The National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the America Cable Association have both called on the FCC to act on a petition on pole attachment rates before the Feb. 26 vote to reclassify ISPs as telecommunications services under Title II.
Cable operators argue that if the agency does reclassify broadband access under Title II regulations, as FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has said it will do, that could translate into higher pole-attachment rates, especially for smaller and medium-sized operators.
The telecom rate was traditionally higher than the cable rate. The FCC voted in 2011 to harmonize the rates, but the opportunity remained for pole owners to charge higher rates under some circumstances. The NCTA, Comptel and others sought to resolve that situation in a petition for reconsideration filed back in 2011, asking the FCC to insure that broadband providers can attach at the lowest rate available under FCC rules.
NCTA and ACA argue that reclassifying as a telecom without granting the petition would leave them exposed to hundreds of millions of dollars in increased pole attachment fees, which is why they want FCC action on the petition before the vote, and after almost four years in the pipeline.
They say avoiding that possibility just requires the FCC to grant the petition and eliminate the gap between the cable and telecom rates.
"The cable industry has always been a leader in broadband deployment and the commission's success pole attachment policies have been a significant factor in that success," ACA president Matt Polka and NCTA president Michael Powell said in a letter to Wheeler and the other commissioners. "The upcoming reclassification of broadband needlessly jeopardizes this successful policy and potentially hinders additional deployment, particularly in rural areas."