Yesterday, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission in regard to a previous petition filed by four electric companies that sought to impose the Telecom Rate on pole attachments used by cable operators for VoIP and broadband services.
The rate proposed by American Electric Power, Duke Energy, Southern Co. and Xcel Energy would result in double or triple the current rates that cable operators pay for pole attachments, the NCTA said in its petition.
The NCTA petition said the approach by the electric companies would increase the cost of deploying and operating broadband networks by hundreds of millions of dollars annually, and would have a negative impact on promoting universal broadband access as put forth by the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. Many of the same lines that carry the broadband services also provide VoIP services to cable customers.
The NCTA said the pole attachment rate that it proposed in its Broadband Pole Attachment rulemaking would facilitate greater investment in broadband networks by lowering costs, especially in the rural areas that are currently underserved by broadband and where there are more poles per customer. The NCTA also advocated the same pole attachment rates to all broadband providers.
“The Petition proposes a massive increase in pole attachment rates paid by cable operators,” the petition said. “As NCTA has demonstrated in the Commission’s pending Broadband Pole Attachmentrulemaking, there is no legal, economic or policy basis for such an increase because the existing cable pole attachment regime is fully compensatory to pole owners. Indeed, increasing attachment rates would likely depress broadband deployment and adoption. Rather, the Commission should promote broadband deployment and adoption by preserving the cable attachment regime and extending it to telecommunications carriers.”