Pole Attachments 101: Even for Wireless we need them

Carl Ford : 4G: For Generations to Come
Carl Ford

Pole Attachments 101: Even for Wireless we need them

Aug 3rd Audio Conference 12 EST 9AM PST


"Pole Attachments" have different meanings each section of the telecommunications, cable, wireless, and broadband industries. Some consider the topic boring and unimportant. But the FCC does not see it that way and neither do the grant winners of hundreds of millions of dollars for NTIA funding to build fiber optic facilities across rural and urban America. These grant winners have two to three year deadlines for spending the funding and completing the projects. All of the projects are dependent on the pole owners to enter into agreements for the broadband grant providers letting them use the poles, to conduct engineering surveys, to perform make-ready work, and then to allow the fiber on the poles. After the work is completed, annual pole attachment fees will determine if the broadband project can make a profit and become sustainable, another requirement of the Recovery Act and NTIA grant rules.

Poorly supported efforts at the FCC have been underway to revise the pole attachment matters since 2005. This year, the FCC spent more than 15 pages in the National Broadband Plan discussing the need to address the pole attachment issues. Then on May 20, 2010, the FCC released a 99 page NOI addressing pole attachment issues in detail: "A National Broadband Plan for Our Future Implementation of Section 224 of the Act." The National Broadband Plan recognized the importance of timely access to poles. The NOI staff sited the complained that the company "has been working since February 2008 to build the network necessary to provide a WAN network for a school district, and is still waiting for the pole owner to complete make ready work. As a result of this delay, the school district has not been able to conduct standardized testing online as it had hoped and planned to do." Now cable companies pay a lower rate that telecommunications companies and CLECs pay a lower rate that ILECs. Broadband only providers are not allowed on the poles but how are cable companies delivering broadband only able to gain access to the poles.
  • What happens in the case where NTIA grant winners ask for access to 1500 miles of poles.
  • How will agreements be reached for these large projects?
  • Will grant winners be required to partner with or become cable companies or CLECs just to get on the poles or receive low annual pole attachment rates?
  • Will the problem of pole attachment delays or unnecessary make-ready slow the delivery of broadband for the grant winners?

Marty Stern
Marty Stern is a partner in the D.C. office of K&L Gates and co-chair of the firm's Telecom, Media and Technology practice group. He provides strategic and policy advice to telecommunications, information technology and media firms, and assists telecom and broadband providers on all aspects of network build-out and operations. He has served as lead telecom regulatory and deployment counsel in connection with numerous domestic and international undersea and terrestrial fiber-optic cable projects, as well as on permitting issues associated with the siting and deployment of wireless facilities. Marty also handles complex regulatory issues in connection with mergers, acquisitions, financings and restructuring activities of telecom, broadband and media companies, and represents these entities on policy matters before the Administration, Congress, the FCC and state commissions. Marty is the former deputy chief of the Competition Division at the FCC and served as a trial attorney in in the Communications and Finance Section of the U.S. Justice Department's Antitrust Division. He holds a J.D., cum laude from Georgetown University, and a B.A. and M.B.A from the University of Rochester.

Barlow Keener

Barlow Keener is an attorney with Keener Law Group. He specializes in communications law and development for over 15 years and is an authority on wireless and wired matters related to telecommunications, CALEA, femtocells, WiFi mesh networks, and fiber optic networks. He represents telecommunications providers in state and federal regulatory matters. He has served as lead telecom regulatory counsel in connection with numerous RBOC, VoIP, CLEC, conference calling, voicemail, and collocation projects. Barlow delivers guidance to communications providers and systems integrators related to defining telecommunications and non-telecommunications services. He also provides strategic and policy advice to telecommunications, information technology and media firms in the United States, Asia and Europe. He was formerly General Counsel at CSA and a General Attorney at BellSouth Telecommunications. He holds a J.D. from Emory University, a M.A. from North Carolina Central University, and a B.A. from the University of the South

Mike McNally
CEO of Maverick Construction. CEO, President, and founder Michael McNally has a diverse background in the construction and utility business, completing large projects in Boston, Pittsburgh, Indiana, the Caribbean, Russia, Poland and Mexico. Mr. McNally, a graduate of Boston College, has a diverse understanding of the political aspects of completing jobs, and has helped clients navigate through many potential minefields.

Sandy Bendremer
Sandy is Vice President of Galaxy Internet Services a Massachusetts based Internet service provider which has been providing Internet and IT Solutions to the public, private enterprise and government municipalities since 1995. Galaxy's mission is to enable wireless broadband access coupled with intelligent Internet services everywhere through innovative joint partnerships with government municipalities and the private-sector. Galaxy's services include a wide range of Internet connectivity, hosting, wide area networking and professional services. Galaxy operates the border-to-border wireless service in Brookline, Massachusetts, servicing public safety, municipal, commercial, and residential users . Galaxy has also taken a prominent role in the Wi-Fi pilot projects undertaken by the City of Boston and the recently formed non-profit, tasked with building a wireless network for the City.


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