 47 U.S.C. 153(43), (44), (46);
224(a)(4), (d)(3), (e)(1)); see also Gulf Power, 534 U.S. 327; Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Reminds Utility
Pole Owners of Their Obligations to Provide Wireless Telecommunications Providers with Access to Utility Poles at
Reasonable Rates
, Public Notice, 19 FCC Rcd 24930 (WTB 2004).
459 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 679899, para. 40 (citing 47 U.S.C. 153(43), (44), (46);
224(a)(4), (d)(3), (e)(1)). The Commission also noted that it had already recognized that cellular telephone, mobile
radio, and PCS are telecommunications services. 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 6799, para. 40 (citing
Universal Service Order, 12 FCC Rcd at 9175; Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 15997).
460 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 6799, para. 41 (noting that electric utilities argued then that wireless
attachments have different kinds of equipment, which is similar to their arguments in this proceeding).
461 Id. at 6799, para. 42.
462 Id.
463 See, e.g., Bright House Comments at 2, 1214; Bright House Reply at 35.
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carriers also provide services, such as VoIP, that have not been classified.464 We agree that this outcome
would be contrary to our policy goals, discussed below, of reducing the disparity in pole rental rates
among providers of competing services and of minimizing disputes.465 Consequently, we make clear that
the use of pole attachments by providers of telecommunications services or cable operators to provide
commingled services does not remove them from the pole attachment rate regulation framework under
section 224. Rather, we will not consider rates for pole attachments by telecommunications carriers or
cable operators providing commingled services to be "just and reasonable" if they exceed the new
telecom rate.466 This action does not disturb prior Commission decisions addressing particular scenarios
regarding commingled services.467
2.

The New Telecom Rate Is Consistent with the Act and Congressional Intent

155.
We believe that section 224(e) provides the Commission sufficient latitude to adopt our
definition of costs underlying the new telecom rate, as discussed in greater detail below. We note that
from the earliest days of pole attachment regulation, Congress intended to give the Commission
considerable flexibility in determining just and reasonable rates.468 Indeed, Congress instructed the
Commission to develop a "simple and expeditious" pole attachment program consistent with fair and
efficient regulation, and "afford[ed] the Commission discretion to select the regulatory tools necessary to
carry out" its responsibilities.469 The Commission's revised telecom rate formula gives full effect to the


464 The Commission only has addressed two situations regarding the statutory classification of IP-enabled services.
Petition for Declaratory Ruling that Pulver.com's Free World Dialup is Neither Telecommunications nor a
Telecommunications Service
, WC Docket No. 03-45, Memorandum Order and Opinion, 19 FCC Rcd 3307 (2004)
(Pulver.com Order) (classifying as an "information service" Pulver.com's free service that did not provide
transmission and offers a number of computing capabilities); Petition for Declaratory Ruling that AT&T's Phone-to-
Phone IP Telephony Services are Exempt from Access Charges
, WC Docket No. 02-361, Order, 19 FCC Rcd 7457
(2004) (IP-in-the-Middle Order) (finding certain "IP-in-the-middle" services to be "telecommunications services");
Regulation of Prepaid Calling Card Services, WC Docket No. 05-68, Declaratory Ruling and Report and Order, 21
FCC Rcd 7290 (2006) (Prepaid Calling Card Order) (same). Otherwise, the Commission thus far has expressly
declined to address the statutory classification of VoIP services. See, e.g., Connect America Fund et al., WC Docket
Nos. 10-90, 07-135, 05-337, 03-109; CC Docket No. 01-92; GN Docket No. 09-51, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 11-13, para. 73 (rel. Feb. 9, 2011).
465 See infra paras. 173174.
466 To the extent that a telecommunications carrier or cable operator provides particular services that the
Commission has not expressly classified, but which ultimately are telecommunications services, the attachments
would be subject to section 224(e) and the new telecom rate adopted in this order. Except as discussed below, see
infra note 467 and accompanying text, we do not determine more precisely the specific rate (new telecom rate or
cable rate) that should apply in the context of any particular commingled services scenario.
467 See, e.g., Comcast Comments at 4 (noting that the Commission previously specified that the cable rate would
apply to commingled video and Internet access services); ACA Reply at 36 (noting the same and arguing that the
Commission should not increase the rates that apply in such circumstances). See also Gulf Power, 534 U.S. at 339.
To the extent that there are disputes about the application of pre-existing law to particular scenarios regarding
commingled services that were not already addressed by the Commission, we do not address them here.
468 See 1978 Pole Attachment NPRM, 68 FCC 2d at 11, para. 20 (referring to Congress's approach to using the best
estimate of less readily identifiable costs) ("Novelty, however, is not reason enough to find an approach
incompatible with determining just and reasonable rates. In this regard, we also note that the considerable flexibility
which Congress intended to give us in determining just and reasonable pole attachment rates also carries with it an
element of imprecision.").
469 1977 Senate Report at 21, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 129; see also 1978 Pole Attachment NPRM, 68
FCC 2d at 4, para. 4 ("The supplemental regulation envisioned by the [Senate Committee] Report is to be simple and
expeditious, necessitating a minimum of staff, paperwork and procedures consistent with fair and efficient
regulations. That regulation could be uniquely applicable to pole attachment matters . . . . Tariff filings and other
(continued....)
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statutory requirements established in section 224(e) of the Act, including the specific cost apportionment
provisions applicable to attachers.
156.
"Cost" Is Not Defined in Section 224(e). Our new telecom rate reflects a reasonable
interpretation of the ambiguous statutory language of section 224(e). Congress established a rate formula
for charges for pole attachments used by telecommunications carriers to provide telecommunications
services in section 224(e) based on the "cost of providing space on a pole."470 Although section 224(e)
specifies how the pole space costs are to be allocated between the owner and attacher, it does not specify
a cost methodology. Specifically, section 224(e)(1) states that the Commission shall prescribe regulations
"in accordance with this subsection to govern the charges for pole attachments used by
telecommunications carriers to provide telecommunications services," and that "[s]uch regulations shall
ensure that a utility charges just, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory rates."471 In particular, section
224(e)(2) and (3) describe how "[a] utility shall apportion the cost of providing space" on a pole
whether usable or unusable but does not define the term "cost." We therefore find the term "the cost of
providing space" to be ambiguous."472 By contrast, under section 224(d)(1) of the cable formula,
Congress established a specific range of rates. This zone of reasonableness for cable attachment rates
ranges from "the additional costs of providing pole attachments," known as the incremental cost, to a
percentage (based on usable space) of "the sum of the operating expenses and capital costs of the utility
attributable to the entire pole," known as fully allocated costs.473
157.
The Commission initially implemented section 224(e) by interpreting "cost" to include the
same cost categories that it was using in the cable rate formula, relying on a fully-allocated cost approach.
This initial approach was reasonable since, when the 1996 Act was enacted, it was consistent with and
allowed the Commission to continue the traditional cost methodology that had been in effect at the time
for the cable rate formula.474 Experience has shown, however, that this approach has resulted in higher
rates than necessary, as well as rate disparities and disputes over whether the cable or telecom formula
applies, negatively impacting communications service providers' investment decisions to expand their
networks and services.475 As discussed below, that outcome has proved to be inconsistent with Congress'
policies underlying the 1996 Act to encourage the widest deployment possible of advanced
(Continued from previous page)


aspects of the full panoply of Title II common carrier regulation need not apply, and the Commission is afforded
discretion to select regulatory tools.") (emphasis added).
470 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(2).
471 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(2).
472 In particular, section 224(e)(2) provides: "A utility shall apportion the cost of providing space on a pole, duct,
conduit, or right-of-way other than the usable space among entities so that such apportionment equals two-thirds of
the costs of providing space other than the usable space that would be allocated to such entity under an equal
apportionment of such costs among all attaching entities." 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(2). Section 224(e)(3) provides: "A
utility shall apportion the cost of providing usable space among all entities according to the percentage of usable
space required for each entity." 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(3). The term unusable space "means the space on a utility pole
below the usable space, including the amount required to set the depth of the pole." 47 C.F.R. 1.1402(l). Usable
space, in turn, "means the space on a utility pole above the minimum grade level which can be used for the
attachment of wires, cables, and associated equipment, and which includes space occupied by the utility." 47 C.F.R.
1.1402(c).
473 47 U.S.C. 224(d)(1).
474 See 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 6800, para. 43 n.160; Implementation of Section 703(e) of the
Telecommunications Act of 1996, Amendment of the Commission's Rules and Policies Governing Pole Attachments
,
CS Docket No. 97-151, Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 12 FCC Rcd 11725, 11737, para. 33 (1997) (Telecom
Rate NPRM
).
475 See infra para. 174.
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communications services, such as broadband Internet access, by promoting competition and removing
barriers to infrastructure investment.476
158.
At the same time, our new interpretation of section 224(e), described above, recognizes
the limitations of the statutory framework Congress created when it delegated the authority to the
Commission to interpret and apply the telecom rate formula. We agree with commenters that the
Commission has discretion to reinterpret the undefined term "cost" and the ambiguous phrase "cost of
providing space" in section 224(e) in the manner proposed.477 As the Supreme Court has recognized in
other contexts, "without any better indication of meaning than the unadorned term, the word `cost' . . . is
`a chameleon' . . . a `virtually meaningless' term . . . . As Justice Breyer put it in Iowa Utilities Bd.,
words like `cost' `give ratesetting commissions broad methodological leeway; they say little about the
`method employed' to determine a particular rate.'"478 Courts have granted agencies like the Commission
substantial leeway in defining the term "cost" in other contexts, as well.479 As a result, we reconsider the
"fully allocated cost" methodology previously used to implement the telecom attachment rate formula in
section 224(e). Instead, we conclude that we have flexibility to adopt a new pricing approach that
complies with the statute's requirements, yet also produces efficient pricing signals for infrastructure
investment and new service deployment by providers. Our decision to adopt a new methodology
recognizes the bounds Congress set in section 224(e), but also the Commission's duty to continually
review its rules and policies in light of changing circumstances, and make reasonable changes that in our
experience will better serve the pro-competitive goals Congress established in the Act.
159.
It is readily apparent from other provisions of section 224 that when Congress wanted to
limit the Commission's discretion, it explicitly did so. For example, Congress specifically included
"operating expenses and actual capital costs" in the carrying charges for the cable rate formula (thus
incorporating a fully allocated cost methodology) in the upper limit of just and reasonable rates for
section 224(d).480 The statute also sets forth how the costs of usable and unusable space (however
defined) should be allocated among pole owners and attachers in the section 224(e) telecom formula.481
Congress, however, did not establish in section 224(e) any other parameters for the Commission to follow
in defining "cost" or determining the "cost of providing space" on a pole. In the face of statutory
ambiguity, the Commission, therefore, has the authority and responsibility to fill in any "gaps" with


476 See id.
477 See, e.g., NCTA Reply at 23 (asserting that "[i]t is well-established that the term `cost' is a `chameleon' that
gives agencies `broad methodological leeway' in determining a particular rate" and citing Verizon v. FCC, 535 U.S.
at 50001, quoting Strickland v. Comm'r, Maine Dep't of Human Servs., 96 F.3d 542, 546 (1st Cir. 1996) and AT&T
v. Iowa Utils. Bd.
, 525 U.S. 366, 423 (1999) (Breyer, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part)); TWTC White
Paper at 18 (citing Chevron v. Natural Res. Def. Council, 467 U.S. 837, 84344 (1984) (Chevron); EEI/UTC
Comments at 9394 (advocating a proposal to modify implementation of the telecom rate formula and citing Gulf
Power
and Chevron).
478 Verizon Communications, Inc. v. FCC, 535 U.S. 467, 50001 (2002) (citations omitted).
479 See, e.g., Permian Basin Area Rate Cases, 390 U.S. 747, 767 (1968) ("[C]ourts are without authority to set aside
any rate selected by the [Federal Power] Commission which is within a `zone of reasonableness.'" (citing FPC v.
Natural Gas Pipeline Co
., 315 U.S. 575, 585 (1942) ("No other rule would be consonant with the broad
responsibility given to the Commission by Congress; it must be free, within the limitations imposed by pertinent
constitutional and statutory commands, to devise methods of regulation capable of equitably reconciling diverse and
conflicting interests.")).
480 47 U.S.C. 224(d). Likewise, as the lower bound of just and reasonable pole rental rates under section 224(d),
the Act defines cost as the "additional costs of providing pole attachments." Id.
481 47 U.S.C. 224(e).
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its own interpretation of the meaning of "cost" in Section 224(e), and we do so in a manner that is
consistent with the statutory framework and the broader purposes of the Act.482
160.
We reject certain electric utilities' argument that because section 224(e) does not
expressly define "cost" as the "additional costs of providing space" as was done in defining the lower
limit of reasonable rates under section 224(d) the Commission is precluded from adopting a definition
of cost that yields a rate more closely approximating the "additional" or incremental cost of a pole
attachment.483 Although section 224(e) does not expressly define cost as "additional" or "incremental"
cost, it also does not otherwise constrain the definition of the ambiguous term "cost," as discussed above.
Likewise, given the Commission's flexibility in interpreting the ambiguous term "cost," we are
unpersuaded by arguments that the "cost of providing space" under section 224(e) must be defined as
fully allocated costs, as was done in defining the upper limit of reasonable rates under section 224(d).484
161.
Nor does the Commission's alternative approach fail to give meaning to the methodology
for allocating costs under sections 224(e)(2) and (e)(3), as some allege.485 Congress left it up to the
Commission to define "costs" and required that the allocators in section 224(e) be used to allocate the
costs. The Commission's approach does both. As discussed above, in the majority of cases, the relevant
costs will be defined as 66 percent of fully allocated costs in urban areas, and 44 percent in non-urban
areas.486 However, if scenarios arise where those costs would be lower than the 100 percent of


482 See, e.g., Chevron, 467 U.S. at 84344; see also Iowa Utilities Board, 525 U.S. 366, 397 (1999) (reviewing
Commission statutory interpretations) ("[T]he 1996 Act is not a model of clarity. It is in many important respects a
model of ambiguity or indeed even self-contradiction . . . . But Congress is well aware that the ambiguities it
chooses to produce in a statute will be resolved by the implementing agency."); Gulf Power, 534 U.S. at 339 ("[T]he
subject matter here is technical, complex and dynamic, and as a general rule, agencies have authority to fill gaps
where the statutes are silent."). Section 224(b)(1), itself, is framed as a grant of ratemaking authority to the
Commission. It provides a general mandate to set just and reasonable rates for pole attachments. 47 U.S.C.
224(b)(1). Similarly, section 224(e) requires the Commission to prescribe regulations "to govern the charges for
pole attachments used by telecommunications carriers to provide telecommunications services" and to "ensure that a
utility charges just, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory rates." 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(1).
483 See, e.g., EEI/UTC Comments at 65 n.113. Although EEI and UTC assert that "it makes very little sense to
`apportion' the incremental costs between the amount of space occupied by an attacher or by the number of
attachers," id., that is not how we define "cost" for purposes of the lower end of the range of permissible rates under
section 224(e). Rather, we find that defining "cost" as "incremental cost" is a shortcoming of TWTC's original rate
proposal, and thus define cost in a manner that--once apportioned pursuant to the section 224(e) methodologies--
yields a rate that comes closer to approaching the incremental costs of attachment (although the actual rate charged
under the new telecom rate typically will be higher than that). See supra paras. 142145; Further Notice, 25 FCC
Rcd at 1191617, para. 126.
484 See, e.g., EEI/UTC Comments at 65. Similarly, other commenters argue more generally that the Commission
must interpret the "cost of providing space" under section 224(e) to mean the costs associated with the pole itself,
rather than just those costs caused by the presence of a pole attachment. See, e.g., Florida IOUs Comments at 62;
Alliance Reply at 2324. Moreover, if the provisions of section 224(d) were to bind the Commission's adoption of a
telecom rate under section 224(e) at all, certain cable commenters argue that they should be read to establish the
limits for all pole attachment rates regulated under section 224, effectively capping all rates at the level of the cable
rate. See, e.g., TWC Comments at 1314 (arguing that section 224(d)(1) defines the range of "just and reasonable"
pole attachment rates for all attachments regulated under section 224(b)(1) and thus constrains the maximum
telecom rate that could be imposed under section 224(e)); Letter from Daniel L. Brenner on behalf of Bright House
to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, Attach. 2 at 45 (same) (filed Dec. 9, 2010) (Bright
House Dec. 9, 2010 Ex Parte Letter). The new telecom rate clearly is more consistent with that interpretation than
either the prior telecom rate or the electric utilities' proposals.
485 See, e.g., Alliance Reply at 2324.
486 See supra para. 149.
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administrative and operating expenses, we adopt the higher definition of cost in those circumstances.487
In each scenario, the section 224(e) allocators are then applied to the Commission's definition of cost. As
a result, the Commission's approach gives meaning to section 224(e) of the Act.
162.
Legislative History Does Not Require Fully Allocated Costs. Beyond the terms of section
224 of the Act itself, electric utilities argue that section 224(e) must be read in a manner that mandates use
of a fully allocated cost methodology based on the legislative history of section 224.488 Primarily, they
cite to language in the legislative history of the House bill endorsing a fully allocated cost methodology
and other discussions in the legislative history attempting to link the benefits attachers receive from pole
attachments to pole rental rates. We are not persuaded that the legislative history precludes the
Commission's approach, however. Indeed, commenters here express contradictory interpretations of the
Conference Report's discussion of the provisions amending Section 224 at issue here.489
163.
To the extent that we draw any conclusions from the Conference Report, we find that it
undercuts the electric utilities' argument that Congress intended to require the use of fully allocated costs.
As the electric utilities note, the legislative history of the House bill amending section 224 would have
directed "the Commission to regulate pole attachment rates based on a `fully allocated cost' formula."490
The conference agreement did not adopt the House version, however; instead it adopted "the Senate
version with modifications."491 The formula itself and the basis for Congress' selection of the two-thirds
allocator for unusable space are not explained in the legislative history; rather it appears to be the
unexplained result of a political compromise.492 Moreover, the "fully allocated cost" language, which is
at the heart of the controversy, was not in the summary of the Senate bill, nor in the language of the
conference agreement itself.493 Indeed, most telling is that no express language requiring fully allocated
costs was made part of the final statute.
164.
Certain utilities contend that the legislative history of the House bill, although not
adopted, is still relevant in determining Congress's intent because it contains language describing cost
terminology that is similar to that used in the Senate version, and the final statute and "the ultimate


487 See supra para. 152.
488 See, e.g., APPA Comments at 89; Oncor Comments at 62.
489 See, e.g., Florida IOUs Comments at 61, Bright House Comments at 1819 (both discussing H.R. Rep. No. 104-
458, 104th Cong., 2nd Sess. at 20507 (section on pole attachments) (1996), reprinted in 1996 U.S.C.C.A.N. 10,
22021 (Conference Report)). The Conference Report, which accompanied S. 652, is identical to S. Rep. No. 104-
230.
490 H.R. Rep. No. 104-458 at 206, reprinted in 1996 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 220 (stating "[t]he new provision directs the
Commission to regulate pole attachment rates based on a `fully allocated cost' formula.").
491 H.R. Rep. No. 104-458 at 207, reprinted in 1996 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 221 (briefly explaining new subsections
224(e)(1)(2), (g), (h), and (i)) ("The conference agreement adopts the Senate provision with modifications. The
conference agreement amends section 224 of the Communications Act by adding new subsection (e)(1) to allow
parties to negotiate the rates, terms, and conditions for attaching to poles . . . New subsection 224(e)(2) establishes a
new rate formula charged to telecommunications carriers for the non-useable space of each pole. Such rate shall be
based upon the number of attaching entities.").
492 Coalition NPRM Comments at 3536 & nn.7879 (citing Telecommunications Act of 1996 conference report S.
Rep. 104-230 at 8990 (Feb. 1, 1996) and explaining that the U.S. House of Representatives had voted to adopt a
pole attachment rate methodology but that "it was rejected without explanation by the House-Senate Conference
Committee in favor of the existing FCC Telecom Rate" when the 1996 Act was passed) (citing TCI Cablevision of
Washington, Inc. v. City of Seattle
, No. 97-2-02395-5SEA (May 20, 1998)). The Coalition stated "the court
concluded that Congress's final adoption of the FCC Telecom Rate allocation was `primarily a political
compromise, and not based on cost accounting issues.'" Coalition NPRM Comments at 36 n.79 (citing findings of
fact).
493 H.R. Rep. No. 104-458 at 20507, reprinted in 1996 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 22021.
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meaning remained the same" in the various versions of the bill.494 These parties also argue that legislative
history shows that Congress intended the formula to be based on who benefits from the pole.495 For
example, the Florida IOUs assert that "[t]he legislative history shows that the various versions of the bill
embodied a variety of positions on which entities benefit, and how much they benefit. But all versions
focused on the beneficiary-based approach."496 These utilities believe that this means Congress intended
fully allocated costs to be used.497 By contrast, certain cable commenters' interpretation of the legislative
history is that there were significant differences in the "cost" and "beneficiary" language of the various
bills, and that, "[i]n contrast to the House, the Senate's telecom rate formula never required `fully
allocated costs.'"498
165.
We are not persuaded that the legislative history shows that the House's interpretation of
"costs" for purposes of its proposed amendments applied equally to the interpretation of language in the
Senate bill let alone the final language adopted in the conference agreement. In contrast to the
legislative history of the House bill, which expressly provided that "[t]he new provision directs the
Commission to regulate pole attachment rates based on a `fully allocated cost' formula," legislative
history of the Senate bill was silent on the definition of the "costs" at issue. We also note that the
House's interpretation of "costs" is summarized among "the differences between the Senate bill, the
House amendment, and the substitute agreed to in conference" in the Conference Report.499 In any event,
the statutory language describing the costs at issue was different in the conference agreement than in
either the House or Senate versions. In particular, the House and Senate versions referred to pole rate
setting based on "the cost of space,"500 whereas the adopted language of section 224(e) refers to "the cost
of providing space."501 As discussed above, in defining the lower end of the range of reasonable rates
under section 224(e), we focus on those costs arising from the actual provision of space for pole
attachments, as opposed to costs that arise regardless of the absence or presence of attachments.502 We
find our approach consistent with the statutory language actually adopted, regardless of the House's
interpretation of "cost" for purposes of its unadopted amendments to section 224.


494 Florida IOUs Reply at 4445; Letter from Eric B. Langley on behalf of Florida IOUs to Ms. Marlene Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, at 36 nn.12 & 13 (filed Nov. 8, 2010) (Florida IOUs Nov. 8, 2010 Ex
Parte
Letter). Florida IOUs also argue that, "Importantly, every version of section 224(e) . . . used the term `space'
to modify `cost' and included unusable space in the formula." Id. at 3 (emphasis in original).
495 See, e.g., Florida IOUs Nov. 8, 2010 Ex Parte Letter at 45 ("Congress intended the formula to be based on who
was benefiting from the pole, not based on who caused the incremental cost of attachment.") (emphasis in original).
496 Florida IOUs Nov. 8, 2010 Ex Parte Letter at 4.
497 See, e.g., Florida IOUs Nov. 8, 2010 Ex Parte Letter at 45.
498 Comcast Reply at 9 ("In fact, S. 652 initially recognized `that the entire pole . . . other than the usable space is of
equal benefit to all attachments of entities that hold an ownership interest in the pole. . . and therefore [the
Commission must] apportion the cost of the space other than the usable space equally among all such
attachments.
'") (emphasis in original) (citing S. 652, 205(b)(2)(A)). Comcast also points to another version of the
Senate bill that references an allocation based on "cost of providing space" and "cost of space" without defining
either, which Comcast contends, indicates the bill did not equate the two phrases. Comcast Reply at 10 n.26.
499 H.R. Rep. No. 104-458 at 113, reprinted in 1996 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 124 (Joint Explanatory Statement of the
Committee of Conference) ("The differences between the Senate bill, the House amendment, and the substitute
agreed to in conference are noted below, except for clerical corrections, conforming changes made necessary by
agreements reached by the conferees, and minor drafting and clerical changes.").
500 See Communications Act of 1995, H.R. Rep. No. 104-204, 104th Cong. 1st Session, at 24 (1995);
Telecommunications Competition and Deregulation Act of 1995, S. Rep. No. 104-23, 104th Cong. 1st Session, at 87
(1995).
501 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(2), (e)(3) (emphasis added).
502 See supra para. 161.
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166.
Likewise, the legislative history does not demonstrate that the Commission's rate setting
must focus on the "benefits" parties receive from attachments, rather than on the costs associated with
attachment. For one, the discussion of "benefits" in the House and Senate bills focused on how to
allocate costs among pole owners and attachers, rather than the meaning of the "costs" to be allocated, as
even some utilities concede.503 Further, the House and Senate bills took starkly different approaches, with
the House bill requiring third-party attachers to bear a greater share of the unusable space on the pole than
required under the Senate bill.504 Ultimately, moreover, we note that none of the "benefit" language from
either the House or Senate bills was adopted in the conference agreement's amendments to section 224.
167.
Telecom Rate Relative to Cable Rate. Contrary to certain utilities' arguments, neither
differences in the text of section 224(d) and (e) nor legislative history require that the telecom rate be
higher than the cable rate.505 For example, some commenters cite the fact that section 224(e) does specify
a methodology for allocating costs that is not present in section 224(d).506 Others argue that the
temporary, initial use of section 224(d) to establish pole rental rates for telecom carriers pending
Commission implementation of section 224(e) implies that those rates must be different, or that the
telecom rate must be higher than the cable rate.507 Section 224(e) gave the Commission two years to
adopt regulations "to govern the charges for pole attachments used by telecommunications carriers to
provide telecommunications services,"508 and in the interim, pole rental rates for telecom carriers would
be based on section 224(d).509 Section 224(e) further provided that, following the adoption of
implementing regulations, "[a]ny increase in the rates for pole attachments that result from the adoption
of the regulations . . . shall be phased in equal annual increments over a period of five years."510


503 See, e.g., Florida IOUs Nov. 8, 2010 Ex Parte Letter at 45 & n.18 (arguing that "the early legislative history
indicates that the general understanding of `costs' included both capital and O&M costs, and the disagreement was
over apportionment of those `costs.'") (emphasis in original). Insofar as those arguments reflect an underlying
assumption that the costs at issue must be fully allocated costs, we reject the view that the legislative history
compels us to adopt such an interpretation of "costs" under section 224(e). See supra paras. 162165. Nor does
Florida IOUs citation to certain statements of Sen. Hollings lead us to reach a different conclusion. Although
Florida IOUs cite Sen. Hollings's comment in S. Rep. 104-23 that "utilities . . . continue to express concern that the
revised formula will not compensate them adequately for their costs of building and maintaining the poles")
(emphasis in original), he also said that "The current law sets the rates charged to cable companies for using these
poles. The new language in the bill expands the scope of the provisions to include other providers of
telecommunications services. The purpose of the provisions is to ensure that all users pay the same amount."
Telecommunications Competition and Deregulation Act of 1995, S. Rep. No. 23, 104th Cong. 1st Session at 65
(1995). Thus, we do not view Sen. Hollings's statements, taken as a whole, to demonstrate a clear view on the
"costs" (or "benefits") to be used in setting pole rental rates, particularly because they reflect the views of a single
Senator.
504 Comcast Reply at 9 n. 24 ("Thus, from the outset, the Senate view was that the `cost' of unusable space was of
equal benefit to the pole owners' attachments (not third party attachments as the House bill provided) and directs
that the cost of that pole space be divided equally among `such attachments' (i.e., the pole owner attachments, not
third party attachments). This early version of the Senate bill went on to explain that a third party attacher benefits
from the unusable space on a pole `in the same proportion as it benefits from the usable space'--directly contrary to
the House approach.").
505 See, e.g., Alliance Comments at 8385; EEI/UTC Comments at 7173 (citing section 224(e)(4), (d)(3)); Oncor
Comments at 61.
506 See, e.g., Alliance Reply at 23.
507 See, e.g., Alliance Comments at 85; EEI/UTC Comments at 7174; Oncor Comments at 60.
508 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(1).
509 Id. at 224(d)(3).
510 Id. at 224(e)(4) (emphasis added).
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168.
These provisions suggest that the telecom rate and cable rate could be different, but not
that they must always be different or that the telecom rate necessarily must be higher.511 For example,
section 224(e) provided for the gradual phase-in of "[a]ny increase" in pole rental rates for telecom
carriers following the implementation of section 224(e), indicating that there might not be such an
increase.512 In fact, the rules originally adopted by the Commission recognized that the telecom rate
could go down as well as up, and thus provided that "[t]he five-year phase-in is to apply to rate increases
only. Rate reductions are to be implemented immediately."513 Likewise, the new telecom rate we adopt
in this order could, in some circumstances, be higher than the cable rate,514 and in other circumstances,
lower.515
169.
Further, the use of a transition mechanism to phase-in section 224(e) rates is consistent
with our recognition that section 224(e) is ambiguous and could result in a range of permissible rates
because the "cost" at issue is subject to a range of interpretations.516 In addition, other factors also create
uncertainty regarding the potential difference (if any) between the rates yielded under section 224(d) and
section 224(e), including the number of attachers that might emerge over time (which affects the
allocation of costs under section 224(e))517 and the potential for section 224(d) rates themselves to fall
anywhere within a range (rather than only at the upper bound).518 By providing that section 224(d) rates
initially be used for telecommunications attachments, section 224 can reasonably be interpreted as
responding to the variability in the Commission's possible implementation of section 224(e) by
minimizing the administrative burden and providing greater certainty during the transition.


