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ACA files comments with FCC regarding pole attachment rate increase

Tue, 04/22/2008 - 8:20am
Traci Patterson

The American Cable Association (ACA) has filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in opposition to a pole attachment rate increase for broadband services provided by cable operators. 

The comments follow similar opposition that has been filed by individual cable operators.

The ACA said it cited the adverse effect that raising pole attachment rates would have on both rural broadband deployment and the cost for consumers in small markets and rural areas – those who choose to receive high-speed Internet access from their local cable operator.

“Bridging the digital divide that separates too many rural American communities from broadband access is a national imperative,” said Matthew Polka, the ACA’s president and CEO. “The Commission’s proposed increase of pole attachment rates would put a costly toll on that bridge and significantly slow deployment in the small and rural communities that need it most. 

“This toll will ultimately be paid by rural cable consumers, whose bill is already inflated by federal rules that permit discriminatory retransmission fees and unfair tying and bundling practices by broadcasters and programmers. To achieve its stated goal of increased broadband deployment in the United States, the Commission should be exploring ways to lower broadband costs, not add to them.”

The ACA said it also asserted that the Commission lacked a statutory basis for raising the cable attachment rates, citing the Pole Attachment Act provision that “a pole rate is just and reasonable if it assures a utility the recovery of not less than the additional costs of providing pole attachments,” which the current cable broadband attachment rate does. 

And in its filing, the ACA also noted that raising the cost of broadband services by $52.27 – to $392 per year – for smaller-market and rural subscribers would not eliminate any obstacles to broadband deployment by telecom carriers, but that it would make broadband out of reach for many smaller-market and rural consumers.

The ACA is a trade organization representing 1,100 small and medium-size independent cable operators that provide broadband services for the more than 7 million cable subscribers who are primarily located in rural and smaller markets nationwide.

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