Without FCC Action to Ensure Pole Owners Pay their Fair Share to Repair and Upgrade their Infrastructure, Broadband for All is at Risk

Some pole owners are evading the costs of repairing and upgrading their infrastructure by unfairly shifting the full cost of new utility poles to internet service providers. By refusing to pay their fair share, these pole owners are putting efforts to connect 100% of Americans to broadband in jeopardy – not to mention the success of billions of tax dollars in government programs intended to close the digital divide.

Pole owners gain significant benefits from new poles that last for 30–40 years. That’s why Canadian regulators adopted rules requiring pole owners to bear at least 50 percent of the cost of that investment.

The FCC has the opportunity to implement similar cost sharing that will make broadband expansion programs like BEAD more effective and get unserved families served faster, including through:

  • Clearly defined and fair standards for how the costs of pole replacement investments should be shared by pole owners and those who rent space on their poles
  • Firm and enforceable timelines that effectively address delays by pole owners in responding to and approving requests for new pole attachments on projects of all sizes.

When pole owners don’t pay their fair share for investments in their own infrastructure, unserved families and small businesses pay the price. Until the FCC takes meaningful action on pole replacement costs, Americans will continue to fall behind.