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Pole Vaulting

3:10 PM -- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) addressed the issue of pole-attachment rates at today's open meeting. Try to contain yourself. I know the excitement is palpable.

Joking aside, today's Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is important in the context of the FCC's proposed National Broadband Plan, since the general idea here is to help make it more affordable and just plain easier for companies to access utility poles for the purpose of their network buildouts. (See FCC Opens Up 25MHz in 2.3GHz Band.)

The order looks to remedy ridiculously high pole attachment access rates in rural areas, where broadband access is needed most and a segment of the country that is getting the brunt of the Broadband Plan's attention.

In addition to reducing costs and hastening access, the official Order (not yet posted) also aims to clarify "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." [Ed. note: Using both sides of a pole? Surely we are in the midst of out-of-the-box thinking here!]

As for the Further Notice, the FCC will be seeking comment on revising pole attachment rates in an effort to get them, not just lower, but as uniform as possible, and reduce the historic disparity between today's telecom and cable rates. The FCC is also proposing some new rules to speed up the resolution of disputes that can delay buildouts.

The cable industry was pretty excited about the proposal since MSOs could benefit greatly from cheaper and easier access to utility poles. "Establishing a low uniform rate will lower the cost of broadband deployment and enable more Americans to be connected to this vital service," National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow said, in a statement.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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