511 For the same reasons, we reject assumptions made by utilities that, if Congress had intended for the telecom rate
to be equal to or lower than the cable rate, there would have been no need for Congress in section 224(d)(3) to
provide that the cable formula be used for attachments "solely to provide cable service." See EEI/UTC Comments
at 7174.
512 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(4) (emphasis added).
513 47 C.F.R. 1.1409(f).
514 See supra paras. 146152.
515 The rate could be lower if, for example, the attacher demonstrated that there were more attachers on the relevant
poles than reflected by the Commission's presumptions.
516 See supra paras. 140145.
517 Both pole owners and attachers appear to agree that everyone expected the number of facilities-based competitors
to increase over time. See, e.g., Alliance Reply at 12; Comcast Comments at 7. Although the number of new
facilities-based competitors was uncertain, the clear impact of such entry was that the telecom rate would decline as
the number of attachers increased. 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 6800, para. 45 ("Under Section
224(e)(2), the number of attaching entities is significant because the costs of unusable space assessed to each entity
decreases as the number of entities increases."). The Coalition asserts "that the Commission expected no more than
five attaching entities for urbanized areas and three for non-urbanized areas, since these are the presumptions" it
made. Coalition Reply at 26. First, the Commission established these numbers as rebuttable presumptions,
recognizing that they could vary. It did so in large part for administrative reasons to "expedite the process,"
establish a degree of certainty, and give utilities the option of avoiding expenses for studies to develop their own
location-specific averages. 2001 Order on Reconsideration, 16 FCC Rcd at 1213440, paras. 6272. The
Commission also established the right of attaching entities to challenge the average number of attaching entities set
by utilities and expected a good faith effort by a utility to modify its presumptive average if the number of attachers
increased. Id. at 12135, para. 63 n.211.
518 The Commission has discretion under section 224(d) to determine the cable rate within a range between the
additional cost and fully allocated cost of an attachment. See 47 U.S.C. 224(d). The difference between the
telecom rate and the cable rate would be impacted by how the Commission exercised its ratemaking discretion in
implementing the two rates.
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170.
Nor does section 224's legislative history demonstrate that the telecom rate must always
be higher than the cable rate.519 The utilities principally rely on statements drawn from the legislative
history of the House proposal to amend section 224.520 As discussed above, however, it was the Senate
version that formed the basis for the conference agreement, and even that language was subject to
revision in relevant respects.521 We are not persuaded that certain isolated statements by individual
Senators compel a different result.522 Rather, as explained above, we find the legislative history taken as
a whole does not clarify Congress's intent, nor does it compel an interpretation of section 224(e) that is
contrary to the one we adopt here.523
171.
Finally, utility references to Commission and court decisions acknowledging that the
telecom rate is higher than the cable rate do not establish that section 224(e) required a higher telecom
rate.524 In 1998, the Commission selected a fully allocated cost approach, which was one of the
permissible outcomes under section 224(e).525 The subsequent Commission and court statements thus
were simply accurate characterizations of the mathematical result of the Commission's initial decision to
use fully allocated costs in the telecom rate formula.526 To the extent that there is any dicta in prior
Commission decisions to the contrary, we reject such statements in light of the statutory interpretation we
adopt here, and because they were at odds with the Commission's contemporaneous recognition in the
text of its rules that, even as initially implemented, the telecom rate theoretically could be higher or lower
than the cable rate.527


519 See, e.g., Oncor Comments at 6061 (arguing "legislative intent to create a separate and distinct rate that would
yield a higher rate than the pre-existing Cable Rate") (citing H. Rep. No. 104-204 at 92 and H. Conf. Rep. No. 104-
458 at 206 (1966)).
520 See, e.g., Alliance Comments at 86; Alliance Reply at 20, 34; Oncor Comments at 6061; APPA Reply at 9.
521 See supra paras. 162166.
522 The Florida IOUs cite a statement by Senator Hollings suggesting his view that the telecom rate would be higher
than the cable rate. See Florida IOUs Nov. 8, 2010 Ex Parte Letter at 6 (citing 142 Cong. Rec. S. 689) (Feb. 1,
1996) (quoting Sen. Hollings's statement that "[c]able companies may continue to pay the same [pole attachment]
rate as long as they provide only cable service; once cable companies start to provide telephone service, a higher rate
will phase in over ten years").
523 See supra paras. 162166.
524 See, e.g., Florida IOUs Comments at 61.
525 See 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 6800 n.160; Telecom Rate NPRM, 12 FCC Rcd at 11737, para.
33.
526 Thus, contrary to the Florida IOUs assertion, the following statement in a Commission order does not mean that
fully allocated costs are required: "The end result of the application of the telecommunications pole attachment
formula is a rate which reflects the fully allocated costs of the pole-related expenses." Alabama Cable Order, 16
FCC Rcd at 12231, para. 49.
527 See 47 C.F.R. 1.1409(f). In particular, utilities argue that some Commission decisions stated that section 224(e)
requires "fully allocated costs" be used in the telecom rate. See, e.g., Florida IOUs Nov. 8, 2010 Ex Parte Letter at
23 (citing Implementation of Section 703 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, CS Docket No. 96-166, Order, 11
FCC Rcd 9541, 9544, para. 6 (1996)). The statement at issue, however, was made in passing in the background
discussion of an item that did not involve the implementation of the telecom rate formula or any meaningful
statutory analysis in that regard. Similarly, Commission statements in the 1998 Implementation Order anticipating
that the telecom rate would be higher than the cable rate were not based on any actual statutory analysis there, and
are more properly understood as flowing simply from the fact that, as the Commission initially had implemented
224(e), it generally resulted in a higher rate. See 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 679596, para. 34; see
also Alabama Cable Order
, 16 FCC Rcd at 12231, para. 49. We also disagree with an assertion by Alliance that a
prior Commission statement regarding the use of historical costs necessarily implies an intent by Congress to "use a
capital cost-based methodology for calculating the telecom rate." Alliance Reply at 18 (citing 2001 Order on
Reconsideration
, 16 FCC Rcd at 12117, para. 22). There was no mention of capital costs by the Commission there.
(continued....)
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3.

New Telecom Rate Promotes Broadband Competition and Availability

172.
The record here demonstrates that pole rental rates play a significant role in the
deployment and availability of voice, video, and data networks. Several commenters recognize the value
of the Commission's approach to lower and make more uniform pole attachment rates to "eliminate
barriers to broadband deployment,"528 provide "regulatory certainty,"529 "promote broadband deployment
and competition,"530 "spur investment,"531 and "reduc[e] significant indirect costs caused by the existing
differences between" the rates paid by competitors.532 At the same time, the revised telecom rate
methodology remains readily administrable,533 consistent with Congress' instruction to develop a
regulatory framework that may be applied in a "simple and expeditious" manner with "a minimum of
staff, paperwork and procedures consistent with fair and efficient regulation."534 We are unpersuaded by
electric utilities' claims that the new telecom rate will not promote broadband deployment and is not good
public policy.535
173.
New Telecom Rate Promotes Act's Goals. Specifically, the action we take will advance
the pro-competitive policies underlying the Act.536 Under section 706 of the 1996 Act, Congress directed
the Commission to "encourage the deployment . . . of advanced telecommunications capability to all
Americans by utilizing, in a manner consistent with the public interest . . . measures that promote
(Continued from previous page)


In rejecting utility arguments that the Commission should "abandon our use of regulatory accounts based on
historical costs" in favor of a forward-looking cost methodology, the Commission noted that Congress did not
`instruct the Commission to deviate from the use of historical costs when it amended the Pole Attachment Act in
1966." 2001 Order on Reconsideration, 16 FCC Rcd at 12114, 12117, paras. 16, 22. Contrary to Alliance's
assertion, the new telecom rate uses a historic cost methodology based on the same regulatory accounts the
Commission has used in the past.
528 Charter Comments at v.
529 NCTA Comments at 9.
530 Comcast Comments at 25.
531 CTIA Comments at 16.
532 TWC Comments at 45 (arguing the existing rate differences cause litigation costs by utilities seeking to impose
the existing telecom rate on new and innovative services that are introduced by cable operators and also
administrative costs of separately tracking pole attachments used to provide telecom services, which is "incredibly
complex . . . in an integrated voice, video and data network").
533 For example, it uses publicly filed cost data, such as FERC 1 data, that are verifiable and comply with the
uniform system of accounts of the Commission and FERC. We note that AT&T, Qwest, and Verizon committed to
continue filing pole attachment data publicly and annually that had been in ARMIS Report 43-01 as a condition of
the Commission's forbearance from ARMIS financial reports. Petition of Qwest Corporation for Forbearance from
Enforcement of the Commission's ARMIS and 492A Reporting Requirements Pursuant to 47 U.S.C. 160(c);
Petition of Verizon for Forbearance Under 47 U.S.C. 160(c) From Enforcement of Certain of the Commission's
Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements;
WC Docket Nos. 07-204, 07-273, Memorandum Opinion and Order,
23 FCC Rcd 18483, 18490, para. 13 (2008), pet. for recon. pending, pet. for review pending NASUCA v. FCC, Case
No. 08-1353 (D.C. Cir. filed Nov. 4, 2008).
534 S. Rep. No. 95-580, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. 109, at 21. See also TWTC/Comptel Reply App. A, Decl.
of Don J. Wood at 24 (TWTC/Comptel Wood Decl.) (describing the Commission new methodology as a
"refinement of, not a radical departure from" the present methodology and "would not require the utilities to
undertake radically new calculations or to change their data collection and accounting methods.").
535 See, e.g., Alliance Reply at 11; APPA Reply at 1516.
536 A major impetus of the 1996 Act was "to accelerate private sector deployment of advanced telecommunications
and information technologies and services to all Americans by opening all telecommunications markets to
competition." Preamble to the 1996 Act. Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56
(1996).
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competition . . . or other regulatory methods that remove barriers to infrastructure investment."537
Further, Congress declared in the Act that "[i]t is the policy of the United States . . . to promote the
continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer services and other interactive
media."538 Consistent with those goals, the telecom rate we adopt today helps to ensure that our policies
regarding pole attachment rates promote competitive and technological neutrality, and hence more
effective competition, resulting in more efficient investment, innovation, and service provision.
174.
As the Further Notice explained, cable operators have been arbitrarily deterred from
offering new, advanced services that potentially could be classified as telecommunications services, such
as high-capacity connections to anchor institutions or wireless towers, based on the possible financial
impact of having to pay the currently higher telecom rate for all their pole attachments.539 The record
here likewise confirms that a low and more uniform rate will reduce disputes and costly litigation about
the applicability of "cable" or "telecommunications" rates to broadband, voice over Internet protocol, and
wireless services that distort attachers' deployment decisions.540 Narrowing the range of potential prices
attachers face reduces the gains each party can obtain through winning a dispute. This benefits the parties
and economic efficiency by reducing risk (the range of potential outcomes due to a dispute are narrowed).
Economic efficiency is further improved because there are fewer rents to be fought over and hence rent
seeking, which results in efficiency losses, also is reduced. Further, several commenters argue that
reducing the current disparity in cable and telecom rates, which distort investment decisions for
telecommunications carriers and cable operators, represents "the most effective means of promoting
broadband deployment."541
175.
This approach also is consistent with prior Commission policy regarding pole rental rates.
In the 1998 Implementation Order, the Commission anticipated that rates higher than the cable rate


537 47 U.S.C. 1302(a). Advanced telecommunications capability is defined as "high speed, switched, broadband
telecommunications capability that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and
video telecommunications using any technology." 47 U.S.C. 1302 (d)(1).
538 47 U.S.C. 230.
539 See, e.g., Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11912, para. 116 (citing Letter from Daniel L. Brenner, Counsel, Bright
House Networks, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, GN Docket Nos. 09-47, 09-51, 09-137 (filed Feb. 16,
2010) Attach. (Affidavit of Nick Lenochi) (providing example of how application of higher telecommunications rate
for poles would increase expense of deploying Fast Ethernet connections to a large school district by $220,000
annually); NCTA Comments at 17 (filed Sept. 24, 2009); Letter from Jill M. Valenstein, Counsel for the Arkansas
Cable Telecommunications Association, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, at 12
(filed July 11, 2008)).
540 See, e.g., Charter Comments at iii, 5 (explaining that disputes and litigation with pole owners about whether the
telecom rate is applicable negatively affect deployment of integrated voice, data, and video services, and waste
"critical resources that could have been spent on deploying advanced services to consumers," and noting that
"[a]pplication of the telecom rate to Charter's attachments is especially disadvantageous because Charter typically
serves areas that are more rural and non-urbanized with fewer attachers (the lower the number of attaching entities,
the higher the telecom rate)"); see also Bright House Comments at 37 (explaining that it is attached to more than
one million poles across its service areas, pays more than $11 million in annual pole rents, has incurred litigation
expenses during the past four years over the characterization of its attachments, and that a higher rate can frustrate
competitive entry in new, innovative services); Comments of the Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business
Association, GN Docket No. 10-188 at 8 (filed Oct. 15, 2010) (observing that "small cable broadband providers are
concerned about possible increases in rates for comingled Internet and video services," and that the Office of
Advocacy "encourages the Commission to examine the impact that increasing pole attachment rates for small cable
broadband providers of comingled video and broadband services would have on these providers' ability to compete
and deploy broadband, especially in underserved areas").
541 See TWTC/Comptel Wood Decl. at 5 ("In addition to being compensatory, a rate based on a proper calculation of
incremental costs would provide the clearest signals to the marketplace (thereby minimizing any distortion to carrier
deployment decisions) and would represent the most effective means of promoting broadband deployment.").
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deterred cable operators from offering new services, and therefore applied the cable rate to cable
operators' attachments used for both video and Internet services.542 The Commission recognized that
there were strong policy reasons for this approach, concluding it "will encourage greater competition in
the provision of Internet service and greater benefits to consumers."543 Indeed, cable operators described
the significant negative effect that raising cable pole attachment rates to the telecom rate would have on
broadband investment in rural areas given the already higher costs to serve those areas.544 For poles
subject to Commission-regulated rates used by the cable industry, NCTA noted a $3 difference between
the cable rate and the present telecom rate could amount to approximately $90 million to $120 million per
year, which could ultimately affect subscribers and future infrastructure investment, including broadband
deployment.545
176.
The Commission's policy has provided pole owners with a compensatory rate and
successfully spurred investment by cable operators in networks capable of delivering advanced
communications services and the growth of facilities-based competition, both to the benefit of
consumers.546 For example, the American Cable Association explains that low attachment rates have
been "instrumental in the ability of smaller cable operators to deploy broadband facilities and offer
advanced communications services."547 Moreover, we agree with commenters that extending this policy
by implementing a low and more uniform rate that will be applicable to attachments used by
telecommunications carriers will eliminate competitive disadvantages that carriers like TWTC face by
having to pay higher rates for these key inputs to communications services.548 At the same time, based on
the views of consumer advocates discussed above,549 we believe that our new telecom rate appropriately
acknowledges the policy interests in utility pole investment and of utility ratepayers.


542 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 6794, para. 32. In 2000, the Supreme Court upheld this decision,
finding that section 224(b) gives the Commission authority to adopt just and reasonable rates for attachments within
the general scope of section 224 of the Act, but outside the "self-described scope" of the telecom rate formula or
cable rate formula as specified under sections 224(d) and (e). Gulf Power, 534 U.S. at 33536, 33839.
543 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 6794, para. 32.
544 See, e.g., Charter NPRM Comments at 36 (stating that monthly Internet rates would increase by $2.47$4.33 per
customer) ("[T]he presence of one Internet customer would `contaminate' the entire system and thus all pole
attachments with a higher rate . . . . In the areas that Charter serves with 1015 subscribers per mile, the impact . . .
would be devastating given the already higher costs in rural areas. . . . The increases will be so significant and the
cost pressure so intense that many competitors will forego providing service in rural areas as the domino effect on
projected take rates by rural customers will further reduce such providers' expectation of a return on investment that
would outpace capital debt reimbursement obligations.").
545 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11912, para. 116 (citing NCTA Comments, Pelcovits Decl. at para. 13 (filed Sept.
24, 2009) (based on the estimated 3040 million poles with cable attachments subject to Commission regulation)).
Cable commenters estimate an even greater difference between the two rates of $208 million to $672 million
annually for the cable industry as a whole. NCTA Comments, Pelcovits Decl. at para. 22. Likewise, in the case of
just one state--West Virginia--a difference of approximately $4 million in pole attachment expenses per year
between the current cable and telecom rates was estimated. NCTA Comments, Attach. Gregg Decl. at para. 14 &
tbl. 2.
546 NCTA Comments at 1.
547 See, e.g., ACA Comments at 3.
548 TWTC explains that it "provides broadband information and telecommunications services over fiber that it
deploys" and "[a]ccess to poles is usually the most efficient and often the only means of deploying these fiber
transmission facilities." TWTC White Paper, RM-1293, at 2.
549 See supra Part V.B.1.
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177.
Furthermore, we find informative the actions taken by state regulators that have elected to
exercise jurisdiction over pole attachments in lieu of the Commission.550 Commenters report that many of
these states apply a uniform rate for all attachments used to provide cable and telecommunications
services, and have done so by establishing a rate identical or similar to the Commission's cable rate
formula.551
178.
We are not persuaded by utilities' arguments that question the impact of the new telecom
rate on broadband deployment.552 Utilities assert that broadband already is available to the vast majority
of the U.S. population, and that factors other than the costs of pole attachments are more important to
decisions to deploy in rural areas.553 These arguments, however, overlook the documented reluctance on
the part of cable providers to expand their networks and provide new high-capacity services to customers
such as anchor institutions or wireless providers whether in urban or rural areas because of the risk
that some of those services could potentially be classified as "telecommunications services," triggering
disputes as to whether the higher, telecom rate should be applied over their entire pole attachment
network. As discussed above, the record indicates this problem is a barrier to the deployment of
integrated voice, data, and video services, including the provision of broadband services to anchor
institutions.554 By minimizing this disparity, the Commission will promote competition that will lead to
more and better service offerings at lower prices.
179.
Even beyond the effects of the rate disparity, we anticipate that the absolute level of pole
rental rates also is likely to be relevant to decisions regarding what services are provided. In addition to
the comments in the current record,555 the National Broadband Plan cited cost information suggesting that
higher pole attachment costs can affect broadband deployment.556 Reducing input costs improves the
business case for broadband deployment at the margin, expanding opportunities for investment. The
effect of a reduction in one type of input cost becomes even more significant as the Commission


550 These states, listed in Appendix C, certify that they meet certain statutory requirements. 47 U.S.C.
224(c)(2)(B), (c)(3)(B) (the state regulatory commission must "consider the interests of the subscribers of the
services offered via such attachments as well as the interests of the consumers of the utility services," and it must
provide prompt action on complaints).
551 Comcast Comments at 1820; NCTA Comments at Attach. B; TWC Comments at 3; Verizon Reply at 1011
(stating that "[f]or example, in New York `there is one pole attachment rate, which applies to all attachments
regardless of the type of company' and that rate is `based on the federal formula for cable television attachments'").
But see Coalition NPRM Comments at 36 (citing to three states and one city that adopted higher attachment rates).
552 See, e.g., EEI/UTC Orszag, Shampine Decl. at 1315 (arguing that most of the poles in areas without broadband
would not be affected by the Commission's proposed rate and this rate is a relatively small fraction of network
costs).
553 See, e.g., APPA Reply at 19; Coalition Comments at 120; NRECA Comments at 27 (arguing low pole rates are
not enough to promote broadband deployment and that there are not enough consumers that can generate sufficient
revenue for broadband service providers to deploy in very low density areas).
554 We note that, under existing Commission precedent, cable operators that provide commingled Internet access
services do not trigger the higher telecom rate on that basis, and our actions here do not alter that holding. See supra
note 464.
555 Letter from Craig A. Gilley, Counsel for Suddenlink Comm. and Mediacom Comm. Corp., to Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, at 1 (Feb. 10, 2011).
556 See, e.g., NATIONAL BROADBAND PLAN at 110 n.7 (citing to NCTA NPRM Comments App. B, Decl. of Dr.
Michael D. Pelcovits). That study found that an increase in the cable rate to the telecom rate for cable companies
would translate to a cost increase ranging between $10.46 and $33.75 annually per broadband subscriber, and such
an "increase in pole attachment rates is likely to make it unprofitable for cable companies to enter new markets or
continue to offer broadband service in some rural areas." NCTA NPRM Comments App. B, Decl. of Dr. Michael D.
Pelcovits at 21.
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undertakes additional steps to accelerate broadband deployment. Scarce resources and the fact that up to
24 million Americans do not have access to broadband today lend greater urgency to the Commission's
efforts to ensure that policies regarding key inputs that bear on broadband deployment and availability are
designed to facilitate utilization of those resources to promote broadband.557
180.
In arguing to revise the present telecom rate upward and make it the uniform rate for
attachments, electric utilities assert that the telecom rate is based on "unrealistic presumptions" for the
average number of attaching entities on a pole and the classification of "safety space" as "usable
space."558 The Commission has given extensive consideration to these issues in prior decisions, and we
find no basis for revisiting them.559 Indeed, as we noted above, we find instructive consumer advocates'
position supporting the cable rate as the just and reasonable rate for all pole attachments and stating that
increasing attachment rates for broadband services would be "contrary to `the nation's commitment to
achieving universal broadband deployment and adoption.'"560
181.
In sum, we conclude that there are substantial benefits that will be derived from adoption
of the revised telecom rate, and that these benefits substantially outweigh any costs associated with the
rule. Although it is not possible to quantify with precision the benefits and costs based on the information
we have before us, and although some of the benefits are not subject to quantification, several sources of
gain stand out. For one, largely eliminating the difference in prices charged to cable operators and
telecommunications carriers will significantly reduce the extent to which investment and deployment
choices by such providers, and competition more generally, are distorted based on regulatory
classifications.561 Reducing the telecom rate to make it closer to uniform with the cable rate will enable
more efficient investment decisions in network expansion and upgrades, most notably in the deployment
of modern broadband networks.562 In addition, the change reduces the uncertainty facing third party
attachers, and in particular cable companies, as to what charges they are likely to face when they engage


557 Sixth Broadband Deployment Report, 25 FCC Rcd at 9574, para. 28 ("[A]pproximately 14 to 24 million
Americans do not have access to broadband today. [This] group appears to be disproportionately lower-income
Americans and Americans who live in rural areas. The goal of the statute, and the standard against which we
measure our progress, is universal broadband availability.").
558 See, e.g., EEI/UTC Comments at 75; Florida IOUs Reply at 46 (contending that safety space (usually 40 inches)
on a pole, currently included as "usable space" in the rate formula, is only necessary because of communications
attachers and should be treated as "unusable" space so that electric utilities are not bearing the full cost of providing
the space); Florida IOUs Reply at 6869.
559 2001 Order on Reconsideration, 16 FCC Rcd at 12130, para. 51 (rejecting utility arguments to remove the 40-
inch safety space from the presumptive 13.5 feet of usable space and affirming the 2000 Fee Order, 15 FCC Rcd at
646768, para. 22 (finding that "the presence of the potentially hazardous electric lines . . . makes the safety space
necessary and but for the presence of those lines, the space could be used by cable and telecommunications
attachers," and further that this "space is usable and is used by the electric utilities")). See supra note 517 in
response to utility assertions about the presumptive number of attachers. We also decline to adopt the USTelecom
and AT&T/Verizon proposals for pole attachment rates. See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1191314, para. 119
(describing those proposals). Even beyond the questions about whether those proposals are consistent with section
224, id. at 11914, para. 120, we are not persuaded that it will advance our broadband policies to increase the input
costs for some providers, as both proposals would do. Id. at 1191415, para. 121.
560 NASUCA Reply at 5.
561 As discussed above, this will directly lead to better resource allocation on an ongoing basis, see supra paras.
174176, the benefits of which will be large when summed across the nation and over time.
562 See supra paras. 174176. In addition, pole attachments are commonly an essential input, and hence critical to
the competitive process. See, e.g., supra paras. 172, 179. The cumulative efficiency benefit of improved
competition across the nation and over time can be expected to be significant.
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in the provision of new advanced services or network upgrades.563 The new telecom rate also will
substantially reduce the incentives for costly disputes by substantially reducing the potential gains that a
party can claim by arguing for a favorable attachment definition.564 At the same time, in defining the new
telecom rate we have been mindful of the potential burden of reform on utility ratepayers and the
incentives of utilities to continue investing in pole infrastructure, and have accounted for that in setting
the new telecom rate.565
4.

The Commission's Approach Permits Utilities to Recover Their Costs

182.
We are not persuaded by claims of utilities that the new telecom rate will not enable them
to recover their costs. The new telecom rate is compensatory and is designed so that utilities will not be
cross-subsidizing attachers, as it ensures that utilities will recover more than the incremental cost of
making attachments. The record provides no evidence indicating that there is any category or type of
costs that are caused by the attacher that are not recovered through the new telecom rate.
183.
New Telecom Rate Is Compensatory. Under our new approach, the lower-bound telecom
rate excludes capital costs the depreciation, rate of return, and tax components of the carrying charges566
consistent with economic, cost causation principles. Pole owners would continue to recover up-front,
through make-ready fees, the entire amount of the capital costs incurred to accommodate an attacher. As
Comcast points out, this approach is also consistent with Congress's understanding that pole attachments
generally do not impose any capital costs on utilities that are not recovered fully in make-ready charges:
"Thus, the only added cost to the utility resulting from the pole attachment would be administrative
costs."567 Significantly, the lower-bound telecommunications rate, the new telecom rate, and the cable
rate each are fully compensatory to utilities because these rates meet or exceed incremental cost, and
satisfy all constitutional compensation requirements.568 The cable rate formula has been upheld by the
courts as just, reasonable, and fully compensatory, and in virtually all cases the new telecom rate will
recover at least an equivalent amount of costs.569 Further, if the lower-bound telecom rate is applied, it
will be because it is higher than the (already compensatory) rate yielded by the cable rate formula.


