August 29, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Connect the Future (CTF) filed official reply comments last Friday in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposed rules to streamline access to utility poles and accelerate broadband deployment. 

As part of the reply comments, CTF included a collection of anecdotes from small internet service providers (ISPs) that span every region of the country, explaining how excessive costs and needless delays around the process of attaching to poles have inhibited their ability to bring reliable, high-speed internet access to unserved communities.

“As the federal government allocates the $65 billion broadband investment from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to truly bridge the digital divide,” wrote CTF executive director Zachary Cikanek. “But this is only possible if we work together to ensure there are policies and regulations in place to facilitate and maximize the use of these critical public funds.”

“The unserved communities across our country that have been left behind for far too long deserve action by the Commission to promptly eliminate issues caused by pole replacements and delays so that broadband is deployed as soon as possible,” added Cikanek.

In the comments, CTF noted that pole attachers – e.g., broadband providers – are often forced by pole owners to absorb the entire cost of a needed pole replacement, even when the pole owner derives significant benefit from that new pole. In other cases, pole owners slow-roll the processing of pole attachment applications submitted by broadband providers. The result is often skyrocketing costs for deployment and delayed broadband access for unconnected communities.

Read & download the full letter here.

Download our handout of pole access stories from small ISPs across the country here.