CTF Highlights from the Field: October & November 2021
Connect the Future continues the critical work of raising its voice on behalf of the millions of Americans still waiting for access to high-speed broadband. Our educational efforts inform not only the public, but also federal and state policymakers on the importance of removing barriers that slow or even prevent broadband deployment from reaching the unserved communities that need it most. This begins with reforming pole access rules.
- New Study: $22 Billion in Economic Gains Lost Yearly to Poles-Related Broadband Expansion Delays
Western Carolina University Professor Edward J. Lopez and noted pole attachment expert Patricia D. Kravtin released a new, national study on the economic benefits of bringing high-speed broadband connectivity more quickly to unserved homes and small businesses across the country – but only if provider access to utility poles is reformed. The study emphasized that broadband deployment today is often inhibited or entirely stopped by problematic behavior of utility pole owners and accounts for nearly $22 billion in economic gains lost each year. On the other hand, if pole access rules are reformed to accelerate broadband deployment, American households and small businesses could collectively reap up to $314 billion in new economic gains.
- CTF Notes Infrastructure Bill’s Success Hinges on Modernizing Poles Access
CTF applauded the signing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, which includes a $65 billion investment in broadband expansion. If federal policymakers want to maximize the impact of every federal dollar invested in broadband infrastructure, however, they must first modernize pole access rules. Read the full statement here.
- Prioritizing Unserved Communities
Former Iowa Lt. Governor and co-founder of CTF supporter Focus on Rural America Patty Judge sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack expressing concern around a recent ReConnect Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) that allows funds to be used on duplicative broadband infrastructure in areas where there is already a binding obligation to build broadband using funds from other federal programs. Judge argues that limited federal funds for broadband expansion must be used efficiently and effectively to ensure that every community receives access to broadband, without delay. Read the full letter here.
- CTF Hosts Reform Poles Now Webinar
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), National Grange’s Burton Eller, Western Carolina University Professor Edward J. Lopez, former Iowa Lt. Governor Patty Judge, and Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition’s (SHLB) Ovidiu Viorica joined CTF for an online panel to discuss the importance of – and potential solutions to – streamlining the pole access process to accelerate broadband deployment for rural and unserved communities. Read the full recap here.
- Kentucky Makes Progress on Poles
The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) adopted new pole attachment rules after a month-long comment period that allowed various stakeholders to provide their input on the proceedings. The final rules include new cost-sharing guidelines between pole owners and attachers, updated overlashing rules, standardized timelines for permitting ‘make-ready’ work, updated utility tariffs and regulations, and expedited dispute resolution mechanisms. The rules build on other broadband expansion efforts in the state, including $300 million allocated for broadband deployment and the passage of House Bill 382 which directed the PSC to implement new pole attachment regulations. Read about the new rules here.