563 Attachments to a particular utility pole by cable operators and telecommunications carriers are a near identical
input, so any price difference directly treats competitors differently.
564 Thus, under the new telecom rate, fewer resources can be profitably wasted in such disputes. See supra para. 174
(discussing how a low and more uniform rate will reduce disputes and litigation about the applicability of "cable" or
"telecommunications" rates). The efficiency gains due to reduced rent seeking are likely to be significant because
they are of a first-order magnitude (that is, they apply to every attachment sold), rather than applying to marginal
changes in attachments made.
565 See supra paras. 146152.
566 See supra note 419.
567 Comcast Comments at 13 (citing 123 Cong. Rec. 5080 (1977) (statement of Rep. Wirth) and 1977 Senate Report
at 19 ("[A utility's] avoidable costs...could be expected to be minimal since most of those costs are the outlays that
should be fully recovered in the make-ready charges.").
568 The new telecom rate would be equal to the higher of either the lower-end telecom rate or the cable rate;
generally this will result in the cable rate.
569 See, e.g., Alabama Power Co. v. FCC, 311 F.3d at 137071 ("[A]ny implementation of the [Commission's cable
pole attachment rate] (which provides for much more than marginal cost) necessarily provides just compensation.");
FCC v. Florida Power Corp., 480 U.S. at 25354 (finding that it could not "seriously be argued, that a rate
providing for the recovery of fully allocated cost, including the actual cost of capital, is confiscatory"). See also
NATIONAL BROADBAND PLAN at 110 ("[The cable rate] has been in place for 31 years and is `just and reasonable'
and fully compensatory to utilities."); Comcast NPRM Comments Exh. 2, Decl. of Harold W. Furchtgott-Roth at 1,
1011 (Furchtgott-Roth Report); Comcast Kravtin Report at paras. 3840, 6772).
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184.
No Evidence of Utility Subsidy. We find no evidence in the record that supports the
utilities' assertions that the lower-bound telecom formula results in rates so low that it forces electric
ratepayers to subsidize third-party attachment rates.570 Under economic and legal principles, a given
service is not subsidized by other services if the rate for the service produces revenues that cover all of the
costs caused by the service.571 In this case, neither the firm that provides the given service and other
services, nor the customers of those other services, are made worse off by the firm incurring costs to
supply the service. The given service (e.g., access to poles) does not subsidize other services (e.g.,
electric service) if its rate produces revenues that cover the incremental costs of providing the service.
185.
Capital Costs. We next discuss the specific costs capital, maintenance, and
administrative costs -- caused by third-party attachers, and why the amount of each particular cost
reflected in the lower-bound rate is not a subsidized amount. The capital costs of a pole are for the
physical material of the pole itself and for the labor and engineering needed to install it. The attacher
causes the pole owner to incur costs if measures such as rearrangement or bracketing are performed, or if
there is no space available on an existing pole to accommodate an attachment. The attacher causes the
pole owner to incur the costs for rearranging existing attachments, adding brackets, installing a new pole,
or for otherwise incurring costs to accommodate the attacher's demand. Pole owners have the
opportunity to recover through make-ready fees all of the capital costs caused by third-party attachers.
Importantly, the utility itself sets these fees as are appropriate they are not subject to any mandatory rate
formula set by the Commission.572
186.
As discussed below, the record demonstrates that attachers do not cause pole owners to
incur capital costs if there is space available on an existing pole to accommodate an attachment. For that
reason, none of the capital cost of a pole is included in the lower-bound telecom recurring pole rental rate
(and none is recovered through the make-ready fees). In accordance with the economic and legal
principles set forth above, the lower-bound rate is not a subsidized rate, even though it excludes capital
costs, because the attacher does not cause the utility to incur capital costs in this case. Excluding capital
costs from the lower-bound rate, while at the same time allowing recovery of all of the capital costs
caused by third-party attachers through the make-ready fees, prevents a subsidy that would result from
under-recovery of capital costs.
187.
Moreover, as one party points out, in cases where an attacher pays make-ready fees to
upgrade or to add capacity to an existing pole, or for a new, taller pole to accommodate that attacher's


570 See, e.g., APPA Reply at 1516; Coalition Comments at 11213; EEI/UTC Comments at 7173; Letter from
Aryeh B. Fishman, Director, Regulatory Legal Affairs, and John Caldwell, Director of Economics, EEI, to Marlene
H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51, Report of Kaustuv Chakrabarti passim
(filed Dec. 14, 2010) (EEI/UTC Chakrabarti Report).
571 Alabama Power Co. v. FCC, 311 F.3d at 1370. See also William J. Baumol and Dietrich Fischer, Super Fairness:
Applications and Theory, Ch. 6 (1986); Gerald R. Faulhaber, Cross-Subsidization: Pricing in Public Enterprises,
65 AM. ECON. REV. 966, 96677 (1975). The economic test developed by Faulhaber requires that the revenues a
firm derives from each service or group of services cover their own individual incremental costs. Faulhaber, id.
The complexity of the calculations and the voluminous information required to even roughly approximate the
incremental revenues and costs for each group of services precludes such an analysis here, especially given
Congress' instruction that the Commission institute a "simple and expeditious" pole attachment regulatory program
rather than requiring protracted proceedings and complicated pricing investigations. See 1977 Senate Report at 21.
572 We note that parties can seek Commission review of make-ready charges to the extent that they believe such
charges are unjust or unreasonable. See, e.g., Knology v. Georgia Power, 18 FCC Rcd 24615 (2003) ("Utilities are
entitled to recover their costs from attachers for reasonable make-ready work necessitated by requests for
attachment. Utilities are not entitled to collect money from attachers for unnecessary, duplicative, or defective
make-ready work."); Kansas City Cable Partners v. Kansas City Power & Light Co., Consolidated Order, 14 FCC
Rcd 11599 (Cable Serv. Bur. 1999) (attacher responsible only for cost of work made necessary because of its
attachments).
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demand, the utility, not the attacher, owns the pole.573 The utility therefore benefits from this situation in
a number of ways, including its recovery upfront of all of the costs the third-party attacher causes it to
incur. In particular, because poles typically come in standard sizes, the utility is likely to obtain, at no
cost to itself, capacity above and beyond the additional foot of pole space needed to accommodate the
typical third-party attachment. The utility benefits from the extra capacity because it can use that capacity
to supply its own services, rent the capacity to other third-party attachers and realize additional revenues,
and/or save or defer some of the cost of periodic pole replacement needed to provide its own service.
188.
Rational Firm Behavior. We find that a third-party pole attacher causes none of the
capital cost of the available space on an existing pole used to satisfy the attachment demand. We base
this finding on basic economic theory and the absence of evidence in the record to support a contrary
conclusion. We first discuss economic theory. As we noted in the Further Notice, section 224 imposes
no obligation on pole owners to anticipate the need to accommodate communications attachers when
deploying poles.574 We agree with commenters who claim that there is uncertainty surrounding future
attachment demand, and therefore there is the risk that the additional cost of extra pole capacity installed
in anticipation of additional demand would not be recovered.575 Moreover, as discussed, the rules we
adopt would impose no unrecoverable cost on the utility, but rather would provide a benefit to the utility,
insofar as a utility that has not considered third party demand is able to install a new pole at the new
attacher's expense. Therefore, we agree with TWTC that utilities typically would not install such extra
capacity in advance purely to accommodate possible telecommunications carrier or cable attachers.576
Rather, we conclude that utilities would install poles based on an assessment of their own needs and, to
the extent that future attachments could not be accommodated on such poles, leave it to the new attacher
to pay the cost of the new pole.577 In this manner, utilities are certain to recover the full cost of the
additional capacity through make-ready charges.
189.
We next discuss assertions by the utilities that third-party attachers cause some of the
capital costs of a pole that has space available to accommodate an attachment. In the Further Notice, the
Commission requested that pole owners, to the extent that they contend they incur significant capital costs
outside the make-ready context solely to accommodate third party attachers, provide the nature and extent
of those costs.578 The Commission noted that the Coalition of Concerned Utilities argues that:
(a) communications attachers are responsible for incremental capital costs for the extra space on taller
poles; and (b) those costs exceed the attachers' share of the capital costs for an entire pole that the
attachers bear under the fully distributed cost methodology reflected in the Commission's existing rate
formulas.579 In particular, the Coalition argues that utilities install taller poles routinely throughout their
networks to satisfy their own needs and anticipated third-party attachment demand, and that they do not
receive sufficient compensation for this option.580 The Commission questioned whether such practices


573 Comcast Kravtin Report at 30.
574 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11920 n.365.
575 Comcast Pecaro Decl. at 911.
576 Id.
577 Id.
578 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11921, para. 136.
579 Letter from Jack Richards on behalf of the Coalition of Concerned Utilities to Edward P. Lazarus, Chief of Staff,
FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245 at 2 (filed May 4, 2010) (Coalition May 4, 2010 Ex Parte Letter) (contending that
utility pole owners are not reimbursed for "the considerable additional costs ($180$310 per pole) required to
construct pole distribution systems that are taller and more expensive than the utilities need for their own purposes.
These additional capital costs are caused directly by the communications attachments, but they are not recoverable
by the utilities since the rate formula does not allow for recovery of incremental capital costs.").
580 Coalition May 4, 2010 Ex Parte Letter at 12.
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indeed were routine or widespread ,581 but nevertheless invited parties to submit studies that isolate and
quantify the effect of third-party attachment demand on pole height and therefore pole investment.582
190.
Electric utilities in response to the Further Notice did not provide any cost study, let alone
one that might demonstrate that pole owners incur capital costs outside the make-ready context solely to
accommodate third-party attachers. The utilities are in the best position to develop the most credible
studies because they possess the required data and information regarding the costs of owning, installing,
and maintaining poles. We find it reasonable to conclude, therefore, based on our analysis of rational
firm behavior and the lack of any evidence provided by the utilities to refute it, that pole owners do not
incur such costs.583
191.
Maintenance and Administrative Costs. We find, based on the record, that the amount of
maintenance and administrative costs reflected in the lower-bound telecom rate is not subsidized. The
lower-bound rate includes a share of the fully allocated amount of these costs, based on both the usable
and the unusable space allocators in section 224(e)(2) and (3).584 In fact, the lower-bound rate includes a
greater proportion of maintenance and administrative costs than does the existing cable rate. That is
because the allocation of maintenance and administrative costs attributed to unusable space by the lower-
bound rate formula is greater than the allocation of maintenance and administrative costs attributed to
unusable space in the cable rate formula.585 Courts have upheld the existing cable rate, finding it to be a
fully compensatory rate.586 It follows that the amount of maintenance and administrative costs included
in the lower-bound rate also fully compensate the pole owner for costs caused by third-party attachments,
based on the same legal reasoning the courts applied in evaluating the existing cable rate.
192.
Unusable Space. The utilities are incorrect in their assertions that the section 224(e)(2)
allocator apportions too little of the cost of unusable space to third-party attachers and creates a
subsidized rate.587 This allocation does not create a subsidized rate because unusable space costs are


581 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1192021, paras. 13536 & n.365.
582 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11921, para. 136 & n.371. The Commission provided specific guidance on how
commenters might demonstrate that investment in taller poles, if any, would not have been made `but for' the
communications attachers. Id. (requesting cost studies that keep certain variables constant, separately quantify any
additional investment not recovered in make-ready fees, include calculations on a per pole basis and on a per pole
per attacher basis, describe analytical techniques used, and explain what data was sampled).
583 We note that the Coalition provides only an anecdotal assertion of additional capital costs that would not be
incurred "but for" communications attachers. See Coalition Comments at 10912 (asserting that four Coalition
members install taller poles than would be needed if the electric utility were the only attacher and alleging that pole
replacements can be more frequent and/or more costly when poles have communications attachers). As we stated,
without a cost study, we are unable to find that these represent "substantial incremental capital expenditures" or that
"[c]ommunications attachers demonstrably add significantly to electric utility capital expenditures," as utilities
claim. See Coalition Comments at 10911. See also TWTC/Comptel Wood Decl. at 1623 (refuting each of the
Coalition's claims).
584 47 U.S.C. 224(e)(2)(3).
585 See supra note 397. The allocation of unusable space costs in the existing telecom rate exceeds the allocation of
these costs in the cable rate, given the Commission's rebuttable presumptions. The allocation of maintenance and
administrative costs attributed to unusable space is the same in the existing telecom rate and the lower-bound rate
because the formulas for both rates apportion the same fully allocated amount of maintenance and administrative
costs and do so using the same unusable space allocator. Accordingly, the allocation of maintenance and
administrative costs attributed to unusable space in the lower-bound rate exceeds the allocation of these costs in the
cable rate.
586 See generally FCC v. Florida Power Corp., 480 U.S. 245; Alabama Power Co. v. FCC, 311 F.3d 1357.
587 EEI/UTC Chakrabarti Report at 5, 7 n.6.
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common costs, as certain utilities point out.588 These common costs do not vary with the number of
attachers on a pole.589 Thus, none of these costs is caused by the attacher. Based on the legal and
economic principles discussed above, the entire amount of these costs could be excluded from the lower-
bound rate without resulting in a subsidized rate.590
193.
Usable Space. We also conclude that the attacher's share of the fully allocated
maintenance and administrative costs relating to usable space reasonably represents the extent to which
the attacher causes these costs.591 The relative use allocator in section 224(e) aligns with cost causation
principles because it apportions these costs on the basis of the fraction of the pole occupied by the
attacher, thereby producing an allocation that is commensurate with use. Moreover, the share of usable
space is the allocator that Congress specified for both the cable rate formula and the existing telecom rate
formula. Likewise, courts have upheld rates reflecting costs apportioned using this allocator.592
194.
We noted in the Further Notice that the Coalition of Concerned Utilities argues that the
incremental operating costs for attachments, which utilities contend are caused by communications
attachers, exceed the operating costs for a pole that the attachers bear under the Commission's pre-
existing implementation of the telecom rate.593 We remain skeptical of this claim because we would
expect that a significant portion of the pole-related maintenance and administrative expenses would be
incurred for routine activities unrelated to the number of attachments. We nevertheless invited parties
wishing to rebut that position to "submit studies that isolate and quantify the effect of third-party
attachment demand on operating expenses."594 Utilities, in response to the Further Notice, did not
provide a study that might demonstrate that the maintenance and administrative costs caused by third-
party attachers exceed the share of these costs the attachers bear under the fully distributed cost
methodology reflected in the Commission's existing telecom rate formula, which, in turn, is equal to the
share reflected in the lower-bound rate. Given the absence of such evidence in the record, we find the
maintenance and administrative costs reflected in the lower bound rate are not subsidized amounts.


588 Alliance Comments at 78 n.157; EEI/UTC Chakrabarti Report at 5. Common costs are incurred in the production
of multiple products or services, and remain unchanged as the relative proportion of those products or services
varies. See Local Competition First Report and Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 15845, para. 676.
589 Kahn, supra note 422.
590 See supra para. 184.
591 Utilities do not argue that the relative use allocator specified in section 224(e) apportions too little of the usable
space costs to third-party attachers. Rather, their position is that the Commission's rebuttable presumptions, if used
as inputs for that allocator, result in an under-allocation of usable space costs to third-party attachers. In particular,
the utilities argue that the rebuttable presumptions regarding usable space and unusable space, and the
Commission's treatment of worker safety space that affects these presumptions, produce this under-allocation. See
EEI/UTC Chakrabarti Report at 69. We reject these assertions above. See supra para. 180.
592 See generally FCC v. Florida Power Corp., 480 U.S. 245; Alabama Power Co. v. FCC, 311 F.3d 1357.
593 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11922, para. 138 (citing Coalition May 4, 2010 Ex Parte Letter at 2 (contending
that "annual operating expenses that are caused solely by communications attachers" add considerable costs, and
"[t]he Commission's rate formulas allow recovery of only a small fraction of these costs. . . . [F]or instance, the
mechanics of the pole attachment formula reduce recovery to a minute percentage, far less than even the tiny 7.4%
responsibility percentage for cable companies under the Commission's rules.")). Although the precise argument is
somewhat unclear, presumably the Coalition believes that more operating costs should be included in the relevant
definition of costs allocated pursuant to the section 224(e) methodology.
594 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11922, para. 138 & n. 377 (discussing elements of such a study). The
Commission provided specific guidance on how commenters might demonstrate the amount of operating expenses,
if any, that would not have been incurred "but for" the communications attachers. Id. (requesting cost studies that
keep certain variables constant, include calculations on a per pole basis and on a per pole per attacher basis, describe
analytical techniques used, and explain what data was sampled).
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195.
In conclusion, we find that the lower-bound telecom rate and the make-ready fees together
do not subsidize third-party pole attachers because these rates recover more than the costs caused by
attachers. Specifically, these rates recover all the capital costs caused by attachers, and an amount of
maintenance and administrative costs that exceeds the amount caused by attachers. Moreover, the pole
owner benefits from the extra capacity it obtains for free in the make-ready process, in addition to
recovering an amount greater than the costs caused by the attachers.
196.
Taxes. In the Further Notice, the Commission stated that, under its proposal, taxes would
be treated as part of the capital costs that are excluded from the lower-bound telecom rate.595 Parties
identified and commented on two types of relevant taxes: income taxes596 and property taxes.597 As
discussed below, we find it appropriate to exclude both types of taxes from the lower-bound rate.
197.
Consistent with the cost-causation principles underlying our lower-bound telecom rate, we
exclude income taxes because third-party attachers do not cause utilities to incur these expenses.598 As
we stated in the Further Notice, income taxes are capital costs because they apply to the return
stockholders receive for providing funds used to pay for the pole.599 Under our approach, if a new
attachment would give rise to capital costs, the attacher bears those costs through make-ready fees.600
Where no capital costs arise from a new attachment, the new attacher has "caused" none of the capital
outlay on which stockholders earn a return and therefore none of the corporate income taxes on that
return. Accordingly, income taxes are excluded from the lower-bound rate.
198.
We likewise find that property taxes should be excluded from the lower-bound telecom
rate because there is no evidence in the record that third-party attachers cause pole owners to incur these
expenses. In theory, if a pole owner places a new pole to accommodate a third-party attachment, the
value of that owner's pole stock could increase. That increase, in turn, could increase the pole owner's
property taxes, if property taxes are assessed based on an estimate of property values. We are persuaded
by the record, however, that such a theoretical property tax increase, if any, would be insignificant. For
one, the record indicates that new poles seldom are installed to accommodate third-party attachment
demand.601 Moreover, the magnitude of any increase in value of the owner's stock of poles arising from a
new pole would be expected to reflect only the extra capacity provided by the new pole. Commenters did
not provide data demonstrating the increase in value if any likely to result under these circumstances;


595 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11922 n.372. Income taxes are capital costs because they apply to the return
equity holders receive for providing funds used to pay for the pole. ROGER A. MORIN, REGULATORY FINANCE:
UTILITIES' COST OF CAPITAL 40911 (1994).
596 Kravtin refers to "revenue-related" taxes without distinguishing these from income taxes. See NCTA Comments
Attach. A, Patricia D. Kravtin Report at 36 (NCTA Kravtin Report).
597 Pecaro notes possessory interest taxes, which are similar to the property taxes the owner of private property pays.
See Comcast Pecaro Decl. at 13. A possessory interest tax is paid by an entity that uses government property and
typically is based on the assessed value of that property.
598 See Comcast Pecaro Decl. at 1213; NCTA Kravtin Report at 36; Mahanger Reply at 1718.
599 A stockholder is a legal owner of one or more shares of the capital stock of a corporation. See Eric L. Kohler, A
Dictionary for Accountants
at 457 (5th Ed.) (1975). Capital stock, in turn, refers to the ownership shares of a
corporation authorized by its articles of incorporation. Id. at 84.
600 See supra paras. 144, 161.
601 For example, data provided by Oncor indicates that only 0.9% and 0.5% of the poles for which attachers
requested access were replaced at the attachers' expense through make-ready fees in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
See EEI/UTC Chakrabarti Report at 910. See also Ex Parte Letter from Joseph A. Lawhorn, Counsel to Georgia
Power Co. and Southern Communications Services, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, Attach. B, slide 4 (filed
Nov. 17, 2009). This letter describes an actual project in which only 4 of 294 poles, or 1.4%, had to be changed out
to accommodate new attachments by a cable company.
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nor did they demonstrate that any such increase would have a practical impact on property taxes that
should be reflected in pole attachment rates. Moreover, we question whether any taxes incurred on these
could exceed the increased value of the new poles, which the utility now will own.

C.

Incumbent LEC Pole Attachments

199.
As explained below, historically incumbent LECs owned roughly as many poles as
electric utilities, and it appears that incumbent LECs were generally able to ensure just and reasonable
rates, terms and conditions for pole attachments by negotiating "joint use" agreements.602 The record
demonstrates that incumbent LECs own fewer poles now than in the past, and this relative change in pole
ownership may have left incumbent LECs in an inferior bargaining position to other utilities.603 As a
result, at least in some circumstances, market forces and independent negotiations may not be alone
sufficient to ensure just and reasonable rates, terms and conditions for incumbent LECs pole attachments.
200.
The Commission sought comment on the possibility of regulating the rates incumbent
LECs pay for attachments in the 2007 Pole Attachment Notice. In particular, the Commission sought
comment on the extent of the Commission's authority to regulate pole attachment rates for incumbent
LECs, as well as "possible changes in bargaining power between electric utilities and incumbent LECs,
and whether pole attachment rates paid by incumbent LECs could affect the vitality of competition to
deliver telecommunications, video services, and broadband Internet access service."604 The Pole
Attachment Notice
tentatively concluded that incumbent LECs (as with other broadband providers) should
pay a regulated rate for pole attachments and "that the rate should be higher than the current cable rate,
yet no greater than the telecommunications rate."605
201.
In the 2010 Further Notice, the Commission asked parties to refresh the record on the
issues raised in the Pole Attachment Notice "both in light of the specific telecom rate proposals, as well as
the factual findings of the National Broadband Plan."606 In addition, the Commission sought comment
"on the relationship between the pole rental rates paid by incumbent LECs and any other rights and
responsibilities they have by virtue of their pole access agreements with utilities," such as joint use
agreements, and whether any remedies otherwise were available to incumbent LECs absent the ability to
file complaints with the Commission.607 The Further Notice also sought comment on proposals under
which incumbent LECs' regulated rate would be an existing rate, whether the cable rate, the pre-existing
telecom rate, or any new rate adopted in this proceeding, or an alternative rate, as well as how to balance
the rate paid with the other terms and conditions in incumbent LECs' pole attachment agreements with
other utilities.608
202.
Based on the record in this proceeding, we find it appropriate to revisit our interpretation
of section 224 with respect to rates, terms and conditions for pole attachments by incumbent LECs.609


602 See, e.g., AT&T Reply at 9; Coalition Reply at 36; Florida IOUs Reply at 2728; Frontier Mar. 8, 2011 Ex Parte
Letter at 1.
603 See infra para. 206 (describing record evidence).
604 Pole Attachment Notice, 22 FCC Rcd at 2020106, paras. 1516, 2325.
605 Id. at 20209, para. 36.
606 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1192425, para. 143.
607 Id. at 1192527, paras. 145, 148.
608 Id. at paras. 14347.
609 Given the extensive comment sought on these issues, see, e.g., supra paras. 200201, we reject some
commenters' suggestion that the Commission lacks adequate notice. See, e.g., Letter from Sean B. Cunningham,
Counsel for the Alliance for Fair Pole Attachment Rules, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No.
07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51, Attach. at 12 (filed Mar. 31, 2011) (Alliance Mar. 31, 2011 Ex Parte Letter).
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Although incumbent LECs have no right of access to utilities' poles pursuant to section 224(f)(1) of the
Act, we now conclude that where incumbent LECs have such access, they are entitled to rates, terms and
conditions that are "just and reasonable" in accordance with section 224(b)(1).
203.
We therefore allow incumbent LECs to file complaints with the Commission challenging
the rates, terms and conditions of pole attachment agreements with other utilities. Given that incumbent
LECs often can be differently situated from other attachers, both due to the terms of existing joint use
agreements and because of their continuing pole ownership, we conclude that it would not be appropriate
to treat them identically to telecommunications carrier610 or cable operator attachers in all circumstances.
Instead, we identify a number of factors that the Commission will consider in determining whether a
particular rate, term, or condition is just or reasonable pursuant to section 224(b)(1). This guidance will
provide greater clarity to the industry, improve the administrability of Commission complaint proceedings
involving incumbent LEC attachers, and seek to strike the most appropriate balance in ensuring just and
reasonable rates given the particular terms and conditions of an incumbent LEC's agreement for pole
access.
1.

Statutory Analysis

204.
Section 224 uses two separate terms to refer to telephone companies that are pole
attachers. The statute uses the term "telecommunications carrier," and contains a definition of that term
that takes as a starting place the definition of the same term in section 3 of the Act.611 The definition in
section 224, however, deviates from the section 3 definition by excluding incumbent LECs.612 In most
places, section 224 uses the term "telecommunications carrier." In one critical place--the definition of a
"pole attachment," the statute refers to "provider of telecommunications service."613 Here, we explain
why we decide to interpret section 224 to authorize the Commission to ensure that the rates, terms and
conditions of incumbent LECs' pole attachments are just and reasonable, and why we believe that the
definition of "pole attachment" leads to an interpretation of section 224(b) that permits the Commission to
do so.
205.
In implementing section 224, as amended by the 1996 Act, the Commission interpreted
the exclusion of incumbent LECs from the term "telecommunications carrier" to mean that section 224
does not apply to attachment rates paid by incumbent LECs.614 Although these decisions did not consider
alternative interpretations of incumbent LECs' rights under section 224 in detail, the Commission's
interpretation appears to have been based in part on incumbent LECs' status as pole owners and thus
"utilities" under section 224,615 and in part on the view that "Congress' intent" was to "promote
competition by ensuring the availability of access to new telecommunications entrants."616
206.
We find it appropriate to change the Commission's prior interpretation of section 224(b)
with respect to incumbent LECs given the evidence in the record regarding current market realities. Over


610 For purposes of this Part, we use the term "telecommunications carrier" as it is defined in section 224(a)(5).
611 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(5).
612 Id.
613 Id. 224(a)(4).
614 See, e.g., Local Competition Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 1605960, 1610304, paras. 1123 n.2734, 1231; 1998
Implementation Order
, 13 FCC Rcd at 6781, para. 5; 2001 Order on Reconsideration, 16 FCC Rcd at 12106, para. 2
n.12.
615 See, e.g., 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 6781, para. 5 (noting that "for purposes of Section 224, an
ILEC is a utility but is not a telecommunications carrier," and thus "the ILEC has no rights under Section 224 with
respect to the poles of other utilities.").
616 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 6781, para. 5 (citing S. Rep. No. 104-230).
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time, aggregate incumbent LEC pole ownership has diminished relative to that of electric utilities. Today,
incumbent LECs as a whole appear to own approximately 25-30 percent of poles and electric utilities
appear to own approximately 65-70 percent of poles, compared to historical ownership levels that that
were closer to parity.617 Thus, incumbent LECs often may not be in an equivalent bargaining position
with electric utilities in pole attachment negotiations in some cases.618 Further, although we agree with
the Commission's prior assessment that "Congress' intent" in section 224--and the 1996 Act more
broadly--was to "promote competition," we believe this intent was not limited to entities that were "new
telecommunications entrants" at the time of the 1996 Act.619 The Commission has recognized that the
incumbent LECs' historical monopoly over local telephone service has not always translated into
marketplace power with respect to some new services they began to offer subsequent to the 1996 Act.620
207.
In reviewing the Commission's prior interpretation of section 224, we note that even
incumbent LECs acknowledge that they are excluded from the section 224 definition of
"telecommunications carrier,"621 and generally concede that they thus have no statutory right to


617 Qwest, for example, asserts that it co-owns some 970,000 poles, while it is a non-owning attacher on 1.4 million
poles. Qwest Comments at 2. Frontier states that, for the 20 largest joint use agreements with investor-owned
utilities in newly-acquired Frontier properties, Frontier is attached to 642,594 poles owned by other entities, while
other utilities are attached to just 137,552 poles owned by Frontier. Letter from Michael D. Saperstein, Jr., Director
of Federal Regulatory Affairs, Frontier Communications, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No.
07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51, Attach. at 8 (filed Mar. 8, 2011) (Frontier Mar. 8, 2011 Ex Parte Letter). See also,
e.g., AT&T Comments at 18; Mahanger Reply at 913; AT&T Reply at 9; Verizon Comments, Decl. of James
Slavin and Steven R. Frisbie at para. 13 (Verizon Slavin/Frisbie Decl.); Letter from Jennie B. Chandra, Senior
Counsel, Federal Policy, Windstream, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket
No. 09-51 (filed Mar. 11, 2011) (Windstream Mar. 11, 2011 Ex Parte Letter); 1977 Senate Report at 13, reprinted in
1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 121 (noting that, at that time, "53 percent [of poles] are controlled by power utilities, public
and private.").
618 Standard economic theories of bargaining predict that each party will consider its best alternative to a negotiated
agreement when negotiating. See, e.g., Applications of Comcast Corporation, General Electric Company and NBC
Universal, Inc
., MB Docket No. 10-56, Memorandum Opinion and Order, FCC 11-4 at para. 36 (rel. Jan. 20, 2011)
(citing AVINASH DIXIT AND SUSAN SKEATH, GAMES OF STRATEGY 52447 (1999); Kenneth Binmore, Ariel
Rubinstein & Asher Wolinsky, The Nash Bargaining Solution in Economic Modeling, 17:2 RAND J. OF ECON., 176
188 (1986)). As a hypothetical illustration, if the electric company owned 90% of poles in an area and the
incumbent LEC owned 10%, and if the best outside alternative for each party was deploying the remaining needed
poles (and having the legal right to do so), the electric utility would face the cost of deploying 10% of poles, while
the incumbent LEC would face the cost of deploying 90% of poles. As a result, the incumbent LEC would have less
bargaining power than the electric utility. However, if there were less-costly alternatives for the incumbent LEC to
pole deployment, or additional costs that the electric utility would need to consider under the best outside
alternative, this would reduce the disparity in the relative bargaining power of the parties.
619 1998 Implementation Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 6781, para. 5. We therefore reject the claims of some commenters
that Congress did not intend section 224 to be used to promote competition by incumbent LECs. See, e.g., Alliance
Mar. 31, 2011 Ex Parte Letter, Attach. at 36. Nor does our regulatory authority to ensure just and reasonable rates,
terms and conditions when incumbent LECs attach to other utilities' poles preclude us from also regulating
incumbent LECs as pole owners. See, e.g., id.
620 See, e.g., Exclusive Service Contracts for Provision of Video Services in Multiple Dwelling Units & Other Real
Estate Developments
, Report & Order & Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 22 FCC Rcd 20235 (2007)
(discussing the impact of exclusivity arrangements for multiple dwelling units on new entry by local exchange
carriers, including incumbent LECs, into the provision of video services); Verizon Communications Inc. and MCI,
Inc. Applications for Approval of Transfer of Control
, WC Docket No. 05-75, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 20
FCC Rcd 18433, 18474, para. 75 (2005) (observing that, at the time of the transaction, Verizon's effort to serve
"medium-sized and large enterprise customers with national, multi-location operations" was "nascent").
621 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(5) ("For purposes of this section, the term `telecommunications carrier' (as defined in section
153 of this title) does not include any incumbent local exchange carrier as defined in section 251(h) of this title.").
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nondiscriminatory pole access under section 224(f)(1).622 That is, they agree that because section
224(f)(1) requires utilities to provide nondiscriminatory access to "telecommunications carriers," which
exclude incumbent LECs, they have no statutory right of nondiscriminatory access to poles, ducts,
conduits or rights-of-way under this provision of the Act.623 We agree. They also contend, however, that
sections 224(b)(1) and 224(a)(4) provide an independent right to reasonable rates, terms and conditions
for any pole attachment by a provider of telecommunications service, and that the statute thus mandates
the Commission to apply the "just and reasonable" standard to pole attachments for all such providers,
including incumbent LECs.624
208.
We are persuaded to revisit our prior conclusion,625 and instead adopt a new interpretation
of section 224(b). Specifically, we find that the Commission has authority to ensure that incumbent
LECs' attachments to other utilities' poles are pursuant to rates, terms and conditions that are just and
reasonable.626 For one, this reflects the marketplace evidence discussed above. This also reflects the fact
that actions to reduce input costs, such as pole rental rates, can expand opportunities for investment,
especially in combination with other actions, which is particularly important given the up to 24 million
Americans that do not have access to broadband today.627 Under section 706 of the 1996 Act, Congress
directed the Commission to "encourage the deployment . . . of advanced telecommunications capability to
all Americans by utilizing, in a manner consistent with the public interest . . . measures that promote
competition . . . or other regulatory methods that remove barriers to infrastructure investment."628 As
noted above, in principle, the rates charged for pole access are likely to affect deployment decisions for
all telecommunications carriers, including incumbent LECs.629 In this regard, we note that incumbent


