SHLB Coalition Files Pole Attachment Principles with FCC to Expedite Broadband Deployment to Rural Communities

September 9, 2021

Connect the Future (CTF) supporter Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB) recently filed its Pole Attachment Principles with the FCC and requested that the Commission move forward with a rulemaking proceeding to address the current pole access issue.

SHLB is dedicated to ensuring that all anchor institutions – the schools, libraries, healthcare clinics, community centers, and other critically important public institutions that serve their communities – have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband. To reach this goal, SHLB supports removing any impediments to broadband deployment, such as issues related to pole attachments and replacements.

Utility poles form the backbone of the nation’s broadband infrastructure and serve an especially critical role in connecting our nation’s rural communities to reliable, high-speed internet. The process of attaching broadband infrastructure to poles, however, is often time-consuming and unnecessarily costly. Unreasonable requirements and highly variable pricing from pole owners can lead to disputes that slow and shift resources from deploying broadband.

SHLB has developed a framework that aims to streamline and guide fairer pole attachment and replacement policies moving forward. SHLB’s ten “pole principles” are:

  1. All Pole Owners Should Be Subject to Comparable Rules Governing Pole Access
  2. Electric and Telephone Easements and Public Rights of Way Should Be Made Available for Broadband
  3. Rates, Terms, and Conditions for Pole Access Should Be Just, Reasonable, Predictable, and Prompt
  4. Pole Attachment Rates, Terms, and Conditions Should be Non-Discriminatory and Rates Should be Cost-Based
  5. To Support Broadband Deployment, Federal, State, and Local Infrastructure Funding Should be Made Available to Help Defray Pole Make-Ready and Pole Replacement Costs
  6. Pole Capacity Should Be Expanded When Necessary and Costs Should be Shared Fairly
  7. Engineering and Safety Requirements Should Be Reasonable and Transparent
  8. Overlashing (Adding a New Attachment to an Existing One) Should Be Permitted Upon Notice, Without Separate Application Requirements
  9. Regulators Should Make Prompt Dispute Resolution Available for Pole Access Disputes
  10. Pole Owners Should Keep Sufficient, Timely Records to Calculate Recurring Rates, and Make the Records Available

Learn more about SHLB’s Pole Attachments Principles here and read their filing with the FCC here.