622 See, e.g., USTelecom Comments at 5; Verizon NPRM Comments at 10; ITTA NPRM Reply at 4.
623 47 U.S.C. 224(f)(1) ("A utility shall provide . . . any telecommunications carrier with nondiscriminatory access
to any pole . . . ."). Although some commenters contend that incumbent LECs broadly lack a statutory right to
access, USTelecom asserts that incumbent LECs do, however, have some access rights under section 224(b)(1).
Compare, e.g., Alliance Mar. 31, 2011 Ex Parte Letter at 3, Attach. at 910 (citing Supreme Court precedent as
confirming that cable operators possessed no general right of access under section 224(b)(1) and arguing that
incumbent LECs may be denied access to poles) with, e.g., Letter from Glenn Reynolds, USTelecom, to Marlene H.
Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51 at 1 (filed Mar. 29, 2011) (arguing that
incumbent LECs have some access rights pursuant to section 224(b)(1)); Telephone Company-Cable Television
Cross-Ownership Rules
, Further Notice of Inquiry and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, CC Docket No. 87-266, 3
FCC Rcd 5849, 5854, para. 21 & n.16 (1988) (observing that "[s]ome limitations do exist on the ability of carriers to
deny independent cable operators access to poles" and citing prior Commission decisions in that regard). As
described below, a finding that incumbent LECs have statutory access rights is not necessary to conclude that
incumbent LECs have the right to just and reasonable rates, terms and conditions governing their attachments to
other utilities' poles under section 224(b)(1). See infra para. 212. We therefore need not, and do not, resolve this
argument here.
624 See, e.g., Pole Attachment Notice, 22 FCC Rcd at 2020406, paras. 2325 (discussing incumbent LECs' theory
of statutory interpretation); AT&T Comments at 48; USTelecom Comments at 1218; NTCA et al. Comments at 3;
Verizon Comments at 510.
625 The Commission has discretion to change its interpretation of the Act, so long as it acknowledges that it is doing
so and provides a reasoned explanation for the change. See FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., 129 S. Ct. 1800,
181011 (2009).
626 As with the Commission's other pole attachment regulations, our jurisdiction does not extend to states that have
certified that they regulate pole attachments, see 47 U.S.C. 224(c), nor do we have jurisdiction under section 224
over "any railroad, any person who is cooperatively organized, or any person owned by the Federal Government or
any State." 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(1).
627 See id. (citing Sixth Broadband Deployment Report, 25 FCC Rcd at 9574, para. 28).
628 47 U.S.C. 1302(a).
629 See supra Part V.B.
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LECs estimate that, in aggregate, they annually pay pole attachment rates that are $320 to $350 million
greater than they would pay at the cable rate.630 Incumbent LECs identify five specific categories of
consumer benefits arising from ensuring just and reasonable rates for incumbent LECs' attachments to
other utilities' poles: (1) reduced demand on the universal service fund arising from reduced incumbent
LEC costs; (2) automatic flow-through of cost reductions to the regulated rates of rate-of-return
incumbent LECs; (3) use of cost savings to improve service and/or lower prices for broadband services in
areas with competition; (4) increased broadband deployment in areas where incumbent LECs currently do
not provide broadband due to the improved business case; and (5) a source of capital for expansion.631
We expect these promised consumer benefits to occur, and we encourage incumbent LECs to provide data
to the Commission on an ongoing basis demonstrating the extent to which these benefits are being
realized. We would be concerned if these consumer benefits were not realized. We will continue to
monitor the outcomes of this Order, and in the absence of evidence that expected benefits are being
realized, we may, among other things, revisit our approach to this issue.632
209.
As an initial matter, we conclude that neither the language or structure of section 224
precludes our finding that incumbent LECs are entitled to pole attachment rates, terms and conditions that
are just and reasonable pursuant to section 224(b)(1). The Commission's authority to regulate the rates,
terms and conditions of pole attachments by incumbent LECs derives principally from section 224(b) of
the Act. In particular, section 224(b)(1) provides that the Commission "shall regulate the rates, terms, and
conditions for pole attachments to provide that such rates, terms, and conditions are just and reasonable,
and shall adopt procedures necessary and appropriate to hear and resolve complaints concerning such
rates, terms, and conditions."633 The statute defines the term "pole attachment," in turn, as "any
attachment by a cable television system or provider of telecommunications service to a pole, duct,
conduit, or right-of-way owned or controlled by a utility."634 While the statute does not define the term
"provider of telecommunications service" for the purpose of applying section 224(b)(1), it defines
"telecommunications carrier," a term that is used in other subsections of the statute.635
210.
Although section 224(a)(5) cites section 3 as a starting point for defining
"telecommunications carrier," by excluding incumbent LECs, it deviates from that baseline, resulting in a
definition that is unique to section 224. In addition, where Congress did not intend for the Commission to


630 Letter from Walter B. McCormick, Jr., USTelecom, to Hon. Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC, WC Docket
No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51 at 5 (filed Mar. 31, 2011) (USTelecom Mar. 31, 2011 Ex Parte Letter).
631 See generally USTelecom Mar. 31, 2011 Ex Parte Letter. As discussed above, under economic and legal
principles, a given service is not subsidized by other services if the rate for the service produces revenues that cover
all of the costs caused by the service. See supra para. 184. We thus are not persuaded by the claims of some
commenters that a possible reduction in pole attachment rates paid by an incumbent LEC inherently would result in
a subsidy of the incumbent LECs' services. See, e.g., Alliance Mar. 31, 2011 Ex Parte Letter, Attach. at 11.
632 This approach addresses concerns that pole rate reductions for incumbent LECs might not yield consumer
benefits. See, e.g., Letter from Sean B. Cunningham and Mark S. Menezes, counsel for the Alliance for Fair Pole
Attachment Rules, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51 at 2, 10
(filed Mar. 17, 2011); Letter from Eric B. Langley, counsel for the Florida IOUs, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51, Attach. at 9 (filed Mar. 10, 2011).
633 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(1). In addition, section 224(b)(2) provides that "[t]he Commission shall prescribe by rule
regulations to carry out the provisions of this section." 47 U.S.C. 224(b)(2).
634 Id. 224(a)(4).
635 See 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(5). Section 224(a)(5) provides: "For purposes of [section 224], the term
"telecommunications carrier" (as defined in section 3 of this Act) does not include any incumbent local exchange
carrier as defined in section 251(h)." Id.
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regulate rates, terms and conditions in a particular respect, it stated this clearly.636 Section 224's
departure from the definition in section 3, coupled with the fact that Congress could have expressly
excluded attachments by incumbent LECs from the Commission's jurisdiction over rates, terms and
conditions under section 224(b)(1), persuade us to interpret "provider of telecommunications service" as
distinct from "telecommunications carrier" for purposes of section 224.
211.
Interpreting these terms as distinct leads us to conclude that the definition of "pole
attachment" includes pole attachments of incumbent LECs. As noted above, that definition refers to "any
attachment by a . . . provider of telecommunications service."637 Because incumbent LECs are "providers
of telecommunications service," "pole attachment" as defined in section 224(a)(4) includes attachments
of incumbent LECs. Moreover, because section 224(b) requires the Commission to "regulate the rates,
terms, and conditions for pole attachments,"638 under our revised reading the Commission has a statutory
obligation to regulate the attachments of incumbent LECs. Particularly given the marketplace and other
evidence discussed above,639 we find such an interpretation appropriate.
212.
Contrary to the assertions of some parties, we are not persuaded that the structure of
section 224 counsels against interpreting "provider of telecommunications service" to encompass
incumbent LECs. Specifically, some commenters observe that section 224(a)(5) defines
"telecommunications carrier" by reference to section 3 of the Act, which in turn defines a
"telecommunications carrier" as "any provider of telecommunications services . . . ." 640 These
commenters thus argue that "telecommunications carrier" and "provider of telecommunications service"
should be interpreted as synonymous in section 224,641 as the Commission initially did. We disagree. For
one, the absence of a statutory right to nondiscriminatory pole access for incumbent LECs under section
224(f) is not incompatible with the Commission's exercise of authority to ensure just and reasonable
rates, terms and conditions in situations where incumbent LECs are able to obtain access to poles.642
Indeed, a regime of regulated rates without a statutory right of access was in place for pole attachments by
cable operators between 1978 (when section 224 was first adopted) and 1996 (when Congress first added
a right to attach to section 224). Congress' decision not to grant incumbent LECs a general right of
nondiscriminatory access to other utilities' poles under section 224(f) also could reflect its recognition of
incumbent LECs' continued pole ownership. In particular, if Congress granted incumbent LECs both the
statutory right to just and reasonable rates, terms and conditions on other utilities' poles and a general
statutory right of nondiscriminatory access, incumbent LECs could rely on those rights to demand access
to other utilities' poles on a regulated basis while leaving those utilities with little or no negotiating
leverage to ensure just and reasonable rates, terms and conditions for their access to incumbent LECs'
poles. By contrast, withholding a general statutory right of nondiscriminatory access under section 224(f)
ensures the continued incentives of incumbent LECs to negotiate with other utilities with respect to access


636 See 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(1) (excluding from the definition of "utility" subject to section 224 "any railroad, any
person who is cooperatively organized, or any person owned by the Federal Government or any State"); 47 U.S.C.
224(c) (providing that the Commission has no jurisdiction under section 224 to regulate pole attachment matters in
states that have certified that they regulate pole attachments).
637 Id. 224(a)(4).
638 Id. 224(b)(1).
639 See supra paras. 206, 208.
640 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 13940 (quoting 47 U.S.C. 153(44)). See also, e.g., Alliance Reply at 8187;
Letter from Jeffrey L. Sheldon, Counsel for EEI, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245,
GN Docket No. 09-51 at 1 (filed Mar. 4, 2011) (EEI Mar. 4, 2011 Ex Parte Letter).
641 See id.
642 See, e.g., Coalition Comments at 140.
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to its poles, while also providing a mechanism to ensure that rates, terms and conditions ultimately are
just and reasonable.643
213.
Likewise, although sections 224(d) and (e) prescribe specific rate formulas for pole
attachments by cable operators and telecommunications carriers, respectively, the existence of those
provisions does not evince Congressional intent to prevent the Commission from adopting "just and
reasonable" rates for incumbent LEC pole attachments pursuant to section 224(b)(1). As the Supreme
Court observed in NCTA v. Gulf Power:
Congress did indeed prescribe two formulas for `just and reasonable' rates in two specific
categories; but nothing about the text of 224(d) and (e), and nothing about the structure of the
Act, suggest that these are the exclusive rates allowed. It is true that specific statutory language
should control more general language when there is a conflict between the two. Here, however,
there is no conflict. The specific controls but only within its self-described scope.644
Thus, the fact that pole attachments by incumbent LECs are not within the "self-described scope" of
section 224(d) or (e) does not preclude the Commission from ensuring that the rates for those attachments
are just and reasonable under section 224(b).
2.

Guidance Regarding Commission Review of Incumbent LEC Pole
Attachment Complaints

214.
Having found that section 224(b) enables the Commission to ensure that pole attachments
by incumbent LECs are accorded just and reasonable rates, terms and conditions, we recognize the need
to exercise that authority in a manner that accounts for the potential differences between incumbent LECs
and telecommunications carrier or cable operator attachers. As we observed in the Further Notice, the
issues related to rates for pole attachments by incumbent LECs raise complex questions, both with respect


643 Nor does this interpretation create an inconsistency with section 251(b)(4) of the Act, as some commenters
allege. See, e.g., Alliance Mar. 31, 2011 Ex Parte Letter, Attach. at 1213. Section 251(b)(4) requires all LECs to
"afford access to the poles, ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way of such carrier to competing providers of
telecommunications services on rates, terms, and conditions that are consistent with section 224." 47 U.S.C.
251(b)(4). However, giving "deference to the specific denial of access under section 224 over the more general
access provisions of section 251(b)(4)," the Commission previously held that "incumbent LECs cannot use section
251(b)(4) as a means of gaining access to the facilities or property of a LEC." Local Competition Order, 11 FCC
Rcd at 1610304, para. 1231. Our actions here do not change that result, and thus do not grant incumbent LECs an
access right under section 251(b)(4) that does not exist under section 224. We likewise reject claims that the
absence of a state certification process under section 224(c)(2) with respect to pole "access" (as opposed to rates,
terms and conditions) means that those sets of rights are inseverable, or else the Commission could be preempted
from regulating pole attachments in states that do not regulate access. See, e.g., Alliance Mar. 31, 2011 Ex Parte
Letter, Attach. at 13. The Commission's implementation of section 224(c) expressly acknowledged that state
regulation of pole access was distinct from state regulation of pole rates, terms and conditions, however.
Implementation of the Local Competition Provisions in the Telecommunications Act Of 1996; Interconnection
Between Local Exchange Carriers and Commercial Mobile Radio Service Providers
, CC Docket Nos. 96-98, 95-
185, Order on Reconsideration, 14 FCC Rcd 18049, paras. 11415 (1999). Cf. Promotion of Competitive Networks
et al.
, First Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in WT Docket No. 99-217, Fifth Report
and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order in CC Docket No. 96-98, and Fourth Report and Order and
Memorandum Opinion and Order in CC Docket No. 88-57, 15 FCC Rcd 22983, 23025, para. 93 n.239 (2000) ("We
note that if it is shown in a complaint proceeding that a state does not regulate access to ducts or conduits within
buildings, for example, that state's regulation of pole attachments on public rights-of-way, and its certification to
such regulation, would not defeat the Commission's jurisdiction over access to ducts or conduits within buildings. In
such a case, we would decide the complaint regarding in-building attachments, while continuing to respect the
state's authority over those pole attachments that it does regulate.").
644 Gulf Power, 534 U.S. at 33536.
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to potential remedies for incumbent LECs and the details of the complaint process itself.645 These
complexities can arise because, for example, incumbent LECs also own many poles and historically have
obtained access to other utilities' poles within their incumbent LEC service territory through "joint use"
or other agreements.646 We therefore decline at this time to adopt comprehensive rules governing
incumbent LECs' pole attachments, finding it more appropriate to proceed on a case-by-case basis.647 We
do, however, provide certain guidance below regarding the Commission's approach to incumbent LEC
pole attachment complaints.
215.
Evidence of Bargaining Power. We recognize that not all incumbent LECs are similarly
situated in terms of their bargaining position relative to other pole owners. For example, although there
has been a general trend of reduced pole ownership by incumbent LECs' relative to other utilities, there is
evidence that circumstances can vary considerably from location to location.648 Where parties are in a
position to achieve just and reasonable rates, terms and conditions through negotiation, we believe it
generally is appropriate to defer to such negotiations.649 Thus, in evaluating incumbent LEC pole
attachment complaints, the Commission will consider the incumbent LEC's evidence that it is in an
inferior bargaining position to the utility against which it has filed the complaint.650
216.
Existing vs. New Agreements. The record reveals that incumbent LECs frequently have
access to pole attachments pursuant to joint use agreements today.651 Although some incumbent LECs


645 Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 11925, paras. 143, 14548.
646 Outside of the carrier's incumbent LEC service territory, it would be subject to the pole attachment regulations
applicable to a telecommunications carrier. See 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(5) (excluding from the definition of
"telecommunications carrier" for purposes of section 224 "any incumbent local exchange carrier as defined in
section 251(h)"); 47 U.S.C. 251(h)(1) (defining "incumbent local exchange carriers" in terms of their status with
respect to a particular area).
647 We are revising the Commission's pole attachment complaint rules to reflect the ability of incumbent LECs to
file such pole attachment complaints. See infra App. A (discussing amendments to sections 1.1401 and 1.1403 and
addition of new section 1.1424 of the Commission's rules). Under the Commission's pole attachment complaint
rules, remedies for incumbent LECs would include: (1) termination of the unjust or unreasonable rate, term, or
condition; (2) substitution in the contract of a just and reasonable rate, term, or condition; or (3) a refund or
payment. See 47 CFR 1.1410. We decline to apply our new interpretation of section 224 retroactively, and make
clear that incumbent LECs only can get refunds of amounts paid subsequent to the effective date of this Order.
648 Compare, e.g., Qwest Comments at 2; AT&T Comments at 18; Windstream Mar. 11, 2011 Ex Parte Letter with,
e.g., Florida IOUs Reply at 30; Alabama Power et al. NPRM Reply at 14. See also supra note 618 (discussing
relative bargaining power).
649 Cf. Orloff v. Vodafone Airtouch, Memorandum Opinion and Order, File No. EB-01-MD-009, 17 FCC Rcd 8987
(2002) (generally deferring to the wireless marketplace to ensure just and reasonable and not unjustly or
unreasonably discriminatory rates, terms and conditions).
650 See supra note 618 (discussing considerations relevant to evaluating bargaining power).
651 Although joint use agreements can vary from utility to utility, they tend to differ from cable and
telecommunications carrier license agreements with pole owners in several ways. See, e.g., Coalition Comments at
13138; Oncor NPRM Comments at 2526. Commonly, joint use agreements are structured as cost-sharing
arrangements, with each party agreeing to own a certain percentage of the joint use poles. See, e.g., Florida IOUs
Reply at 2728. This percentage typically is 4050% for the incumbent LEC and 5060% for the electric utility,
and generally reflects the relative ratio of pole ownership that existed at the time these agreements originally were
negotiated. See, e.g., Mahanger Reply at 2324; see also Oncor Comments at 66. No money changes hands under
these agreements if each party owns its specified percentage of joint use poles. See, e.g., Florida IOUs Reply at 27
28. A joint use agreement typically also sets forth a pole rental rate for the incumbent LEC and the electric utility
that equals a percentage of the annual cost of a joint use pole. See, e.g., Mahanger Reply at 3. The incumbent LEC
rate typically is 4050% of this cost, and the electric utility rate is typically 5060%. See, e.g., Mahanger Reply at
2123. When pole ownership deviates from the agreement, the party that owns less than the specified percentage
(continued....)
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express concerns about existing joint use agreements,652 these long-standing agreements generally were
entered into at a time when incumbent LECs concede they were in a more balanced negotiating position
with electric utilities, at least based on relative pole ownership.653 As explained above, we question the
need to second guess the negotiated resolution of arrangements entered into by parties with relatively
equivalent bargaining power.654 Consistent with the foregoing, the Commission is unlikely to find the
rates, terms and conditions in existing joint use agreements unjust or unreasonable. The record also
indicates, however, that both incumbent LECs and other utilities have the ability to terminate existing
agreements and seek new arrangements, and that, at times, each type of entity has sought to do so.655 To
(Continued from previous page)


typically pays the other party an amount based on a per pole rate. Mahanger Reply at 2124. That amount varies
depending upon how far the number of poles owned by that party falls below what is specified under the joint use
agreement. See, e.g., Florida IOUs Reply at 2728.
652 Based on marketplace trends incumbent LECs have reported concerns about continuing to operate under these
joint use agreements. In the aggregate, incumbent LECs today appear to own about 2530% of the poles and use
substantially less of the space on jointly used poles than do electric utilities. See, e.g., AT&T Comments at 18;
AT&T NPRM Comments, Decl. of Veronica Mahanger MacPhee at 413. Some incumbent LECs own even fewer
poles relative to electric utilities in their operating areas. See, e.g., Frontier Mar. 8, 2011 Ex Parte Letter, Attach. at
8. Incumbent LECs argue that the per-pole rate they pay typically reflects use of 4050% of space on a pole, which
they assert is a carryover from when joint agreements were originally negotiated, although they need and use less
space than that today. Id. As a result of these changes, many incumbent LECs contend that their rental payments
are unreasonably increasing. See, e.g., Mahanger Reply at 2125.
653 See, e.g., Verizon Slavin/Frisbie Decl. at paras. 1314; AT&T Reply at 9; Frontier Mar. 8, 2011 Ex Parte Letter
at 1.
654 See supra para. 215. Nothing in the record suggests that existing agreements between incumbent LECs and
electric utilities were entered into with the expectation that their provisions would be subject to Commission review.
Moreover, some commenters contend that joint use agreements give incumbent LECs advantages that offset any
increased rates they might pay for pole access in certain circumstances. See, e.g., Oncor NPRM Comments at 25;
Coalition Comments at 146; Comcast Reply at 2426. As examples of incumbent LEC advantages, these parties
cite: "Paying significantly lower make-ready costs; No advance approval to make attachments; No post-attachment
inspection costs; Rights-of-way often obtained by electric company; Guaranteed space on the pole; Preferential
location on pole; No relocation and rearrangement costs; and Numerous additional rights such as approving and
denying pole access, collecting attachment rents and input on where new poles are placed." Comcast Reply at 25.
Electric utilities also contend that existing joint use arrangements--in contrast to cable or telecommunications
carrier pole lease agreements--reflect a decades-old contractual responsibility of incumbent LECs to share in
infrastructure costs and also account for the fact that incumbent LECs still own many poles today. See, e.g.,
Coalition Comments at 13031; Florida IOUs Reply at 3031. A failure to weigh, and account for, the different
rights and responsibilities in joint use agreement could lead to marketplace distortions. We therefore reject
arguments that rates for pole attachments by incumbent LECs should always be identical to those of
telecommunications carriers or cable operators. See, e.g., Letter from Glenn Reynolds, Vice President-Policy,
USTelecom, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51 (filed Mar. 31,
2011). As discussed below, incumbent LECs have the opportunity to demonstrate that they are comparably situated
to telecommunications carriers or cable operators in a particular instance.
655 See, e.g., AT&T Reply at 14; Florida IOU Reply at 33; Verizon Comments at 20; Windstream Mar. 11, 2011 Ex
Parte
Letter. Although incumbent LECs cite the potential threat of having to remove attachments from electric
utility poles if an agreement is terminated, see, e.g., AT&T Reply at 14, we believe that electric utilities are unlikely
to pursue such actions given the likelihood that incumbent LECs would, in response, deny electric utilities access to
their poles. See, e.g., Coalition Reply at 36 (arguing that Coalition members "are completely dependent upon ILECs
for access to ILEC-owned poles, no matter how many poles they may own"); Coalition Comments at 130 ("electric
utilities are vitally dependent upon ILECs for access to a great number of ILEC poles"); see also supra para. 212. In
addition, to the extent that an incumbent LEC can show that it was compelled to sign a new pole attachment
agreement with rates, terms, or conditions that it contends are unjust or unreasonable simply to maintain pole access
as a result of a utility's unequal bargaining power, see, e.g., CenturyTel NPRM Reply at 11, we note that the "sign
and sue" rule will apply here in a manner similar to its application in the context of pole attachment agreements
(continued....)
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the extent that an incumbent LEC can demonstrate that it genuinely lacks the ability to terminate an
existing agreement and obtain a new arrangement, the Commission can consider that as appropriate in a
complaint proceeding. The Commission will review complaints regarding agreements between
incumbent LECs and other utilities entered into following the adoption of this Order based on the totality
of those agreements,656 consistent with the additional guidance we offer below.
217.
Reference to Other Agreements. As discussed above, the historical joint use agreements
between incumbent LECs and other utilities implicate rights and responsibilities that differ from those in
typical pole lease agreements between utilities and telecommunications carriers or cable operators.657
Under any new agreements, to the extent that the incumbent LEC demonstrates that it is obtaining pole
attachments on terms and conditions that leave them comparably situated to telecommunications carriers
or cable operators, we believe it will be appropriate to use the rate of the comparable attacher as the "just
and reasonable" rate for purposes of section 224(b).658 As discussed above, just and reasonable pole
attachments rates for incumbent LECs are not bound by the formulas in sections 224(d) or (e). Where
incumbent LECs are attaching to other utilities' poles on terms and conditions that are comparable to
those that apply to a telecommunications carrier or a cable operator--which generally will be paying a
rate equal or similar to the cable rate under our rules--competitive neutrality counsels in favor of
affording incumbent LECs the same rate as the comparable provider (whether the telecommunications
carrier or the cable operator).659 In this regard, an incumbent LEC might demonstrate that it obtains
access to poles on terms and conditions that are the same as a telecommunications carrier or cable
operator. Even if the terms and conditions of access are not the same, however, incumbent LECs may
seek to demonstrate that the arrangement at issue does not provide a material advantage to incumbent
LECs relative to cable operators or telecommunications carriers. To facilitate this analysis, we modify
our pole attachment complaint rules to require that incumbent LECs provide, in a complaint proceeding,
any agreements between the defendant utility and a third party attacher with whom the incumbent LEC
claims it is similarly situated (or that the other utility do so if necessary).660
218.
By contrast, if a new pole attachment agreement between an incumbent LEC and a pole
owner includes provisions that materially advantage the incumbent LEC vis a vis a telecommunications
carrier or cable operator, we believe that a different rate should apply. Just as considerations of
competitive neutrality counsel in favor of similar treatment of similarly situated providers, so too should
(Continued from previous page)


between pole owners and either cable operators or telecommunications carriers. See generally supra Part IV.E
(describing and declining to modify the "sign and sue" rule).
656 Cf. 1977 Senate Report at 20, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 129 ("[T]he fairness of any term or condition of
a CATV pole-leasing agreement will have to be judged in relation to other contract provisions, prevailing practices
in the industries involved, and the particular pole rate charges.").
657 See supra para. 216 and note 654.
658 This would be somewhat similar to certain proposals that would allow incumbent LECs to "opt in" to pole
attachment agreements of telecommunications carriers or cable operators in their entirety. See Further Notice, 25
FCC Rcd at 11925, para. 147 (describing proposal). We note that, to the extent that access to poles is a term of these
agreements, allowing incumbent LECs to simply "opt in" to such agreements could be at odds with the fact that
section 224(f) does not grant incumbent LECs a general right of nondiscriminatory access to poles. Nevertheless,
we do not preclude incumbent LECs and other utilities from electing such an approach.
659 Likewise, an incumbent LEC may seek the same term or condition that applies to a telecommunications carrier or
cable operator upon a showing that it otherwise is comparably situated to that provider.
660 See infra App. A (adopting, as part of new Commission rule 1.1424, the requirement that "In a complaint where
an incumbent local exchange carrier or an association of incumbent local exchange carriers claims comparability to
the pole attachment agreements of a telecommunications carrier or cable televisions system attacher, and it is not
able to file such agreements, the respondent shall have the duty to file such agreements. Confidential information
contained in any such filing shall be subject to the terms of an appropriate protective order.").
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differently situated providers be treated differently. In particular, we find it reasonable to look to the pre-
existing, high-end telecom rate as a reference point in complaint proceedings involving a pole owner and
an incumbent LEC attacher that is not similarly situated, or has failed to show that it is similarly situated
to a cable or telecommunications attacher.661 As a higher rate than the regulated rate available to
telecommunications carriers and cable operators, it helps account for particular arrangements that provide
net advantages to incumbent LECs relative to cable operators or telecommunications carriers. We find it
prudent to identify a specific rate to be used as a reference point in these circumstances because it will
enable better informed pole attachment negotiations between incumbent LECs and electric utilities. We
also believe it will reduce the number of disputes for which Commission resolution is required by
providing parties clearer expectations regarding the potential outcomes of formal complaints, thus
narrowing the scope of the conflict. For example, we would be skeptical of a complaint by an incumbent
LEC seeking a proportionately lower rate to attach to an electric utility's poles than the rate the incumbent
LEC is charging the electric utility to attach to its poles.662 Further, we find it more administrable to look
to this rate, which historically has been used in the marketplace, than to attempt to develop in this Order
an entirely new rate for this context.
219.
We also recognize that incumbent LECs generally are pole owners themselves and, like
electric utilities, have agreements governing access to its poles. As appropriate, in evaluating an
incumbent LEC's complaint, the Commission may also consider the rates, terms and conditions that the
incumbent LEC offers to the electric utility 663 or other attachers for access to the incumbent LEC's poles,
including whether they are more or less favorable than the rates, terms and conditions the incumbent LEC
is seeking. Further, evidence that a term or condition was contained in the parties' prior joint use
agreement will carry significant weight in the Commission's assessment of whether a refusal to agree to
a substantially different term or condition regarding the same subject in a new agreement is unreasonable.
220.
Other Fora for Dispute Resolution. Some electric utilities and other commenters have
observed that certain state commissions might provide a forum for resolving incumbent LEC-electric
utility pole attachment disputes.664 We do not preclude parties from electing to pursue complaints before


661 As discussed above, both the 2007 Pole Attachment Notice and the 2010 Further Notice sought comment on the
appropriate regulated rate for incumbent LECs, including potentially the pre-existing (i.e., high-end) telecom rate.
See supra paras. 200201. The 2010 Further Notice also sought comment on whether the appropriate remedy for an
incumbent LEC should reflect the extent to which it is or is not similarly situated to other attachers with respect to
the terms and conditions of access. Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1192527, paras. 14548. Comments in
response to these notices also cited the pre-existing telecom rate as a possible relevant reference point for evaluating
the reasonableness of pole attachment rates paid by incumbent LECs. See, e.g., Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at
1191314, para. 119 (describing USTelecom's proposal that the Commission establish a rate approximately equal to
the pre-existing urban telecom rate as the just and reasonable rate for incumbent LECs (and other attachers));
Verizon Comments at 3 (comparing the rates it currently pays to both the cable rate and the pre-existing telecom
rate); AT&T Comments at 2 (same); Verizon Comments (filed Sept. 24, 2009) at 3 (observing that "because there is
no default rate formula for attachments by ILECs" their rate "are generally significantly higher than the rates that
nonincumbent carriers and cable television systems pay"); ITTA NPRM Comments at 5 (arguing for the
Commission to revise its rules to provide that the pre-existing telecom rate is the default rate for incumbent LECs);
see also United States Telecom Association Petition for Rulemaking, RM-11293 at 1781 (filed Oct. 11, 2005)
(advocating the use of the pre-existing telecom rate formula).
662 We believe that a just and reasonable rate in such circumstances would be the same proportionate rate charged
the electric utility, given the incumbent LEC's relative usage of the pole (such as the same rate per foot of occupied
space).
663 See, e.g., EEI/UTC NPRM Comments at 4849 (expressing concern about electric utilities' inability to file
complaints with the Commission to ensure just and reasonable rates, terms and conditions for attachments to
incumbent LECs' poles); Alliance Mar. 31, 2011 Ex Parte Letter, Attach. at 10 (same).
664 See, e.g., Comcast Comments at 5152; Alliance Jan. 27, 2011 Ex Parte Letter at 23.
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state commissions, rather than before the Commission.665 Section 224 ensures incumbent LECs of
appropriate Commission oversight of their pole attachments, however, and we therefore do not require
incumbent LECs to pursue relief in state fora before filing a complaint with the Commission.

VI.

CLARIFICATION AND RECONSIDERATION OF THE 2010 ORDER


221.
In the 2010 Order, the Commission clarified that cable operators and telecommunications
carriers are entitled to use space- and cost-saving techniques, such as boxing and bracketing, consistent
with the individual pole owners' use of those techniques.666 If a utility chooses to allow boxing and
bracketing in some circumstances but not others, the Commission explained, the limiting circumstances
must be clear, objective, and applied equally to the utility and attaching entity.667 The Commission
rejected the argument that this conclusion is inconsistent with section 224(f)(2) of the Act, which allows
electric utilities to deny access where there is "insufficient capacity."668 It also sought comment on
whether a utility should be allowed to prohibit boxing or bracketing going forward if it has used or
allowed them in the past, and on how standards should apply when a pole is jointly used or owned.669
222.
On September 2, 2010, various electric utilities and cable providers filed petitions asking
the Commission to clarify or reconsider parts of the 2010 Order concerning the nondiscriminatory use of
attachment techniques.670 On September 16, 2010, the Commission sought comment on these petitions.671
223.
The Coalition of Concerned Utilities (the Coalition) asks the Commission to clarify that
(1) an electric utility's use of boxing, brackets, or any other attachment technique for facilities in the
electric space on a pole does not obligate the utility pole owner to allow the same attachment technique to
be used for communications attachments; (2) going forward, a pole owner is free to impose new boxing
and extension arm requirements regardless of what it may have allowed in the past; and (3) for poles that
are jointly owned by an incumbent LEC and an electric utility, each joint owner is permitted to limit the
extent to which boxing, bracketing, and other attachment techniques are permitted on the poles.672 The
Coalition argues that a utility's use of boxing, bracketing, and other attachment technique for facilities in


665 Insofar as electric utilities cite state commissions as a viable forum for dispute resolution, see, e.g., Alliance Jan.
27, 2011 Ex Parte Letter at 23, it appears that they likewise could avail themselves of such a forum if faced with
unjust or unreasonable rates, terms and conditions for access to incumbent LECs' poles.
666 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 11869, para. 9.
667 Id. at 11871, para. 13.
668 Id. at 1187172, para. 14.
669 Id. at 1189697, para. 74.
670 While one filing is styled as a "petition for reconsideration" and the other three are styled as "petitions for
clarification or reconsideration," we treat each as a petition for reconsideration filed under section 1.429 of our rules.
See Coalition of Concerned Utilities, Petition for Reconsideration, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51
(filed Sep. 2, 2010) (Coalition Petition); Florida Investor-Owned Electric Utilities, Petition for Reconsideration and
Request for Clarification, GN Docket No. 09-51 (filed Sep. 2, 2009) (Florida IOU Petition); Oncor Electric Delivery
Company LLC, Petition for Reconsideration and Request for Clarification, WC Docket No. 07-245; GN Docket No.
09-51 (filed Sep. 2, 2010); Alabama Cable Telecommunications Ass'n, Bresnan Communications, Broadband Cable
Ass'n of Pennsylvania, Cable America Corp., Cable Television Ass'n of Georgia, Florida Cable
Telecommunications, Inc., MediaCom Communications Corp., New England Cable and Telecommunications Ass'n,
Ohio Cable Telecommunications Ass'n, Oregon Cable Telecommunications Ass'n, and South Carolina Cable
Television Ass'n, Petition for Reconsideration or Clarification, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51
(filed Sep. 2, 2010) (Cable Providers Petition); see also 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1186973, paras. 816.
671 Comments Sought on Petitions for Reconsideration of Pole Attachments Order, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN
Docket No. 09-51, Public Notice, 25 FCC Rcd 13173 (WCB 2010).
672 Coalition Petition at 23.
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the electric space does not obligate it to allow the same attachment technique to be used for
communications attachments.673 It also asserts that utilities should be able to modify their policies with
respect to attachment techniques provided the new policy is applied in a nondiscriminatory manner going
forward, and that each owner should be permitted to establish requirements or limitations on attachment
techniques on jointly owned poles.674
224.
The Florida Investor-Owned Electric Utilities (Florida IOUs) ask the Commission to
clarify that (1) an electric utility's duty to allow boxing, bracketing, and similar techniques is not affected
by (a) electric supply construction configurations within the supply space, or (b) the use of boxing,
bracketing, and other similar techniques for purposes other than "space and cost-saving"; and (2) the
statute only requires accommodation of a new attachment via rearrangement or space-saving techniques
within the communications space, and does not require rearrangement or use of space-saving techniques
for electric facilities in the supply space.675 The Florida IOUs maintain that "comparable" circumstances
should be limited to where the utility uses a practice for its own facility in the communications space or
has permitted other attachers to use the technique as a means of cost- and space-saving.676 They also
argue that requiring a utility to perform make-ready in the electric space would misconstrue the scope of
the "insufficient capacity" exception, conflate the separate exceptions to nondiscriminatory access by
defining "insufficient capacity" contrary to the legislative intent of section 224, and conflict with the
Commission's earlier findings.
225.
Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC (Oncor) joins and adopts the arguments set forth
in both the Coalition's petition and the Florida IOUs' petition.677 Oncor also argues that the Commission
lacks authority to adopt any of the rules set forth in the 2010 Order.678
226.
The Alabama Cable Telecommunications Association, Bresnan Communications,
Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania, Cable America Corp., Cable Television Association of
Georgia, Florida Cable Telecommunications, Inc., MediaCom Communications Corp., New England
Cable and Telecommunications Association, Ohio Cable Telecommunications Association, Oregon Cable
Telecommunications Association, and South Carolina Cable Television Association (the Cable Providers)
ask the Commission to clarify that pole owners may not refuse to replace or change out an existing pole
with a taller replacement pole where a taller pole is needed to accommodate existing or prospective
attachers.679 Because this issue is beyond the scope of the 2010 Order, we dismiss the Cable Providers'
request as an improperly filed petition for reconsideration.680 While the 2010 Order may have alluded to
pole replacement in discussing our findings on attachment techniques, the Commission made no findings
in that Order relative to pole replacement.681 Thus, the 2010 Order provides no basis upon which to
reconsider (or clarify) a utility's obligation to perform pole change-outs, and there is no record foundation
for making the clarification sought by the Cable Providers.


673 Id. at 34.
674 Id. at 45.
675 Florida IOUs Petition at 23.
676 Id. at 411.
677 Oncor Petition at 1.
678 Id.
679 Cable Providers Petition at 2.
680 See 47 C.F.R. 1.429; 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1186973, paras. 816.
681 See 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1186973, paras. 816.
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A.

Prospective Policies

227.
We clarify that a utility may not simply prohibit an attacher from using boxing,
bracketing, or any other attachment technique on a going forward basis where the utility, at the time of an
attacher's request, employs such techniques itself.682 As Fibertech points out, even a policy that is equally
applied prospectively is discriminatory in the sense that it disadvantages new attachers.683 Thus, the
relevant standards for purposes of determining a utility's "existing practices" are those that a utility
applies at the time of an attacher's request to use a particular attachment technique--not the standards that
a utility wishes to apply going forward. A utility may, however, choose to reduce or eliminate altogether
the use of a particular method of attachment used on its poles, including boxing or bracketing, which
would alter the range of circumstances in which it is obligated to allow future attachers to use the same
techniques.

B.

Joint Ownership

228.
We also clarify that, where a pole is jointly owned and the owners have adopted different
standards regarding the use of boxing, bracketing, or other attachment techniques, the joint owners may
apply the more restrictive standards.684 For instance, if an electric utility and an incumbent LEC jointly
own a pole but have divergent standards regarding the use of boxing, they may refuse to allow an attacher
to box in a situation where boxing would be allowed by one utility's standards but not the other's. We
disagree with Fibertech that permitting application of the more restrictive standard will allow joint pole
owners to "double team" attachers by demanding compliance with one set of standards initially and then a
different set later.685 In order to avoid a claim that their terms and conditions for access are unjust,
unreasonable or discriminatory, joint pole owners should settle on and apply a single set of standards--
not different sets at different times.686

C.

Similar Circumstances and the Electric Space

229.
At the Coalition's request, we clarify that an electric utility's use of a particular
attachment technique for facilities in the electric space does not obligate the utility to allow the same
technique to be used by attachers in the communications space.687 We likewise clarify, in response to the
Florida IOUs' request, that the existence of boxing and bracketing configurations in the electric space do
not trigger an attacher's right to use boxing and bracketing in the communications space.688 The 2010
Order
specified that attachers are entitled to use the same techniques that the utility itself uses in similar
circumstances,689 and we agree with the petitioners that the above situations do not involve similar
circumstances.690 For instance, boxing and bracketing in the communications space can limit the use of
climbing as a means of maintenance and repair, and also complicate pole change out.691


682 See id. at 1189697, para. 74; Coalition Petition at 23.
683 Fibertech Coalition Petition Comments at 910.
684 See 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1189697, para. 74
685 Fibertech Comments in re Coalition Petition at 1112.
686 See supra Part III.D.
687 Coalition Petition at 3.
688 Florida IOUs Petition at 2.
689 See 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 11869, para. 9.
690 See Coalition Petition at 34; Florida IOUs Petition at 78.
691 See Coalition Petition at 34; Florida IOUs Petition at 78.
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230.
We disagree with the petitioners, however, that the nondiscrimination requirement in
section 224(f)(1) applies only to the extent that a pole owner has allowed itself or others to use an
attachment technique in the communications space of a pole.692 As explained in further detail below, the
Act does not limit a utility's nondiscrimination obligations to activities that take place in the
communications space.693 Thus, while an electric utility's use of an attachment technique in the electric
space might not obligate it to permit use of such technique in the communications space, its use of an
attachment technique (like boxing and bracketing) in the electric space may, in fact, obligate it to allow
use of that technique in the electric space. The salient issue is whether the attacher's use of a particular
technique is consistent with the utility's, not whether its use is consistent with the utility's in the
communication space.

D.

Insufficient Capacity and the Electric Space

231.
We deny the Florida IOUs' request to find that a pole has "insufficient capacity" if an
electric utility must rearrange its electric facilities to accommodate a new attacher.694 As explained in the
2010 Order, a pole does not have insufficient capacity where a request for attachment could be
accommodated using traditional methods of attachment.695 Rearrangement of facilities on a pole is one of
these methods,696 and nothing in the statute suggests that, for purposes of gauging capacity, rearrangement
of facilities in the electric space should be treated differently from rearrangement of facilities in the
communications space.697 Thus, where rearrangement of a pole's facilities--whether in the
communications space or the electric space--can accommodate an attachment, there is not "insufficient
capacity" under section 224(f)(2).
232.
Contrary to the Florida IOUs' assertions, this holding does not "repeat[]--almost
verbatim--the error found by the Eleventh Circuit in Southern."698 In Southern Co., the Eleventh Circuit
found that the Commission had failed to give effect to the term "insufficient capacity" by requiring
utilities to expand capacity to accommodate requests for attachment.699 Specifically, "[w]hen it is agreed
that capacity is insufficient," the court explained, "there is no obligation to provide third parties with
access to that particular `pole, duct, conduit, or right-of-way.'"700 Here, however, we recognize that a
utility may deny access where a pole's capacity is insufficient to accommodate a proposed attachment,
but find that capacity is not insufficient where a request can be accommodated using traditional methods
of attachment.701 We do not equate capacity expansion with facility rearrangement in existing space.
233.
The Florida IOUs' other argument, that this holding improperly conflates the separate
exceptions to nondiscriminatory access, is also unpersuasive. According to the Florida IOUs, the
Commission is combining the "insufficient capacity" exception with the "safety, reliability, and generally
applicable engineering purposes" exceptions, even though the statute sets them out separately.702 We


692 See Coalition Petition at 2; Florida IOUs Petition at 9.
693 See infra para. 231.
694 See Florida IOUs Petition at 13.
695 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1187173, paras. 1416.
696 See id.
697 See 47 U.S.C. 224; see also Florida IOUs Petition Comments at 56.
698 Florida IOUs Petition at 18.
699 Southern, 293 F.3d at 1346.
700 Id. at 1347.
701 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1187173, paras. 1416.
702 Florida IOUs Petition at 18.
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disagree. Under the Commission's reading, there are situations where the insufficient capacity
exception--and only the insufficient capacity exception--allows a utility to deny a request for access.703
234.
Additionally, we disagree with the Florida IOUs that the Commission's construction of
"insufficient capacity" contradicts prior Commission interpretations of the phrase.704 As the 2010 Order
explains, "the term `capacity expansion' does not appear in the relevant provisions of the Act or our rules,
so the Commission has discretion to reasonably construe that term in interpreting section 224(f)(2)."705
The relevant issue in determining whether a pole has "insufficient capacity," is whether a utility could
accommodate a new attachment on a pole by using techniques that the utility employs in its own
operations.706 To the extent the Commission's prior statements concerning "capacity expansion" can be
read as inconsistent with this finding,707 we have disavowed those statements and clarify that capacity is
not "insufficient" for purposes of section 224(f)(2) where a utility can accommodate new facilities on a
pole by using attachment methods that the utility itself employs.708

E.

Space- and Cost-Saving

235.
The Florida IOUs argue that section 224(f)(2) allows an electric utility to deny use of a
particular attachment technique when the utility itself has not used or authorized that technique as a
means of saving both space and cost.709 We disagree that 224(f)(2) is so limited. We find that the Florida
IOUs' restrictive interpretation has no basis in the text of section 224 and would enable a utility to refuse
an attacher use of a particular attachment technique in situations where the utility itself uses the technique
or authorizes its use by third parties. If a utility uses bracketing as a means of saving cost (but not space)
in a particular type of situation, for instance, it must allow attachers also to use bracketing. But under the
Florida IOUs' formulation, the utility would have no duty to do so.
236.
We reiterate, however, that to the extent a utility uses or allows a certain attachment
technique in one type of circumstance, it is not obligated to allow the same technique in any type of
circumstance. As the Commission explained in the 2010 Order, a utility may limit the circumstances in
which a particular technique can be used so long as its standards are "clear, objective, and applied equally
to both the utility and the attaching entity."710 Thus, the Florida IOUs' professed concern, that allowing a
technique like bracketing in "rare situations" will "open-up poles to widespread use [of it]," is
unfounded.711


703 See, e.g., 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1187173, paras. 14-16; Southern, 293 F.3d at 134647.
704 Florida IOUs Petition at 20.
705 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 11872, n.56.
706 Id.
707 Although some of the Commission's past statements might suggest that a pole's capacity "increases" or
"expands" when facilities are rearranged, others suggest the opposite. Compare, e.g., Local Competition Order, 11
FCC Rcd at 16075, para. 1161 (suggesting that rearranging existing facilities "maximize[es] usable capacity") with
Local Competition Order
, 11 FCC Rcd at 16076, para. 1163 (suggesting that rearranging existing facilities
"increases capacity").
708 Id. Generally, an agency may depart from a prior decision if it acknowledges that it is doing so and provides a
reasonable explanation for the change. See FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., 129 S. Ct. 1800, 1811 (2009).
While the 2010 Order referred to statements in the Local Competition Order when referring to disavowal, we now
clarify that this extends also to statements in the Local Competition Order on Reconsideration.
709 See Florida IOUs Petition at 3, 910.
710 See 2010 Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 11870, para. 11.
711 Florida IOUs Petition at 10, n. 25.
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VII.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

A.

Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

237.
This document contains new information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork
Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13. It will be submitted to the Office of Management and
Budget (OMB) for review under section 3507(d) of the PRA. OMB, the general public, and other Federal
agencies are invited to comment on the new or modified information collection requirements adopted in
this Order.

B.

Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

238.
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA),712 an Initial Regulatory Flexibility
Analysis (IRFA) was incorporated into the Pole Attachment Order and Further Notice.713 The
Commission sought written public comment on the possible significant economic impact on small entities
regarding the proposals addressed in the Pole Attachment Order and Further Notice, including comments
on the IRFA. Pursuant to the RFA, a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) is set forth in
Appendix B.

C.

Congressional Review Act

239.
The Commission will send a copy of the Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration,
including the FRFA, in a report to be sent to Congress and the Government Accountability Office
pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.714

D.

Accessible Formats

240.
To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print,
electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental
Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty). Contact the FCC to request reasonable
accommodations for filing comments (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CARTS,
etc.) by e-mail: FCC504@fcc.gov; phone: (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

VIII.

ORDERING CLAUSES

241.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 224, 251(b)(4), and
303 , of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and section 706 of the Telecommunications Act
of 1996, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 224, 251(b)(4), 303(r), 1302, this Report and
Order and Order on Reconsideration IS ADOPTED.
242.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Part 1 of the Commission's rules IS AMENDED as set
forth in Appendix A.
243.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to sections 1.4(b)(1) and 1.103(a) of the
Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.4(b)(1), 1.103(a), this Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration
SHALL BE EFFECTIVE 30 days after publication of a summary in the Federal Register, except for the
information collection requirements contained in the Report and Order, which will become effective upon
OMB approval.
244.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs
Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Report and Order and Order on


712 See 5 U.S.C. 603.
713 See Further Notice, 25 FCC Rcd at 1193957 (App. D).
714 See 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).
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Reconsideration, including the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy
of the Small Business Administration.
245.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), and 224 of the
Communications Act, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), and 224, that the Petition for
Reconsideration and Request for Clarification filed by the Florida Investor-Owned Utilities is GRANTED
to the extent indicated herein, and otherwise is DENIED.
246.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), and 224 of the
Communications Act, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), and 224, that the Petition for
Reconsideration filed by the Coalition of Concerned Utilities is GRANTED to the extent indicated herein,
and otherwise is DENIED.
247.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), and 224 of the
Communications Act, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), and 224, that the Petition for
Reconsideration and Request for Clarification filed by the Oncor Electric Delivery Company is
GRANTED to the extent indicated herein, and otherwise is DENIED.
248.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), and 224 of the
Communications Act, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), and 224, that the Petition for
Reconsideration or Clarification filed by the Cable Providers is DISMISSED.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
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APPENDIX A

Final Rules

Part 1, Subpart J of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:
1.
The table of contents of Part 1 is revised to read as follows:
* * *

Subpart J--Pole Attachment Complaint Procedures

1.1401 Purpose.
1.1402 Definitions.
1.1403 Duty to provide access; modifications; notice of removal, increase or modification; petition
for temporary stay; and cable operator notice.
1.1404 Complaint.
1.1405 File numbers.
1.1406 Dismissal of complaints.
1.1407 Response and reply.
1.1408 Numbers of copies and form of pleadings.
1.1409 Commission consideration of the complaint.
1.1410 Remedies.
1.1411 Meetings and hearings.
1.1412 Enforcement.
1.1413 Forfeiture.
1.1414 State certification.
1.1415 Other orders.
1.1416 Imputation of rates; modification costs.
1.1417 Allocation of Unusable Space Costs.
1.1418 Use of presumptions in calculating the space factor.
1.1420 Timeline for access to utility poles.
1.1422 Contractors for survey and make-ready.
1.1424 Complaints by incumbent local exchange carriers.
* * *
2.
Section 1.1401 is revised to read as follows:
1.1401 Purpose.
The rules and regulations contained in subpart J of this part provide complaint and enforcement
procedures to ensure that telecommunications carriers and cable system operators have nondiscriminatory
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access to utility poles, ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way on rates, terms, and conditions that are just and
reasonable. They also provide complaint and enforcement procedures for incumbent local exchange
carriers (as defined in 47 U.S.C. 251(h)) to ensure that the rates, terms, and conditions of their access to
pole attachments are just and reasonable.
3.
Section 1.1402 is revised to read as follows:
1.1402 Definitions.
* * *
(d) The term complaint means a filing by a cable television system operator, a cable television
system association, a utility, an association of utilities, a telecommunications carrier, or an
association of telecommunications carriers alleging that it has been denied access to a utility pole,
duct, conduit, or right-of-way in violation of this subpart and/or that a rate, term, or condition for
a pole attachment is not just and reasonable. It also means a filing by an incumbent local
exchange carrier (as defined in 47 U.S.C. 251(h)) or an association of incumbent local exchange
carriers alleging that a rate, term, or condition for a pole attachment is not just and reasonable.
(e) The term complainant means a cable television system operator, a cable television system
association, a utility, an association of utilities, a telecommunications carrier, an association of
telecommunications carriers, an incumbent local exchange carrier (as defined in 47 U.S.C.
251(h)) or an association of incumbent local exchange carriers who files a complaint.
4.
Section 1.1404 is revised to read as follows:
1.1404 Complaint.
(k) The complaint shall include a certification that the complainant has, in good faith,
engaged or attempted to engage in executive-level discussions with the respondent to
resolve the pole attachment dispute. Executive-level discussions are discussions among
representatives of the parties who have sufficient authority to make binding decisions on
behalf of the company they represent regarding the subject matter of the discussions.
Such certification shall include a statement that, prior to the filing of the complaint, the
complainant mailed a certified letter to the respondent outlining the allegations that form
the basis of the complaint it anticipated filing with the Commission, inviting a response
within a reasonable period of time, and offering to hold executive-level discussions
regarding the dispute. A refusal by a respondent to engage in the discussions
contemplated by this rule shall constitute an unreasonable practice under section 224 of
the Act.
* * *
(m) In a case where a cable television system operator or telecommunications carrier as
defined in 47 C.F.R. 224(a)(5) claims that it has been denied access to a pole, duct,
conduit or right-of-way despite a request made pursuant to section 47 U.S.C. 224(f), the
complaint shall include the data and information necessary to support the claim,
including:
(1) The reasons given for the denial of access to the utility's poles, ducts,
conduits, or rights-of-way;
(2) The basis for the complainant's claim that the denial of access is unlawful;
(3) The remedy sought by the complainant;
(4) A copy of the written request to the utility for access to its poles, ducts,
conduits, or rights-of-way; and
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(5) A copy of the utility's response to the written request including all information given
by the utility to support its denial of access. A complaint alleging unlawful denial of
access will not be dismissed if the complainant is unable to obtain a utility's written
response, or if the utility denies the complainant any other information needed to
establish a prima facie case.
* * *
(ix) The annual carrying charges attributable to the cost of owning a pole. The
utility shall submit these charges separately for each of the following categories:
depreciation, rate of return, taxes, maintenance, and administrative. These
charges may be expressed as a percentage of the net pole investment. With its
pleading, the utility shall file a copy of the latest decision of the state regulatory
body or state court that determines the treatment of accumulated deferred taxes if
it is at issue in the proceeding and shall note the section that specifically
determines the treatment and amount of accumulated deferred taxes.
* * *
5.
Section 1.1409(e) is revised to read as follows:
1.1409 Commission consideration of the complaint.
* * * *
(e) * * *
(2) With respect to attachments to poles by any telecommunications carrier or cable
operator providing telecommunications services, the maximum just and reasonable rate
shall be the higher of the rate yielded by section 1.1409(e)(2)(i) or 1.1409(e)(2)(ii) of this
Part.
(i) The following formula applies to the extent that it yields a rate higher than
that yielded by the applicable formula in section 1.1409(e)(2)(ii):
Rate = Space Factor x Cost
Where Cost
in Urbanized Service Areas = 0.66 x (Net Cost of a Bare Pole x Carrying Charge Rate)
in Non-Urbanized Service Areas = 0.44 x (Net Cost of a Bare Pole x Carrying Charge Rate)
Space 2
Unusable Space



+


Occupied 3 No. of Attaching Entities
Where Space Factor =
Pole Height





(ii) The following formula applies to the extent that it yields a rate higher than
that yielded by the applicable formula in section 1.1409(e)(2)(i):
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e
Maintenanc and
tive
Administra

Rate = Space Factor
of
Cost
Net
a Bare Pole


Carrying Charge Rate

Space 2
Unusable Space



+


Occupied 3 No. of Attaching Entities
Where Space Factor =
Pole Height





6.
Section 1.1410 is revised to read as follows:
1.1410 Remedies.
(a) If the Commission determines that the rate, term, or condition complained of is not
just and reasonable, it may prescribe a just and reasonable rate, term, or condition and
may:
(1) Terminate the unjust and/or unreasonable rate, term, or condition;
(2) Substitute in the pole attachment agreement the just and reasonable rate, term,
or condition established by the Commission;
(3) Order a refund, or payment, if appropriate. The refund or payment will
normally be the difference between the amount paid under the unjust and/or
unreasonable rate, term, or condition and the amount that would have been paid
under the rate, term, or condition established by the Commission, plus interest,
consistent with the applicable statute of limitations; and
(b) If the Commission determines that access to a pole, duct, conduit, or right-of-way has
been unlawfully denied or delayed, it may order that access be permitted within a
specified time frame and in accordance with specified rates, terms, and conditions.
7.
Section 1.1420 is added as follows:
1.1420 Timeline for access to utility poles.
(a) The term "attachment" means any attachment by a cable television system or provider of
telecommunications service to a pole owned or controlled by a utility.
(b) All time limits in this subsection are to be calculated according to section 1.4 of this title.
(c) Survey. A utility shall respond as described in section 1.1043(b) to a cable operator or
telecommunications carrier within 45 days of receipt of a complete application to attach facilities
to its utility poles (or within 60 days, in the case of larger orders as described in subsection (g)).
This response may be a notification that the utility has completed a survey of poles for which
access has been requested. A complete application is an application that provides the utility with
the information necessary under its procedures to begin to survey the poles.
(d) Estimate. Where a request for access is not denied, a utility shall present to a cable operator
or telecommunications carrier an estimate of charges to perform all necessary make-ready work
within 14 days of providing the response required by section 1.1420(c), or in the case where a
prospective attacher's contractor has performed a survey, within 14 days of receipt by the utility
of such survey.
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(1) A utility may withdraw an outstanding estimate of charges to perform make-ready
work beginning 14 days after the estimate is presented.
(2) A cable operator or telecommunications carrier may accept a valid estimate and make
payment anytime after receipt of an estimate but before the estimate is withdrawn.
(e) Make-ready. Upon receipt of payment specified in subsection (d)(2), a utility shall notify
immediately and in writing all known entities with existing attachments that may be affected by
the make-ready.
(1) For attachments in the communications space, the notice shall:
(i) Specify where and what make-ready will be performed.
(ii) Set a date for completion of make-ready that is no later than 60 days after
notification is sent (or 105 days in the case of larger orders, as described in
subsection (g)).
(iii) State that any entity with an existing attachment may modify the attachment
consistent with the specified make-ready before the date set for completion.
(iv) State that the utility may assert its right to 15 additional days to complete
make-ready.
(v) State that if make-ready is not completed by the completion date set by the
utility (or, if the utility has asserted its 15-day right of control, 15 days later), the
cable operator or telecommunications carrier requesting access may complete the
specified make-ready.
(vi) State the name, telephone number, and email address of a person to contact
for more information about the make-ready procedure.
(2) For wireless attachments above the communications space, the notice shall:
(i) Specify where and what make-ready will be performed.
(ii) Set a date for completion of make-ready that is no later than 90 days after
notification is sent (or 135 days in the case of larger orders, as described in
subsection (g)).
(iii) State that any entity with an existing attachment may modify the attachment
consistent with the specified make-ready before the date set for completion.
(iv) State that the utility may assert its right to 15 additional days to complete
make-ready.
(v) State the name, telephone number, and email address of a person to contact
for more information about the make-ready procedure.
(f) For wireless attachments above the communications space, a utility shall ensure that make-
ready is completed by the date set by the utility in subsection (e)(2)(ii) (or, if the utility has
asserted its 15-day right of control, 15 days later).
(g) For the purposes of compliance with the time periods in this section:
(1) A utility shall apply the timeline described in subsections (c) through (e) to all
requests for pole attachment up to the lesser of 300 poles or 0.5 percent of the utility's
poles in a state.
(2) A utility may add 15 days to the survey period described in subsection (c) to larger
orders up to the lesser of 3000 poles or 5 percent of the utility's poles in a state.
(3) A utility may add 45 days to the make-ready periods described in subsection (e)
to larger orders up to the lesser of 3000 poles or 5 percent of the utility's poles in a state.
(4) A utility shall negotiate in good faith the timing of all requests for pole attachment
larger than the lesser of 3000 poles or 5 percent of the utility's poles in a state.
(5) A utility may treat multiple requests from a single cable operator or
telecommunications carrier as one request when the requests are filed within 30 days of
one another.
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(h) A utility may deviate from the time limits specified in this section:
(1) Before offering an estimate of charges if the parties have no agreement specifying the
rates, terms, and conditions of attachment.
(2) During performance of make-ready for good and sufficient cause that renders it
infeasible for the utility to complete the make-ready work within the prescribed time
frame. A utility that so deviates shall immediately notify, in writing, the cable operator
or telecommunications carrier requesting attachment and other affected entities with
existing attachments, and shall include the reason for and date and duration of the
deviation. The utility shall deviate from the time limits specified in this section for a
period no longer than necessary and shall resume make-ready performance without
discrimination when it returns to routine operations.
(i) If a utility fails to respond as specified in subsection (c), a cable operator or
telecommunications carrier requesting attachment in the communications space may, as specified
in section 1.1422, hire a contractor to complete a survey. If make-ready is not complete by the
date specified in subsection (e)(1)(ii), a cable operator or telecommunications carrier requesting
attachment in the communications space may hire a contractor to complete the make-ready:
(1) Immediately, if the utility has failed to assert its right to perform remaining make-
ready work by notifying the requesting attacher that it will do so; or
(2) After 15 days if the utility has asserted its right to perform make-ready by the date
specified in subsection (e)(1)(ii) and has failed to complete make-ready.
8.
Section 1.1422 is added as follows:
1.1422 Contractors for survey and make-ready.
(a) A utility shall make available and keep up-to-date a reasonably sufficient list of contractors it
authorizes to perform surveys and make-ready in the communications space on its utility poles in
cases where the utility has failed to meet deadlines specified in section 1.1420.
(b) If a cable operator or telecommunications carrier hires a contractor for purposes specified in
section 1.1420, it shall choose from among a utility's list of authorized contractors.
(c) A cable operator or telecommunications carrier that hires a contractor for survey or make-
ready work shall provide a utility with a reasonable opportunity for a utility representative to
accompany and consult with the authorized contractor and the cable operator or
telecommunications carrier.
(d) The consulting representative of an electric utility may make final determinations, on a
nondiscriminatory basis, where there is insufficient capacity and for reasons of safety, reliability,
and generally applicable engineering purposes.
9.
Section 1.1424 is added as follows:
1.1424 Complaints by incumbent local exchange carriers.
Complaints by an incumbent local exchange carrier (as defined in 47 U.S.C. 251(h)) or an association of
incumbent local exchange carriers alleging that a rate, term, or condition for a pole attachment is not just
and reasonable shall follow the same complaint procedures specified for other pole attachment complaints
in this Part, as relevant. In complaint proceedings where an incumbent local exchange carrier (or an
association of incumbent local exchange carriers) claims that it is similarly situated to an attacher that is a
telecommunications carrier (as defined in 47 U.S.C. 251(a)(5)) or a cable television system for purposes
of obtaining comparable rates, terms or conditions, the incumbent local exchange carrier shall bear the
burden of demonstrating that it is similarly situated by reference to any relevant evidence, including pole
attachment agreements. If a respondent declines or refuses to provide a complainant with access to
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agreements or other information upon reasonable request, the complainant may seek to obtain such access
through discovery. Confidential information contained in any documents produced may be subject to the
terms of an appropriate protective order.
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APPENDIX B

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

1.
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA),1 an Initial
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was included in the 2010 Order and Further Notice in WC
Docket No. 07-245 and GN Docket No. 09-51.2 The Commission sought written public comment on the
proposals in these dockets, including comment on the IRFA. This Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
(FRFA) conforms to the RFA.3

A.

Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

2.
In this Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration, the Commission revises its pole
attachment rules to promote competition and to reduce the potentially excessive costs of deploying
telecommunications, cable, and broadband networks. The Commission has historically relied primarily
on private negotiations and case-specific adjudications to ensure just and reasonable rates, terms, and
conditions, but its experience during the past 15 years has demonstrated the need to provide more
guidance. Accordingly, the Commission establishes a four-stage timeline for wireline and wireless access
to poles; provides attachers with a self-effectuating contractor remedy in the communications space;
improves its enforcement rules; reinterprets the telecommunications rate formula within the existing
statutory framework; and addresses rates, terms, and conditions for pole attachments by incumbent LECs.
The Commission also resolves multiple petitions for reconsideration and addresses various points
regarding the nondiscriminatory use of attachment techniques.

B.

Summary of the Significant Issues Raised by the Public Comments in Response to
the IRFA and Summary of the Assessment of the Agency of Such Issues

3.
One commenter discussed the IRFA from the Further Notice. A group of associations
representing rural telephone companies argued specifically that the Commission should adopt the lowest
telecom rate for broadband connections,4 adopt an incumbent LEC dispute resolution process,5 and cap
pole attachment orders at 100 poles.6 We squarely address these concerns by revising the section 224(e)
rental rate for pole attachments used by telecommunications carriers to provide telecommunications
services;7 permitting incumbent LECs to file complaints with the Commission to ensure reasonable rates,


1 See 5 U.S.C. 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. 60112, has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), Pub. L. No. 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996).
2 See Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 25 FCC Rcd 11864 at App. D (2010) (2010 Order and
Further Notice
).
3 See 5 U.S.C. 604.
4 Joint Initial Comments of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association; Organization for the
Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies; Western Telecommunications Alliance;
and Eastern Rural Telecom Association, WC Docket No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51, at 58 (filed Aug. 16,
2010) (collectively, NTCA et al.).
5 NTCA et al. Comments 810.
6 NTCA et al. Comments 1011.
7 See supra Part V.B.
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terms, and conditions of pole attachments;8 and adopting the lesser of a numerical or a percentage-based
cap on pole orders.9

C.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed
Rules May Apply

4.
The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where feasible, an estimate of
the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rules and policies, if adopted.10 The
RFA generally defines the term "small entity" as having the same meaning as the terms "small business,"
"small organization," and "small governmental jurisdiction."11 In addition, the term "small business" has
the same meaning as the term "small business concern" under the Small Business Act.12 A "small
business concern" is one which: (1) is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field
of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA.13
5.
Small Businesses. Nationwide, there are a total of approximately 29.6 million small
businesses, according to the SBA.14
6.
Small Organizations. Nationwide, as of 2002, there are approximately 1.6 million small
organizations.15 A "small organization" is generally "any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently
owned and operated and is not dominant in its field."16
7.
Small Governmental Jurisdictions. The term "small governmental jurisdiction" is defined
generally as "governments of cities, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special districts, with a
population of less than fifty thousand."17 Census Bureau data for 2002 indicate that there were 87,525
local governmental jurisdictions in the United States.18 We estimate that, of this total, 84,377 entities
were "small governmental jurisdictions."19 Thus, we estimate that most governmental jurisdictions are
small.
8.
We have included small incumbent local exchange carriers in this present RFA analysis.
As noted above, a "small business" under the RFA is one that, inter alia, meets the pertinent small


8 See supra Part V.C.
9 See supra para. 63.
10 5 U.S.C. 603(b)(3).
11 5 U.S.C. 601(6).
12 5 U.S.C. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of "small-business concern" in the Small Business
Act, 15 U.S.C. 632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies "unless an
agency, after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity
for public comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the
agency and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register."
13 15 U.S.C. 632.
14 See SBA, Office of Advocacy, "Frequently Asked Questions," http://web.sba.gov/faqs (accessed Jan. 2009).
15 Independent Sector, The New Nonprofit Almanac & Desk Reference (2002).
16 5 U.S.C. 601(4).
17 5 U.S.C. 601(5).
18 U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2006, Section 8, p. 272, Table 415.
19 We assume that the villages, school districts, and special districts are small, and total 48,558. See U.S. Census
Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2006, section 8, p. 273, Table 417. For 2002, Census Bureau data
indicate that the total number of county, municipal, and township governments nationwide was 38,967, of which
35,819 were small. Id.
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business size standard (e.g., a telephone communications business having 1,500 or fewer employees), and
"is not dominant in its field of operation."20 The SBA's Office of Advocacy contends that, for RFA
purposes, small incumbent local exchange carriers are not dominant in their field of operation because
any such dominance is not "national" in scope.21 We have therefore included small incumbent local
exchange carriers in this RFA analysis, although we emphasize that this RFA action has no effect on
Commission analyses and determinations in other, non-RFA contexts.
9.
Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers ("ILECs"). Neither the Commission nor the SBA
has developed a small business size standard specifically for incumbent local exchange services. The
appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under
that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees.22 According to
Commission data,23 1,311 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of incumbent local
exchange services. Of these 1,311 carriers, an estimated 1,024 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 287
have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that most providers of
incumbent local exchange service are small businesses that may be affected by our proposed action.
10.
Competitive Local Exchange Carriers ("CLECs"), Competitive Access Providers
("CAPs"), "Shared-Tenant Service Providers," and "Other Local Service Providers." Neither the
Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for these service
providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications
Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees.24
According to Commission data,25 1005 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of
either competitive access provider services or competitive local exchange carrier services. Of these 1005
carriers, an estimated 918 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 87 have more than 1,500 employees. In
addition, 16 carriers have reported that they are "Shared-Tenant Service Providers," and all 16 are
estimated to have 1,500 or fewer employees. In addition, 89 carriers have reported that they are "Other
Local Service Providers." Of the 89, all have 1,500 or fewer employees. Consequently, the Commission
estimates that most providers of competitive local exchange service, competitive access providers,
"Shared-Tenant Service Providers," and "Other Local Service Providers" are small entities that may be
affected by our proposed action.
11.
Interexchange Carriers ("IXCs"). Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a
small business size standard specifically for providers of interexchange services. The appropriate size
standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size
standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees.26 According to Commission data,27


20 15 U.S.C. 632.
21 Letter from Jere W. Glover, Chief Counsel for Advocacy, SBA, to William E. Kennard, Chairman, FCC (May 27,
1999). The Small Business Act contains a definition of "small-business concern," which the RFA incorporates into
its own definition of "small business." See 15 U.S.C. 632(a) ("Small Business Act"); 5 U.S.C. 601(3) ("RFA").
SBA regulations interpret "small business concern" to include the concept of dominance on a national basis. See 13
C.F.R. 121.102(b).
22 13 C.F.R. 121.201, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 517110.
23 FCC, Wireline Competition Bureau, Industry Analysis and Technology Division, "Trends in Telephone Service"
at Table 5.3, Page 5-5 (Aug. 2008) ("Trends in Telephone Service"). This source uses data that are current as of
November 1, 2006.
24 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517110.
25 "Trends in Telephone Service" at Table 5.3.
26 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517110.
27 "Trends in Telephone Service" at Table 5.3.
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300 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of interexchange service. Of these, an
estimated 268 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 32 have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently,
the Commission estimates that the majority of IXCs are small entities that may be affected by our
proposed action.
12.
Satellite Telecommunications and All Other Telecommunications. These two economic
census categories address the satellite industry. The first category has a small business size standard of
$15 million or less in average annual receipts, under SBA rules.28 The second has a size standard of $25
million or less in annual receipts.29 The most current Census Bureau data in this context, however, are
from the (last) economic census of 2002, and we will use those figures to gauge the prevalence of small
businesses in these categories.30
13.
The category of Satellite Telecommunications "comprises establishments primarily
engaged in providing telecommunications services to other establishments in the telecommunications and
broadcasting industries by forwarding and receiving communications signals via a system of satellites or
reselling satellite telecommunications."31 For this category, Census Bureau data for 2002 show that there
were a total of 371 firms that operated for the entire year.32 Of this total, 307 firms had annual receipts of
under $10 million, and 26 firms had receipts of $10 million to $24,999,999.33 Consequently, we estimate
that the majority of Satellite Telecommunications firms are small entities that might be affected by our
action.
14.
The second category of All Other Telecommunications comprises, inter alia,
"establishments primarily engaged in providing specialized telecommunications services, such as satellite
tracking, communications telemetry, and radar station operation. This industry also includes
establishments primarily engaged in providing satellite terminal stations and associated facilities
connected with one or more terrestrial systems and capable of transmitting telecommunications to, and
receiving telecommunications from, satellite systems."34 For this category, Census Bureau data for 2002
show that there were a total of 332 firms that operated for the entire year.35 Of this total, 303 firms had
annual receipts of under $10 million and 15 firms had annual receipts of $10 million to $24,999,999.36
Consequently, we estimate that the majority of All Other Telecommunications firms are small entities that
might be affected by our action.
15.
Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). Since 2007, the Census Bureau
has placed wireless firms within this new, broad, economic census category.37 Prior to that time, such


28 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517410.
29 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517919.
30 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS codes 517410 and 517910 (2002).
31 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, "517410 Satellite Telecommunications";
http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND517410.HTM.
32 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Information, "Establishment and Firm Size
(Including Legal Form of Organization)," Table 4, NAICS code 517410 (issued Nov. 2005).
33 Id. An additional 38 firms had annual receipts of $25 million or more.
34 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, "517919 All Other Telecommunications";
http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND517919.HTM#N517919.
35 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Information, "Establishment and Firm Size
(Including Legal Form of Organization)," Table 4, NAICS code 517910 (issued Nov. 2005).
36 Id. An additional 14 firms had annual receipts of $25 million or more.
37 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, "517210 Wireless Telecommunications Categories (Except
Satellite)"; http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND517210.HTM#N517210.
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firms were within the now-superseded categories of "Paging" and "Cellular and Other Wireless
Telecommunications."38 Under the present and prior categories, the SBA has deemed a wireless business
to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees.39 Because Census Bureau data are not yet available for the
new category, we will estimate small business prevalence using the prior categories and associated data.
For the category of Paging, data for 2002 show that there were 807 firms that operated for the entire
year.40 Of this total, 804 firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees, and three firms had
employment of 1,000 employees or more.41 For the category of Cellular and Other Wireless
Telecommunications, data for 2002 show that there were 1,397 firms that operated for the entire year.42
Of this total, 1,378 firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees, and 19 firms had employment of
1,000 employees or more.43 Thus, we estimate that the majority of wireless firms are small.
16.
Common Carrier Paging. As noted, since 2007 the Census Bureau has placed paging
providers within the broad economic census category of Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except
Satellite).44 Prior to that time, such firms were within the now-superseded category of "Paging."45 Under
the present and prior categories, the SBA has deemed a wireless business to be small if it has 1,500 or
fewer employees.46 Because Census Bureau data are not yet available for the new category, we will
estimate small business prevalence using the prior category and associated data. The data for 2002 show
that there were 807 firms that operated for the entire year.47 Of this total, 804 firms had employment of
999 or fewer employees, and three firms had employment of 1,000 employees or more.48 Thus, we
estimate that the majority of paging firms are small.
17.
In addition, in the Paging Second Report and Order, the Commission adopted a size
standard for "small businesses" for purposes of determining their eligibility for special provisions such as


38 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 NAICS Definitions, "517211 Paging";
http://www.census.gov/epcd/naics02/def/NDEF517.HTM.; U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 NAICS Definitions, "517212
Cellular and Other Wireless Telecommunications"; http://www.census.gov/epcd/naics02/def/NDEF517.HTM.
39 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517210 (2007 NAICS). The now-superseded, pre-2007 C.F.R. citations were
13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS codes 517211 and 517212 (referring to the 2002 NAICS).
40 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Information, "Establishment and Firm Size
(Including Legal Form of Organization," Table 5, NAICS code 517211 (issued Nov. 2005).
41 Id. The census data do not provide a more precise estimate of the number of firms that have employment of
1,500 or fewer employees; the largest category provided is for firms with "1000 employees or more."
42 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Information, "Establishment and Firm Size
(Including Legal Form of Organization," Table 5, NAICS code 517212 (issued Nov. 2005).
43 Id. The census data do not provide a more precise estimate of the number of firms that have employment of
1,500 or fewer employees; the largest category provided is for firms with "1000 employees or more."
44 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, "517210 Wireless Telecommunications Categories (Except
Satellite)"; http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND517210.HTM#N517210.
45 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 NAICS Definitions, "517211 Paging";
http://www.census.gov/epcd/naics02/def/NDEF517.HTM.
46 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517210 (2007 NAICS). The now-superseded, pre-2007 C.F.R. citations were
13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS codes 517211 and 517212 (referring to the 2002 NAICS).
47 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Information, "Establishment and Firm Size
(Including Legal Form of Organization," Table 5, NAICS code 517211 (issued Nov. 2005).
48 Id. The census data do not provide a more precise estimate of the number of firms that have employment of
1,500 or fewer employees; the largest category provided is for firms with "1000 employees or more."
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bidding credits and installment payments.49 A small business is an entity that, together with its affiliates
and controlling principals, has average gross revenues not exceeding $15 million for the preceding three
years.50 The SBA has approved this definition.51 An initial auction of Metropolitan Economic Area
("MEA") licenses was conducted in the year 2000. Of the 2,499 licenses auctioned, 985 were sold.52
Fifty-seven companies claiming small business status won 440 licenses.53 A subsequent auction of MEA
and Economic Area ("EA") licenses was held in the year 2001. Of the 15,514 licenses auctioned, 5,323
were sold.54 One hundred thirty-two companies claiming small business status purchased 3,724 licenses.
A third auction, consisting of 8,874 licenses in each of 175 EAs and 1,328 licenses in all but three of the
51 MEAs, was held in 2003. Seventy-seven bidders claiming small or very small business status won
2,093 licenses.55
18.
Currently, there are approximately 74,000 Common Carrier Paging licenses. According to
the most recent Trends in Telephone Service, 281 carriers reported that they were engaged in the
provision of "paging and messaging" services.56 Of these, an estimated 279 have 1,500 or fewer
employees and two have more than 1,500 employees.57 We estimate that the majority of common carrier
paging providers would qualify as small entities under the SBA definition.
19.
Wireless Telephony. Wireless telephony includes cellular, personal communications
services, and specialized mobile radio telephony carriers. As noted, the SBA has developed a small
business size standard for Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite).58 Under the SBA
small business size standard, a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees.59 According to
Trends in Telephone Service data, 434 carriers reported that they were engaged in wireless telephony.60
Of these, an estimated 222 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 212 have more than 1,500 employees.61
We have estimated that 222 of these are small under the SBA small business size standard.
20.
Broadband Personal Communications Service. The broadband personal communications


49 Revision of Part 22 and Part 90 of the Commission's Rules to Facilitate Future Development of Paging Systems,
Second Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 2732, 281112, paras. 178181 ("Paging Second Report and Order"); see
also Revision of Part 22 and Part 90 of the Commission's Rules to Facilitate Future Development of Paging
Systems
, Memorandum Opinion and Order on Reconsideration, 14 FCC Rcd 10030, 1008588, paras. 98107
(1999).
50 Paging Second Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd at 2811, para. 179.
51 See Letter from Aida Alvarez, Administrator, SBA, to Amy Zoslov, Chief, Auctions and Industry Analysis
Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau ("WTB"), FCC (Dec. 2, 1998) ("Alvarez Letter 1998").
52 See "929 and 931 MHz Paging Auction Closes," Public Notice, 15 FCC Rcd 4858 (WTB 2000).
53 See id.
54 See "Lower and Upper Paging Band Auction Closes," Public Notice, 16 FCC Rcd 21821 (WTB 2002).
55 See "Lower and Upper Paging Bands Auction Closes," Public Notice, 18 FCC Rcd 11154 (WTB 2003). The
current number of small or very small business entities that hold wireless licenses may differ significantly from the
number of such entities that won in spectrum auctions due to assignments and transfers of licenses in the secondary
market over time. In addition, some of the same small business entities may have won licenses in more than one
auction.
56 "Trends in Telephone Service" at Table 5.3.
57 "Trends in Telephone Service" at Table 5.3.
58 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517210.
59 Id.
60 "Trends in Telephone Service" at Table 5.3.
61 "Trends in Telephone Service" at Table 5.3.
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services ("PCS") spectrum is divided into six frequency blocks designated A through F, and the
Commission has held auctions for each block. The Commission has created a small business size
standard for Blocks C and F as an entity that has average gross revenues of less than $40 million in the
three previous calendar years.62 For Block F, an additional small business size standard for "very small
business" was added and is defined as an entity that, together with its affiliates, has average gross
revenues of not more than $15 million for the preceding three calendar years.63 These small business size
standards, in the context of broadband PCS auctions, have been approved by the SBA.64 No small
businesses within the SBA-approved small business size standards bid successfully for licenses in Blocks
A and B. There were 90 winning bidders that qualified as small entities in the Block C auctions. A total
of 93 "small" and "very small" business bidders won approximately 40 percent of the 1,479 licenses for
Blocks D, E, and F.65 In 1999, the Commission reauctioned 155 C, D, E, and F Block licenses; there
were 113 small business winning bidders.66
21.
In 2001, the Commission completed the auction of 422 C and F Broadband PCS licenses
in Auction 35. Of the 35 winning bidders in this auction, 29 qualified as "small" or "very small"
businesses.67 Subsequent events, concerning Auction 35, including judicial and agency determinations,
resulted in a total of 163 C and F Block licenses being available for grant. In 2005, the Commission
completed an auction of 188 C block licenses and 21 F block licenses in Auction 58. There were 24
winning bidders for 217 licenses.68 Of the 24 winning bidders, 16 claimed small business status and won
156 licenses. In 2007, the Commission completed an auction of 33 licenses in the A, C, and F Blocks in
Auction 71.69 Of the 14 winning bidders, six were designated entities.70 In 2008, the Commission
completed an auction of 20 Broadband PCS licenses in the C, D, E and F block licenses in Auction 78.71
22.
Advanced Wireless Services. In 2008, the Commission conducted the auction of
Advanced Wireless Services ("AWS") licenses.72 This auction, which as designated as Auction 78,
offered 35 licenses in the AWS 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz bands ("AWS-1"). The AWS-1
licenses were licenses for which there were no winning bids in Auction 66. That same year, the
Commission completed Auction 78. A bidder with attributed average annual gross revenues that
exceeded $15 million and did not exceed $40 million for the preceding three years ("small business")


62 See Amendment of Parts 20 and 24 of the Commission's Rules Broadband PCS Competitive Bidding and the
Commercial Mobile Radio Service Spectrum Cap
, Report and Order, 11 FCC Rcd 7824, 785052, paras. 5760
(1996) ("PCS Report and Order"); see also 47 C.F.R. 24.720(b).
63 See PCS Report and Order, 11 FCC Rcd at 7852, para. 60.
64 See Alvarez Letter 1998.
65 FCC News, "Broadband PCS, D, E and F Block Auction Closes," No. 71744 (rel. Jan. 14, 1997).
66 See "C, D, E, and F Block Broadband PCS Auction Closes," Public Notice, 14 FCC Rcd 6688 (WTB 1999).
67 See "C and F Block Broadband PCS Auction Closes; Winning Bidders Announced," Public Notice, 16 FCC Rcd
2339 (2001).
68 See "Broadband PCS Spectrum Auction Closes; Winning Bidders Announced for Auction No. 58," Public Notice,
20 FCC Rcd 3703 (2005).
69 See "Auction of Broadband PCS Spectrum Licenses Closes; Winning Bidders Announced for Auction No. 71,"
Public Notice, 22 FCC Rcd 9247 (2007).
70 Id.
71 See Auction of AWS-1 and Broadband PCS Licenses Rescheduled For August 13, 3008, Notice of Filing
Requirements, Minimum Opening Bids, Upfront Payments and Other Procedures For Auction 78, Public Notice, 23
FCC Rcd 7496 (2008) ("AWS-1 and Broadband PCS Procedures Public Notice").
72 See AWS-1 and Broadband PCS Procedures Public Notice, 23 FCC Rcd 7496. Auction 78 also included an
auction of Broadband PCS licenses.
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received a 15 percent discount on its winning bid. A bidder with attributed average annual gross revenues
that did not exceed $15 million for the preceding three years ("very small business") received a 25
percent discount on its winning bid. A bidder that had combined total assets of less than $500 million and
combined gross revenues of less than $125 million in each of the last two years qualified for entrepreneur
status.73 Four winning bidders that identified themselves as very small businesses won 17 licenses.74
Three of the winning bidders that identified themselves as a small business won five licenses.
Additionally, one other winning bidder that qualified for entrepreneur status won 2 licenses.
23.
Narrowband Personal Communications Services. In 1994, the Commission conducted an
auction for Narrowband PCS licenses. A second auction was also conducted later in 1994. For purposes
of the first two Narrowband PCS auctions, "small businesses" were entities with average gross revenues
for the prior three calendar years of $40 million or less.75 Through these auctions, the Commission
awarded a total of 41 licenses, 11 of which were obtained by four small businesses.76 To ensure
meaningful participation by small business entities in future auctions, the Commission adopted a two-
tiered small business size standard in the Narrowband PCS Second Report and Order.77 A "small
business" is an entity that, together with affiliates and controlling interests, has average gross revenues for
the three preceding years of not more than $40 million.78 A "very small business" is an entity that,
together with affiliates and controlling interests, has average gross revenues for the three preceding years
of not more than $15 million.79 The SBA has approved these small business size standards.80 A third
auction was conducted in 2001. Here, five bidders won 317 (Metropolitan Trading Areas and
nationwide) licenses.81 Three of these claimed status as a small or very small entity and won 311
licenses.
24.
Cellular Radiotelephone Service. Auction 77 was held to resolve one group of mutually
exclusive applications for Cellular Radiotelephone Service licenses for unserved areas in New Mexico.82
Bidding credits for designated entities were not available in Auction 77.83 In 2008, the Commission


73 Id. at 23 FCC Rcd at 752122.
74 See "Auction of AWS-1 and Broadband PCS Licenses Closes, Winning Bidders Announced for Auction 78,
Down Payments Due September 9, 2008, FCC Forms 601 and 602 Due September 9, 2008, Final Payments Due
September 23, 2008, Ten-Day Petition to Deny Period", Public Notice, 23 FCC Rcd 1274965 (2008).
75 Implementation of Section 309(j) of the Communications Act Competitive Bidding Narrowband PCS, Third
Memorandum Opinion and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 10 FCC Rcd 175, 196, para. 46
(1994).
76 See "Announcing the High Bidders in the Auction of ten Nationwide Narrowband PCS Licenses, Winning Bids
Total $617,006,674," Public Notice, PNWL 94-004 (rel. Aug. 2, 1994); "Announcing the High Bidders in the
Auction of 30 Regional Narrowband PCS Licenses; Winning Bids Total $490,901,787," Public Notice, PNWL 94-
27 (rel. Nov. 9, 1994).
77 Amendment of the Commission's Rules to Establish New Personal Communications Services, Narrowband PCS,
Second Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 15 FCC Rcd 10456, 10476, para. 40
(2000) ("Narrowband PCS Second Report and Order").
78 Narrowband PCS Second Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 10476, para. 40.
79 Id.
80 See Alvarez Letter 1998.
81 See "Narrowband PCS Auction Closes," Public Notice, 16 FCC Rcd 18663 (WTB 2001).
82 See Closed Auction of Licenses for Cellular Unserved Service Area Scheduled for June 17, 2008, Notice and
Filing Requirements, Minimum Opening Bids, Upfront Payments, and Other Procedures for Auction 77, Public
Notice
, 23 FCC Rcd 6670 (2008).
83 Id. at 6685.
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completed the closed auction of one unserved service area in the Cellular Radiotelephone Service,
designated as Auction 77. Auction 77 concluded with one provisionally winning bid for the unserved
area totaling $25,002.84
25.
Private Land Mobile Radio ("PLMR"). PLMR systems serve an essential role in a range
of industrial, business, land transportation, and public safety activities. These radios are used by
companies of all sizes operating in all U.S. business categories, and are often used in support of the
licensee's primary (non-telecommunications) business operations. For the purpose of determining
whether a licensee of a PLMR system is a small business as defined by the SBA, we use the broad census
category, Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). This definition provides that a small
entity is any such entity employing no more than 1,500 persons.85 The Commission does not require
PLMR licensees to disclose information about number of employees, so the Commission does not have
information that could be used to determine how many PLMR licensees constitute small entities under
this definition. We note that PLMR licensees generally use the licensed facilities in support of other
business activities, and therefore, it would also be helpful to assess PLMR licensees under the standards
applied to the particular industry subsector to which the licensee belongs.86
26.
As of March 2010, there were 424,162 PLMR licensees operating 921,909 transmitters in
the PLMR bands below 512 MHz. We note that any entity engaged in a commercial activity is eligible to
hold a PLMR license, and that any revised rules in this context could therefore potentially impact small
entities covering a great variety of industries.
27.
Fixed Microwave Services. Fixed microwave services include common carrier,87 private
operational-fixed,88 and broadcast auxiliary radio services.89 At present, there are approximately 22,015
common carrier fixed licensees and 61,670 private operational-fixed licensees and broadcast auxiliary
radio licensees in the microwave services. The Commission has not created a size standard for a small
business specifically with respect to fixed microwave services. For purposes of this analysis, the
Commission uses the SBA small business size standard for the category Wireless Telecommunications
Carriers (except Satellite), which is 1,500 or fewer employees.90 The Commission does not have data
specifying the number of these licensees that have no more than 1,500 employees, and thus are unable at
this time to estimate with greater precision the number of fixed microwave service licensees that would
qualify as small business concerns under the SBA's small business size standard. Consequently, the
Commission estimates that there are 22,015 or fewer common carrier fixed licensees and 61,670 or fewer
private operational-fixed licensees and broadcast auxiliary radio licensees in the microwave services that


84 See Auction of Cellular Unserved Service Area License Closes, Winning Bidder Announced for Auction 77,
Down Payment due July 2, 2008, Final Payment due July 17, 2008, Public Notice, 23 FCC Rcd 9501 (2008).
85 See 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517210.
86 See generally 13 C.F.R. 121.201.
87 See 47 C.F.R. 101 et seq. for common carrier fixed microwave services (except Multipoint Distribution
Service).
88 Persons eligible under parts 80 and 90 of the Commission's Rules can use Private Operational-Fixed Microwave
services. See 47 C.F.R. Parts 80 and 90. Stations in this service are called operational-fixed to distinguish them
from common carrier and public fixed stations. Only the licensee may use the operational-fixed station, and only for
communications related to the licensee's commercial, industrial, or safety operations.
89 Auxiliary Microwave Service is governed by Part 74 of Title 47 of the Commission's Rules. See 47 C.F.R. Part
74. This service is available to licensees of broadcast stations and to broadcast and cable network entities.
Broadcast auxiliary microwave stations are used for relaying broadcast television signals from the studio to the
transmitter, or between two points such as a main studio and an auxiliary studio. The service also includes mobile
television pickups, which relay signals from a remote location back to the studio.
90 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517210.
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may be small and may be affected by the rules and policies proposed herein. We note, however, that the
common carrier microwave fixed licensee category includes some large entities.
28.
Local Multipoint Distribution Service. Local Multipoint Distribution Service ("LMDS")
is a fixed broadband point-to-multipoint microwave service that provides for two-way video
telecommunications.91 The auction of the 986 LMDS licenses began and closed in 1998. The
Commission established a small business size standard for LMDS licenses as an entity that has average
gross revenues of less than $40 million in the three previous calendar years.92 An additional small
business size standard for "very small business" was added as an entity that, together with its affiliates,
has average gross revenues of not more than $15 million for the preceding three calendar years.93 The
SBA has approved these small business size standards in the context of LMDS auctions.94 There were 93
winning bidders that qualified as small entities in the LMDS auctions. A total of 93 small and very small
business bidders won approximately 277 A Block licenses and 387 B Block licenses. In 1999, the
Commission re-auctioned 161 licenses; there were 32 small and very small businesses winning that won
119 licenses.
29.
Rural Radiotelephone Service. The Commission has not adopted a size standard for small
businesses specific to the Rural Radiotelephone Service.95 A significant subset of the Rural
Radiotelephone Service is the Basic Exchange Telephone Radio System ("BETRS").96 In the present
context, we will use the SBA's small business size standard applicable to Wireless Telecommunications
Carriers (except Satellite), i.e., an entity employing no more than 1,500 persons.97 There are
approximately 1,000 licensees in the Rural Radiotelephone Service, and the Commission estimates that
there are 1,000 or fewer small entity licensees in the Rural Radiotelephone Service that may be affected
by the rules and policies proposed herein.
30.
Broadband Radio Service and Educational Broadband Service. Broadband Radio Service
systems, previously referred to as Multipoint Distribution Service ("MDS") and Multichannel Multipoint
Distribution Service ("MMDS") systems, and "wireless cable," transmit video programming to
subscribers and provide two-way high speed data operations using the microwave frequencies of the
Broadband Radio Service ("BRS") and Educational Broadband Service ("EBS") (previously referred to as
the Instructional Television Fixed Service ("ITFS")).98 In connection with the 1996 BRS auction, the
Commission established a small business size standard as an entity that had annual average gross
revenues of no more than $40 million in the previous three calendar years.99 The BRS auctions resulted


91 See Rulemaking to Amend Parts 1, 2, 21, 25, of the Commission's Rules to Redesignate the 27.529.5 GHz
Frequency Band, Reallocate the 29.530.5 Frequency Band, to Establish Rules and Policies for Local Multipoint
Distribution Service and for Fixed Satellite Services
, Second Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Fifth
Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 12 FCC Rcd 12545, 1268990, para. 348 (1997) ("LMDS Second Report and
Order
").
92 See LMDS Second Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd at 1268990, para. 348.
93 See id.
94 See Alvarez to Phythyon Letter 1998.
95 The service is defined in 22.99 of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. 22.99.
96 BETRS is defined in 22.757 and 22.759 of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. 22.757 and 22.759.
97 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517210.
98 Amendment of Parts 21 and 74 of the Commission's Rules with Regard to Filing Procedures in the Multipoint
Distribution Service and in the Instructional Television Fixed Service and Implementation of Section 309(j) of the
Communications Act Competitive Bidding
, MM Docket No. 94-131 and PP Docket No. 93-253, Report and Order,
10 FCC Rcd 9589, 9593, para. 7 (1995) ("MDS Auction R&O").
99 47 C.F.R. 21.961(b)(1).
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in 67 successful bidders obtaining licensing opportunities for 493 Basic Trading Areas ("BTAs"). Of the
67 auction winners, 61 met the definition of a small business. BRS also includes licensees of stations
authorized prior to the auction. At this time, we estimate that of the 61 small business BRS auction
winners, 48 remain small business licensees. In addition to the 48 small businesses that hold BTA
authorizations, there are approximately 392 incumbent BRS licensees that are considered small entities.100
After adding the number of small business auction licensees to the number of incumbent licensees not
already counted, we find that there are currently approximately 440 BRS licensees that are defined as
small businesses under either the SBA or the Commission's rules. In 2009, the Commission conducted
Auction 86, the sale of 78 licenses in the BRS areas.101 The Commission offered three levels of bidding
credits: (i) a bidder with attributed average annual gross revenues that exceed $15 million and do not
exceed $40 million for the preceding three years (small business) will receive a 15 percent discount on its
winning bid; (ii) a bidder with attributed average annual gross revenues that exceed $3 million and do not
exceed $15 million for the preceding three years (very small business) will receive a 25 percent discount
on its winning bid; and (iii) a bidder with attributed average annual gross revenues that do not exceed $3
million for the preceding three years (entrepreneur) will receive a 35 percent discount on its winning
bid.102 Auction 86 concluded in 2009 with the sale of 61 licenses.103 Of the ten winning bidders, two
bidders that claimed small business status won 4 licenses; one bidder that claimed very small business
status won three licenses; and two bidders that claimed entrepreneur status won six licenses.
31.
In addition, the SBA's Cable Television Distribution Services small business size standard
is applicable to EBS. There are presently 2,032 EBS licensees. All but 100 of these licenses are held by
educational institutions. Educational institutions are included in this analysis as small entities.104 Thus,
we estimate that at least 1,932 licensees are small businesses. Since 2007, Cable Television Distribution
Services have been defined within the broad economic census category of Wired Telecommunications
Carriers; that category is defined as follows: "This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged
in operating and/or providing access to transmission facilities and infrastructure that they own and/or
lease for the transmission of voice, data, text, sound, and video using wired telecommunications
networks. Transmission facilities may be based on a single technology or a combination of
technologies."105 The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category, which is: all
such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees. To gauge small business prevalence for these cable services
we must, however, use current census data that are based on the previous category of Cable and Other
Program Distribution and its associated size standard; that size standard was: all such firms having $13.5
million or less in annual receipts.106 According to Census Bureau data for 2002, there were a total of


100 47 U.S.C. 309(j). Hundreds of stations were licensed to incumbent MDS licensees prior to implementation of
section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. 309(j). For these pre-auction licenses, the
applicable standard is SBA's small business size standard.
101 Auction of Broadband Radio Service (BRS) Licenses, Scheduled for October 27, 2009, Notice and Filing
Requirements, Minimum Opening Bids, Upfront Payments, and Other Procedures for Auction 86, Public Notice, 24
FCC Rcd 8277 (2009).
102 Id. at 8296.
103 Auction of Broadband Radio Service Licenses Closes, Winning Bidders Announced for Auction 86, Down
Payments Due November 23, 2009, Final Payments Due December 8, 2009, Ten-Day Petition to Deny Period,
Public Notice, 24 FCC Rcd 13572 (2009).
104 The term "small entity" within SBREFA applies to small organizations (nonprofits) and to small governmental
jurisdictions (cities, counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, and special districts with populations of
less than 50,000). 5 U.S.C. 601(4)(6). We do not collect annual revenue data on EBS licensees.
105 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, "517110 Wired Telecommunications Carriers" (partial
definition); http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND517110.HTM#N517110.
106 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517110.
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1,191 firms in this previous category that operated for the entire year.107 Of this total, 1,087 firms had
annual receipts of under $10 million, and 43 firms had receipts of $10 million or more but less than $25
million.108 Thus, the majority of these firms can be considered small.
32.
Cable Television Distribution Services. Since 2007, these services have been defined
within the broad economic census category of Wired Telecommunications Carriers; that category is
defined as follows: "This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating and/or
providing access to transmission facilities and infrastructure that they own and/or lease for the
transmission of voice, data, text, sound, and video using wired telecommunications networks.
Transmission facilities may be based on a single technology or a combination of technologies."109 The
SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category, which is: all such firms having 1,500
or fewer employees. To gauge small business prevalence for these cable services we must, however, use
current census data that are based on the previous category of Cable and Other Program Distribution and
its associated size standard; that size standard was: all such firms having $13.5 million or less in annual
receipts.110 According to Census Bureau data for 2002, there were a total of 1,191 firms in this previous
category that operated for the entire year.111 Of this total, 1,087 firms had annual receipts of under $10
million, and 43 firms had receipts of $10 million or more but less than $25 million.112 Thus, the majority
of these firms can be considered small.
33.
Cable Companies and Systems. The Commission has also developed its own small
business size standards, for the purpose of cable rate regulation. Under the Commission's rules, a "small
cable company" is one serving 400,000 or fewer subscribers, nationwide.113 Industry data indicate that, of
1,076 cable operators nationwide, all but eleven are small under this size standard.114 In addition, under
the Commission's rules, a "small system" is a cable system serving 15,000 or fewer subscribers.115
Industry data indicate that, of 6,635 systems nationwide, 5,802 systems have fewer than 10,000
subscribers, and an additional 302 systems have 10,000-19,999 subscribers.116 Thus, under this second
size standard, most cable systems are small.
34.
Cable System Operators. The Communications Act of 1934, as amended, also contains a


107 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Information, Table 4, Receipts Size of Firms for
the United States: 2002, NAICS code 517510 (issued November 2005).
108 Id. An additional 61 firms had annual receipts of $25 million or more.
109 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, "517110 Wired Telecommunications Carriers" (partial
definition); http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND517110.HTM#N517110.
110 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517110.
111 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Information, Table 4, Receipts Size of Firms for
the United States: 2002, NAICS code 517510 (issued November 2005).
112 Id. An additional 61 firms had annual receipts of $25 million or more.
113 47 C.F.R. 76.901(e). The Commission determined that this size standard equates approximately to a size
standard of $100 million or less in annual revenues. Implementation of Sections of the 1992 Cable Act: Rate
Regulation
, Sixth Report and Order and Eleventh Order on Reconsideration, 10 FCC Rcd 7393, 7408 (1995).
114 These data are derived from: R.R. Bowker, Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 2006, "Top 25 Cable/Satellite
Operators," pages A-8 & C-2 (data current as of June 30, 2005); Warren Communications News, Television &
Cable Factbook 2006
, "Ownership of Cable Systems in the United States," pages D-1805 to D-1857.
115 47 C.F.R. 76.901(c).
116 Warren Communications News, Television & Cable Factbook 2008, "U.S. Cable Systems by Subscriber Size,"
page F-2 (data current as of Oct. 2007). The data do not include 851 systems for which classifying data were not
available.
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size standard for small cable system operators, which is "a cable operator that, directly or through an
affiliate, serves in the aggregate fewer than 1 percent of all subscribers in the United States and is not
affiliated with any entity or entities whose gross annual revenues in the aggregate exceed
$250,000,000."117 The Commission has determined that an operator serving fewer than 677,000
subscribers shall be deemed a small operator, if its annual revenues, when combined with the total annual
revenues of all its affiliates, do not exceed $250 million in the aggregate.118 Industry data indicate that, of
1,076 cable operators nationwide, all but ten are small under this size standard.119 We note that the
Commission neither requests nor collects information on whether cable system operators are affiliated
with entities whose gross annual revenues exceed $250 million,120 and therefore we are unable to estimate
more accurately the number of cable system operators that would qualify as small under this size
standard.
35.
Open Video Systems. The open video system ("OVS") framework was established in
1996, and is one of four statutorily recognized options for the provision of video programming services
by local exchange carriers.121 The OVS framework provides opportunities for the distribution of video
programming other than through cable systems. Because OVS operators provide subscription services,122
OVS falls within the SBA small business size standard covering cable services, which is "Wired
Telecommunications Carriers."123 The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this
category, which is: all such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees. To gauge small business prevalence
for such services we must, however, use current census data that are based on the previous category of
Cable and Other Program Distribution and its associated size standard; that size standard was: all such
firms having $13.5 million or less in annual receipts.124 According to Census Bureau data for 2002, there
were a total of 1,191 firms in this previous category that operated for the entire year.125 Of this total,
1,087 firms had annual receipts of under $10 million, and 43 firms had receipts of $10 million or more
but less than $25 million.126 Thus, the majority of cable firms can be considered small. In addition, we
note that the Commission has certified some OVS operators, with some now providing service.127
Broadband service providers ("BSPs") are currently the only significant holders of OVS certifications or


117 47 U.S.C. 543(m)(2); see 47 C.F.R. 76.901(f) & nn.13.
118 47 C.F.R. 76.901(f); see Public Notice, FCC Announces New Subscriber Count for the Definition of Small
Cable Operator
, DA 01-158 (Cable Services Bureau, Jan. 24, 2001).
119 These data are derived from: R.R. Bowker, Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 2006, "Top 25 Cable/Satellite
Operators," pages A-8 & C-2 (data current as of June 30, 2005); Warren Communications News, Television &
Cable Factbook 2006
, "Ownership of Cable Systems in the United States," pages D-1805 to D-1857.
120 The Commission does receive such information on a case-by-case basis if a cable operator appeals a local
franchise authority's finding that the operator does not qualify as a small cable operator pursuant to 76.901(f) of
the Commission's rules. See 47 C.F.R. 76.909(b).
121 47 U.S.C. 571(a)(3)(4). See Annual Assessment of the Status of Competition in the Market for the Delivery of
Video Programming, Thirteenth Annual Report
, 24 FCC Rcd 542, 606 para. 135 (2009) ("Thirteenth Annual Cable
Competition Report
").
122 See 47 U.S.C. 573.
123
U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, "517110 Wired Telecommunications Carriers";
http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND517110.HTM#N517110.
124 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517110.
125 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Information, Table 4, Receipts Size of Firms for
the United States: 2002, NAICS code 517510 (issued November 2005).
126 Id. An additional 61 firms had annual receipts of $25 million or more.
127 A list of OVS certifications may be found at http://www.fcc.gov/mb/ovs/csovscer.html.
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local OVS franchises.128 The Commission does not have financial or employment information regarding
the entities authorized to provide OVS, some of which may not yet be operational. Thus, again, at least
some of the OVS operators may qualify as small entities.
36.
Cable Television Relay Service. This service includes transmitters generally used to relay
cable programming within cable television system distribution systems. This cable service is defined
within the broad economic census category of Wired Telecommunications Carriers; that category is
defined as follows: "This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating and/or
providing access to transmission facilities and infrastructure that they own and/or lease for the
transmission of voice, data, text, sound, and video using wired telecommunications networks.
Transmission facilities may be based on a single technology or a combination of technologies."129 The
SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category, which is: all such firms having 1,500
or fewer employees. To gauge small business prevalence for cable services we must, however, use
current census data that are based on the previous category of Cable and Other Program Distribution and
its associated size standard; that size standard was: all such firms having $13.5 million or less in annual
receipts.130 According to Census Bureau data for 2002, there were a total of 1,191 firms in this previous
category that operated for the entire year.131 Of this total, 1,087 firms had annual receipts of under $10
million, and 43 firms had receipts of $10 million or more but less than $25 million.132 Thus, the majority
of these firms can be considered small.
37.
Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service. MVDDS is a terrestrial fixed
microwave service operating in the 12.2-12.7 GHz band. The Commission adopted criteria for defining
three groups of small businesses for purposes of determining their eligibility for special provisions such
as bidding credits. It defined a very small business as an entity with average annual gross revenues not
exceeding $3 million for the preceding three years; a small business as an entity with average annual
gross revenues not exceeding $15 million for the preceding three years; and an entrepreneur as an entity
with average annual gross revenues not exceeding $40 million for the preceding three years.133 These
definitions were approved by the SBA.134 On January 27, 2004, the Commission completed an auction of
214 MVDDS licenses (Auction No. 53). In this auction, ten winning bidders won a total of 192 MVDDS
licenses.135 Eight of the ten winning bidders claimed small business status and won 144 of the licenses.


128 See Thirteenth Annual Cable Competition Report, 24 FCC Rcd at 60607 para. 135. BSPs are newer firms that
are building state-of-the-art, facilities-based networks to provide video, voice, and data services over a single
network.
129 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, "517110 Wired Telecommunications Carriers" (partial
definition); http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND517110.HTM#N517110.
130 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517110.
131 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Information, Table 4, Receipts Size of Firms for
the United States: 2002, NAICS code 517510 (issued November 2005).
132 Id. An additional 61 firms had annual receipts of $25 million or more.
133 Amendment of Parts 2 and 25 of the Commission's Rules to Permit Operation of NGSO FSS Systems Co-
Frequency with GSO and Terrestrial Systems in the Ku-Band Frequency Range; Amendment of the Commission's
Rules to Authorize Subsidiary Terrestrial Use of the 12.212.7 GHz Band by Direct Broadcast Satellite Licenses
and their Affiliates; and Applications of Broadwave USA, PDC Broadband Corporation, and Satellite Receivers,
Ltd. to provide A Fixed Service in the 12.212.7 GHz Band
, ET Docket No. 98-206, Memorandum Opinion and
Order and Second Report and Order, 17 FCC Rcd 9614, 9711, para. 252 (2002).
134 See Letter from Hector V. Barreto, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration, to Margaret W. Wiener,
Chief, Auctions and Industry Analysis Division, WTB, FCC (Feb.13, 2002).
135 See "Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service Auction Closes," Public Notice, 19 FCC Rcd 1834
(2004).
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The Commission also held an auction of MVDDS licenses on December 7, 2005 (Auction 63). Of the
three winning bidders who won 22 licenses, two winning bidders, winning 21 of the licenses, claimed
small business status.136
38.
Internet Service Providers. The 2007 Economic Census places these firms, whose
services might include voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), in either of two categories, depending on
whether the service is provided over the provider's own telecommunications connections (e.g. cable and
DSL, ISPs), or over client-supplied telecommunications connections (e.g. dial-up ISPs). The former are
within the category of Wired Telecommunications Carriers,137 which has an SBA small business size
standard of 1,500 or fewer employees.138 The latter are within the category of All Other
Telecommunications,139 which has a size standard of annual receipts of $25 million or less.140 The most
current Census Bureau data for all such firms, however, are the 2002 data for the previous census
category called Internet Service Providers.141 That category had a small business size standard of $21
million or less in annual receipts, which was revised in late 2005 to $23 million. The 2002 data show that
there were 2,529 such firms that operated for the entire year.142 Of those, 2,437 firms had annual receipts
of under $10 million, and an additional 47 firms had receipts of between $10 million and $24,999,999.143
Consequently, we estimate that the majority of ISP firms are small entities.
39.
Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution. The Census Bureau defines
this category as follows: "This industry group comprises establishments primarily engaged in generating,
transmitting, and/or distributing electric power. Establishments in this industry group may perform one or
more of the following activities: (1) operate generation facilities that produce electric energy; (2) operate
transmission systems that convey the electricity from the generation facility to the distribution system;
and (3) operate distribution systems that convey electric power received from the generation facility or
the transmission system to the final consumer."144 This category includes Electric Power Distribution,
Hydroelectric Power Generation, Fossil Fuel Power Generation, Nuclear Electric Power Generation, and
Other Electric Power Generation. The SBA has developed a small business size standard for firms in this
category: "A firm is small if, including its affiliates, it is primarily engaged in the generation,
transmission, and/or distribution of electric energy for sale and its total electric output for the preceding
fiscal year did not exceed 4 million megawatt hours."145 According to Census Bureau data for 2002, there


136 See "Auction of Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service Licenses Closes; Winning Bidders Announced
for Auction No. 63
," Public Notice, 20 FCC Rcd 19807 (2005).
137 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, "517110 Wired Telecommunications Carriers",
http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND517110.HTM#N517110.
138 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517110 (updated for inflation in 2008).
139 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, "517919 All Other Telecommunications";
http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND517919.HTM#N517919.
140 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517919 (updated for inflation in 2008).
141 U.S. Census Bureau, "2002 NAICS Definitions, "518111 Internet Service Providers";
http://www.census.gov/eped/naics02/def/NDEF518.HTM.
142 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Information, "Establishment and Firm Size
(Including Legal Form of Organization)," Table 4, NAICS code 518111 (issued Nov. 2005).
143 An additional 45 firms had receipts of $25 million or more.
144 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 NAICS Definitions, "2211 Electric Power Generation, Transmission and
Distribution"; http://www.census.gov/epcd/naics02/def/NDEF221.HTM.
145 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS codes 221111, 221112, 221113, 221119, 221121, 221122, footnote 1.
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were 1,644 firms in this category that operated for the entire year.146 Census data do not track electric
output and we have not determined how many of these firms fit the SBA size standard for small, with no
more than 4 million megawatt hours of electric output. Consequently, we estimate that 1,644 or fewer
firms may be considered small under the SBA small business size standard.
40.
Natural Gas Distribution. This economic census category comprises: "(1) establishments
primarily engaged in operating gas distribution systems (e.g., mains, meters); (2) establishments known as
gas marketers that buy gas from the well and sell it to a distribution system; (3) establishments known as
gas brokers or agents that arrange the sale of gas over gas distribution systems operated by others; and (4)
establishments primarily engaged in transmitting and distributing gas to final consumers."147 The SBA
has developed a small business size standard for this industry, which is: all such firms having 500 or
fewer employees.148 According to Census Bureau data for 2002, there were 468 firms in this category
that operated for the entire year.149 Of this total, 424 firms had employment of fewer than 500 employees,
and 18 firms had employment of 500 to 999 employees.150 Thus, the majority of firms in this category
can be considered small.
41.
Water Supply and Irrigation Systems. This economic census category "comprises
establishments primarily engaged in operating water treatment plants and/or operating water supply
systems."151 The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this industry, which is: all such
firms having $6.5 million or less in annual receipts.152 According to Census Bureau data for 2002, there
were 3,830 firms in this category that operated for the entire year.153 Of this total, 3,757 firms had annual
sales of less than $5 million, and 37 firms had sales of $5 million or more but less than $10 million.154
Thus, the majority of firms in this category can be considered small.

D.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping and Other Compliance
Requirements

42.
The timeline for access to poles that we adopt today will marginally affect recordkeeping
and compliance requirements for utilities and attachers. We anticipate that utilities and attachers will
modify their recordkeeping regarding the performance of make-ready work, including timeliness, safety,
and capacity, in order to show compliance with the timeline in the case of a dispute.155 The notification


146 U S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Utilities, "Establishment and Firm Size (Including
Legal Form of Organization)," Table 4, NAICS codes 221111, 221112, 221113, 221119, 221121, 221122 (issued
Nov. 2005).
147 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, "221210 Natural Gas Distribution";
http://www.census.gov/epcd/naics02/def/ND221210.HTM.
148 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 221210.
149 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Utilities, "Establishment and Firm Size: 2002
(Including Legal Form of Organization)," Table 5, NAICS code 221210 (issued November 2005).
150 Id. An additional 26 firms had employment of over 1,000 employees.
151 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 NAICS Definitions, "221310 Water Supply and Irrigation Systems" (partial
definition); http://www.census.gov/naics/2007/def/ND221310.HTM.
152 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 221310.
153 U.S. Census Bureau, 2002 Economic Census, Subject Series: Utilities, "Establishment and Firm Size: 2002
(Including Legal Form of Organization)," Table 4, NAICS code 221310 (issued November 2005).
154 Id. An additional 36 firms had annual sales of $10 million or more.
155 See supra App. A (47 C.F.R. 1.1420).
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rule requires the inclusion of certain information in make-ready notifications sent to other attachers.156
We also anticipate that the rule regarding the publication of qualified third-party contract workers will
involve more recordkeeping for utilities that must maintain and make available the list to prospective
attachers.157 However, we expect the costs of complying with these rules to be minimal, since they do not
measurably differ from the requirements in place before the adoption of this order.
43.
The changes we adopt today in the enforcement process, specifically for pole attachment
complaints, similarly do not produce significant differences in recordkeeping and compliance
requirements from the requirements in place before the adoption of this order. For example, although our
decision to permit recovery of a monetary award to extend as far back as the appropriate statute of
limitations allows, rather than beginning the award period with the filing of the complaint (see Section
IV.C. supra), may increase the period of time over which a complainant must produce data to support its
monetary claim, we have not adopted any requirements of data collection or filing per se.
44.
We expect the costs of complying with the new rules affecting attachment rates to be
minimal, since any of these compliance costs do not significantly differ from requirements in place before
the adoption of this Order.

E.

Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, and
Significant Alternatives Considered

45.
The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has considered
in reaching its proposed approach, which may include (among others) the following four alternatives:
(1) the establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into
account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of
compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the use of performance, rather
than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small
entities.158
46.
The specific timeline and additional rules adopted in this Order provide a predictable,
timely process for parties to seek and obtain pole attachments, while maintaining a utility's interest in
preserving safety, reliability, and sound engineering. We do not adopt different requirements for small
entities because we expect the economic impact on small entities to be minimal. Since we cap the
number of poles subject to the timeline based on the lesser of a numerical cap or a percentage of poles
owned by a utility in a state, small entities do not undergo any disproportionate hardship.159 The 100 pole
order cap proposed by NTCA et al. does not achieve the same benefit for small entities because it is not
specifically tailored to the size of the entity. Also, it is unlikely that the timeline will result in any
significant recordkeeping burdens for small entities since prudent utilities and attachers already keep
records regarding make-ready work and pole capacity and we do not impose any additional information
collection requirements. Similarly, identifying the contractors that utilities themselves already use to
prospective attachers should not require an additional resource burden. Finally, the Commission does not
have authority to regulate (and the proposed rules, thus, do not apply to) small utilities that are
municipally or cooperatively owned.
47.
Further, in this Order, the Commission revises the section 224(e) rental rate for pole
attachments used by telecommunications carriers to provide telecommunications services. This new
telecom rate generally will recover the same portion of pole costs as the current cable rate. The new
formula will minimize the difference in rental rates paid for attachments that are used to provide voice,


156 See supra App. A (47 C.F.R. 1.1420).
157 See supra App. A (47 C.F.R. 1.1422).
158 5 U.S.C. 603(c).
159 See supra para. 63.
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data, and video services, and thus will help remove market distortions that pose barriers to deployment of
new services by small cable and telecommunications providers. The Commission also revisits its prior
interpretation of the statute and allows incumbent LECs to file pole attachment complaints before the
Commission if they are unable to negotiate just and reasonable rates, terms, and conditions with other
pole owners. Thus, we believe that the rules adopted in this Order to ensure that pole attachment rates are
just and reasonable will have a positive economic benefit on small entities in areas that fall under the
Commission's regulatory jurisdiction, rather than an adverse impact.
48.
Specifically, NTCA et al. asserts that small rural incumbent LECs are concerned about
unreasonably high rates and "face difficulties in negotiating and, in some cases, litigating contractual
terms for pole attachments."160 NCTA et al. also asserts that "[t]he Commission's current pole
attachment rules effectively deny rural ILECs a remedy against unreasonable pole attachment provisions
which has a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small ILECs."161 NTCA requested
that the Commission adopt a "remedy mechanism by which [rural ILECs] can present claims of unjust or
unreasonable pole attachment rates, terms and conditions imposed by utilities" and stated that such a
provision "would reduce the economic impact on small rural communications providers."162 The
Commission, in fact, adopts such a rule in this Order allowing incumbent LECs to file pole attachment
complaints. Further, the Commission provides guidance regarding its approach to evaluating those
complaints and what the appropriate rate may be.
49.
Also in this Order, the Commission responds to small cable operator concerns about
"possible increases in rates for comingled Internet and video services," as noted by the U.S. Small
Business Administration.163 Addressing the role of the new telecom rate in the context of commingled
services, the Commission recognized concerns by some cable operators164 that pole owners may seek to
impose rates higher than both the cable rate and the new telecom rate where cable operators or
telecommunications carriers also provide services, such as VoIP, that have not been classified.165 The
Commission stated that this outcome would be contrary to its policy goals here in which it adopts a lower
and more uniform attachment rate to reduce the disparity in pole rental rates among providers of
competing services to minimize disputes resulting from the disparity between cable and pre-existing
higher telecom rates.166 This disparity has acted to deter investment and network expansion for new
services by cable providers because of the risk that some of those services could potentially be classified
as "telecommunications services" triggering disputes and litigation as to whether the higher telecom rate
should be applied over their entire pole attachment network. The Commission also makes clear that the
use of pole attachments by telecommunications carriers or cable operators to provide commingled
services does not remove them from the pole rate regulation framework, and that rates generally will not
be considered just and reasonable if they exceed the new telecom rate.167
50.
In addition, the new rate for attachments used by telecommunications carriers will have a
positive economic impact on small competitive LECs. It will minimize competitive disadvantages that


160 NTCA et al. at 6.
161 NTCA et al. at 9.
162 NTCA et al. at 910.
163 U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, Comments, GN Docket No. 10-188, at 8 (filed Oct. 15,
2010).
164 See, e.g., Bright House Comments at 2, 1214; Bright House Reply at 35.
165 See supra Part V.B.1.
166 See id.
167 See id.
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these carriers faced by having to pay higher rates for these key inputs to communications services. The
Order also confirms that wireless carriers are entitled to the same rate under the statute as other
telecommunications carriers. Specifically, the Commission explains that wireless carriers are entitled to
the benefits and protection of section 224, including the right to the telecom rate under section 224(e), in
response to reports by the wireless industry of cases where wireless providers were not afforded the
regulated rate and instead had been charged higher rates that were unreasonable.168

F.

Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict with the Proposed Rules

51.
None.


168 See id.
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APPENDIX C

States That Have Certified That They Regulate Pole Attachments

1.
The following states have certified that they regulate rates, terms, and conditions for pole
attachments, and, in so regulating, have the authority to consider and do consider the interests of
subscribers of cable television services, as well as the interests of the consumers of the utility services.
Moreover, these states have certified that they have issued and made effective rules and regulations
implementing their regulatory authority over pole attachments, including a specific methodology for such
regulation which has been made publicly available in the state.
2.
1 Certification by a state preempts the Commission from accepting pole attachment
complaints under Subpart J of Part 1 of the Rules, including the rules adopted in this Order.2 All other states
remain subject to the Commission's jurisdiction to regulate pole attachments under section 224 of the Act.
Alaska
Arkansas
California
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Idaho
Illinois
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Massachusetts
Michigan
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Ohio
Oregon
Utah
Vermont
Washington


1 States That Have Certified That They Regulate Pole Attachments, WC Docket No. 10-101, Public Notice, 25 FCC
Rcd 5541 (WCB 2010).
2 47 U.S.C. 224(c); 47 C.F.R. 1.14011.1418.
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APPENDIX D

Lists of Commenters

Implementation of Section 224 of the Act; A National Broadband Plan for Our Future, WC Docket
No. 07-245, GN Docket No. 09-51, Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 25 FCC Rcd
11864 (2010).

Commenter

Abbreviation

Alliance for Fair Pole Attachment Rules
Alliance
Alliant Energy Corporate Services, Inc.
Alliant
Ameren Services Company; CenterPoint Energy Houston
Ameren et al.
Electric, LLC; and Virginia Electric and Power Company
American Cable Association
ACA
American Public Power Association
APPA
Association of Louisiana Electric Cooperatives, Inc.
Louisiana Association
AT&T Inc.
AT&T
Bob Matter Consulting
Bob Matter Consulting
Bright House Networks
Bright House
CenturyLink
CenturyLink
Charter Communications, Inc.
Charter
Coalition of Concerned Utilities
Coalition
Comcast Corporation
Comcast
CPS Energy
CPS Energy
CTIA The Wireless Association
CTIA
DAS Forum
DAS Forum
Edison Electric Institute and Utilities Telecom Council
EEI/UTC
Exelon Electric Distribution Companies
Exelon
Fiber Technologies Networks, LLC
Fibertech
Florida Investor-Owned Electric Utilities
Florida IOUs
Idaho Power Company
Idaho Power
Imperial Irrigation District
Imperial Irrigation
Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance
ITTA
Level 3 Communications, Inc.
Level 3
Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable
MDTC
MetroPCS Communications, Inc.
MetroPCS
National Cable & Television Association
NCTA
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
NRECA
National Telecommunications Cooperative Association;
Associations
Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small
Telecommunications Companies; Western Telecommunications
Alliance; and Eastern Rural Telecom Association
NextG Networks, Inc.
NextG
NTELOS, Inc.
NTELOS
Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC
Oncor
Petra Solar, Inc.
Petra Solar
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio
Ohio Commission
Puget Sound Energy
Puget Sound Energy
Qwest Communications International, Inc.
Qwest
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Sunesys, LLC
Sunesys
T-Mobile USA, Inc.
T-Mobile
Time Warner Cable, Inc.
TWC
tw telecom inc. and Comptel
TWTC/COMPTEL
United States Telecom Association
USTelecom
Verizon
Verizon
Virginia Electric Power Company
Virginia Electric
We Energies
We Energies

Reply Commenter

Abbreviation

Alliance for Fair Pole Attachment Rules
Alliance
Alabama Rural Electric Association
Alabama Assoc.
American Public Power Association
APPA
AT&T Inc.
AT&T
Bright House Networks
Bright House
Clay Electric Cooperative
Clay Electric
Coalition of Concerned Utilities
Coalition
Comcast Corporation
Comcast
Dairyland Power Cooperative
Dairyland
DAS Forum
DAS Forum
Edison Electric Institute and Utilities Telecom Council
EEI/UTC
Florida Investor-Owned Electric Utilities
Florida IOUs
Flint Electric Membership Corporation
FEMC.
Georgia Electric Membership Corporation
GEMC
Hawaii Telecom, Inc.
HTI
Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc.
Kansas Cooperatives
Little Ocmulgee Electric Membership Corporation
LOEMC
Mahanger Consulting Associates
Mahanger Consulting
MetroPCS Communications, Inc.
MetroPCS
Montana Electric Cooperatives Association
MECA
Montgomery County, Maryland and Anne Arundel County,
Montgomery and Anne
Maryland
Arundel Counties
National Cable & Television Association
NCTA
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
NRECA
New Mexico Exchange Carrier Group
NMECG
NextG Networks, Inc.
NextG
North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives
NCAEC
Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative
NVEC
Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives
Oklahoma Cooperatives
Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC
Oncor
Sunesys, LLC
Sunesys
T-Mobile USA, Inc.
T-Mobile
Texas Electric Cooperatives, Inc.
Texas Cooperatives
Time Warner Cable, Inc.
TWC
tw telecom inc. and Comptel
TWTC/COMPTEL
Verizon
Verizon
Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware Association of Electric
VMDAEC
Cooperatives
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Implementation of Section 224 of the Act; Amendment of the Commission's Rules and Policies


Governing Pole Attachments, WC Docket No. 07-245; RM-11293; RM-11303, Notice of Proposed

Rulemaking, 22 FCC Rcd 20195 (2007).

Commenter

Abbreviation

American Electric Power Service Corporation; Duke Energy
AEP et al.
Corporation; Entergy Services Company; PPL Electric
Utilities Corporation; Progress Energy; Southern Company;
and Xcel Energy Services, Inc.
Alabama Power Company; Georgia Power Company; Gulf
Alabama Power et al.
Power Company; and Mississippi Power Company
Alpheus Communications, L.P. and 360networks USA, Inc.
Alpheus and 360networks
Ameren Services Company and Virginia Electric and Power
Ameren and Virginia Electric
Company
AT&T Inc.
AT&T
Cavalier Telephone, LLC
Cavalier
CenturyTel, Inc.
CenturyTel
Charter Communications, Inc.
Charter
Coalition of Concerned Utilities
Coalition of Concerned Utilities
Comcast Corporation
Comcast
CTIA The Wireless Association
CTIA
DAS Forum
DAS Forum
Edison Electric Institute and Utilities Telecom Council
EEI/UTC
Empire District Electric Company
Empire
ExteNet Systems, Inc.
ExteNet
Fibertech Networks, LLC and Kentucky Data Link, Inc.
Fibertech/KDL
Fibertower Corporation
Fibertower
Florida Power & Light and Tampa Electric Company
FPL and Tampa Electric
Florida Power & Light Company; Tampa Electric Company; and
FPL et al.
Progress Energy Florida, Inc.
Frontier Communications
Frontier
Hance Haney
Hance Haney
Idaho Power Company
Idaho Power
Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance
ITTA
Knology, Inc.
Knology
Mississippi Cable Telecommunications Association
MCTA
MetroPCS Communications, Inc.
MetroPCS
MI Connection Communications System
MI Connection
National Cable & Television Association
NCTA
NextG Networks, Inc.
NextG
National Telecommunications Cooperative Association
NTCA
Oncor Electric Delivery Company
Oncor
Oregon Public Utility Commission
Oregon Commission
PacifiCorp; Wisconsin Electric Power Company; and
PacifiCorp et al.
Wisconsin Public Service Corporation
Portland General Electric Company
PGE
Qwest Communications International, Inc.
Qwest
State Cable Associations
SCA
segTEL, Inc.
segTEL
Sunesys, LLC
Sunesys
T-Mobile USA
T-Mobile
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Time Warner Cable, Inc.
TWC
Time Warner Telecom, Inc.; One Communications Corporation;
TWTC
and CompTel
United States Telecom Association
USTelecom
Utilities Telecom Council
UTC
Utah Public Service Commissioners
Utah Commissioners
Verizon
Verizon
Windstream Corporation
Windstream
Wireless Communications Association International, Inc.
WCA
WOW! Internet Cable and Phone
WOW!
Zayo Bandwidth Entities
Zayo

Reply Commenter

Abbreviation

American Electric Power Service Corporation; Duke Energy
AEP et al.
Corporation; Entergy Services Company; PPL Electric
Utilities Corporation; Progress Energy; Southern Company;
and Xcel Energy Services, Inc.
Alabama Power Company; Georgia Power Company; Gulf
Alabama Power et al.
Power Company; and Mississippi Power Company
Ameren Services Company and Virginia Electric and Power
Ameren and Virginia Electric
Company
American Cable Association
ACA
American Corn Growers Association
ACGA
American Legislative Exchange Council
ALEC
Americans for Tax Reform and Media Free Project
ATR/MFP
AT&T Inc.
AT&T
Coalition of Concerned Utilities
Coalition of Concerned Utilities
Comcast Corporation
Comcast
CTIA The Wireless Association
CTIA
DAS Forum
DAS Forum
Edison Electric Institute and Utilities Telecom Council
EEI/UTC
Embarq Local Operating Companies
Embarq
ExteNet Systems, Inc.
ExteNet
Fibertech Networks, LLC; and Kentucky Data Link, Inc.
Fibertech/KDL
Fibertower Corporation
Fibertower
Florida Cable Telecommunications Association, Inc.
FCTA
Florida Power & Light Company; Tampa Electric Company; and
FPL et al.
Progress Energy Florida, Inc.
Georgia Power Company
Georgia Power
Grande Communications Networks, Inc.
Grande
Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance
ITTA
National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates
NASUCA
National Cable & Television Association
NCTA
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
NRECA
National Telecommunications Cooperative Association
NTCA
NextG Networks, Inc.
NextG
Oncor Electric Delivery Company
Oncor
Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small
OPASTCO
Telecommunications Companies
Pacific LightNet, Inc.
Pacific LightNet
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PacifiCorp; Wisconsin Electric Power Company; and
PacifiCorp et al.
Wisconsin Public Service Corporation
State Cable Associations
SCA
segTEL, Inc; Zayo Bandwidth Entities; and 360networks
SegTEL et al.
USA, Inc.
Sunesys, LLC
Sunesys
T-Mobile USA
T-Mobile
Time Warner Cable, Inc.
TWC
Time Warner Telecom, Inc.; One Communications Corporation;
TWTC
and CompTel
United States Telecom Association
USTelecom
Verizon
Verizon
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STATEMENT OF

CHAIRMAN JULIUS GENACHOWSKI

RE:
Implementation of Section 224 of the Act, WC Docket No. 07-245, A National Broadband Plan
for Our Future
, GN Docket No. 09-51
RE:
Acceleration of Broadband Deployment: Expanding the Reach and Reducing the Cost of
Broadband Deployment by Improving Policies Regarding Government Rights of Way and
Wireless Facilities Siting
, WC Docket No. 11-59
Today, we take a major step in reducing barriers to broadband deployment, even as we set the
stage for further progress on this vital goal. Our actions will enable and accelerate billions of dollars of
private investment in the 21st century infrastructure America needs to create jobs, grow our economy, and
compete globally.
Today's actions implement key recommendations of the National Broadband Plan and are central
pillars of our Broadband Acceleration Initiative, announced on February 9. This Initiative is one of the
Commission's top priorities: an agency-wide effort to speed the build-out of wired and wireless
broadband by removing obstacles to deployment, particularly obstacles created by unneeded or inefficient
regulation.
Having determined that broadband is not being reasonably and timely deployed to all Americans,
the Commission is required by Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act to "take immediate action to
accelerate deployment . . . by removing barriers to infrastructure investment." The Broadband
Acceleration Initiative, and our actions today, are central to carrying out that duty.
The Initiative incorporates work being done by the Commission's Technological Advisory
Council. I was pleased to revive the TAC, announce its new members on October 21, and give them a
concrete charge: identify ways to use communications technologies and spectrum to drive job creation
and economic growth. Under the excellent leadership of Tom Wheeler, and with participation from a host
of private sector experts and Internet pioneers, the TAC has already identified several promising policy
proposals that I look forward to the Commission considering in the coming year.
Another key milestone was the Broadband Acceleration Conference we held earlier this year,
which yielded a number of strong ideas for policy reforms, many of which are included in the Notice of
Inquiry the Commission adopts today.
Why is this Initiative so important? In the race for global competitiveness, the speed with which
we can build America's broadband networks is as important as the speed that is delivered over these
networks. Broadband is indispensable infrastructure for improving America's productivity in the 21st
century which is in turn the key to robust economic growth and job creation. The faster we can build out
broadband, the faster we can help American workers and small businesses create the leading web-based
enterprises of tomorrow. That's what the Broadband Acceleration Initiative is all about.
The Pole Attachments Order we adopt today comprehensively reforms the Commission's pole
attachment rules for the first time since the 1990s, taking account of major changes in the marketplace
and incorporating smart policies pioneered by various states.
Some might wonder what the connection is between utility poles and broadband service. Utility
poles are essential to providing broadband service, wired and wireless, because that's where
communications companies string cables and, increasingly, place wireless antennas. If every company
that wanted to provide broadband service had to build its own separate set of poles to carry its equipment,
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we wouldn't have much broadband in this country--it would simply be too expensive, and often
impossible, to build an entirely new network of poles. This is why the Commission has historically taken
steps to ensure that communications providers have reasonable access to the poles that already exist
throughout the country.
The record in this proceeding demonstrates that today, the process by which broadband providers
get access to utility poles frequently is so unpredictable, takes so long, and costs so much that it
discourages providers from entering the marketplace and significantly delays broadband build-out. So our
Order provides for a fixed timeline for getting access to poles that providers can count on, for both wired
and wireless broadband build-out.
It also provides a timeline for accessing the tops of poles, which are key for the deployment of
wireless broadband technologies like distributed antenna systems DAS for short. DAS deployments use
multiple antennas to extend wireless coverage and provide service more efficiently than conventional
wireless antennas. As a result of this Order, DAS providers estimate that their cumulative capital
investment could total more than $15 billion over the next six years.
Importantly, the Order balances the need for efficient access to poles with protections for the
safety and reliability of our electric grid, and empowers utilities to effectively prevent unauthorized
attachments on their poles. Lineworkers perform jobs that are both valuable and dangerous, and we have
been careful in developing this Order to make sure that we do nothing that would jeopardize their safety
or the safety of others.
The Order also reforms policies for pole attachment rates. The record shows that pole rental rates
vary widely and are often inefficiently high, which slants the competitive playing field, distorts
infrastructure investment decisions, and deters broadband build-out. This is why incumbent phone
companies argued that the Commission should regulate the prices they pay to access a utility's network of
poles.
Reforming pole attachment rates is particularly important for rural America, where this Order will
reduce pole rental costs for some broadband providers by more than 50%. This should spur broadband
deployment where it is needed most, reduce the need for universal service funding to serve some hard-to-
reach areas, and lower the cost of serving some rural households by as much as several dollars per month
which could mean real savings on consumers' bills. We expect these benefits to occur, and would be
concerned and would seriously consider modifying our approach to this issue if we did not see
evidence that these benefits were indeed occurring.
Today's Order is a testament to the strengths of our federal system and the importance of states as
laboratories for policy development. Thanks to the thoughtful work of a number of states in crafting pole
attachment rules over the last two decades, we have several effective models for pole attachment
governance with proven track records. Our rules incorporate best practices from Oregon, Utah, New
York, and other states.
While the Pole Attachments Order brings one proceeding to a close, we are simultaneously
opening a new proceeding on Accelerating Broadband Deployment. This proceeding will examine key
challenges and best practices for rights-of-way and wireless facilities siting policies. Rights-of-way
policies are the rules that govern access to the public spaces where broadband infrastructure including
wireless towers and antennas are deployed, including roadways, sidewalks, public lands, and public
buildings, but excluding utility poles.
This proceeding is focused on improving these policies in order to enable broadband providers to
expand the reach and accelerate deployment of robust, affordable broadband to all Americans. The
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National Broadband Plan and our Technological Advisory Council have identified a number of potential
barriers in this area, including:

Poor coordination across jurisdictions on infrastructure issues, which delays broadband build-out
and raises consumer costs;

The expense and complexity of obtaining access to public rights of way;

The fact that it's much harder than it should be to put another antenna on an existing cell tower;

Failure to embrace "dig-once" policies that save money when workers dig a trench in the ground
to lay fiber or cable; and

Non-standard, confusing permitting processes for broadband infrastructure siting on federal
property.
We will examine these issues with input from all interested parties, including states and localities,
Tribes, other federal agencies, broadband providers, equipment providers, and consumer advocates. I look
forward to learning what's working and can be replicated more broadly; what's not working and should
be fixed; and, in general, what can be done to improve inefficient or burdensome policies.
I thank the staff, particularly the Wireline and Wireless Bureaus, for their hard work on these
complex and important items. And I thank the TAC, and the FCC staff working with the TAC, for their
continued efforts to develop proposals for further reform.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MICHAEL J. COPPS

RE:
Implementation of Section 224 of the Act, WC Docket No. 07-245, A National Broadband Plan
for Our Future
, GN Docket No. 09-51
RE:
Acceleration of Broadband Deployment: Expanding the Reach and Reducing the Cost of
Broadband Deployment by Improving Policies Regarding Government Rights of Way and
Wireless Facilities Siting
, WC Docket No. 11-59
The National Broadband Plan clearly and rightly identified pole attachment policy as a key part
of ensuring that all Americans have access to robust and affordable broadband service. It's not sexy or
very exciting and you can quickly get lost in the weeds, but clarifying the rules surrounding rates and
access to poles has been on the Commission's to-do list for longer than I've been here--and that's a long
time. Pole attachments are without a doubt one of the critical inputs when communications providers
assess the economics of deploying advanced telecommunications networks. Now, finally, and thanks to
the leadership of the Chairman and the hard work of the staff, we can check it off the list. Today's action
should do a lot to promote our ambitious broadband deployment goals. And, by the way, accelerating the
roll out of advanced telecommunications services is exciting.
Our experience over the past fifteen years has demonstrated a need for a more detailed framework
to govern pole attachments. I believe these revisions of the pole attachment rules will promote a more
competitive broadband market and spur broadband's availability throughout the country. To that end, we
establish a more balanced process to ensure timely and non-discriminatory access to poles for both
wireline and wireless attachers, which will go a long way toward removing uncertainty and minimizing
delays that have frustrated deployment. The disparities in pole attachment rates for different providers
have also been a source of confusion and litigation, and hopefully the clarity we add today will discourage
such outcomes. The provision in this item of a mechanism to ensure that incumbent local exchange
carriers will have a forum to seek Commission remedies for rates that they believe to be unjust and
unreasonable is a good step in the right direction.
We should always be mindful of, and build upon, the successful experiences at local and state
levels. This much we know: in order to spread the wonders of broadband to every corner of this country
we are going to need a set of best practices in place that will both expand the reach and reduce the costs of
deployment. While we spirit ahead to make broadband a reality, we need to be cognizant of the authority
that local, state and Tribal entities have over rights-of-way and the siting of wireless facilities. In
beginning this conversation today with the Notice of Inquiry just presented by the Bureau, we need to be
mindful of not impinging on local rights as we keep our important broadband objectives front-and-center.
We need the right questions asked, the right data gathered and the input from all the relevant stakeholders.
Getting high-speed, value-laden broadband out to every citizen in the land is, if it is to become reality, a
partnership exercise--just as all the major infrastructure build-outs in this country have been, going back
to the very beginning. That means the private sector and the public sector--the pubic sector including the
federal, state and local levels. Working together, we can get this job done and keep the United States a
world leader in technology, innovation and consumer opportunity.
My thanks to the Bureau for its hard work here and to the Chairman for bringing us another critical
component of the National Broadband Plan.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER ROBERT M. McDOWELL

RE:
Implementation of Section 224 of the Act, WC Docket No. 07-245, A National Broadband Plan
for Our Future
, GN Docket No. 09-51
RE:
Acceleration of Broadband Deployment: Expanding the Reach and Reducing the Cost of
Broadband Deployment by Improving Policies Regarding Government Rights of Way and
Wireless Facilities Siting
, WC Docket No. 11-59
While not the most exciting of issues, the Commission's pole attachment rules are nonetheless
critical to our nation's broadband deployment effort. I, therefore, commend the Chairman for re-opening
the pole attachment debate last spring and following through with some concrete decisions.
Our action today will help promote continued broadband deployment throughout our country.1
Our guidance regarding so-called "make ready work" will provide more certainty, help streamline the
process and ultimately speed new entrants' efforts to deploy broadband. Also, the Commission's use of
its authority under Section 224 of the Act to adopt a new telecommunications pole rental rate formula -
generally lowering the attachment rate to the current "cable rate" - will more effectively encourage
competition in broadband deployment.
In concept, I would have liked to have seen a similar move to parity in regard to pole attachment
rental rates for ILECS. But I understand that not all of the ILECS may be similarly situated vis--vis their
competitors, because the ILECs are also pole owners and may enjoy certain benefits due to their joint use
agreements with the utilities. On the other hand, this order still does provide some relief to ILECs and
their customers, where appropriate. Pursuant to our action today, the ILECs will now have an opportunity
to file complaints with the FCC and argue why the rates, terms or conditions in their agreements with the
utilities are not just and reasonable, as allowed by Section 224.
Regarding a related matter before us today, I hope the Notice of Inquiry on public rights of way
solicits useful information that can assist the FCC's continued efforts to encourage broadband
deployment. I caution, however, that the FCC should be mindful of its limitations and only use this
information in areas where it has jurisdiction.
In sum, I commend all of the staff who worked so diligently on all of these infrastructure issues
and look forward to working with my colleagues as we learn from the various stakeholders who file in
response to the notice.


1 The nationwide effect of this order is limited. For example, the Commission can only exert jurisdiction over pole
attachment issues in areas where these access issues are not regulated by a state. See 47 U.S.C. 224(c). Also, pole
attachment arrangements that involve cooperatives are not under our jurisdiction. See 47 U.S.C. 224(a)(1).
Nevertheless, each incremental move will make a difference in America's broadband deployment numbers.

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 11-50

STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MIGNON L. CLYBURN

RE:
Implementation of Section 224 of the Act, WC Docket No. 07-245, A National Broadband Plan
for Our Future
, GN Docket No. 09-51
RE:
Acceleration of Broadband Deployment: Expanding the Reach and Reducing the Cost of
Broadband Deployment by Improving Policies Regarding Government Rights of Way and
Wireless Facilities Siting
, WC Docket No. 11-59
Today we take an important step to promote broadband deployment and competition, and both
wireline and wireless consumers stand to gain. Through our adoption of specific timeframes for access to
poles, broadband providers will be better positioned to plan their network deployments and upgrades. As
a result, they will be better able to serve their customers and meet their broadband demands. Moreover,
by addressing the disparate pole rental rates paid by service providers, we are establishing a more
evenhanded opportunity for providers to compete with one another based on their offerings and prices.
I spent a great deal of time considering the arguments on both sides concerning the joint use
agreements that utilities and incumbent local exchange carriers ("ILECs") rely upon for access to one
another's poles. At face value, parity for ILECs is an attractive proposition, especially considering the
policy rationale of a level playing field for all broadband competitors.
However, I was persuaded that joint use agreements are not just simple pole attachment contracts.
They are joint ownership agreements. Some of these agreements have significant histories, as they are
decades old. Accordingly, I agree with the guidelines we establish in this Order that set forth a series of
factors for the Commission to consider in determining whether the existing rates are just and reasonable
in a complaint proceeding. To the extent that ILECs benefit from our oversight of these agreements
through decreased pole expenses, consumers should be the beneficiaries through additional deployment,
decreases in service prices, or network upgrades to faster broadband speeds. As such, it is only
appropriate that industry provide us with regular updates on how they are passing these benefits on to
consumers.
I also support the Notice of Inquiry we adopt today that seeks detailed information on the
management of public rights of ways and the siting of wireless facilities. I believe it is important for the
Commission to gather this data as part of our Broadband Acceleration Initiative.
While it is essential to learn how long it takes and how much it costs for broadband providers to
obtain the necessary approvals from a local jurisdiction to build a new tower or access conduit under a
street, I believe it is equally imperative for the Commission to fully understand the policy rationales for
these processes and costs. Gathering and analyzing the data should not be done in a vacuum. We must
also commit ourselves, to work in partnership, with our counterparts in state and local governments, other
federal agencies, and Tribal governments on these issues. We can achieve our common goal of
promoting broadband service to residents and anchor institutions by working together.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MEREDITH ATTWELL BAKER

RE:
Implementation of Section 224 of the Act, WC Docket No. 07-245, A National Broadband Plan
for Our Future
, GN Docket No. 09-51
RE:
Acceleration of Broadband Deployment: Expanding the Reach and Reducing the Cost of
Broadband Deployment by Improving Policies Regarding Government Rights of Way and
Wireless Facilities Siting
, WC Docket No. 11-59
There are very few concrete steps this Commission can take to promote broadband deployment.
The pole attachment proceeding is one of them, and I support our efforts to provide greater certainty and
competitive parity in the pole attachment process. We must always act in a manner that reflects the
critical safety and reliability interests of the utilities, and I believe we struck the proper balance in this
Order.
We take important steps to provide clarity to all stakeholders on wireless attachment rates,
timelines, and pole top access issues. The ability to leverage utility poles may be critical for next-
generation wireless build-out to fill coverage holes, to more efficiently re-use spectrum, and to take
advantage of distributed antenna systems. This is the type of action needed to help us achieve our
collective goal of nationwide 4G coverage, and promote greater mobile broadband competition and
efficient spectrum policy. We importantly make clear that utilities retain their statutory right to ensure the
safety and reliability of their core networks. I expect wireless operators and utilities to work
collaboratively to protect electric networks while facilitating access to these new technologies and
services.
I also support the effort to raise the profile of important rights of way issues in the accompanying
Notice of Inquiry. While our authority to act in this area is limited, the Commission does have a role to
highlight impediments to broadband deployment, and I am hopeful we can partner with industry, states
and localities to address these challenges together.
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